Third age author and spoken word performer, Kevin Ground specialises in Victorian, Gothic, contemporary horror, and ghost short stories. He actually doesn’t know where his preference for the revolting comes from, other than to say he is always, always turning normal on its head and seeing where his imagination takes him. He rarely knows where a short story is going till it’s finished.
His story, “Maudaleen,” appears in Haunts & Hellions: A Gothic Romance Anthology.
NTK: Kevin, a graveyard figures prominently in your story, “Maudaleen.” Have you had any interesting or strange experiences in cemeteries?
KG: I am a fan of cemeteries in as much as I enjoy the contemplative atmosphere of commemorative buildings, headstones, and artwork. Amongst the hustle and bustle of modern life, cemeteries put you in your place. Once you’ve taken up residence your earthly worries are over. Unless, like the unfortunate Maudaleen, you are not at peace with yourself.
In the cemetery where Maudaleen is set, there are sections of very old, neglected graves. The headstones lean this way and that. Unreadable, lichen-covered, some broken. When I walk in that area I feel a sense of great sadness and anger. The resentment the departed feel about being forgotten is palpable in the very air. I do not linger in that area over much. I can offer no comfort to placate the resentful dead.
NTK: How did you become interested in Gothic Literature?
KG: A chance encounter in a secondhand book shop with a battered hardback entitled Titus Groan by author Mervyn Peake. I loved the style, content, and fantastic array of characters. Delving further into the works of Poe. M R James. Sheridan Le Fanu. Algernon Blackwood and other such worthies hooked me in for life.
NTK: How do you define “romance”?
KG: A double-edged sword of emotion that cuts through the chaff of life to reveal the love of your life. If your love is denied by its intended, or worse still, accepted then betrayed. The reverse edge of the blade will cut you and wound you in a way that never fully heals. Lucky are those who do not know the sting of this blade and find true love at the first attempt.
NTK: What is your favorite Gothic horror story?
KG: The Woman in Black by author Susan Hill
NTK: Do you have a favorite Gothic horror movie? What attracted you to this film?
KG: Yes, I do. The 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara. Fantastic black and white film that brings the characters and events to life with great emotion. Charles Laughton’s portrayal of Quasimodo embodies a love that cannot be yet refuses to be denied. Marvelous stuff.
NTK: Are your characters based on real people?
KG: Not whole people, rather certain characteristics of a person. Their dress, hairstyle, mannerism’s that catch the eye when they go about their daily lives. Catching a train, shopping at the supermarket. Negotiating steps in a wheelchair. I am no peeping tom, but I do take my time to look at what’s about me. Some marvelous material to be had people watching.
NTK: Do you use an outline to write? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?
KG: I never use an outline. Normally, the story develops as it unfolds in my imagination. I do however keep an eye on names, dates, and ages of my characters as it isn’t unusual for me to mix up a grandad with a daughter and turn the two into a third person altogether. I imagine quicker than I type being the issue here. I rarely have any idea of where a story is going before it’s finished.
NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their fate?
KG: A bit of both really. Some of my characters take flight and run free and easy whilst others progress with a more sedate step. The story decides who does what. As the author, I sometimes subject my characters to some pretty distasteful events that play hell with who they are. The hero doesn’t always survive unscathed if at all. I have no firm rule on this. Preferring to keep my options open.
NTK: What are you most afraid of?
KG: As a man who has just celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday, I am becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality. Being old, weak, and helpless. That frightens me.
NTK: What is your favorite romance?
KG: 1984’s Winston and Julia. Doomed to failure but a love that defied Big Brother. An example of many real romances that fail because of outside influences. Winston and Julia never stood a chance, but emotion and the need for love could not, and would not be denied.
NTK: Who is your favorite horror author?
KG: This is a difficult one. So many excellent authors to choose from, but I would have to go for Graham Masterton. Closely followed by Darren Shan, and Algernon Blackwood
NTK: What do you like most about Darren Shan’s work?
I find Darren Shan’s character creation and scene-setting, to be right up there with the best of the genre’s acknowledged masters. Although aimed at the young adult market, the subject matter of his work is pretty adult. His characters get right in there when it comes to tearing each other apart emotionally and physically. The stories get on with it at a brisk pace and every word matters. I think Darren Shan has found his niche and the horror enjoying public are the better for it.
Safe to say I never want to play chess with Lord Loss. Or get on the wrong side of Mr. Tiny.
NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
KG: Where to start. I have three projects on the go at present.
The first is an anthology of contemporary flash fiction pieces aptly named a book of shorts. These little bites of unpleasantness are stand-alone short stories but in microfiction format. I hope to have this anthology finished and published via Amazon by the autumn of this year.
The second is a project that features an anthology of contemporary short stories where women are the main characters. Either victim or villain, the supposedly weaker sex gets to sharpen their razors and raise hell. Provisionally entitled Women Trouble. This is a project scheduled for publication on Amazon towards the autumn of this year.
The third project is an entirely different kettle of fish as it comprises four novella-length pieces of Victorian Gothic horror. This work is actually almost complete, and work is about to commence on final reads and proofing by my sharp-eyed proofreader, Sarah. All four of the novellas have a strong faith-based element underpinning the stories, but the characters are far too busy squaring up to each other to let a little thing like doing right get in the way.
If you like Victorian Gothic I believe, biased though I am, you’re in for a treat. Again, this anthology yet to be titled will be published via Amazon probably in time for Christmas this year.
Addicts, you can find Kevin on Amazon and Facebook. His back catalogue can be found on his website.