Meet Carnacki: Ghostfinder by William Meikle
Today on the Occult Detective I turn the reins over to my good friend William Meikle. A Scotsman by birth and storyteller by trade, Willie has taken the small press by storm of late, finding his niche in the fledgling ebook market. He is one of those brave souls who is helping to reshape fiction for the 21st Century. So, without further ado, I give you William Meikle and his dance with the Supernatural Thriller.
We’ve had the Ghostbusters and the Scooby Gang, John Constantine and Buffy, and Sam and Dean, the Winchester Brothers. But before all of them one man carried the fight to the forces of evil, armed only with his wits, his science, and his arcane knowledge.
Meet an Edwardian occult detective who goes where no other gentleman will dare, venturing deep into neolithic barrows, into the crypts of ancient cathedrals and fighting the elemental powers of darkness on his own terms.
Meet Carnacki: Ghostfinder
I write to escape.
I grew up on a West of Scotland council estate in a town where you were either unemployed or working in the steelworks, and sometimes both. Many of the townspeople led hard, miserable lifes of quiet, and sometimes not so quiet desperation. I was relatively lucky in that both my parents worked, but they were both on shifts that rarely coincided, and I spent a lot of time alone or at my grandparent’s house.
My Granddad was housebound, and a voracious reader. I got the habit from him, and through him I discovered the Pan Books of Horror and Lovecraft, but I also discovered westerns, science fiction, war novels and the likes of Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Alistair MacLean, Dennis Wheatley, Nigel Tranter, Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov. When you mix all that together with DC Comics, Tarzan, Gerry Anderson and Dr Who then, later on, Hammer and Universal movies on the BBC, you can see how the pulp became embedded in my psyche.
When I was at school these books and my guitar were all that kept me sane in a town that was going downhill fast. The steelworks shut and employment got worse. I -could- have started writing about that, but why bother? All I had to do was walk outside and I’d get it slapped in my face. That horror was all too real.
So I took up my pen and wrote. At first it was song lyrics, designed (mostly unsuccessfully) to get me closer to girls.
I tried my hand at a few short stories but had no confidence in them and hid them away. And that was that for many years.
I didn’t get the urge again until I was past thirty and trapped in a very boring job. My home town had continued to stagnate and, unless I wanted to spend my whole life drinking (something I was actively considering at the time), returning there wasn’t an option.
My brain needed something, and writing gave it what was required. That point, back nearly twenty years ago, was like switching on an engine, one that has been running steadily ever since.
And most of the time, the things that engine chooses to give me to write are very pulpy. I’d love to have a chance to write a Tarzan, John Carter, Allan Quartermain, Mike Hammer or Conan novel, whereas a lot of writers I know would sniff and turn their noses up at the very thought of it.
Most of the aforesaid characters are trademarked and off-bounds for writers without paying licensing fees.
Carnacki however is fair game.
Nowadays there is a plethora of detectives in both book and film who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington’s Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.
My interest goes further back to the “gentleman detective” era where we have seekers of truth in Blackwood’s John Silence Sherlock Holmes… and William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki.
Carnacki resonated with me immediately on my first reading many years ago. Several of the stories have a Lovecraftian viewpoint, with cosmic entities that have no regard for the doings of mankind. The background Hodgson proposes fits with some of my own viewpoint on the ways the Universe might function, and the slightly formal Edwardian language seems to be a “voice” I fall into naturally.
These eight tales see Carnacki pitted against a variety of foes. and sees me working out more aspects of the cosmology.
There will be more to come.
I write to escape.
I haven’t managed it yet, but I’m working on it.
William Meikle is a Scottish writer with ten novels published in the genre press and over 200 short story credits in thirteen countries. He is the author of the ongoing Midnight Eye series among others, and his work appears in a number of professional anthologies. His ebook THE INVASION has been as high as #2 in the Kindle SF charts. He lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. In the winters he gets warm vicariously through the lives of others in cyberspace, so please check him out at http://www.williammeikle.com/
You can get CARNACKI: HEAVEN AND HELL in ebook for only $1.99 from:
AMAZON UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0045UA7E0/