Turning the everyday murderous with Tim Mendees
Tim Mendees is a horror writer from Macclesfield in the North-West of England. He specialises in cosmic horror and weird fiction. He has published over 80 stories in anthologies and magazines with publishers all over the world, as well as with three novellas.
When he is not arguing with the spellchecker, Tim is a goth DJ, crustacean and cephalopod enthusiast, and the presenter of a popular web series of live video readings of his material and interviews with fellow authors. He currently lives in Brighton & Hove with his pet crab, Gerald, and an army of stuffed octopods.
I’m excited to talk with Tim today … and a little bit wary LOL.
Here’s what he says!
TIM: So, where do you get your ridiculous ideas from?
This is probably the singularly most asked question I have ever received. I have thought long and hard on this over the years and I confess that I don’t have a clue. Some come to me when I see a specific call, but the simple fact is that there is no secret key to open the doors of inspiration. Most of my ideas come from the most mundane of places. I have often found a trip to the local supermarket or standing in the queue at the Post Office is often enough to get the juices flowing.
One of the things I like to do the most is turn the everyday murderous. It could be something to do with being a lifelong fan of Doctor Who where everything from plastic daffodils and shop window dummies to maggots and giant talking slugs can be a galactic threat, but I like to find the sinister in the commonplace.
I’m never happier than when I’m killing people with seaweed and oysters.
This also ties into my main influences. I’m something of an obsessive reader of H.P. Lovecraft and cosmic horror in general. The original Weird Tales alumni are literary gods to me. I’ve never found vampires and werewolves the least bit unnerving, but a tentacle-faced god infiltrating your dreams gets the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. The fact that evil can be lurking on the fringes of reality, influencing nature and turning a toilet roll into a psychotic killer, is far more terrifying to me than some bloke with a machete in a fright mask.
You have a chance against flesh and blood, what chance do you have against a carnivorous cosmos?
When I started writing, I had only one goal… to create the sort of stories that creeped the hell out of me as a kid. Raised on pulp paperbacks, I devoured everything from Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen to Ramsey Campbell and the weirder end of Stephen King. If I have made one person feel the way I felt when I first read The Willows or The Shadow over Innsmouth, then I have succeeded.
It’s not all cosmic indifference and nihilism though.
I was also raised on a steady diet of P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and Carry On… movies. I spent a great deal of time as a child with my grandparents so I ended up assimilating their taste and mingling it with the weird. I think the best description of my output that I have ever heard is someone called it the lovechild of Lovecraft and Wodehouse.
My new novella, Spiffing, is a great example of this. When I set out writing it, I wanted to get the feel of a Christie whodunnit or a Jeeves story and give it some cosmic horror goodness. It will be up to the reader to judge whether or not I’ve succeeded.
In short, my ideas come from my past and my present. The things that have inspired, shaped, and disturbed me. Everyone has these things in them… it’s just a question of bringing them to the surface.
Thank you so much Tim for this entertaining and enlightening discussion.
I can’t wait to read more of your work.
Excerpt from Chapter Two of Spiffing:
Sylvia Lexington-Brown now lay in an undignified heap on the top of the grand staircase at Chycoose Manor. Her elegantly sequinned cocktail dress had ridden up, showing her lacy stocking-tops. After screaming her lungs out, she had fallen into a dead-faint. The trio of drunken men had jumped up unsteadily from where they lounged and rushed to the woman’s aid.
Doctor Sullivan had placed a cushion from a chaise-lounge under Sylvia’s immaculately styled head of blonde hair and removed the choker from her neck, Potter had hold of one of her scarlet painted hands and patted it gently while Slater fanned her with a ragged newspaper.
While the three men fussed, the three women ran back to the library and hurriedly removed the masks and put their clothes back on. The sudden shock had jolted them back to reality and a deep feeling of shame. Meanwhile, the band were faffing with their instruments and looking bewildered. Each one of them was three sheets to the wind and oblivious to everything around them.
Professor Penrose was the first of the women to re-emerge from the library, she bounded up the stairs and questioned her fiancée. “What the devil is going on Frank?” Her strong yet attractive face was flushed from exertion.
“No idea darling,” Doctor Sullivan replied. “She started shrieking and saying something about Bertie being ghastly.”
“Well, that’s hardly news,” Penrose replied, rolling her blue eyes. She had never been a fan of Bertie. Quite rightly, she thought the man a fool and a bounder, she only tolerated him because her betrothed was one of his closest friends.
