A.S. Chambers is an author of urban fantasy and horror fiction who lives in Lancaster. He has just released the second book in his Sam Spallucci series and will be signing copies at Lancaster Library on Saturday December 6, from noon to 3pm. Here he tells Debbie Butler all about his writing career
Q Introduce yourself...
A My name is A.S.Chambers. I am an author of urban fantasy and horror fiction. I am the creator of the long suffering fictional investigator of the paranormal, Sam Spallucci, whose stories are set in and around a version of Lancaster where the day to day and supernatural continually cross paths. The first book in the series, ‘The Casebook Of Sam Spallucci’, was published in 2012. The second, ‘Sam Spallucci: Ghosts From The Past’ came out in September this year and has been following in the success of its predecessor.
Q Where and when were you born and educated?
A I was born down in Northamptonshire in the dim and distant past when phones still comprised of a base, a handset and a dial before moving up to Lancaster when I studied at the University in the 1990s.
Q What’s your working history?
A Vast and colourful. I seem to have had many jobs over the years ranging from paper boy (as a child) through to working in restaurants to being a qualified jeweller. These days, when I’m not writing, I spend my time as a genealogist researching people’s family trees.
Q Describe your books.
A My books fall into two categories. The main body of work is that which concerns Sam Spallucci and is best described as a mixture of film noir meeting horror with splashes of a Douglas Adams style of humour. These books are designed to make you hide behind the sofa with terror one minute then chuckle yourself silly the next. As well as the Sam Spallucci novels I also write collections of short horror stories such as ‘Oh Taste And See’ which came out earlier this year. These tend to be somewhat darker in nature although I still cannot help but add humorous influences such as the short story ‘Biscuit Tin Of Doom’.
Q When did you start writing and why?
A I have always written, ever since I was a child - I remember making up stories to act out in the playground with my friends. However, Sam Spallucci was born when I jotted down a story at the back of a boring chemistry lesson at high school. It concerned a detective tracking down a werewolf. Almost 30 years later it evolved into ‘The Case Of The Werewolf Of Williamson Park’.
Q What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
A My favourite part has to be seeing the story start to coalesce into an intelligible plotline. I almost always start out with a beginning and an end but have no idea how I will travel from the former to the latter. Eventually little scenes will start to form and link together. When I find myself with a continual narrative that tells a complete story, I have a eureka moment.
Q ...and your worst?
A Editing. Oh, how I hate editing! People think that once you have written the story, then that is it – you are finished. If only that was true! I am a complete perfectionist and go over the text numerous times to iron out words and punctuation which stand out as annoying or out of place. It takes forever when all I want to do is move on to my next book.
Q Where do you usually write?
A I used to write at the dining table but found myself getting distracted far too easily so now I have a small desk set up in my bedroom where I can lock myself away and ignore the world, although with the persistent growth of social media even my little Fortress of Solitude seems to have the world and abundance of cute cat pictures knocking at its door.
Q What time of the day or night do you write?
A It’s a job so I treat it as such and write nine to five unless the real world intrudes with plumbers, postmen and trips to the shops for groceries.
Q Tea or coffee?
A Ask the staff at Starbucks and they will tell you it’s a short, black, triple shot Americano every time. I am a creature of habit.
Q Who or what inspires your writing?
A With the bulk of my stories being set here in Lancaster I draw most of my inspiration from this marvellous city and its wonderful inhabitants. The city is steeped in history and character so it provides a perfect backdrop for tales of the supernatural and monsters in the shadows.
Q Do you have a favourite author?
A I could never truly answer that one as there is just far too much great literature out there to choose from. However, I love a good romp with believable characters and as a result I’m a big fan of the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell who is so precise in his historicity and character development, but I also love the Temperance Brennan books by Kathy Reichs. I am also an extreme Star Wars nut – my shelves are overflowing with books from the expanded universe of the films.
Q What’s your favourite book and why?
A For me, it has to be Dracula. This was the first adult horror novel that I read as a teenager. Stoker created such a rich, fantastical world in the day to day streets of Whitby that I was instantly drawn into the lives of the characters. If I had not read this book then I doubt that I would be writing today.
Q How do you unwind?
A I read, walk and watch box sets. I suffer from Meniere’s Disease (it’s an inner ear thing causing tinnitus, dizziness and other such unpleasantness) so as a result I find it very hard to settle down and relax. I constantly need something to occupy my mind to distract it from the noises and ringing in my ears. At the moment I am working my way through the Blu-ray of the TV series Fargo. It is the fourth time I have watched it and it still holds me gripped.
Q Do you have any ambitions, literary or otherwise?
A The Sam Spallucci books are part of an expansive universe that is centred around an apocalyptic event in the near future which is referred to in the stories as The Divergence. If I can tell all the stories up to and beyond this event that are bouncing around in my head then I will be a very happy man.
Q What’s next?
A I am currently working on my next book, ‘All Things Dark And Dangerous’, which is a collection of more short horror stories. This is due out in January next year. The third Sam Spallucci book, ‘Sam Spallucci: Shadows Of Lancaster’, is also bubbling away and will explore the legacy of the Pendle Witches as well as having a group of mummies stealing the Eric Morecambe statue. It should hopefully be out late 2015.
*A.S.Chambers has a website at www.aschambers.co.uk. His books are available on Amazon.