William Holloway is a Texas based author whose work has delved into the darkest reaches of cosmic horror and the corruption of the human psyche.  His ‘Singularity Cycle’ series has unveiled nightmarish visions and diabolical manifestations, and looks to plummet the limitless abyss of soul-destroying darkness still further.

DLS Reviews surround themselves in a circle of salt, risking their immortal soul in order to seek answers from the man who unleashes such hellish visions unto the unsuspecting world…

DLS – Firstly, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on DLS Reviews.  I guess the best place to start with these questions is at the beginning.  How and why did you first get into writing horror fiction?

WH – This was in the late 90’s. I had worked on a noble failure with Stephen Romano to remake Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, but the project fell through due to a lack of finance. But during this process I met Tom Rainone, who was a VFX supervisor for several movies, most notably Dean Koontz’ Phantoms and Wishmaster as well as videos for Motörhead, The Ramones and The Revolting Cocks. I ended up going out to LA to work for him and found that I hated the place.

Tom was great, and I met some amazing people like the guys at KNB and Screaming Mad George, but for the most part I did not like the film business. I wanted to get things done, but real horror, good horror wasn’t getting any money. So I returned to Austin intent on writing the Zombie Screenplay That Would Actually Get Financing… I started to write a treatment for a screenplay, but when I handed it to Stephen Romano (who actually knew how to do that sort of thing) he told me that this wasn’t a treatment for a screenplay – this was a Novella. So you could say that I started writing horror by accident. It was called Death in Texas.

DLS – Can you tell us a little more about writing the novella, why you chose the zombie apocalypse, and what has happened to the novel since?

WH –
Zombies were my obsession during the 90’s. I probably watched Dawn of the Dead five hundred times. I worshipped Romero and Fulci and Argento so its unlikely that I would have done anything else.

Since that time, the novel has disappeared. There are a few hard copies printed up, but where they are is unknown to me. There was, however, a screenplay made from it that does exist. Maybe someday I’ll reverse engineer it back into a novella.

DLS – Your work to date has all been wholly immersed in cosmic horror with a very noticeable Lovecraftian vibe to it.  Is Lovecraft are particularly strong influence for you?  And can you see yourself venturing outside of the cosmic horror subgenre in the not too distant future?

WH –
I’m not certain, because that’s really all I’ve ever written to completion. I do have another half formed novel called Never Let Me Down Again. While not horror per se, it’s more scifi if anything but still Cosmic.

DLS – I’ve noticed that a fair few horror authors don’t necessarily read horror novels themselves (well, at least not in the main part anyway).  What sort of novels do you read?  Is it all horror, or do you sometimes venture away from your chosen genre?

WH –
I read horror pretty much exclusively, but that’s pretty limited. I work full time and have young children, so my time has been well monopolized. If I do have time, it’s a choice between reading or writing.

DLS – If I was to attempt to pigeon hole your style of writing against that of other authors, I guess I’d probably say your work is a mix between Lovecraft, Clive Barker, and Stephen King, with elements of Adam Nevill thrown in for good measure.  Would you say this makes for a fair comparison?  Are there any other authors who have played a noticeable part in influencing your style of writing?

WH –
I’d say that’s a very fair comparison. The Lovecraft influence is obvious, and the perversity of Barker is definitely in attendance. Stephen King is a definite touchstone, especially with Lucky’s Girl and Blackwood Estates; a sense that something is lurking just beyond the edge of sight in Middle America. Brett Easton Elllis was also a big influence. American Psycho taught me that the only limits are the ones we impose upon ourselves. I also really love that first person narration. Death in Texas was largely written in that style, as is Never Let Me Down Again.

DLS – Your novel, ‘The Immortal Body’ was originally a self-published venture back in 2012.  How did you find the process of self-publishing?  And why did you originally decide not to go through a publisher?

WH –
I self-published because I didn’t know any better! I had written it with no discernible plan in mind for publication, but didn’t want to go through the wringer of submitting it to this-and-that publisher and wait til some indeterminate time for rejection. That was a mistake. It was truly depressing to know that no one knew my book even existed. But providence intervened in the form of Graeme Reynolds after I gave him a rough of Lucky’s Girl just to read. I wanted his opinion because there are werewolves (of a sort) in there. I didn’t actually submit it to him for publication but he liked it and wanted to publish it and went ahead and took The Immortal Body and Song of the Death God as well.

I understand you created the original artwork for ‘The Immortal Body’ using inspiration from sigils within Anton Lavey’s ‘Satanic Bible’.  Can you tell us a little about this original cover, the process of creating the book’s sigil, and the reaction this particularly black magic-cum-black metal style cover received?

