Author Interview Vicious Rumer

How long have you been writing?

As long as I can remember! I became obsessed by stories from a young age, and that quickly evolved into telling my own. I still have a collection of the books I wrote as a teenager – they’re in a box on top of the wardrobe and, every once in a while, I get them out and have a good giggle.

What is your favorite genre to write?

Anything with a little dash of horror. I think horror is a great genre because it’s a feeling. You can inject it into any story to give it fresh dimension and an element of danger. That’s what I did with Vicious Rumer, which is sort of a film noir-ish thriller with horror elements that, hopefully, give it a unique texture.

Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

Comedy. It’s the hardest genre to get right because humour is so specific. If it’s wrong, it’s so wrong. Get it right, though, and it’s like fresh air. You can’t get enough of it. I’d definitely like to try my hand at comedy at some point, but it’d definitely be a horror comedy!

Please tell us about your book.

Vicious Rumer is a fast-paced, twisted thriller that takes a look at obsessed and how it can affect our lives. It’s about Rumer Cross, who believes that she’s cursed so anybody who gets close to her dies. Oh, and her mother was a mob assassin in the ’90s, which may or may not be relevant!

Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Would it be a cop out to say Rumer is my favourite? The book is told entirely from her POV, so I’ve spent the better part of two years inside her head. (Yeah, lots of weird stuff in there.) I love that she’s determined and aggressively goes after what she wants, no matter what. Least favourite… that’s a horrible question! Rose, who works for a detective, is sort of a cow. I enjoyed making her is unlikeable as possible.

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Finding the right balance between reality and the supernatural. Rumer believes she’s cursed, but does that mean she actually is? I swung both ways throughout writing, and it was a fun challenge to find that balance. With a little help from my editor (hi, Craig!), I think I finally managed it.

What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

Coffee! Or an enormous cup of tea. It’s also important that I find the perfect music for the book, which can take ages. When I started writing Vicious Rumer, I began listening to Stevie Nicks, and pretty soon I couldn’t write without Stevie on. She provided the soundtrack for Rumer’s story. (I’d recommend listening to her while reading Vicious Rumer, too!)

How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

The first draft took eight months, which is quick for me. I just sped through it. I sort of discovered the story as I went along, and I was hooked on that feeling of discovery. I went on the journey with Rumer and I loved every second of it – even when I hit a couple of narrative roadblocks.

Can you tell us about your editing process?

Read, re-read, re-read some more. Decide I hate it. Leave it alone for a month or two. Then go back with fresh eyes. I’m also a terrible fiddler, so I’ll often edit as I go along. That means the first draft is usually pretty strong, but it also means it takes twice as long. I love language and I want the prose to really sing, which is almost impossible during the initial writing stage.

Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

It’s definitely standalone… until I decide it isn’t! My first book, Sentinel, was the first in a dark fantasy trilogy. I wrote Vicious Rumer in between books two and three of The Sentinel Trilogy, partly because I found the idea of writing a standalone so appealing after the juggling act that is writing a series! That said, the more I think about Rumer and where her story might go after this, the more I think maybe a sequel would be fun. Maybe I’M the one who’s cursed!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write, write, write. Then write some more. Write so much that you get back ache and you develop a caffeine addiction (not that I’m speaking from experience here). Write because you can’t NOT write, even if you hate what you’re laying down. If you want to be an author, you have to keep training that muscle until you discover the best way to tell the stories in your head. Also, write for you. It’s a simple one, but try not to second guess what you’re writing. It may be that nobody ever sees your book, so always write for yourself.

Why should everyone read your book?

Because I’m genuinely proud of it and I want people to meet Rumer. I want people to try to figure her out, and perhaps even empathise with her a bit. Also, I tried to write something that was thrilling and breakneck and kept you guessing. I basically tried to write a page-turner, and I really want to know if I succeeded! So please read it and let me know.

If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Daphne du Maurier. She was before her time in terms of her portrayal of women, and I’d love to find out what she thinks of Rumer. Stephen King, because the guy’s a walking brain and I’d love to pick that brain (um, that came out sounding a bit gross). And Robin Jarvis. He’s my favourite author of all time, and the author responsible for me first putting pen to paper. Although I’d be terrified he’d hate me, so maybe it’s best not to meet your idols…

What inspired you to write your book?

I’ll level with you: Rumer is me. She’s obsessive and believes really horrible things about herself. That’s sort of how I am, too. Writing Rumer was a sort of spiritual exorcism. I got to have a conversation with myself through a character. So there’s that. I was also inspired by the question: can we ever change? Rumer’s world is very set in stone, but what if it wasn’t? I wanted to play around with that.

Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’m currently finishing up the final draft of Splinter, the third and final book in The Sentinel Trilogy, which is being published by Peridot Press in July. So that’s exciting. But even more exciting/terrifying is the thought of starting something new. I’ve spent the better part of the past six months editing, and the thought of plunging into a new project is thrilling – although I’m terrified I won’t be able to come up with something I feel as passionately about as Vicious Rumer. Wish me luck!


About the Book

‘An exhilarating read’ – SFX
Rumer Cross is cursed. Scraping by working for a dingy London detective agency, she lives in the shadow of her mother, a violent criminal dubbed the ‘Witch Assassin’ whose bloodthirsty rampage terrorised London for over a decade.
Raised by foster families who never understood her and terrified she could one day turn into her mother, Rumer has become detached and self-reliant. But when she’s targeted by a vicious mobster who believes she’s hiding an occult relic, she’s drawn into the very world she’s been fighting to avoid.
Hunted by assassins and haunted by her mother’s dark legacy, Rumer must also confront a terrible truth: that she’s cursed, because no matter what she does, everybody she’s ever grown close to has died screaming.


Author Bio

Joshua Winning Sentinel Shoot 2014

Joshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for TOTAL FILM, SFX, GAY TIMES and RADIO TIMES. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany.
In 2014, SENTINEL – the first book in Joshua’s SENTINEL TRILOGY – was published by Peridot Press. The second book, RUINS, followed in 2015. Joshua’s short story DEAD AIR appeared in SPEAK MY LANGUAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GAY FICTION and Joshua’s new novel, VICIOUS RUMER, will be published by Unbound in 2018. He also co-wrote ’80s teen horror CAMP CARNAGE.

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