Interview: Natalie Edwards, Horror and Crime Writer

Natalie Edwards (aka TC Parker) hails from a UK town in the East Midlands called Leicester, where she now lives, though she works mostly in London and the US.

“I haven’t actually been writing fiction very long at all by the standards of many people in the horror community,” Edwards says. “I only really started a few years ago in my mid-30s, and only started publishing this year. ” She admits she was evidently trying on some level to compensate for the earlier lack. She has published four books in 2020 and a fifth is ready to come out in January 2021.

Nat Edwards“That said, I’ve done a few jobs that are fiction writing-adjacent: I’ve worked as a copy-writer and copy-editor, taught media and communications at university and college level during and after grad school, and now run a semiotics and cultural insight agency, which involves producing a fair number of written reports for clients.”

In terms of fiction… “I write predominantly crime and horror.” The horror tends to feature a lot of grisly death and mythical creatures (though she’s currently working on what’s rapidly evolving into a sort of cosmic splatter Western), and the crime tends to be more heist-focused. “I’ve just wrapped up a trilogy about a gang of London-based con artists, though even they ended up populated with more than their fair share of serial killers and sociopaths, which suggests I can’t get away from horror, whatever genre I’m writing in!”

Edwards promised a friend that she would try her hand at a romantic comedy sometime in 2021—”though I think we both secretly know there’ll be at least one murder in there somewhere, if I do.”

“Possibly the other thing that characterizes what I write is its queerness,” she says. “I have a lot of very strong opinions about increasing the visibility of LGBT+ characters in fiction, especially lesbian characters—so queers tend to pop up in central roles in almost everything I write, and I suspect always will. They’re not always pleasant, but they’re always there, and not just on the peripheries.”

Are there any new authors that have captured your interest? Why?

God, so many! From the horror community, I absolutely love Hailey Piper, Laurel Hightower, Steph Ellis, Kev Harrison, Ross Jeffery, Wayne Fenlon, Alyson Faye, Zachary Ashford, Sonora Taylor, and a hundred others—all fantastic writers and incredible people. E(dward) Lorn is a gifted writer, terrifyingly prolific and a wonderful human being to boot. Quite honestly, though, every one of the horror guys I’ve come to know over the last year has been prodigiously talented. Getting to know them has really been one of the highlights of an otherwise quite dismal 2020.

Beyond horror/dark fiction, I’ve been loving Lucy Bexley and Bryce Oakley, who write lesfic, and am excited to see where they go next—especially since they’ve already released one horror/lesfic crossover.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into? Have they impacted the way you write now?

I wish I could say there were some! My undergrad degree was in English Lit, and I suspect I was slightly inoculated against taking any real pleasure in some of the “classics” I had to study. (Looking at you, anglophone novels of the mid to late eighteenth century.) That said: A lot of the MR James and Robert Aickman I’ve read has left me cold—but I’m conscious of how much of an impact they’ve had on a lot of the writers I love and admire, from King onwards. So when the opportunity arises, I’ll probably give them both another go.

What do you see as the biggest differences between horror and crime fiction? Where do the genres intersect in your work?

In practical terms, the sort of crime fiction I write (labyrinthine mysteries with a lot of twists and turns) tends to need slightly more rigorous plotting than the horror fic. (Though I’m an assiduous plotter anyway, so I kind of like it.)

In terms of the content itself, there’s often a huge overlap. The horror novels and stories I’ve written tend to have elements of mystery/thriller, and the crime stuff often gets quite dark. So I don’t necessarily consider them radically different beasts. (To the extent that I now slightly regret using a pseudonym to separate one from the other!)

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding time to do it! I run a business, have two young kids (one pre-school) and not a lot of spare time to play with—to actually being able to sit down somewhere quiet to just write can sometimes be a challenge. Thankfully, I think it actually helps here that I’m a plotter: I rarely write anything without a full outline in front of me, so I don’t often lose time worrying about what comes next and how I’ll get there.   

What are common traps for aspiring writers? Are these things you’ve overcome in your own writing?

I wouldn’t want to comment—I’m probably still stuck in them myself!

Has COVID affected your writing routine this year? If so, how?

As for a lot of people, the primary impact has been on the amount of time I’ve had free to write at all. The kids have been in the house a lot more, since a lot of nurseries and schools here have been closed and classes quarantined, so I’ve been spending more time on childcare and trying to juggle that with my day job. And previously, I traveled quite a lot for work, so was able to do bits and pieces of writing on longer train and plane journeys—which obviously hasn’t been possible this year.

On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot less time commuting back and forth between cities so probably have more time at home in front of the laptop than before.  

What does literary success look like to you, Nat? What goals do you have to reach that aim in 2021?

2020 has been in some ways oddly wonderful in terms of writing. It’s been incredible publishing books and seeing people I love and respect read and enjoy them. So my primary goal is to keep writing and to keep producing publishable fiction that people will want to read.

