Shropshire Star / Mid-Wales Journal Interview

Return of the slime beast spawns new era for Guy.

A PROLIFIC author who lives on the Mid Wales/South Shropshire border has been surprised by renewed interest in a book he wrote 40 years ago.

Guy N Smith is possibly the most prolific pulp horror author of all time. He has had over a thousand short stories and magazine articles published, written a series of children’s books under the pseudonym Jonathon Guy, two thrillers under the name Gavin Newman, and a dozen non-fiction books on countryside matters.

However, he is best known for his 70 or so horror books.

Pilot

But for Guy, who lives between Knighton and Clun, it’s the revival of interest in his third book, The Slime Beast, which he wrote in 1975, which has come as a pleasant surprise.

At the time of its publication, The Slime Beast sold about 100,000 paperback copies, has had many print runs and three different covers. Now a film company is keen to put the story on the screen and a new hard-back cover version has been published.

“Suddenly last year it surfaced when a film company from Canada got in touch and said they would like to do a film,” said Guy.

“They shot a pilot and they are now at screenplay stage and so hopefully soon I will get to see the script.

“Then within one or two weeks Centipede Press published it as a signed, hard cover edition of 250 copies. So there has been no contact between the film company and publishing company but it looks like the old Slime Beast is back after 40 years!”

Guy added: “I spoke to the film director a few weeks ago and I told him that the renewed interest had given me an idea to do a sequel. So I have written Spawn of the Slime Beast and that is selling really well, particularly as an e-book.”

Guy who has his first story published in a local newspaper at the age of 12, followed by 55 more before he was 17, said that with all the latest activity he is busier now than ever before.

Despite his passion for writing at an early age, Guy followed family tradition and went into banking. It was to be some 20 years later before he became a full-time author.

The 1970s were a boom time for pulp fiction, and Guy made his debut with ‘Werewolf by Moonlight’.

It was ‘Night of the Crabs’, though, which really established him as a writer, virtually overnight in that memorable long hot summer of 1976. The title was the ‘No.1 beach read’. It saw numerous reprints and spawned six sequels, along with several short stories, as well as a movie.

Almost 40 years later, at a recent fan club convention at his home, which attracted fans from all over the country, Guy launched his latest Crabs book, Crabs Omnibus, a compilation of some new shorts stories and those that have already been published.

“It’s really for the collector, so they can have the whole complete collection,” said Guy.

As well as his latest books being available and a possible film in the near future, Guy will also be making an appearance tomorrow night (Saturday 31st Nov 2015) for a Halloween Flicks in the Sticks special film showing.

Screening

Dilys Thorpe, who runs Flicks in the Sticks for the local area, wanted to bring something a little out of the ordinary to the audience for the spookiest night of the year. So together she and Guy will be presenting a special screening of ‘Island Claws’ at Clun Memorial Hall, starting at 7.30pm.

The action takes place on a tropical island where marine biologists are experimenting with growth hormones on crabs. This results in radiation-mutated crabs.

The film is taken from Guy’s book ‘Night of the Crabs’ and he will be on hand after the film showing to answer questions from the audience.

Tickets are £4.50 for adults and £2.50 for children and they are available by calling (01588) 640254.

For more information on Guy N Smith, and to access his back catalogue of books, visit his website at www.guynsmith.com

DLS Reviews Interview – March 2015

Very possibly the most prolific pulp horror author of all time as well, as being an incredibly friendly and approachable individual who always has his fans in mind; I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to interview the godfather of pulp horror novels – Guy N Smith.

He’s had more titles published than you or I have had birthdays. If you enjoy a good pulp horror novel that simply doesn’t hold back, then chances are you’ve got a fair few of this man’s paperbacks in your collection.

The man’s a living legend. And he singlehandedly sets the bar for how to deliver a pulp horror novel that always delivers the goods in absolute abundance.

DLS – Hi Guy. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for DLS Reviews.

DLS – As incredible as it sounds, you’ve been writing professionally for over 40 years now. Is writing something that has always come naturally to you? Or is it something that you had to work hard at?

