Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Edward Cox - Living Stone Release

Edward lives in the Essex area of England and has just completed his BA Honours degree in creative writing at the University of Luton. He was first published in 1999 and hasn't looked back. He's a regular in the Sam's Dot Publishing world of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Read more about Ed on his website and on his MySpace page.

Marva: Thanks for dropping by, Ed. Let's get right to it. You have a novella just being released from Sam's Dot Publishing. Tell us a bit about "Living Stone."

Ed: It’ s essentially a vampire story, set in a place called Forest Gate in the Eastend of London (which, incidentally, is where I was born). The story is divided between two timeframes: one present day, the other 1000 years ago.

The present day thread follows a policeman called Oscar who’s on the trail of an enigmatic serial killer known as Old Herne. Old Herne has reputation for being particularly brutal in his killing methods, and always dumps his victims’ bodies at an old, abandoned church in Forest Gate. The past timeframe deals with the builder of this church, Morgan, and his mysterious apprentice. It’s this yesteryear thread that plants the plot seeds that reach fruition in Oscar’s timeframe.

It’s difficult to say much more without spoiling the plot; there are a few twists and secrets along the way that don’t get answered until the end. And although "Living Stone" will be classed as a vampire tale, I like to think it’s a little more than that, as it’s sprinkled with a healthy dose of fantasy. Oh, but I can say that Tim Ramstad has done a great job with the cover art. He’s a very talented guy.

Marva: I understand this story was part of your thesis for your recently-earned BA Honours Degree. What's your school and how the heck did you manage writing a vampire story for your thesis?

Ed: Hah! Well, there’s no secret, really; my degree was in the subject of creative writing, and was conducted at the University of Luton (now Bedfordshire), which is just north of London. You see, at the time, I’d already been writing stories for many years, but always felt there was something missing from my technique that I couldn’t put my finger on. I knew I needed help if I wanted to improve as a writer. I spent a long time finding the exact type of course that I wanted to do, one that dealt directly with actually sitting down and writing, and wasn’t steeped in academia. Although academics will come into any university course to some extent, the creative writing degree at Luton was mostly based on coursework, and what the students’ imaginations could dream up.

It lasted three years, and covered many individual modules like Science Fiction, Fantasy, Poetry, Reviewing, Scriptwriting, etc. The thesis module was called Special Projects, and ran the entire length of the final semester. We were assigned a project supervisor (I was lucky enough to get my main lecturer and mentor, Keith Jebb – a great man and poet), and then we had to write a proposal for what we wanted our Special Projects to be. Mine was obviously "Living Stone", and my supervisor passed the proposal. I got an ‘A’ for my efforts, which ensured that I attained a 1st with honours for the BA, which made me very smiley indeed J see?

Incidentally, I should say a big thank you to Terrie Leigh Relf here, and I’ll explain why: I originally wrote "Living Stone" as a 4000 word short story for Hungur magazine, of which Terrie is the editor. She liked the tale, but declined it because the plot was too short and confusing. She was very helpful, and suggested that it perhaps needed to be a bigger story. It made sense as there was so much history and detail that I hadn’t explored, and I’d forced the word count to fit Hungur’s 4000 submissions limit. Once I started exploring the tale further, it was like opening a can of worms, that was, on occasion, maddeningly frustrating to write. I’m pleased with the results, though, and I’ll be forever grateful for Terrie’s advice, and that I was smart enough to take it. Not only did "Living Stone" get me top grades for the BA, it was also good enough for Tyree Campbell to believe in it as a publication of its own. Sometimes it really does take another to make you appreciate what you have on your hands.

Marva: What else are you working on? Any novels in your future?

Ed: I’m fortunate inasmuch that I never seem to be shy of story ideas. I probably have more than I’ll get around to writing in my lifetime, which, as a writer, is good, but also sad; I’m only 35 and I already worry that I don’t have enough time left, and I try to write everything at once. At any given moment, I’m working on several projects, and switch my attention between them depending on how well each project is going. I have a really bad habit of forgetting pieces that I’m writing, too, and I’m always surprising myself when I rediscover stories, lurking half-finished at the back of my computer. For example, there’s a short novel called "Bone Shaker" that I have been working on periodically for the past ten years . . . I should really get that finished. To be honest, I think I’m a lazy person trapped in a busy person’s body.

As for the present, I’ve moved on from the BA straight into an MA in creative writing, again at the University of Bedfordshire under Keith Jebb’s supervision. For this I’m writing a novel, a fantasy with the current working title of "The Relic Guild". I’m also working collaboratively with Tyree Campbell on another novel called "Aoife’s Kiss", and with Terrie Leigh Relf on a short story. I’m also slowly piecing together a collection of my previously published and unpublished short stories and novellas. Once its ready, and I can start looking for a publisher, it’ll be kind of an "Ed – The University Years" anthology. To date, I did some of my best work during the BA, and I think it’ll make a good read.

In between these projects, I’m working on a few pieces of flash fiction and poems. Often, like many writers, I need to occasionally feel that sense of completion, so I always have a couple of short shorts around to counterbalance the longer projects. Also, I’ve been branching out a little of late, and I’ve just become a project editor for Sam’s Dot Publishing.

Marva: Now that you've graduated, are you looking for a real job?

Ed: To be honest, the future frightens the pants off me. At the moment the MA keeps me busy, and I have enough to get by. I’ve also run a couple of lectures at my university, and teaching does appeal to me. Though, if I pursued it as a career, it would definitely be with older students. At the moment, over here in England, teaching lower ages, outside of colleges and universities, is a nightmare job, and I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. Of course, like many writers, my ultimate aim is to earn my living as a storyteller. It’s what I do, what I’m best at – it’s who I am.

Marva: Here's where you get to add anything you want. Go for it!

Ed: Well, seeing as I’m all ranted out I guess I’ll end with a note to readers, writers and artists in the realm of speculative fiction. If you want to find out what’s going on in the independent press, and find some solid markets to submit your work, go to Sam’s Dot Publishing. Everything you need you will find there, including a community of like-minded and approachable folk.

Marva: Thanks for the visit, Ed. Best of luck on Living Stone.


  1. Marva, is horror your only genre?

  2. Seems like it, but it's just I happen to know lots of horror writers. I'll have to broaden my search parameters.

  3. If I run across any writers in my travels, I'll ask about having you interview them.