March 2018 Interview with Author William Meikle by Brian M. Sammons

March 29, 2018

William Meikle is a great writer, one of my favorites. If you read any of the anthologies I’ve done you will see this, as the man is in nearly every one of them. He’s a joy to work with, never fails to impress me with his tale telling, and has had a long and fruitful relationship with Dark Regions Press. In the author’s own words: “Dark Regions Press were my breakthrough publisher - the one where I started to believe I could do something with myself in the genres, and the one who gave me my break into both the hardcover markets and the Carnacki / Challenger / Holmes pastiches that have proven so popular with my readers.” So today we’re talking with William about his many books with DRP.

BMS: What was the first book to be published by Dark Regions Press, when was that, and how did that come about?

William Meikle: My first was THE CREEPING KELP, back in 2010, and it came through an introduction to DRP via a book designer / editor I had in common with them. The designer passed the book to Joe Morey, as it was at the time, Joe read it, loved it, and offered me a contract for paperback and deluxe hardcover. At that stage I'd never had a book of mine in hardcover, so I leapt at the chance. There are few sweeter feelings for a writer and bibliophile than handling the first leatherbound hardcover edition of one of your books. Even more so when it has a sweet cover design by M Wayne Miller. It wasn't just my first hardcover, it was the first time working with Wayne, and the start of a long collaboration that continues to this day.

BMS: I love that title. What can you tell me about the plot of the book?

It's kelp. It creeps.

It's a cautionary tale of what man is doing to the environment. A WW2 experiment resurfaces; a Shoggoth fragment meets some bits of jellyfish and some seaweed and together they decide they like plastic. They like it so much that they start to seek it out, and grow, and spread... and build.

It's a homage to several things. There's more than a touch of Lovecraft obviously, given that I've appropriated the Shoggoths, but there's also a lot of John Whyndham in there. I wanted to do a big-scale, Britain-in-peril novel for a while. The title came to me one day and I knew immediately that there was a story to be told there. There's also a bit of QUATERMASS in there too -- the old "British scientists screw up" genre has been with me for a long time and it's also something else I've always wanted to do. Here it is.

BMS: What was the next book and why did you return to DRP?

We found out early on that Joe Morey and I share a love of spooky Victoriana, and also a love of Holmes. At the time I'd just had a couple of Holmes short stories published. And Joe asked me if I'd like to try something longer for him. Again, I jumped at the chance. And again, I got a kick-ass cover from Wayne  as reward. Revenant was the result, a tale of a foe from Holmes' past coming back from the great beyond to renew their rivalry, and the start of a whole slew of historical spookiness I worked on for Joe in the next six years.

BMS: How was it playing with the Great Detective? Were you nervous using such a well-known character? Any feedback from the Holmesians?

I was raised on Doyle, Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson and I love that historical period they covered in their work. It's also the time period I've worked in a lot in my own writing.

It is the character first and foremost that draws me to Holmes. Doyle brought him to life. He is instantly recognizable all over the world and has been for over 100 years. Few other writers have managed that trick.

Of course, given the way my mind works, I bring the weird to my Holmes tales and that has indeed got me into trouble with the purists over the years. But Doyle himself, a Scotsman like me, wasn't above dabbling in the weird himself and to me pitting Holmes against the great unknown seems as natural as breathing.

If the purists don't like it, I'm not forcing them to read it.

BMS: Have you done more with Sherlock? Do you plan to?

I've written a number of weird Sherlock Holmes stories over the past few years. The first one was THE QUALITY OF MERCY in Gaslight Grotesque.  Since then I've done THE CALL OF THE DANCE, published in the Lovecraft ezine, THE COLOUR THAT CAME TO CHISWICK in Gaslight Arcanum and aforementioned novella from Dark Regions, SHERLOCK HOLMES: REVENANT. These, and half a dozen more stories, are all  included in the hardcover and trade paperback collection, SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE QUALITY OF MERCY AND OTHER STORIES that is now also available in ebook from DRP.

I have three more Holmes novellas available. THE HACKNEY HORROR, THE LOST HUSBAND and THE LONG SLEEP are in a collated edition, THE LONDON TERRORS, a companion volume to THE QUALITY OF MERCY and, yes, also available in ebook from DRP.

There's also a number of Holmes stories of mine in anthologies and magazines, and a novel THE DREAMING MAN, which is a continuation and expansion of REVENANT to novel length. I said this year that I was done with Holmes for a while, but we'll see how that goes.