GNS – I guess I picked it up as I went along. My mother was an historical novelist (E.M. Weale) and she encouraged me from a very early age. I used to compile a weekly comic for her, for which she paid me sixpence (2½p). I never missed a deadline. This led to published stories (56 in total) in a local newspaper, moving on to shooting articles in leading sporting magazines. Dixon Hawke stories for D.C. Thomson, London Mystery etc. Then came my novels in 1975 through to the present day. It was all a learning curve.

DLS – Why did you start off writing horror fiction and why did you decide to (mostly) stay within this particular genre?

GNS – I started with horror fiction because New English Library were seeking a werewolf novel for their lists. This led to others being commissioned. Contracts came thick and fast so I stayed with horror along with books in other genres.

DLS – What novels would you say you enjoyed writing the most and why?

GNS – ‘Pony Riders’ (Pinnacle USA). I have always been an avid western fan and when the opportunity arose to write a book I seized it. I have always been fascinated by the Pony Express. In a way this book is a history but with a fictional plot. Except for J.A. Slade, the notorious road boss and gunman.

DLS – Are there any novels that you found difficult or particularly challenging to write?

GNS – ‘Fiend’ was one with its Soviet setting. The Russian way of life etc. The research took as long as it did to write the book.

DLS – What sort of research and planning have you done before commencing a novel? Do you find each novel requires a large amount of research and planning, or is it not always necessary?

GNS – Most of my novels, Crabs, The Slime Beast etc, were figments of my own imagination. The Sucking Pit is set in the woods bordering my boyhood home and I knew these like the back of my hand. ‘Blood Circuit’ was difficult, though, because I had to do a great deal of research on motor racing.

DLS – Who would you say is you favourite character out of the hundreds of different ones you’ve created over the years and why?

GNS – Undoubtedly John Mayo, the man in the black fedora (The Black Fedora). I met him at a wedding and he loaned me his fedora knowing that I was basing my character on himself. A few years later he wanted his headgear back and, as we were both appearing on stage at a festival in a small Welsh town, we decided that he would demand it at gun point! So I had no option but to hand it over but then, out of the audience another fedora came whizzing. One of my fans was ensuring that I would not be without a black fedora! John Mayo also appears in ‘The Knighton Vampires.’

DLS – ‘The Fiend’ (1988) was probably your longest novel, running for a total of 312 pages. The majority of your other titles have a page count of around 120 – 150 pages. Why do you favour writing shorter length novels? And have you ever considered going for a much longer offering, say like Stephen King or Dean Koontz tend to?

GNS – I prefer short books both to read and to write. Many of the famous genre classics have been short: Shane, I am Legend, The Third Man, to name but three. They are not easy to write as one has to put the plot into around 50,000 words. I have resisted longer books, the temptation is to pad them out with a sub-plot. My policy is to tell a fast moving story which holds the reader’s interest from start to finish. I had to write longer books to satisfy publishers’ requirements as the 1980’s dawned but now I’m back to writing short ones – and enjoying it.

DLS – Are there any authors that inspire you? Also, which authors and genres of fiction do you read?

GNS – I prefer to read books prior to the 1960’s mostly from the 1930’s. My favourite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Leslie Charteris, Sapper, Sydney Horler, Edgar Wallace and a few others. I re-read quite a lot. I also read westerns. I like Oliver Strange who penned the Sudden series. He was British, lived in London and wrote outside in his garden during fine summer days.

DLS – Can you tell us a little about your success outside of the UK, what countries your work has been published in, and where your novels have been particularly popular?

GNS – I had around 17 horror novels published in the USA. Right now ‘The Slime Beast’ (1975) is being reissued as a signed limited edition in hardcover by Centipede Press, USA. 25 of my books were published in Poland, many selling 100,000 and being reprinted. Suddenly the publishers vanished! I later discovered that they had sold 7 of my titles to Russia. There is a lot of money still owed to me in royalties!

DLS – You’ve often stated that your favourite tale from your own back catalogue is ‘The Pony Riders’ (1997). Do you have any plans to write another Western in a similar vein? Or perhaps even combine a Western setting with a horror storyline in a similar way to your short ‘Zombie Gunfighter’ (2011)?

GNS – It is a possibility. I would love to write one and maybe I will but at the moment I have a very heavy schedule.

DLS – Would you say genre fiction has already had its day and is now slowly losing its readership? Or do you see genre fiction being just as popular now (or possibly in the future) as it was back in the 70s and 80s?

