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Monday 26 October 2020

STAIRWELL TO HEAVEN - an interview with Dean Bryant

My guest today is my friend and fellow-author Dean Bryant, whose novel The Stairwell will be published by Darkstroke Books this coming Friday (30th October 2020).

Welcome, Dean!  What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

I've always loved to write.  I had a very inspiring English teacher when I was in primary school (about ten years old).  He always read anything I wrote, whether it was homework or just for fun.  I still remember when he wrote "Another cracker from the pen of Dean Bryant" at the end of one of my stories.  He also prompted me to enter a nationwide poetry competition.  One poem from each school would be published in a compilation book.  I never thought it would happen, but I won, and still have a copy of the book.  Thanks, Mr Casson, wherever you are!

Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

The Stairwell is a horror/paranormal thriller, following two characters as they both begin to experience nightmarish visions that bleed into reality.

What was the inspiration for this book?

Mainly the work of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  They both have such a unique writing voice, and it inspired me to find my own with The Stairwell. 

Did you do any research for the book?

Honestly, not much. I did research some procedural things regarding emergency services work, but I feel horror and paranormal fiction allows the writer such freedom. Each writer, when trying to scare their readers, will come up with their own unique way to do so. 

What does a typical writing day involve for you? 

Most of The Stairwell was written with my father.  He lives on the other side of the country, so once every other month we'd get together for a few days.  We'd get up in the morning, have a nice English breakfast, then get to writing.  By the end of the day we'd realise we'd each written thousands of words.  Without him it would have been harder to stay motivated.

How do you decide on the names for your characters? 

There are a couple that are named after people I know.  The others are completely made up.  I tried to stay clear of names I've read in some of my favourite books, to keep them separate in my mind and help me to flesh out their character.

Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?  

A bit of both.  I planned out how many chapters there would be, plus the main event and the ending.  I wanted each chapter to end on a cliffhanger.  My intent was that the reader would finish reading a chapter about Brandon, then when the chapter about Alice came up they'd be dying to find out what happened to Brandon next - and vice versa.  But the rest of the writing wasn't planned, and flowed onto the page as I wrote it. 

Which writers have influenced your own writing?  

Mainly Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Mark Edwards.  I think that anyone who reads one of their books would be able to tell that they had written it without their name being on it.  Their writing styles are so brilliant and unique.

What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst? 

The best parts were spending more time with my dad, and exercising my creative muscles.  I'm not creative in any other way - I can't draw, sing or play an instrument, so it's good to have an outlet.  I'm not sure that there are any processes that I dislike, but perfecting the ending was probably the most challenging.  I always knew how I wanted The Stairwell to end, but putting it together can be tricky.

Now the book is about to be published and ‘out there’, how do you feel? 

I'm still quite surprised.  I mainly wrote it for the enjoyment, and didn't expect to get published.  But now, it feels like a dream come true.  I feel that somehow I've been working up to this ever since I was that little ten-year-old boy who'd rather spend his free time writing than playing football.

Is there a message for the reader? 

Firstly - thank you for reading.  I'm incredibly excited to hear what you think, and I'd love to listen to what readers have to say about the ending.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I would say write what you love to read. Some genres might be more popular, or easier to write, but if you are passionate for your genre it'l show in your writing.  Also, to begin with don't worry too much about editing, a cover, or anything other than writing.  Write the story you want to write, and the rest can wait.

I'm with you there!  My first novel was written in response to the prompt "Write the book you want to read".  What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm currently working on an as yet untitled paranormal thriller, which will be the first in a new series.  It follows a detective in the London Metropolitan Police as he uncovers, and hunts, supernatural creatures.

OOH, that sounds like a great project!  Good luck!

Dean has always loved writing, ever since his primary school teacher wrote "Another cracker from the pen of Dean Bryant" on his English homework.  He loves writing horror and dark thrillers as they allow him to be as imaginative as possible.  He won a nationwide poetry competition when he was 11, and went on to never write another poem.

He's a huge fan of the classic horror authors Stephen King and Dean Koontz, with Midnight being his favourite book of all time.  He studied Psychology at university, which made him the friend everyone goes to for advice.

Dean lives in London with his partner of ten years, who also doubles as a beta-reader and critic.  He is a Type 1 diabetic, which hasn't stopped him eating cake - he just has to do a lot of mental arithmetic first.

Find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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