BMS: Sherlock is just one of the literary sleuths you’re used. There is also the occult detective Carnaki and Professor Challenger. What can you tell me about both of them? Their history, what drew you to them, and how do you utilize both in your work?

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. I write them because of love, pure and simple.

I love old Challenger. He's another Scot, born, according to Doyle, about six miles from where I was born, so there's an immediate affinity there. I've also got a biological sciences background so bringing scientific enquiries into his stories came naturally to me.

BMS: Speaking of Carnaki, you have CARNACKI: HEAVEN AND HELL published by Dark Regions, what is the old occult investigator up to in that one?

The Heaven and Hell collection was my first dabble with Carnacki, and another collaboration with Wayne Miller. We put together a lovely hardcover package with my stories and Wayne's B&W illos that has pride of place on my shelf. At that stage I was still finding my way into the character, but I have Carnacki investigating a variety of spooks and haunts, and tinkering with his toys as he attempts to weld Edwardian technology in his quest to banish the creatures of the outer darkness.

BMS: And then there is your most recent addition to DRP stable: CARNACKI: THE WATCHER AT THE GATE. What can you tell us about that book?

With my second Carnacki collection I was more at ease with the character, and able to bring other people into his circle of influence, so I have stories with Carnacki helping another Hodgson favorite,

Captain Gault, and I also introduced a recurring part for Winston Churchill, in his early role as the British Home Secretary before WW1. This gives me lots of stories to play with.  And I got lucky with even more B&W illos from Wayne, another lovely collaboration between us.

BMS: Your PROFESSOR CHALLENGER: THE ISLAND OF TERROR has a great cover, people in a lighthouse being assaulted by a number of velociraptors. Anything dino make me smile. What can you tell us about that one that beyond the cover image?

THE ISLAND OF TERROR is a direct sequel to Doyle's THE LOST WORLD – the dinosaurs in it were brought back from the plateau as eggs, and are being used in British army experiments into new methods of war. Of course, the Prof finds out, goes to investigate, and, once he reaches Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, mass mayhem ensues. It's probably the most fun I've had with my trousers on.

BMS: PROFESSOR CHALLENGER: THE KEY GROWTHS AND OTHER STORIES sounds like a collection. How many stories are in there? What’s the earliest one? What’s the latest? Are there any that are exclusive to that publication?

There's a dozen stories, all but one written for the collection. The first one I wrote, THE PENGE TERROR, appeared in a UK anthology, but the rest were all done in a white heat over a period of only a couple of months back in 2012. The title story came first, a crossover with the Carnacki, with an intelligent, Lovecraftian, fungus taking over London, a thing which mixes Hodgson, Lovecraft, Doyle and Wyndham again into one of my favorite things. After that I have the old Prof investigating lost valleys in Montana, lost people in the caves under the Yorkshire moors, lake monsters in Scotland and possible alien invasion in Penge. Combining the Edwardian science, the old Prof's temper, and my love of the weird was, again, a load of fun. And once again, Wayne M provided the visuals, in some stunning B&W illos as well as the cover for the book.

BMS: Your book, THE RAVINE, has the look of a weird western, am I right?

You are indeed. I love westerns, and I love the weird, so slapping the two together came naturally.

My early childhood was steeped in Westerns. I have my Granddad to thank for days watching Wagon Train, Rawhide, Bonanza and Gunsmoke, then later on, The Virginian and The High Chapparal. He also introduced me to Louis L'Amour and others as I devoured his collection of Western paperbacks.

Writing a weird western just grew naturally out of that background.

I'm not a believer in either a God or a benign universe but I grew up Church of Scotland, R.E. at school, church and Sunday school on Sundays. It didn't take, but some of the fire and brimstone seeped in and took hold. It sometimes, as in this tale, comes out in my writing.

The Ravine is a story of redemption, about men doing what men gotta do, fighting the good fight, and the consequences for their lives, and those around them, when they chose to do so.

The book is dedicated to my granddad, Jimmock. I like to think he'd have liked it.

BMS: And your CRUSTACEANS looks like when good crabs go bad, not to mention get really big. What can you tell me about that one?

Wind back to 2009. I was talking to Guy N Smith about a possible collaboration with him on a CRABS novel, and I was pretty damn excited at the possibility. But unfortunately it fell through and I thought that was that. But after THE CREEPING KELP was a minor hit, Joe M asked if I had any other creature features available. I asked Guy if he was happy with me writing a Crabs story on my own, he gave me the nod, and off I went.

