Becky Wright is an author with a passion for Gothic literature, history, the supernatural and things that go bump in the night. As a child nothing tantalised her senses as much a good ghost story.
Blessed, she lives in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, surrounded by rolling green fields, picturesque timber-framed villages, country pubs and rural churches – and lots of haunted houses.
She is married, with a young son, four grown-up children, and grandchildren. Family bonds and the intricate nature of relationships feature strongly in her books, using the emotions of her characters to lead their actions. With her inherent fascination for all things paranormal, Gothic and the macabre, her writing tends to lean towards the dark side.
I know you as the writer of Mr Stoker & I, would you like to give an idea as to what it is to whoever hasn’t read it yet?
Mr Stoker & I, is a story of what if? What if when Bram Stoker visited Whitby that summer of 1890, he met a young woman early one morning on the East Cliff in the shadow of Whitby Abbey. What if it was her story that truly inspired him to create Dracula. The story delves deep in the dark corners of a human soul and what drives us to commit awful, dreadful acts out of desperation, and love, however misguided they are. I touch on the essence of Dracula; blood plays a huge part, also using Lucy as my main character. I think the obvious choice would be to use Mina Harker. I was also inspired by the technical side of Dracula, and how Stoker used diary and journal entries to tell the story, it has retrospective storytelling. I used the same technique for the most part, also with Bram Stoker as a main character.
In short, Mr Stoker & I is my homage to Bram Stoker’s classic. I have a lifelong love for Gothic fiction and classic literature in general. I first read Dracula in my early teens; it stuck with me. I then watched the 1931 movie version with Bela Lugosi and fell in love.
Did you start by writing short stories and then “graduated” to writing novels, or did you start as a novelist?
I started as a novelist. My debut novel is the longest I’ve written to date. Although I must confess, I acquired a newfound joy in creating shorts. I now have two novellas, and another in process. I enjoy reading shorter stories too. My reading time is limited and therefore precious, the idea of being able to finish a book in a couple of sittings is inviting. Although I must admit, there is quite an art to finding the correct pace to craft a novella successfully – you still need to fulfil the reader expectations with a fleshy enough story to satisfy, and the all-important twist.
Mr Stoker & I is set at the end of the 19th century, how difficult it is to write in a voice that sounds authentic for the time?
I always find I shock myself a little when I write. I certainly don’t talk in a 19th-century manner but writing in that prose comes quite naturally to me. I think it’s from reading the classics as a child. I have an infinity to the era and the phrasing. I have nostalgia coursing through my veins, I love history, social and my own. I often find my mind wandering back to my childhood. I think this all plays a part in my makeup; my inner writing voice reflects that.
Bram Stoker himself is part of the characters’ cast. I am sure that means that you’re a big fan of his, but how difficult is it to have a real historical figure as character in a fictional story?
Quite tricky, I will admit. It felt a little daunting at first and quite foolhardy at using such an iconic figure in the world of gothic literature. But to do the story justice, I had to put those fears aside and sink my teeth into it (excuse the pun). Obviously, I had to do additional research into Bram’s life; a lot of which never made it into the book as such but knowing him better helped me write it. I would like to think I channelled a little of Bram into the pages.
Thinking of the tropes of the vampires genres (fangs, bloodsucking, stakes…), would you consider Mr. Stoker & I a vampire novel?
No not really. I know there is a moment of two when it comes close to the feeling of a vampire. One scene in particular, I don’t want to give anything away. I will always state its not a story of vampires, nor a retelling of Dracula, but an origins story, a what if? I still market it on the back of Dracula, it would be foolish to do anything but, featuring Stoker and characters based around Bram’s, but it’s about the emotions and actions bought about by greed and desperation.
Vampires, like many other horror creatures, are tied to religion (at least in classic versions); do you find this to be a limit to creativity?
Not personally no, in fact because I write in a classic lit style religion will automatically creep into my books. In Mr Stoker & I, a prominent character is actually the local Reverend, creating the contrast and conflict between science and religion.
Mr. Stoker & I is set in Whitby, in the north of England. Is this an important place to you, or were you just looking for a seaside British town?
Whitby plays its own role in Stoker’s classic; it is where the Demeter, the ship Dracula was travelling on wrecked on the beach at the foot of the east cliff. Stoker based this on the Dmitry that ran aground in 1885 after hearing tales of it that summer of 1890.
Whitby holds an incredibly special part in my heart. We first visited because I wanted to see the Abbey after rereading Dracula about a decade ago, since then it’s our first-choice destination. I’ve been asked several times what it is about the seaside town and to be honest it is hard for me to put into words. There is a feeling that creeps under my skin when I stand beneath the arches of Whitby Abbey, perhaps it’s now its solidified by my book. My plan is to retire there in a cottage overlooking the sea.
Do you come from a literary background?
Only in the sense of my love for it, I never studied literature. I grew up in a house of books, many being the classic. My mother has always been a voracious reader; my father was a talented storyteller. I think it’s in my blood.
What is your next project? What’s next for you?
I have a novella, The Final Act of Mercy Dove, releasing Friday 13th November, it a dark Victorian Gothic Horror with a dark erotic twist. I’m really excited about this one. It’s a quick read but definitely packs a punch or two. It is a story that has been niggling in the back of my mind for a long while, every so often Mercy Dove would creep in and curse me for putting her off, so I had to write it.
Do you have a writing process and do you have a writing place?
My desk. I used to be able to take my laptop and sit wherever the mood took me, but I get easily distracted. I’ve just treated myself to a new desktop pc, so I’m virtually tied to my desk now, but with significant results. I find the structure works well with my need for timekeeping and schedule.
Can you tell us something about your beginning in the indie world?
