MA: Gemma Mawdsley is a full time author living in Limerick. Though first published at the tender age of ten-years-old in a local newspaper, she wrote many stories over the years just as a hobby, and did not think about getting published until completing a two year course on creative writing in U.L. She then went on to further study in the Killaloe Hedge School of Writing. She started working full time as a writer four years ago.
In 2006 she was short listed by Waterstones in their search for a children’s writer. Her specialty is Gothic/Horror and she has been referred to as Ireland’s Mistress of the Macabre. Her novel, The Paupers’ Graveyard, was published in March 2009 and was an instant bestseller. She is currently working on her 8th manuscript.
Mistress of the Macabre, huh (smiling)? So what did you do before writing and gaining that unique distinction?
GM: I worked for over ten years as a company director in a large haulage firm, but it wasn’t until the untimely death of my mother, ten years ago that I decided to write. I did a two year creative writing course at Limerick University, retired from my job and started writing full time.
MA: Why novels, why not short stories as many horror stories tend to be?
GM: I chose to write novels because I find short stories too limiting. Perhaps, I’m just long winded?
MA: I don’t think so! I’m almost afraid to ask if your stories have any elements of real people in them.
GM: My novels are all Gothic and not based on any real people, except, perhaps some Irish legends may come into some of them, as in Death cry.
MA: Tell us about your stories.
GM: My debut novel was The Paupers’ Graveyard and this was published by Mercier Press Cork. My second novel Whispers was published by abook2read. Mercier wanted to publish this, but did not have the funds. Last week I published Death Cry and A Very Strange Knight on Amazon Kindle and Smashword. I am currently working on my eighth novel.
MA: I’ve not written anything in the Goth/horror genre, so I don’t know how you would go about developing a protagonist…how do you do it?
GM: I set out with an idea concerning my protagonist, but I find the character develops as I go along. In Death Cry, my heroine is a young girl, Annie, gifted with a power beyond her imagining, who is pursued by the most evil demon of them all. Her strengths lie in the fact that even though she is forced to watch those she loves being tortured and killed; she refused to give up this power.
MA: Now, I imagine that creating antagonists in a horror story is where the real fun is, right?
GM: The bad boys I find easy to write about, as unfortunately we have all known some soulless creatures. Hugh, Annie’s cousin is the one who brings about her downfall.
MA: I hope there are no real life horror stories you’ve experienced that influenced your plots, or are there?
GM: Heaven forbid that real life experience is involved in the plots. A vivid imagination coupled with childhood experiences make my ghost stories come to life. My great grandmother used to live in an old manor house which burned down and she was forced to take refuge in what would have been the servants’ house. She was great for entertaining and people would come from miles around. I remember sitting in the parlour and listening as they told ghost stories of their real or imagined encounters and the subject always fascinated me. My other real love was history so I combined the two.
MA: Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me today, Gemma! For my readers, Gemma’s website is: http://www.gemmamawdsley.com. Go there…if you dare!