Thursday last week was meteorite day in Edinburgh. First there was ‘our’ interview with Ted Nield, featuring plenty of the stuff coming down.
And then it was Chris Priestley who brought us to the cliff top and scared the h*ll out of us. He likes terror, rather than horror. Terror is when you go over the cliff top. Horror is what it’s like when you reach the bottom.
I had almost finished my first short story collection by Chris, and despite reading it in public on the train, I was thoroughly spooked. My sense of unease didn’t go away when Chris talked about his writing, and just thinking back to his event and his stories makes me feel a bit… (Window is open. It’s dark. I’m home alone.)
Anyway, Chris read us his first success, which was a short story that was runner up in a Gibraltar newspaper competition in 1966, when Chris was a mere eight years old. It was quite good, and featured the previously mentioned meteorites as well as comets and the moon. The young Chris’s idea of travelling to the moon wasn’t terribly accurate, but pretty good. Considering.
He ‘burbled away about himself,’ and told us about his early favourites like A Christmas Carol, The Ancient Mariner and the Greek Myths. Chris reckons you write what you’ve read, and he likes the dark, supernatural, strange, weird stuff. He’s a bit squeamish, and his career plans was train driver, astronaut or writer.
From that first trip to the moon in 1966 Chris became an author after first working as an illustrator and cartoonist. He makes notes all the time, and these later become scary stories. He’s very pleased when his wife reads his stories and screams. And his innocent teenage son who had to read while ill in bed told him he’s a ‘sick man.’
That’s why we didn’t tell Chris our fears when he asked the audience what they are scared of. Others were braver about their fears and shared thirst, buttons, burglars and dogs. And he told us about an early fishing memory… I almost thought I’d end up on the floor, again. What is it with these writers?
Chris likes scaring children for a job. Traumatising people for life.
What’s normal is the most scary. Don’t know if that’s why Chris has some skull button thing where his tie should be? Scary cufflinks. This isn’t terribly normal, if you ask me.
Someone asked if Chris has ever been in a real fight with anyone. He claimed he hasn’t. But then he started fantasising about fighting with Philip Ardagh and pulling his beard off.
Not normal at all.