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An Interview with Gary Kruse

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to chat to my friend and fellow author Gary Kruse today. It is the anniversary of the publication of his debut novel, Badlands. Welcome Gary, thank you for making time to chat today.

What inspired you to write your book?

My dark thriller Badlands was inspired by the coastline in and around St. Agnes, Cornwall. The title is taken from the nickname surfers gave to the area around St. Agnes back in the 70’s and 80’s and the wild and rugged coastline plays a big part in the story.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

I loved writing Raven’s no-nonsense brand of vicious brutality and intimidation, and also Goddard’s sly manipulations, but Willow is my favourite. She was a side character in another story who stole the show, but she never quite fit that story, and she’d been kicking her heels in my imagination since 2014. I realised around 2018 time that she was a perfect protagonist for Badlands. She’s feisty, independent, flawed and sometimes selfish but fiercely determined to find out what’s happened to her sister and who’s responsible.

What was the first story you had published?

The first short story I had published was short horror story called “Mirror, Mirror,” which was shortlisted for the Write Hive Horror Competition in 2021. It evolved from a story called “Weird Mirror” which I’d written in 2008/09 time. It’s a tale about a woman who moves into her childhood home where she finally comes face to face with the demon that has haunted her life. It’s published in the Duplicitous anthology from Inked In Gray

Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?

I’ve just finished my second novel, Bleak Waters, which will be published some time in 2023 (Release date TBC). It’s a supernatural mystery about Lily West, who’s life in the quiet Norfolk village of Hickling is interrupted by the arrival of a mysterious stranger called Theo Sinclair. Theo is investigating the disappearance of Claire Baldwin twenty-five years earlier. Lily opts to help him, triggering threats and warnings from the villagers, but when those threats turn into brutal violence, Lily has to decide what’s more important; protecting the people she loves, or uncovering the truth about what happened to Claire.

Who is your favourite author?

It changes all the time! I love Lee Child, Shaun Hutson, Jane Harper, James Herbert, Anne Rice, David Gemmell, Gareth L Powell and Susan Hill, but if I had to pick a favourite, I’d probably say Iain Banks (with or without the M).

What do you like to do when you’re not planning or writing your next book?


When did you know you wanted to write novels?

I did a school project when I was about 10 or 11 which was to write a “novel”, and I really enjoyed it, but didn’t really think about writing seriously until 1996 when I saw the Craft in the cinema. I’d recently seen the vampire flick, The Lost Boys, and after I left the cinema, I started wondering what would happen if the girls from the Craft met the Lost Boys. Of course, I then had to write the story to find out, and that set me on my way to being the writer I am today.

Do you write novels in other genres?

My novels tend to blur the line between thriller/horror books, but I have also written YA books and a mainstream novel (or as it’s also known, the book that Willow hijacked!!!). I write short stories and flash fiction in a number of genres though, and one of my mainstream stories (Hope in the Dark) won the Writers’ Forum short story competition in November 2021.

What do you like most about being an author?

I love the opportunity to explore themes and ideas that interest me through fiction. Plus I get to relive places I’ve visited and imagine what life is like for the people who live there (and then how badly I can mess those lives up, fictionally speaking!!!).

Do you have a specific routine for writing? Is there a special place or particular tool you use?

Due to work commitments, my routine is basically find a free hour somewhere in the day, open the laptop and crack on! When I first started writing I’d set aside an hour each evening, but life is too hectic for that kind of organisation now, so I’ve learned to tap into it whenever the chance arises. For example, I wrote my latest short story on the first leg of a twenty-four hour flight to Australia, cramped in an economy seat while the plane was in darkness!

What advice do you have for other writers?

If you want to write, do it. Find a place/time/process that works for you and go for it, and don’t worry too much about how other writers do things. There are lessons to learn obviously, but the lessons are specific to you, so listen to your gut and your heart and follow what you want to do!

If your book were to be made into an Audiobook, who would you choose to read it?

No idea!

If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play main character’s?

If Badlands was made into a movie, I’d want the person playing Willow to be an almost-unknown, someone coming out of college or acting school who gets the character. I think Tom Hughes would make an excellent Richard Goddard though!

The Blurb

Surf. Sand. Smugglers. Murder.

Willow has run as far as she can.

From her home.

From the friends she betrayed.

From the family who betrayed her.

From her own name.

But a cry for help will bring her back.

Back to face her family.

Back to face the sins of her past.

Back to face the darkness at the heart of Cornwall.

In the search for her sister, Willow will face deception and betrayal, before she’ll find love – and herself. But will she uncover how close the enemy is, or will she become another victim of the Badlands?

The Author

Gary Kruse is a multi-genre writer of flash fiction, short stories and novels. He lives with his family in Hornchurch on the Essex/London border.

He began writing as a teenager after seeing the Craft in the cinema and wondering what would happen if the coven of witches from the Craft came face to face with the Lost Boys (the vampires, not Peter Pan's crew!).

His work has appeared online and in print anthologies and his short story "Mirror Mirror" was shortlisted in the WriteHive 2021 Horror competition, and subsequently featured in the "Duplicitous" anthology.

His short story "Hope in the Dark" won first place in the November 2021 edition of the Writers' Forum Short Story competition.

His debut novel “Badlands” is out now.

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