“That’s not what she said you deaf old bugger,” Potter mocked. “She said that something ghastly had happened to Bertie.”
“Well… has anyone checked on our host?” asked the professor.
The three inept men looked at each other then, almost in complete unison, answered… “No.”
“Don’t you think one of you ought to?” she asked pointedly as she fixed them with the kind of stare that headmistresses give to foolish six-year-olds.
Before one of the men could reply, their mouths gaping like beached trout, Sylvia began to stir. Suddenly, she sat bolt upright and wailed, “Oh God… Bertie!”
“What the hell is going on, Sylvia dear?” Penrose asked gently. While she had no time for Bertie, she was terribly fond of Sylvia.
“Oh, it’s terrible… simply terrible! I had been powdering my nose and when I finally returned to the study, he was dead!”
“Dead? … Surely not?” said Slater with a look of disbelief.
“He was lying on his back with a terrible look on his face, and he was smoking!”
“How could he be smoking if he was dead?” Slater stupidly replied.
“Not smoking a cigarette, you blithering imbecile,” Sylvia snapped. “He was smoking! There was smoke coming off of him… His body was smoking!”
An ensemble muttering of “Good Lord!” spread around the room and the guests exchanged horrified expressions.
The two other ladies, now fully clothed, joined the huddle on the stair landing and helped Sylvia to her feet. Nobody mentioned the dancing, but the sheepish expressions they wore announced that it was a rather large elephant in the room. Once Sylvia had regained her equilibrium somewhat, Professor Penrose took charge of the group and led the party towards Bertie’s study.
The east wing of Chycoose Manor had fallen into a state of disrepair of late. A cruel winter, coupled with the unwillingness of the owner to lift a finger when it came to maintenance, meant that it had seen much better days.
Reaching the end of the corridor and the double doors leading to Bertie’s inner sanctum, the scent of damp was joined by an even more pungent aroma. “Crikey! What’s that smell?” Stanley Slater inquired, placing a vomit-stained hankie over his mouth and nose. “It smells like someone forgot to pluck the turkey before putting it in to roast.”
“Oh, God! … Bertie!” Sylvia exclaimed and wobbled as though she was on the brink of another swoon. Potter and Sullivan deftly steadied the distraught woman.
“Tactless moron!” Penrose hissed at Stan.
“What? … Oh! … Awfully sorry, Sylvia dear. I’m sure Bertie will be alright. He’s probably mucking about, that’s all.” Slater turned beetroot red with embarrassment.
Susan Slater tutted at her husband’s idiocy then pushed her way to the front of the group. Together with Penrose, they pushed open the study door.
A blanket of smoke hung low over the cluttered room like a mist. A large desk stood at one end of the room, with a portrait of the first of the Lexington-Browns to make Chycoose Manor his home peering down imperiously from the wall above. The desk was buried beneath a vast collection of scribbled notes, maps and charts.
The antique mahogany shelved walls were adorned with relics and artefacts from the combined travels of generations of Lexington-Browns. Everything from nests of Russian dolls to Spanish bull statuettes jostled for space on the shelves. On the wall, a large collection of menacing wooden masks from darkest Africa leered down at the concerned guests.
As they filed into the room, Sylvia pointed beyond the desk. “He was over there, behind the chair.”
Penrose and Sullivan carefully picked their way over a pile of books and dislodged papers to the corner of the study.
“Well, he’s not here now,” Sullivan shrugged, running his hand through his short greying hair. On the floor where the corpse should have been, a viscous black liquid, similar in colour and consistency to tar, smoked and smouldered. Where the allegedly deceased host had gone was a complete mystery.
“Everybody, look for clues!” Sullivan boomed.
“Clues?” Slater asked, wobbling slightly. He looked like one good blow could knock him on his bony backside.
“Yeah,” Sullivan looked at him pointedly. “You know? … Clues.”
“Ah,” Slater gave him a knowing look. “Clues, got it.”
Sullivan wasn’t entirely sure that he had. Stan was far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, he had seen brighter eclipses.
Suddenly, another piercing scream assaulted the eardrums of the guests. This time it was Virginia Tailforth who had become startled. She had been edging away from the desk as the others had approached it and backed straight into a towering object. As she spun around to steady the teetering bulk, she came face to face with a particularly terrifying sarcophagus.
What larks! That sounds like delicious cosmic fun.
Thank you so much, Tim, and more power to your pen.
Spiffing – https://mybook.to/Spiffing
Website – https://timmendeeswriter.wordpress.com
YouTube – https://tinyurl.com/timmendeesyoutube