WH –
Well, it wasn’t actually the Satanic Bible but rather other Grimoires and their associated Sigils derived from the Goetia. I sketched it out and took it to my tattoo artist and he put that book cover together. I really liked the idea that people would read a horror novel that looked like a grimoire, and then get to the sequel only to discover that they’re reading a horror novel about a man seeking grimoires. After The Immortal Body got picked up by Horrific Tales, Graeme tweaked it just a bit for the chapter headings in that edition.

The reaction to that artwork was pretty good. It was very eye catching, attested to by the fact that some people actually bought the thing from a first time writer that they had never read. At minimum it got my foot in the door.

When you first wrote the book, did you envision it becoming part of a trilogy?  Were there any changes made to the novel when it was re-released by Horrific Tales Publishing in 2015?

WH –
Oh, its not going to be a trilogy, but rather the goal is to have six novels when all is said and done. So you’re going to be hearing the howling of the void for quite a while!

There really weren’t many changes. Mainly just a cleaning of the prose.

DLS – Six instalments!  Yikes.  That’s a pretty big commitment on your part.  Have you already got the ideas for the remaining four books sketched out?  And do you plan for each book to be inherently attached to the others, or could a reader perhaps read one of the latter instalments in isolation and still get something from it?

WH –
Yes, six instalments is the intention! And yes, I do have a notion where each book is headed. So, this next idea may not pan out, but here it is: ultimately it won’t matter what order you read them in; the puzzle pieces will fit themselves together no matter what.

DLS – Could you tell us a little about the mythos behind the Singularity Cycle which ‘The Immortal Body’ and later ‘Song Of A Death God’ formed the first two instalments?  Furthermore, where did you get your ideas from for the books?

WH –
As far as a Mythos goes, I don’t have one as codified as Lovecraft, but there is definitely something writhing in the blind spots of the universe. There are elements of the Greek concept of Theogony, that there was something prior to the Universe, even though that seems like a contradiction in terms, and that God created the Universe on top of that pre-existing state. And those things that existed beforehand, those things that are the antithesis of our rational understanding, wish to undo God’s creation. They aren’t Devils, or Demons, or Angels or Gods, even though they might be perceived as such, in fact it is very much our perception of them that gives them the forms they may have when intruding into our Universe.

Where did I get the ideas from for the Mythos? Largely Lovecraft of course, but I wanted to take it beyond his beginning to a much darker place, if such a thing even exists.

DLS – ‘Song Of A Death God’ was written in a noticeably different style to that of ‘The Immortal Body’.  Where the horror in ‘Immortal’ was aggressive, in your face and nightmarish in its fleshed-out, horror in ‘Song’ was more subtle, more carefully formed and creeping.  Perhaps more ingrained into our own dark psyche.  Was this difference in style intentional?  And can we expect a whole other style of writing for book three?

WH –
Yes, this was absolutely intentional. I want each book in the series to be very different sorts of horror. In my view, The Immortal Body is almost a police thriller, while Song of the Death Gody is it’s own sort of Haunted House novel. The third book, tentatively titles “The Shadow Church” is written as a pre-apocalypse with an eerie stillness as the POV becomes aware that mere anarchy has been loosed upon the world and that the center is not holding.

DLS – I understand that Black Metal artist Zbigniew M. Bielak has created a frontispiece for the entire Singularity Cycle.  What was it like working with the world renowned Polish artist?  Did you provide him with a brief for the artwork?  And does this mean a collected edition will one day be in the pipeline?

WH –
I found Z by accident! I was trying to hunt down an old metal punk band from the 80’s called Civilised Society. I found out that one of the band members created their own record label to distribute the band, and it turned out to be Peaceville Records. I went to their site, and they had just released one of the many Black Metal records featuring Z’s artwork. At that time I was writing The Immortal Body and Song of the Death God, Watain’s Lawless Darkness was the soundtrack to my life, and I meditated on the incredible artwork constantly. So I contacted the site admin for Peaceville and he passed it on to Z – and he replied. He turned out to be a really approachable and funny guy, as well as very affordable. I told him what I wanted, and I shit you not; he did that artwork in one sitting!

One day there may be a collected edition, but at six novels in length this would be a very heavy volume indeed!

DLS – Your novel ‘Lucky’s Girl’ contained many similarities with the cult following of Charles Manson.  Is this something you were conscious of when writing the novel, and if so, did you purposefully draw inspiration from the ‘Manson Family’ crimes?

