Kim: An English Ghost Story is exactly what it says – a haunted house novel. I’ve been writing things like the Anno Dracula series and my Professor Moriarty novel The Hound of the d’Urbervilles, which are expansive and require a lot of historical research and large-scale effects …and I wanted to do something more enclosed, character-driven (not that the other books aren’t) and less dependent on the reader being aware of other books. It is in part a meditation on the ghost story, in manifestations from the MR James school to 1970s TV movies, but it’s also a study of a troubled family in a crisis.
2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
Kim: sure – I’ve just written a monograph for the British Film Institute on Quatermass and the Pit and I’m working on Kentish Glory, a superheroine pulp origin tale set in an English girls’ school in the 1920s. I’ll be doing another Anno Dracula next year, and I’m also planning a book tangentally about the Phantom of the Opera.
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Kim: for me – and my career is quite complicated in the types of writing and I and the way broadcasting and other sidetracks come into it – is that I get to work from home, set my own hours, and pursue my peculiar interests. As a freelance, everything I do is either my idea or the result of someone asking me to do it – nothing I do is because someone has told me to.
4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Kim: Nothing much comes to mind – I’m lucky enough to have a reasonable income, own my own home and not be subject to the insecurity a lot of writers have. I even quite enjoy the admin side of things.
5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
Kim: don’t give up.
6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?
Kim: I’m a particular admirer of Richard Condon, Stanley Ellin and Fredric Brown – not exactly obscure, they’ve somehow not quite latched onto lasting status. They’re each known for one or two books or stories, but almost everything they wrote is worth seeking out. From the 19th century, I like Guy Boothby, Arthur Morrison and Grant Allen.
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
Kim: It wasn’t that dramatic – my first novel wasn’t my first book, so I was reasonably established as a genre critic, short fiction writer, broadcaster and troublemaker by the time The Night Mayor appeared. It came out at about the same time as my first pseudonymous novel, Drachenfels (as by Jack Yeovil), which was written soon after. Naturally, I was pleased to sell a novel – though, as often happens, the editor who bought it promptly legt the publisher and wasn’t there when it came out.