As a horror fan, as well as horror writer, I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing wealth of creepily awesome horror books and movies that have influenced my writing. Let me break down my writing influences for The Blue Man into three categories, first of all: real life, books and movies.
As a small child growing up in Sydenham, East Belfast, I spent a lot of leisure time over at Victoria Park. The Connswater River flowed around the outside of Victoria Park and into Belfast Lough beside the Short Brothers factories and was overlooked by the Harland and Wolff cranes, the same shipyard where the Titanic was built in 1912. I used to climb the riverbank and look out across the mudflats, sometimes gathering crab shells or catching sticklebacks in the river. The thick, black mud and dark, oily water beyond captured my imagination: older children told tales of veering off bicycles, only to get stuck in the thick, tar-like mud, or grownups told scary tales of a boogeyman who came out after sunset to chase small children home for bed. All of these ideas became implanted in my imagination and as a storyteller I thought, what if someone died out there on those mudflats and disappeared into the deep, black mud? Would their body be found? Morbid thoughts, but they fuelled the fire of a small girl’s imagination.
I am a huge fan of stories where the protagonist gradually becomes isolated by their social circle; people who they trust who then gaslight them to cover up malicious activities. I also love the impact of personal mental health on perception in stories. I’m currently reading Rosemary’s baby, and love how she starts to question who she can trust. Stories such as this are a huge influence on my writing. In my second novel, The Buddha’s Bone, my main character Kimberly has a breakdown of self as she struggles to trust the people around her and in my third novel, The Blue Man, Megan and Sabrina are doubtful of each other and the state of their own minds as they suffer psychic attacks by the sinister titular character in the book.
It goes without saying that I am a huge horror fan. I love being scared and looking behind the sofa while watching a ghost film with the lights out. One of my favourite movies is the original Candyman. I love how the main character, Veronica, goes from being a respected university researcher to viewed as the epitome of mental instability, even though she is right, and ends up becoming the very thing that she feared in the first place. There is also the element of reincarnation and of an urban legend coming true; these themes are also present in The Blue Man. I suppose it’s fair to say that this movie in particular has been a huge influence on my latest novel.