GNS – Genre fiction only went into decline because publishers wanted it to so that they could hype biographies of famous personalities, books on gardening, cookery etc. My own books are selling well as e-books and print-on-demand which goes to prove that there is still a readership out there. Overall I think genre fiction is making a steady comeback.

DLS – Your fanzine publication ‘Graveyard Rendezvous’ has been running since 1993 (with a total of 41 issues to date). Can you tell us a little about the history of this fanzine and what direct involvement you’ve had with it over the years?

GNS – Graveyard Rendezvous was started by a fan who produced around 5 excellent issues before the workload became too much for him. So we took it over. It has been absent for about 3 years now but that is because of a shortage of suitable material. Whilst we were happy to publish the occasional short story by a fan the last thing our readership wants is an entire issue filled with fan fiction. We want articles, some about GNS and his books or about the horror genre. So far, in spite of requests little has been forthcoming. I would love to see GR up and running again.

DLS – When we last spoke you mentioned the potential publication of a special hardback version of ‘The Slime Beast’ (1976) as well as a possible sequel to the original tale. Has there been any progress with either of these?

GNS – I have just finished writing ‘Spawn of the Sime Beast’. The cover is in production and we hope to have it available both as an e-book and POD before too long. It is very much in the style of the original although set in the present day.

DLS – Back in 2012 there was quite a bit of talk about a potential film adaptation of ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976) being made. I understand that this unfortunately never materialised. Can you tell us a little about what happened? And are there any other plans for future film adaptations of your work?

GNS – I guess ‘Night of the Crabs’ fell by the wayside because the film company wanted to make it as a blockbuster rather than a ‘B’ movie and that would have cost mega money. At the moment there are moves to film ‘The Slime Beast’. Apparently they are currently working on the screenplay and I have been informed that the producer is ‘very keen!’

DLS -There have been rumours of third and fourth instalments to the ‘Truckers’ series. Were these titles ever penned, and if so, do you still have the original manuscripts which could possibly be published one day?

GNS – The ‘Truckers’ series died along with Mews Books which was amalgamated into New English Library. Whilst series books were in vogue when this small publisher started, they went into decline. Truckers 3 & 4 were never written, just some ideas submitted.

DLS -Back in 1974 a comic book adaptation of your infamous war-sleaze novel ‘Bamboo Guerillas’ (1977) was drafted up for the ‘Adventure Strip Weekly’ (1974). What ever happened to this project and why did it never see the light of day?

GNS – It was the brainchild of artist Peter Knifton. We met, he produced a ‘pilot’, but I never heard from him again.

DLS – Over the years you’ve written novels involving crabs, locusts, bats, snakes, a caracal and a leopard on the rampage. Have you had any thoughts about writing a novel involving any other beasties giving mankind a good battering, and if so which ones and why did you never pursue them?

GNS – Frankly, I think more than enough species of beasties have been covered, not just by myself but Crabs started a frenzy of them which saturated the market in the 1980’s. So any more from me will feature those which have already proved popular and have served me well in the past.

DLS – Your fans are clearly very important to you. Each year, on the first Sunday in September, you hold an annual fan convention at your house in Clun. Do you still get a lot of enjoyment out of these events and do you still see them as being as important now as they were when you first started hosting them?

GNS – I see my annual Fan Club Convention being as important as ever. I like to meet as many fans as possible. A number of them have become personal friends. Without the convention I would never see them. I owe a lot to my fans, many of whom have bought my books and remained faithful to me over the years. So I like to put on an enjoyable day for all and I plan to continue with it for as long as possible.

DLS – Are there any plans for a follow-up autobiography to ‘Pipe Dreams’ (2013). Although an excellent and very interesting read, ‘Pipe Dreams’ nevertheless felt a tad too thin and missing many of those amusing stories and antidotes which you’ve shared at your annual conventions.

GNS – ‘Pipe Dreams’ will, I’m sure, be updated with further editions. It is a kind of on-going book.

DLS – Finally, what can we next see coming from the Guy N Smith franchise?

GNS – As already mentioned there is the Slime Beast sequel next. We are currently looking at a ‘Crabs Omnibus’, searching out the short stories which have appeared in print over the years and putting them all between one cover plus some new material. That way the Crabs completist fan will have everything I have ever written about the giant crustaceans.