I first published my debut novel, Remember to Love Me, back in 2008; back then, it was not an easy task, finding the way to achieve what I wanted was to source a printer to print them, which I did. Soon after my personal life change, my marriage ended, and in turn, I shelved the idea of being a writer. Fast forward 2016, and newly married and with a young son, I delved back into it. There was a lot of researching how to go about it. But I knew about indie publishing, I had followed several independent writers, so I jumped in headfirst. Although I would say I haven’t looked back, I will add that I’ve learnt a lot along the way.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think the hardest lesson to learn, or maybe the hardest to get your head around it that it’s not just about writing a book. Or finding a publisher. I’ve seen and heard all too often new writers who have a finished manuscript assuming that finding a publisher will be as simple as choosing one. I hate the burst anyone’s bubble, having your dreams stomped on is devastating, I’m here to uphold and support, but sometimes it is a hard lesson that need learning. Of course, there are plenty of writers who do find the perfect publisher, with contracts and major deals, but for the most part, you are a small fish in a vast ocean.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
It truly depends on where I am in the process. I think we all get a great buzz at the start; it’s that excitement of a blank page and a shiny new idea. I do get a little exhausted around the middle point, it’s usually where there is a lot of research involved, and although I love that side, it can halt me going back into the story. Writing is a muscle the more you work it, the easier and stronger it becomes. Sometimes, if I step away from it for more than a few days its hard to pick up the pace again.
Do you have a formal writing instruction ? Do you think that a formal instruction helps writing?
I have no formal qualification at all. I used to feel somewhat embarrassed about that. Still, over the years I’ve leant that for me it is inside me, perhaps a formal qualification in creative writing may have aided some of the more technical sides of the craft, gifting me some insight into other writers and processes. For me, writing is a craft, an art, not something that comes from a degree but from my heart. That sounds a little melodramatic, but it’s true.
What was a prominent genre on your bookshelf growing up?
I think like most children, it was fantasy to a degree. But my true love was always in a good ghost story. A turning point for me was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; we read it as part of a school project when I was about nine years old. It sparked something deep inside. I was enthralled at Dickens storytelling, the vividness of the spirits. I have always had a fascination for the macabre, it certainly fuelled that.
Did you write as a child?
I remember creating my first book, I was about eight or nine, and yes, it was about a haunted house. I wrote and illustrated it. I felt quite triumphant. I’ve always been a creative soul; I spend most of my children with a pencil in my hand whether I was writing or drawing.
What is an indie movement cliché that you’d like to erase?
That it is a mark of failure, I loathe that sentiment.
Indeed, some indie authors are so because they gave up on the quest to find a traditional publisher, I know many of those, but this does not mean your talent is inferior or that you failed. Myself, I have never even attempted. I am happy and content being in full control of my art. In my opinion, there is no difference between a traditional or indie author, other than how the book is produced and the budget behind it. I have read equally brilliant, moving, and captivating books by both, and not so great ones by both too.
Is there anything you find bad about the indie movement?
Personally, I try to keep away from negativity. I know there is negativing to be found, I have seen it on some social media platforms; however, I’ve found myself in a great supportive community of indie authors. The worst thing, as I mentioned before it the stigma of inferiority, although I sense that is dissolving the more an integral part of the publishing industry we become.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I’m not sure there’s one I wouldn’t write about, more have no desire to. I steer clear of high fantasy; my mind does not work along the lines of dragons, magic, mystical creatures, or far off land with strange unpronounceable names. Nor can I write contemporary romance with happy endings, I think my mind is too dark and tend to create nasty situations for my characters. There are highly successful, talented writers who created wonderful books in these, I have no desire to attempt them.
What do you do when you’re not knee-deep in writing?
Drink lots of coffee. Seriously, I lose track of everything when I’m in full writing mode. I have a great husband who if he’s home will just keep my mug or glass full, cook dinner, and tend to our son. When the house is quiet, it allows me to immerse myself; I rarely come up for air.
How do you manage to fit your writing with the other demands of life? Are you good at managing your time?
I have learnt the art of time management. I used to an expert at procrastination. I’m a mum and full-time housewife, a run a business with my husband, Platform House, which offers writer services, formatting, book covers and book trailers, especially for Independent Authors. And of course, I’m a writer. So, my diary is always open on my desk. I need to stay on top of my daily routine, or I will fall flat on my face; it’s an art in itself.
Writing, editing, proofreading, marketing, cover design… do you write all these hat yourself or do you have someone you can trust to help you with those?
I will do my own proof and edit then pass it on to something who can do it properly. At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller, not an editor. I’m a great believer you need to play to your strengths. Once my editor has finished with it, we do the rest in house, I will format, my husband with design the cover and a book trailer, and I marketing.
How important is a book’s cover?
Extremely. You can have an incredible story within the pages, but if the cover doesn’t catch anyone’s eye, no one will ever know. I liked to imagine the cover is a window; the blurb is the invitation; they both need to say enough but not give too much away, just enough to entice the reader in.
With the advent of social media, how important is it to have a personal website for an indie author?
I have always had a website, but I came from a business background where it was necessary. I think this splits some authors. I know many who only use social media, you can, after all, say everything you need with it, post and share links to your books etc. I also know many who run regular blogs. I think I use a combination of all. However, my website is due a little overhaul.
Do indie writers perpetuate their own alienation?
It can be easily done. Harking on about the greatness or revers of being an indie author can have the effect of isolating and segregating, creating its own alienation as you state. In truth, I like to class myself a published writer, a creative mind, a storyteller. I know with social media I do use the #indieauthor tag sometimes, simply to find some ground, however in my mind, as I have said before, we are all writers, I’m not a fan of labels although don’t think we should be ashamed of the name either.
Do you want to give us some of your contacts?
All my books are available worldwide from Amazon.