It's definitely horror, but it's also Science-fiction, in a very 1950's B-Movie kind of way,. It runs in my head like one of those lurid early technicolor monster movies, and readers will have fun thinking of it that way themselves.

BMS: Similarly, THE VALLEY’s cover showcases a CLASH OF THE TITANS-like giant scorpion on the cover. What else can we expect from this one?

The Valley is another weird western, and another Lost World story. The origins of "The Valley" are pretty simple to trace. In Fortean circles there have been attempts to find a picture that many claim to have seen, yet no-one has been able to find. This fabled photograph is said to show a group of Civil-War era men standing in a row wearing big grins. Spreadeagled on the ground in front of them is the body of a huge bird, a being that could only come from pre-history. In some accounts this bird is a giant eagle, in others it is even stranger, a leathery, paper thin Pterosaur.

Whatever the case, that image was the thing in my mind, and I had a "What if..." moment, wondering what would happen if cowboys came across a Lost World. From that single thought, the initial concept of The Valley was born.

There's more than big birds of course—there are saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, wee hairy folk, and other, much nastier, much older, things you'll need to read it to find out about.

BMS: In your THE INVASION can we expect little green men? Body Snatchers? Something else? Would you call it sci-fi, horror, or a blend of both?

It's definitely a mad mixture.

When I started writing it, I realized that the Invasion in my story would have Lovecraftian antecedents, in that it would come from space, and be completely uncaring of the doings of the human race. My training as a biologist also made me realize that aliens should be -really- alien, not just simulcra of pre-existing terrestrial forms. Once I had that in my mind, it didn't take much to come up with a "color out of space" that would engulf the planet.

It starts with green snow, and everywhere it falls, everything gets corroded, melted, and dies, before being transformed. Most Invasion movies concentrate on the doings in big cities, and with the involvement of the full force of the military. I wanted to focus more on what it would mean for the people. Living as I am in Canada, in a remote Eastern corner, I was able to draw on local knowledge and home in on people already used to surviving in extreme conditions. I just upped the ante.

An interest in conspiracy theories and post-apocalypse survivalists also gave me one of the main characters, and the early parts of the story are a news report from the bunker where he has retreated to ride out whatever is coming. So come with me, to a winter storm in the Maritimes, where the strange green snow is starting to fall.

BMS: DARK MELODIES is an interesting title, what can you tell me about that one?

When I was starting out in writing, all I wanted was a collection of my own short stories, in a leatherbound hardcover edition. And with DARK MELODIES, I was able, thanks to DRP to achieve that.

Apart from reading, my other big love is for music, in all its various forms. I used to sing in a choir as a lad, and I've been playing guitar badly for over forty years now. It was inevitable that my enthusiasm for music would seep into my writing. And here it is. Stories where music and things that lurk beyond meet and find common, and uncommon, ground.

In short, it's a collection of my supernatural fiction all about music, and dancing in dark places. I think it contains some of my strongest stories.

BMS: Last, but in no way least, there’s one with another great title: THE PLASM. The mind reels at the possibilities. What’s that one about?

This is another sci-fi / horror mashup. One of the first stories I ever wrote was a Lovecraftian thing where a group of scientists discover that an exorcism ritual can be used as a source of power, draining energy from alternate dimensions. That led to the power being used to drive a spaceship, which led to strange plasma discharges with a mind of their own and a disparate band of people trying to find a way to stop it eating its way through a Mars colony.

This novella is another B-movie in my head, a 50's B&W job, with plucky scientists, chiseled heroes, and big blobby things eating everything in their path.

This is me having fun.

This is who I am.

BMS: So an even dozen offerings from William Meikle and Dark Regions Press. That’s impressive. What’s on the horizon for you?

I'd hope to be able to sell more work to DRP in future. Next up is a novella, BLACKTOP in the big I AM THE ABYSS anthology that I’m really proud to get into. I'd love to have DRP do a 'Best of Meikle' collection someday (but I’m not holding my breath for that), or possibly another weird western, as I have several ideas on that front. There are also several more appearances in DRP anthologies already in the pipeline, with hopefully more to come.

BMS: Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Everything is detailed on my website at http://www.williammeikle.com and the books are available from all the usual stores or directly from DRP. They currently have a special offer on for a five ebook bundle of some of the work mentioned here ( and, in addition, THE HOUSE ON THE MOOR, a Scottish supernatural haunted house novella) so check it out.

Apart from that, I mostly hang about on Facebook. Mostly.

BMS: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today.

Thanks for having me on and I hope I passed the audition.

William Meikle is a Scottish writer with over a dozen 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



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