DLS – Many thanks for taking the time out to answer all of these questions Guy.

To see this interview at DLS Reviews click here

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To go to the DLS Reviews site click here

Booksqawk Interview

Interview by Pat Black and Hereward L.M. Proops

Booksquawk: Many people will remember seeing your novels in the horror section shelves of bookshops up and down the UK. However, since the “horror boom” period from the mid-70s to early -90s, the publishing industry has changed. As someone who first found fame through traditional outlets, and who now embraces the digital revolution, how do you feel about the future of publishing?

Guy N Smith: I think that traditional publishing as we once knew it has gone forever. Frankly, I find bookshops boring; no category sections, just hyped books on subjects such as cookery, health etc, and autobiographies of personalities which are mostly ghost-written.

I believe the future of publishing is in e-books and, to a lesser extent, print-on-demand. I will go along with it simply because there isn’t an alternative.

Booksquawk: I noticed that you seem to kill off certain types of people (e.g. women who cheat on their partners, animal rights activists etc). Is this intentional? Are there any groups of people you are planning on killing off in future novels?

Guy N Smith: I have intentionally killed off a few people in my books, bullies who made life miserable for me in my schooldays and early teens when I couldn’t fight back. I have no plans to kill off any more – they are all dead now within my pages! However, I have a particular dislike of extremism. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, right or wrong. When anybody tries to shove their opinion down my throat as though their beliefs are gospel, it makes me angry.

Booksquawk: The Slime Beast sequel news has us in a state of some excitement at Booksquawk towers. Some questions about your most famous creation which doesn’t walk sideways:

(a) I heard that there is a movie adaptation of The Slime Beast in the works. What can you tell us about it?

Guy N Smith: It is in its very early stages. I believe they are shooting a pilot and I am promised “something to look at”.

Booksquawk:

(b) There’s a real ambiguity about whether the wholesale MLB jerseys creature is extraterrestrial or a monster of this earth. Please settle this once and for all… is it an alien or a regular monster?

Guy N Smith: You will have to read the sequel to find out!

Booksquawk:

(c) Is it set in the present day, or a direct sequel to the original events?

Guy N Smith: It is set in wholesale MLB jerseys the present day but the lead characters are the same – obviously much older, with grown-up children.

Booksquawk: It is clear to see from your work (and it’s especially apparent in Hangman’s Hotel) that you take a lot of pleasure in the natural world. I felt there were occasions that your prose really Convention caught fire when talking about the simple pleasures of your characters making their way through the countryside, and I’d like to read more. Aside from the books you’ve already written about gamekeeping and shooting, could we ever expect to read something non-fictional about the natural world, in the style of Robert Macfarlane and other nature writers?

Guy N Smith: It’s a possibility. However, I go from book to book. Something always seems to crop up, events that lead to inspiration.

Booksquawk: It may not be well-known, but you won the British Pipe Smoking Championship in 2003. What efforts have you made to try to reinstate this contest, in the wake of the smoking ban?

Guy N Smith: The contest has been reinstated over the last couple of years but I have been unable to attend. Whether or not it will continue remains to be seen.

Booksquawk: Bloodsports are not to everyone’s tastes. How would you respond to critics of hunting?

Guy N Smith: Fieldsports, please, not bloodsports. As I said (above), everybody is entitled to their own views. Supposedly we live in a democracy, but sometimes I wonder.

As for the critics of hunting, they simply do not understand it. The fox is not torn to pieces whilst still alive. Hounds kill it quickly by a bite at the base of the neck prior to savaging the corpse.

I do not hunt but, as already stated, we are a democratic nation, so each to his, or her, views.

Booksquawk: Related to the above: Do you shoot for pleasure, or shoot for the pot?

Guy N Smith: I shoot for two reasons: 1) For the pot, and 2) to control vermin species. That said, game or vermin, I like the challenge. Man has been a hunter since he first walked the earth. My policy is a sporting and humane shot.

Booksquawk: What is the finest hunting weapon you’ve ever used?

