Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Sonia Kilvington to discuss her new short story collection, Nightmare Asylum & Other Deadly Delights (Close To The Bone).
Firstly, congratulations on the publication of Nightmare Asylum! How hard was it to select the stories – and indeed the running order?
I have been writing short stories for the last thirty years or more, and I have always dreamt of having my own collection. I selected my favourite stories with the strongest characters and the most unique situations for the book. Still, I wasn’t sure about the running order and wondered if I should have started it with a horror story or maybe I should have begun with a little more conventionally structured story such as ‘Women’s Work’. I am always second-guessing myself.
Do you have a favourite story in the collection? If so, why is it your favourite?
Yes, I do! It took me about five years to write ‘Nightmare Asylum’ because I did so many drafts, trying to capture the atmosphere of a reoccurring nightmare that I had experienced in my twenties. Night after night I dreamt I was trapped in a Victorian mental asylum and nobody would believe a word I said. I have no idea where that dream came from although I was taken a couple of scary looking psychiatric hospitals to visit a relative when I was young. I channelled my feelings of frustration from the dream into the story as well as my belief in the paranormal. For years it felt like the story I really needed to write.
What is the oldest story in the book? How do you think your style has evolved since then?
The oldest story is ‘Winter Baby’ which I wrote twenty-six years ago. It’s been through many of edits since its earliest conception! My style was a lot more poetic back then, and I have gradually moved away from that, although at times the poetry tends to creep back in.
Your collection has been published by Close To The Bone – do you have any favourite CTTB authors or titles you would like to recommend?
Of course! I am keeping excellent company with writers such as yourself, Chris Roy and the marvellous Paul D. Brazill! There’s a stack of excellent books available from CTTB but, my personal favourites are, Meat Bubbles & Other Stories, Her Name is Mercie and A Case of Noir. For future fun I have pre-ordered, Come Join The Murder by Holly Rae Garcia.
Do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene?
I love audiobooks and will listen to the latest psychological thrillers, crime fiction and noir, especially if the actors/actresses have interesting voices. When I read, I prefer independent books, which don’t usually make it to Audible.
If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?
I have never really thought of writing fiction as a career, it always been a passion that I hoped I would be able to share with people who were willing to read my stories. I greatly admire writers who have many different tales to tell, especially Stephen King, who has had his books made into some terrific films. I would love to have some of my more unusual stories made into movies as they are very visual, especially ‘Nightmare Asylum’ and ‘Perfect Love’.
Finally, what are your future publishing plans?
I am thinking of turning one of the shortest stories from the book, Jake, into a novella as the characters are still lingering in my head and I think they have a lot more to say. I am also planning on re-editing my first novel, the Main Line Murders, before writing the final instalment of my DI Flynn series. There’s a lot to do, so not too much time for messing about re-writing the same sentences for hours on end, as I usually do.
Sonia Kilvington is a journalist and fiction writer from Cyprus, who loves to write dark and disturbing short stories in genres such as noir, crime, horror and sci-fi. Credits include Out of the Gutter Online, Spelk Fiction, Pulp Metal Magazine and Near To The Knuckle. Her new short story collection, Nightmare Asylum & Other Deadly Delights – published by Close To The Bone, is available on Amazon.