Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, and, having read History at Goldsmiths College, London, a qualified historian, though he currently earns his living as a full-time writer.
He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers, dark fantasy and horror, in which capacity he is a two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award and a one-time winner of the International Horror Guild Award.
He is responsible for numerous short stories and novellas, but also for two horror movies (a third of his, War Wolf, is in pre-production), for several full-cast Dr Who audio dramas, and a series of best-selling crime novels from Avon Books at HarperCollins, featuring the British police detective, Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg.
Paul lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry. His website can be found at http://paulfinch-writer.blogspot.co.uk/, and he can be followed on Twitter as @paulfinchauthor.
What inspired your story “House of the Hag”?
My love of native British folklore and mythology. Cathy and I travel as often as we can, usually trying to get into those oddball out-of-the-way places, and on one such trip to the Scottish Highlands – many years ago now, though the memory stuck – I was fascinated to learn about a series of neolithic stone monuments in a high, lonely glen, which were at the centre of all kinds of mysterious rumours. Okay, enigmatic standing stones, henges, barrows and the like are common throughout Britain, and it wouldn’t be the first time someone had written a spooky story about them, but the myths themselves are many and varied, and the particular idea I was struck with on this occasion was something I’d never encountered before, so I thought ‘what the hell’ and wrote it.
What’s the first horror story you can remember making a big impact on you?
One of the earliest I remember was “The Inn” by Guy Preston, which I first discovered in The 2nd Pan Book of Horror Stories. It’s not by any means the best horror story ever written, nor is it the most original – but I was very young at the time, and recall being utterly terrified, sitting up alone in bed and unable to turn the pages fast enough. That’s got to be the main ambition of a horror story, I suppose, in respect of which The Inn succeeded admirably with me.
Name your three favourite horror writers.
That’s a really difficult question to answer, if not impossible. There are literally hundreds who all occupy similar positions of worthiness in my mind, though for all sorts of reasons. It’s probably easier if I just tell you which current authors are names I look out for whenever I take an anthology down from a shelf and consider buying it. There are still plenty of those, but the three that most readily spring to mind are: Reggie Oliver, Adam Nevill and Steve Duffy.
Is your writing generally firmly in the horror arena or do you do occasional jaunts into other areas of speculative fiction?
It’s ranged widely over the years and hopefully will continue to. I’ve done sci-fi in Dr Who and high fantasy in my Arthurian novels for Abaddon Books, but I’m probably best known these days for hard-edged crime. My Heck novels at Avon are easily my best-selling titles, so that’s the field I’m firmly planted in at present. Horror is still one of my greatest loves of course, and that colours everything. Quite a few reviewers have referred to my Heck novels as police-horror.
What’s in your to-be-read pile at the moment?
A wide assortment. I’m a big Peter James fan. Also in crime terms, I’m getting into Craig Robertson, Steve Mosby, Stav Sherez and Deon Meyer. In horror terms, I’m a bit old-school. I’ve always got at least one Adam Nevill to read, but I’m currently recquainting myself with a few classics – Barker and Aycliffe to name two, while Dan Simmons’s The Terror is the big fat one I’m planning to take on holiday with me.
The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories can be pre-ordered here.