Though he now makes his home in Southern California, Paul Gifford was born in the U.K. in Birmingham. Lately he and his work have been popping up all over, including The Literary Bone, The Unknown Zone, Razar magazine, Bewildering Stories, Cautionary Tale, and his own website, www.PSGifford.com. His first two horror novels, THE CURIOUS ACCOUNTS OF THE IMAGINARY FRIEND and DR. OFFIG’S LESSONS FROM THE DARK SIDE, have also helped generate interest. Paul is currently finishing up his third novel, THE FURTHER ACCOUNTS OF THE IMAGINARY FRIEND, which will be published in 2009.
BRP: What made you decide to write horror stories? Was it something in particular, or were you always “drawn to the dark side?”
PSG: I have always been intrigued by horror ever since I was a small child. I also, at a very young age, found the greatest escapism from a harsh childhood came bound in book form. I was ten when I began to write, but I guess you can say I didn’t get serious about it until a very wet and cold Boxing Day (the day after Christmas, for those readers in the U.S.). My parents were separated, so I celebrated the holiday twice, and my mother gave me my first typewriter as a present. That was in 1976 I was eleven years old and it changed my life.
BRP: We know you are working on the sequel to The Curious Accounts of the Imaginary Friend right now. What can you tell us about it?
PSG: The first book was a collection of stories that incorporated many sides of horror. Some stories were light hearted, others were dark and grim, and most fell somewhere between these two poles. The stories in the new book will be longer — and some will be a lot darker. However, just as in the first collection I will be mixing it up a bit. That way the reader is never quite sure where I will be taking them.
VT: The premise behind both of these anthologies is an “imaginary friend,” who serves as the narrator. What can you tell us about him?
PSG: The “imaginary friend” is someone I am sure everyone is familiar with, a friend we conjure up in our most fearful moments. He is a witness, a priest-confessor, if you will, always willing to hear our side of a situation without judging us. He leaves the judging to the reader, to whom he faithfully recounts some of his more… curious… encounters.
VT: All three of your books are anthologies. What made you decide to write anthologies?
PSG: I am a big fan of short fiction, and wanted to create a diverse collection of entertaining horror stories. And I feel that I have succeeded!
VT: Does anyone you know turn up as a character in any of the stories?
PSG: I often incorporate friends and fans into my stories, sometimes using their names, physical descriptions, and of course—their darkest fears!
VT: Do you have any tips for scaring off writer’s block—or does your material scare it off for you?
PSG: It is rare that I get writer’s block. When inspiration comes, it tends top arrive in volume and I handwrite ideas down for stories. I always have several notions for stories jotted down scattered on my desk—the trick is finding them!
VT: How long have you been writing?
PSG: For thirty years on and off. Three years ago I decided to follow my dream to write full time and become a stay at home dad/writer. It was the best decision I ever made.
VT: Once The Further Accounts of the Imaginary Friend is behind you, can we look forward to hearing more from Dr. Offig?
PSG: Yes, I have more plans for Dr. Offig as well.
VT: What can you tell us about Dr. Offg’s origins?
PSG: Well, to start, you can spell Dr. Offig backwards and you’ll gain tremendous insight into his origins. Also, I recently interviewed Dr. Offig, and that’s also a good place to gain some insight.