WH –
When the ideas for Lucky’s Girl were percolating in my head, Manson most definitely did play a part, but it wasn’t just him. As the time I was thinking a lot about the phenomenon of manipulation and charisma. How is it that the utter charlatans of the world get to the highest positions of power? What is it about certain people that they can just walk into a room and convince you not only to agree to their psychosis, but to convince you of their goodness whilst doing it? And onto a less political note, don’t we all have that one person in our lives that always convinces us to do things against our better judgement and against our better interests? And how is it that we continually forgive them for this transgression?

DLS – Your last three publications have all been released by the British publishers Horrific Tales Publishing.  What was it like work with the publishing company?  And did you have much involvement with the creation of the incredible cover artwork on the three books?

WH –
Graeme turned out to be the publisher I needed. I’m lazy and stubborn and he tolerates to laziness or stubbornness. So he’s who and what I needed. He’s also an accomplished writer who reads, writes, and loves horror, so he gets me.  I could not have gotten luckier than to have gotten on board with Horrific Tales UK!

The artwork for The Immortal Body and Song of the Death God was done by Jethro Lentle, and I couldn’t have higher praises for him. He’s just fantastic and I’ve never seen him deliver bullshit. He also just gets it. We wanted the artwork to be a homage to the “black and scary” artwork of 80’s and 90’s paperbacks. I think we knocked it out of the park in that regard.

The artwork for Lucky’s Girl was a happy accident. Graeme commissioned an artist, but he came back with something that just wasn’t going to work, so we ended up scrambling to find one of those ready made covers. We found one pretty fast that turned out to be better than anything we could have hoped for. The artist, Paramita Bhattachargee, ended up winning an award for that artwork.

DLS – Unless I’m very much mistaken, you’ve not had any short stories published in any anthologies or the like.  Is there a reason for this?  Have you been tempted to write any short stories, perhaps to bolt onto your novels?

WH –
I just don’t write short stories. I’ve tried, and failed. My ideas just aren’t short. And don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to write short stories, I just so far haven’t been able to do it.

DLS – Having been friends on social media for a little while now, I believe we share a very similar taste in music i.e. black metal, death metal, early thrash and a hell of a lot more in-between.  Would you say your taste in music has influenced your writing in any way?  Also, have you ever been tempted to explore the creative world of music yourself (I understand Adam Nevill planned to create his own black metal album at one stage)?

Oh, absolutely. To truly know me, you have to know that music is my primary inspiration, even more so than literature. You’d think that would change, and I’d grow up at some point, but so far that hasn’t happened.

I’ve tried to play music myself, but I’m pathologically clumsy. I think I write fairly good riffs, even fairly good songs, but I’m such a bad player that I could never do it live. I sang in a very short lived punk band as a teenager in the 80’s, but luckily for me I got kicked out before embarrassing myself any further.

DLS – I note your novels have not yet received the audiobook treatment?  Are you open to the idea of having audio versions of your work available?  Have you or your publishers any plans to make any of your novels into audiobooks?  And in an ideal world, who’s voice do you think would best suit reading the books (can be anyone!)?

WH –
I would love to have audiobooks made, but that hasn’t happened yet. I think Anthony Hopkins for Song of the Death God and Andrew Lincoln for The Immortal Body. What do you think?

DLS - I like the idea of Anthony Hopkins for ‘Song Of The Dead God’.  Definitely!  I think ‘The Immortal Body’ would call for a deeper, huskier, more conspiratoral voice – say like that of Tony Todd or Marlon Brando.

Anyway, moving on…I understand you have a collaboration piece with British author Rich Hawkins entitled ‘The R’lyeth Cycle’ due out early in 2018.  As Hawkins is involved, quite unsurprisingly the novellas deal with the End of the World.  Can you tell us a little about writing your story, how apocalyptic fiction suited your writing style, and what we can expect from your offering?

WH –
So I can tell you a few things about the project, but some things must remain hidden. My story, also quite unsurprisingly, features ugly addiction and alcoholism, mounting paranoia, hallucinations, and the unspeakable viewed from the corner of the eye only.

Another thing I can tell you is that another provocateur of eschatology has joined the cult. I cannot say who, only that he who cannot be named has also penned novels of the Lovecraftian apocalypse, one of which whose title is often confused with a song from the A-Side of a masterful album about puppets.

DLS – Many thanks for taking the time out to all those questions William.

© DLS Reviews

You can read in-depth reviews of William Holloway’s work here:

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