WiHM 9 Presents - Paul Stephenson
An apocalyptic tale of murder and stale sandwiches.“If I didn’t have to work or trains didn’t make you get off, I could easily have read this in one sitting." - reader review
After a mysterious storm lays waste to humanity, a disparate group of survivors try to find their feet while the world around them falls apart.
Two hapless stoners fall under the control of a deranged mercenary.
A young woman finds herself trying to keep two lovestruck teenagers alive.
A detective must track down a killer who sees the apocalypse as an opportunity.
Together they attempt to survive this blackly comic saga of survival, murder, stale sandwiches, and the end of the world.
'Corpses lay all over the street. Some were burnt, their limbs curled into themselves from the heat. Some were crushed, entangled in one of several car wrecks that dotted the road. Limbs, torsos and heads were strewn haphazardly in their wake. Some were just dead, lying there oblivious to the carnage that surrounded them.'
1) Tell us about your main character
The Blood on the Motorway series is a multi-narrative thread where three of the six main characters are women, but in the first book the female lead is Jen. She’s in her late twenties, at the age where you’re just starting to get a grip on the world. Then the world ends, and she finds herself running from a deranged killer, with two teenagers in tow. The series in general is very much about finding strengths within you that you didn’t know you had, so in Jen I have someone who’s perfect for that, someone who’s still kind of finding herself, who’s allowed herself to settle into the path of least resistance to her life. Suddenly, there is no path of least resistance, and she needs to step up to the plate to keep herself and her wards alive.
2) Do you think females are underrepresented in the horror genre?
There’s a lot of women in horror, but too many victims. It’s not good enough in this day and age to just have a woman in your book or film screaming, being chased, being murdered. Well, it’s never been good enough, but it’s such a trope in horror. Of course, the fact that so many blockbusting horrors are written by men doesn’t exactly help. I say this very much as a male writer, and reader, but I’ve always been much more drawn to characters like Ripley, Offred, Buffy, Jessie Burlingame, or Clarice Starling. Women who are layered, interesting, victims of circumstances bucking against victimisation.
3) Tell us about your book(s)
The Blood on the Motorway series is an apocalyptic horror trilogy set in England. After a mysterious storm lays waste to humanity, a disparate group of survivors have try to find their feet while the world around them falls apart. It’s a blackly comic saga of survival, murder, stale sandwiches, and the end of the world. It’s scary, funny, dark, but ultimately a story of hope. I hope.
4) Why is horror writing important to you?
I guess because it’s where I first started. An English teacher of mine gave me a John Wyndham novel, and I graduated to Stephen King from there. Horror is enticing to me because it’s about testing the limits of endurance, of human capability. How far can people be pushed and push back? In that way it’s both cathartic, and at its best, full of hope. You don’t just get through a horror novel. You survive it. In times like these, when people are being tested to their limits by the world around them, I think that’s not a bad place to be.
5) Who is your favourite female horror author?
I don’t know if she’d term herself in that way, but Margaret Atwood, without a doubt. Nobody can build a world of utterly inescapable dread like she can. She sees humanity at its most flawed, at its weakest points, and she shows us those flaws in such a moving way, but always with a sense that it’s something that we can avoid. They’re stories of power structures, of patriarchy, but they’re also about all of us, and that’s what makes them so terrifying.
About the Author:
Paul Stephenson writes horror stories, science fiction, and tries to be funny about music on the internet. He grew a beard long before hipsters made it popular, but only because he wanted to hide his chin. He lives in England with his wife and two children and has an unhealthy relationship with his Spotify account.
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About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”