Guy N Smith: In my late teens when I worked in a bank in Birmingham, I spent a lot of my spare time, lunch hours and after work at the famous Midland Gun Company, one of the largest. I built up an excellent relationship and assisted, in a small way, in the making of a 12-bore shotgun. My name was engraved on the barrels. They offered me an apprenticeship, a trial whereby we could both see if we were suited to the job.

However, I come from a banking family and my father would not hear of it. In those days he would have had to sign the forms allowing me to become an apprentice. He flatly refused. So that was that. The Midland suffered the fate of hundreds of other gunmakers when Birmingham’s legendary Gun Quarter was demolished to make way for a ring road. It was twice bought by other firms who had the Midland guns made in Italy and Turkey respectively. This proved to be economically unsuccessful and two years ago I bought the name and have the company registered to myself. The registration certificate is proudly displayed on my wall. Likewise, I have my lovely gun, designed by myself, and my memories of what might have been.

Booksquawk: The most memorable story in Hangman’s Hotel, for me, is “Savage Safari”. I shan’t spoil the treat in store for readers, but I would ask you: which creature throughout history, living today or extinct, would you most like to have hunted?

Guy N Smith: I would like to have hunted buffalo and leopard in Africa but I guess it’s too late in life now for me. However, there are Big Cats at large in the UK and I have personally seen a black leopard. 2016 There have been other reliable sightings on my own land.

I am still hoping to bag a wild boar, on even terms, not shot from ambush. My dream is to be charged by an angry wild boar. It will be against me, truly a fair encounter.

Booksquawk: When did you come up with the idea of giant killer crabs? Was it your way of tapping into the “eco-horror” stories of the 1970s, spearheaded by Jaws, or did you have a NCT lifelong fear of crustaceans which inspired your stories?

Guy N Smth: I do not have a fear of crustaceans. Certainly my Crabs were not inspired by Jaws. Just an idea that came to me when I sent a synopsis to NEL, I really wondered if it was too far-fetched. Maybe… but a bestseller, a movie and six sequels must mean that it appealed to a lot of readers!

Booksquawk: Killer Crabs: The Return felt like a bit of a return to form for the Crabs novels after Crabs: The Human Sacrifice… Have you got any more plans for the monstrous crustaceans in the near future?

Guy N Smith: I have, but I’m not going to tell you! Wait and see…

Booksquawk: You, the late, great James Herbert, Shaun Hutson, Graham Masterton and others were instrumental in bringing more extreme horror experiences and graphic scenes to British readers. It was extremely influential – and popular. Now that time has passed, do you ever regret “going too far” in any scenes of sex or violence?

Guy N Smith: Not at all. In fact most of the sex scenes were mild compared with much of today’s explicit descriptions. As for violence, what do you expect from the Crabs? As for my other books, you have only got to read the papers or watch TV news; far more dreadful things are happening in today’s real world than ever appeared in my writing.

Booksquawk: There’s much more to your work than horror. What genre did you enjoy working in outside of horror, and why?

Guy N Smith: Westerns are a favourite genre of mine. cheap nba jerseys Which was why I wrote Pony Riders (Pinnacle, USA). From a very early age I had a cowboy outfit and fired cap guns. I guess I never grew out of that pleasure so I turned to reading ogrodzie and writing about it.

Booksquawk: Are you aware of Garth Marenghi, the spoof horror author character (played by Matthew Holness) who featured in the TV show Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace? Do you feel that your works might have influenced this character?

Guy N Smith: I don’t watch much TV, certainly not horror. However, if my work has influenced a character, then good luck to him.

Booksquawk: You hold the record for being Booksquawk’s most reviewed author. Not all of the reviews have been kind to wholesale jerseys your work – but we keep coming back. We love it. We are, in fact, fans. What do you think is the continuing appeal of your stories – and what is it about the horror field that appeals to you?

Guy N Smith: My early books are short tales full of action, a large variety of plots. I have been criticised many times, but nobody can knock my record regarding sales. And the books are making a return. The Slime Beast will be published as a signed hardcover, Limited Edition, in March. A couple of years ago, The Sucking Pit was resurrected by Mansion House and, in addition to a run of signed limited copies, there was a sleeved A-Z run. Then publishers have also shown an interest in resurrecting my three Werewolf novels as a limited edition trilogy. Not to mention the extremely buoyant sales of my e-books.

Kind regards and many thanks to Guy N Smith for his time.