Here is an interview with Hereward LM Proops, author of The Guardian of the Vaults.
Hereward’s blog, Cruel Harvest, can be viewed here.
Hereward is also a long-time contributor to the book review site, Booksquawk.
The Ox: The Inspector Forrester stories appear to owe a lot to the golden age of the pulps. Can you describe your influences in the writing of these stories?
Hereward: I’m a huge fan of the old pulps. Modern fantasy and sci-fi owe a huge debt to Weird Tales and its ilk. I love the stories of Robert E. Howard and the H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu tales. I’m particularly fond of the old Union Jack / Sexton Blake magazine from the early twentieth century. Sexton Blake started off as a Sherlock Holmes imitator but grew more and more over the top with time. Soon, he was battling bad guys with supernatural powers like Zenith the Albino or Waldo the Wonderman.
As well as the pulps, I’m a big fan of the original season of The X-Files. It had that monster-of-the-week vibe that later seasons moved away from.
My last big influence has to be the old Hammer Horror films. There’s a real style to them – great costumes and sets… rich period detail. They are beautifully shot and put together on tiny budgets. I can watch films like The Gorgon, The Reptile, The Plague of the Zombies and the Dracula series over and over again.They have a charmingly unhurried pace to them.
The Ox: Steampunk is a thing these days – would you say that’s a good thing for Forrester, or are you keen to distance yourself from it?
Hereward: I’m not all that keen on Steampunk, to be honest. I’ve read some fun stuff in that genre like Joe R. Lansdale’s “Zeppelins West” or Kim Newman’s “Anno Dracula” but for the most part, I avoid it. I guess Steampunk is good for getting people interested in the period but I find Victorian times fascinating enough without giant steam-powered robots or clockwork assassins. The Forrester tales are set in a historically accurate Victorian world, but with the addition of supernatural beasties, often drawn from folklore. I like my fantasy grounded in the real world.
The Ox: Forrester looks like he could run and run. Can you talk about your novel, The Sound of Shiant, and explore where we might see the inspector pop up next?
Hereward: I love writing the Forrester stories. He was originally a small character in my novel “The Great Absolute” but I grew so fond of him that I started writing stories focusing on him. “The Sound of Shiant” is a novel where Forrester finds himself in the Outer Hebrides investigating the death of a young lad on a fishing boat. He soon discovers that there is something sinister afoot and suspects that the local legend of the Blue Men of the Minch might be more than just a myth. “The Guardian of the Vaults” is one of my favourite tales from “Strange Cases”, a collection of short stories that see Forrester take on all manner of weird beasties, both in Britain and America.
Next up for Inspector Forrester is an untitled novelette I’ve been working on. Forrester is sent to investigate a series of grisly murders at a factory in the Midlands… This one is heavily influenced by the old Peter Cushing movie “The Blood Beast Terror”. I’ll be putting it out on Kindle in the next few months but I am also hoping to do a limited print-run of the story as an illustrated chapbook. Chris Cowdrill, the artist who did the cover for the paperback of “The Sound of Shiant” is going to do the pictures. I’ve seen some early sketches and they are brilliant. I’m hoping that the chapbook will really capture the vibe of the old pulp magazines.
The Ox: What are you working on at the moment, and what other projects can we expect to see from you in the future?
Hereward: At the moment, I’m actually putting the finishing touches on my Masters dissertation in Counselling Psychology. It’s interesting but very different to the two-fisted tales of monsters and adventure that I prefer to write! Once the dissertation is out of the way, I hope to make a start on a Rudyard Kipling / Godzilla mash-up called “The Man Who Would Be King of the Monsters”. I also have plans to write a version of the old folk-song Tam Lin. Not sure whether it will be a short story or a novel yet. I’m sure that Edmund Forrester will return sometime in the future too.
The Ox: Finally, what’s your favourite tipple in the pub, and what’s your ideal pub finger food?
Hereward: Like Inspector Forrester, I love a brandy. In a pub, though, I’d probably drink a real ale. As for a pub snack, it has to be pork scratchings, doesn’t it?