Interview with Steve Mosby, author of The Nightmare Place

13 Aug 2015

Tell us a little bit about your new release, The Nightmare Place.

The Nightmare Place is about Zoe Dolan, a detective hunting a serial rapist who is breaking into women’s homes and attacking them, and Jane Webster, a woman working as a volunteer on a helpline who receives a call from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. Below the surface, I suppose it’s a little about misogyny, and the things we hide from ourselves: the stories and lies we tell about our own lives to make them more bearable.

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

I’m not a great one for meeting your heroes. I remember trying to introduce myself to a writer I really admired, but he was so drunk at the time that he’d got himself stuck in a revolving door: that didn’t go as I’d imagined it in my head. So I’d probably just say family and friends. I had a good friend who died a couple of years ago, and it would be nice to chat to her again.

Do you listen to anything while you write? If so, what’s your audio of choice?

I actually tend to leave the house to work, and I write in coffee shops and bars, so in terms of audio, I really have to take what I can get. The ideal scenario is just a bit of background chatter going on around me, which I find easy to tune out but also nice to be aware of – it makes me feel a little less isolated, because obviously, writing is quite a solitary occupation. I rarely listen to music while I’m writing, but it can be useful to loop a tune that generates a particular mood that fits with the scene I’m working on. In those cases, it’s usually film soundtracks. Certainly nothing with words.

BAM. You’re a superhero. What’s your superpower?

I’m tempted to say flying – but then, I worry that super-speed counts as a separate superpower, so what if flying just meant you could fly at walking or running pace? That wouldn’t be quite so impressive. Super strength is a little better, because presumably you’d be able to jump quite far, which covers some of the advantages of flying. But ultimately, it has to be super speed. You’re basically a god. Just look at X-Men: Days of Future Past – there’s that amazing rescue scene with Quicksilver, and then they basically had to find an excuse to send him home, because otherwise he’d have dealt with everything easily and the film would basically have been over.

What fictional literary world would you most like to visit?

I was really into Star Wars as a kid, and my own son is currently obsessed with it, so I’ve been rediscovering it recently. I’d probably have to go for that, principally because it’s the only fictional world where you might get to have your own lightsaber. Of course, with a question like this, everyone assumes they’re going to be a hero, when the fictional world in question is also full of ordinary people leading dull lives and doing thankless menial work. Maybe I’d just aspire to tending bar in the Mos Eisley cantina, which is probably a rewardingly entertaining job as the evening wears on.

If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

Italy. I love the food, the people, the atmosphere. To narrow it down, it feels like I could happily live in Venice for the rest of my life. But then, I haven’t travelled nearly enough to tie myself down.

What’s on your writing desk?

Although I mostly go out to write, I do actually still have a writing desk at home. As well as an iMac, it has an increasingly towering pile of small change from when I empty my pockets each day, and an equally increasing sheen of dust.

What’s your favorite quote from The Nightmare Place?

Ah, I don’t have one. It’s a good few years before I can read my own stuff again. I’m proud of them when I finish, but I’m also painfully aware of all the flaws as I see them, and it takes a bit of distance before I can go back and view them impartially. I looked at Dark Room (The Murder Code in the U.S.) again recently, and there was some stuff in there I liked. I’m quite proud of that one in hindsight.

Do you have a favorite local bookstore we can give a shoutout to?

It’s hardly a small, local store, but I buy most of my books at Waterstones in Leeds. But there’s a lovely independent bookshop in London called Goldsboro Books, and that’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

Not as such, but I’ve always liked this Nietzsche quote: “You must still have chaos in yourself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” There’s a lot to love about that, I think. Not least, personally, as it gives me hope that whatever sprawling, chaotic, nonsensical draft I’m working on might eventually turn out good. In writing as in life.

Steve Mosby is the author of the new book The Nightmare Place.

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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.