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Breaking all the Rules with Tim Mendees

Tim is our only author to have two stories featured in "It Calls From The Forest: Volume One" and we are thrilled he will be doing a live reading on April 17th for all the world to enjoy. If you dare.

Tim Mendees was born in Macclesfield in the North-West of England. He has recently been published in Colp: Black & Grey (Gypsum Sound Tales.) The Hollow (Breaking Rules Publishing,) Twenty Twenty (Black Hare Press,) Death and Butterflies (suicide House Publishing,) Solitude (DBND Publishing,) and has had several short stories accepted for publication in forthcoming anthologies and magazines. His debut novella 'Miracle Growth' is coming soon from Black Hare Press. Tim is an active and recognizable figure in the UK Goth scene in his role as DJ, promoter and podcaster. He currently lives in Brighton & Hove with his pet crab, Gerald, and an army of stuffed cephalopods.

Have you always written, or was there a catalyst that prompted you to begin this journey?

I've written on and off since I was at school. Though, it was often just scribbled in the back of a diary or something. I became a chef when I left school at sixteen and writing was always just something I did when I had a spare minute. I'd never considered trying to get published. I have a massive inferiority complex and I honestly thought that nobody would want to read any of the random crap that came out of my head.

About six years ago, I developed a spinal condition, transverse myelitis, that paralysed me down my right-hand side when it first hit. I have since recovered nicely but it is something that can flare up at random from time to time. My neurologist compared it to a hosepipe with a kink in it. If I get any inflammation in my neck then I might be off my feet for a while. Along with nerve pain and other fun stuff, I get these violent spasms. For example, I was shopping a while ago and had one of my spasms and i ended up launching a packet of chocolate digestives at one of the shelf-stackers. I felt so stupid. The poor guy was terrified. I can't risk doing that with a knife in my hand. That was the moment that I realised that my kitchen career was over.

This led to a prolonged period of sulking and I decided to read Lovecraft again, something I do every now and then, to cheer myself up. Whilst reading 'The Colour Out of Space' I had an idea for a novel. Due to not working twelve-hour kitchen shifts every day of the week I had time to do it properly. I thought, what the hell? I've nothing to lose at this point. So, I wrote it. I need to go back and rewrite it from top to bottom, it's a bit of a mess but the story itself I'm very happy with. I'd completely forgotten how to write. My punctuation and grammar were all over the place. But by the end of it, it was all coming back to me. I decided then to give some short stories a go. This was the tail end of January 2019. I just wrote and wrote. I average about 3,000 words a day. It was like I opened the floodgates and all these ideas poured out. In July, I decided to give this getting published lark a go. I had to learn to format and how to do cover letters as I went along. I had my first acceptance at the end of September and here we are.

What is your favourite genre to read?

Horror has always been my favourite from a very early age. Specifically cosmic horror and weird fiction. My grandparents were members of Reader's Digest and had this leather-bound edition of Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I loved that book. I never did the children's horror thing. I was reading Stephen King and Lovecraft when I was at primary school, so from about 7 or 8 years old. I was a weird kid. I used to sneak down in the night and watch all the late-night Hammer Horror stuff on TV and get my family to get me all the adult horror books out of the library. My teacher once sent a concerned letter home when he realised that I was reading Ramsay Campbell. That gave my Gran a good chuckle, it was her that had got it out of the library for me.

I also read a lot of true crime. I've always been fascinated by the psychological aspect of serial killer cases. The procedural stuff fascinates me.

Do you remember the first piece of writing shared publicly? What were people’s reactions, but more importantly how did you react getting it out there?

I was ecstatic when I got my first acceptance. I did a stupid dance around my flat in my pants. I still do that every time I get one. It's become a kind of ritual. That first one still hasn't come out yet, however, so my first published work was the story 'The Metamorphosis Cube' in Death and Butterflies, which came out in December. It was a great help to me. By getting involved in the social media stuff I got to know a lot of cool people and learn a lot about the promotion and publication side of things. I'll be eternally grateful to Natalie Brown for accepting that piece as it opened a lot of doors for me. Since then, I have sold fifteen short stories and one novella which is out at some point soon.

What is your workspace like? What kind of atmosphere do you need to write?

I like chaos. My workstation is the coffee table in front of the TV. I have to have noise or my brain goes into anxiety overdrive so I often have the TV on. It becomes like a white noise machine for me. It's either that or music. I'm also a DJ, have been for about twenty years, so I get a lot of music coming my way. I often listen through new stuff looking for floor fillers while I write. It's my take on multi-tasking. I have notebooks all over the place and a large collection of stuffed creatures. There is often a few crabs and an octopus or two lurking near my laptop.

Without giving too much away, tell us about the short story you have featured in “It calls to the Forest”. What inspired you?

'Rouse Them Not' started life as a short piece I attempted for a children's horror anthology. There was a couple of creepy trees on my way home from school as a kid and it came from that. It got rejected, I'm not cut out to write for kids. I'd probably end up scarring them for life. When the forest anthology call went up, I decided to completely rewrite it. I changed the location, the characters, pretty much everything except the trees. I had just watched something about the Wassailing and it clicked in my head. I submitted it and Michelle replied with a suggestion that I up the carnage, so I went away and overnight it more than doubled in length and became the story it is today.

'A Matter of Recycling' came from a desire to write a dark psychological piece. I had been expanding my personal mythos and milieu and it fits nicely with the legends I was creating for the woods around the area. I'm a big fan of that type of story so I was pleased that I could pull it off. It's definitely one of my darkest pieces.

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