Kevin Bufton: Hello, and welcome to the sixth stop on my Piece of Cake Blog Tour. I’d like to thank Leigh, for giving me this opportunity to promote my debut novella, Cake, which was released earlier this week.
Over the course of this tour, I have talked about my writing career to date, obstacles that I have had to overcome in the penning of the novella, what happiness means to me, and how I can correlate that with the dark and odious things I write about, and how I manage to stay focussed on my writing. It has been hard going – indeed, the promotion of the book has been much harder than the actual writing of it, if only because I’m not happy talking about myself. However, this very reticence segues neatly into the topic Leigh has suggested for me – isolation, which happens to be one of the themes of the book.
Isolation can be a terrible thing, whether it is self-imposed, or enforced upon us by other people. Human beings are social creatures by our very nature and, whether we choose to admit or not, we are hard-wired to crave interaction with one another. Prolonged periods of separation from the rest of the human race have been shown to lead to all manner of mental aberrations, since we use other people as a mirror, a way to take stock of ourselves.
However, as much as interaction with other people is an important – nay, an essential – part of life, isolation has its perks too.
I’m a writer. More specifically, I’m a writer of horror, and other dark fiction, which means that isolation is of great importance to me.
As a writer, I cannot work when there are other people in the room with me. It find it a physical impossibility, rather like someone in a public toilet, suffering from a case of shy bladder. It doesn’t matter how quiet they are, or how still they are being, they are intruding on my writing space. If I had money to fritter away on such an enterprise, I would rent my own office, and, having kissed my wife and kids a fond farewell in the morning, spend all day, every day in there, with both phone and internet disconnected, just so I can write without anything approaching an interruption.
That’s my own little psychosis, fairly well documented there, and I don’t think I need take up any more of you time with this sort of armchair analysis. The only reason I brought it up, is because of the sort of stuff that I write – horror. You see, at its heart, the horror genre is all about isolation.
When we consider horror, what truly scares us is not the zombie, or the vampire or the werewolf, but the idea of facing whatever creature it might be alone. Not only are we alone in the physical sense (deaths in horror novels and movies are rarely group affairs – the unhappy band of protagonists are normally picked off one-by-one, having been singled out from the group), but also emotionally. Almost every horror book will have that scene where the main character must face the very real fact that not only are they being stalking by some sort of maniacal root vegetable (it could happen!) but that nobody will believe them when they tell them – not family, not friends, and especially not the authorities.
Even if the hero does have a group of fellow believers, you can bet that someone in their group will suggest splitting up at one point or another. It’s a simple plot device, designed to produce two or more groups, separated from one another, thereby making that sense of isolation even more profound. Not only are these six (let’s say) protagonists facing a horde of the undead with no hope of rescue, now they are split up, either by mutual agreement, or some caprice of fate, which means that they are isolated from both civilisation, and the only people who might understand their plight. If the author is a real bastard, he will have one member of that group break an ankle, so that the group has to split up…again! It is storytelling at it’s most simple, and, within the confines of the horror genre, it is one of the writer’s most powerful tools. After all, nobody is afraid of the dark when they’re amongst a group of friends, but when you find yourself on your own…
…that’s a different matter.
About the novella:
In May of 2053, forty years following the Separation of Wirral from the mainland, there is but a handful of people who remember what life was like before.
Geraldine Waters is one of the few.
In a land ruled by gang law, and horrors beyond mortal imagination, Geraldine lives in a perpetual nightmare, from which she knows she will never wake.
Her story is one of hatred and desperation, of living shadows and dying hopes.
It is a story about family...
It is a story about cake.
Kevin G. Bufton is a thirty-something father, husband and horror writer, in that approximate order. He lives in Birkenhead, on the Wirral, with his wife and two kids.
He has been writing horror fiction since January 2009, and has been published in magazines, anthologies and on websites, the world over.
Cake marks his debut release as a solo author. Kevin hopes, one day, to be able to scare people for a living. You can find Cake at Amazon and Amazon.uk.