Beyond that… I love my day job, so I wouldn’t necessarily want to give it up, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the idea of writing full-time (or even part-time) quite attractive.

Are there any recurring messages in your work that you want readers to grasp?

There are definitely recurring themes and ideas. Queerness, obviously—and perhaps difference more generally—and what that means in terms of the social construction of identity. I’m very interested in social/cultural environments and technologies as determinants of individual and group behavior, so both of those probably crop up often too.

And, probably more specifically, I’m fascinated by what Marc Augé calls non-places and what Foucault calls heterotopias: spaces in which the conventional rules of conduct and behavior, and even conventional understandings of things like time, are temporarily suspended, and where—therefore—unexpected things might happen. So places like airports and transit zones, hotels, hospitals, prisons, abandoned buildings, shopping malls, even casinos (and probably Vegas as a whole, come to think of it). These sorts of heterotopic spaces lend themselves well to horror especially, I think. It’s probably not a coincidence that so much horror fiction plays out in them.   

Tell us about your current project.

I’ve just started writing the horror Western, with the first two chapters down and twenty or so more to write. I suspect it’ll net out at something like novella length, though I tend to write long, so who knows?

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Mostly… if you’ve read anything I’ve written: thank you. I’m exceptionally grateful, and honestly still a little stunned that people actually sit down and read things I write. It’s the best feeling in the world, knowing that the weird ideas that live inside your head have taken on a life of their own in other people’s.

Follow Natalie Edwards/TC Parker at https://www.tcparkerwrites.com/ and on Twitter @WritesTC.

You can find crime written as Natalie Edwards on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Edwards/e/B08BXZLJL6/.

For horror written as TC Parker, on Amazon, go to https://www.amazon.com/T-C-Parker/e/B08CGLZPFW/.

Published books:

As Natalie Edwards (Crime)As TC Parker (Horror)
The Debt
The Push
The Remembrance (coming January 2021)
Saltblood
A Press of Feathers

Nat Edwards books

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Winners of the Goodreads Giveaway for DEATH PERCEPTION

From May 4-14, 2013, I hosted a Goodreads giveaway for 5 trade paperback copies of my supernatural thriller DEATH PERCEPTION. The giveaway is now closed.
DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen Howard

The winners are:
Michael S., UK
Tamara A., Canada
Mary E., US
Toni H., US
Zack W., Canada

Congratulations, folks! I’ll be shipping your books this week.

You can still mark DEATH PERCEPTION as “Want to Read.” And please recommend it to some friends who like supernatural crime!

DEATH PERCEPTION is announced on the site for award-winning genre writing text MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT, to which I’m a contributor. Read all about it here:

http://manygenres.blogspot.com/2013/05/mgoc-contributor-news-death-perception.html

P.S.: Don’t forget to join the Facebook release party now. From May 15-31 I’ll be posting
trivia questions for a chance to win some cool prizes, including a Kindle Paperwhite. Order options are listed here. Order your copy today and start reading to win!


Enter the Goodreads Giveaway for DEATH PERCEPTION

Enter to Win a Paperback of Supernatural Crime Novel DEATH PERCEPTION at Goodreads

NOTE: The Goodreads giveaway is officially over.
Winners are announced here.

From May 4-14, 2013, you can enter to win a trade paperback of DEATH PERCEPTION.DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen Howard

Enter here:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17847827-death-perception

While you’re there, please mark DEATH PERCEPTION as “Want to Read.” And recommend it to some friends!

Thanks. I appreciate your support!

P.S.: Don’t forget to join the Facebook release party now. From May 15-31 I’ll be posting
trivia questions for a chance to win some cool prizes, including a Kindle Paperwhite. Preorder options are listed in the event. Order your copy today and start reading to win!


I Finished the First Draft of THE BEDWETTER

Almost two months ago I posted the first scene of my work in progress, a dark psychological thriller I’ve titled THE BEDWETTER. It’s about an abused young man with chronic secondary nocturnal enuresis who, as pressures mount, embarks on a killing spree using the tools of his dark fantasies.

I tracked my daily writing milestones with nightly Facebook page updates, and posted a progress report two weeks ago.

I finished ahead of schedule, completing the first draft the evening of April 4, 2013, at a total of 51,167 words—very close to my revised goal of 52,500. I was ecstatic! Since the beginning of 2013, I’d been spending two hours almost every weekday evening, and three to six hours on Saturdays and Sundays, plotting and writing. My all-time daily writing record was 2528 words on 3/26; my weekend writing record was 5024 words on 3/29-31; my daily average came out to be 1339/day.

I forced myself to let it cool for a week (well, almost a week) while I worked on getting DEATH PERCEPTION ready for release (next month). Today I exported THE BEDWETTER Scrivener project to a Word file and printed out the entire draft: 241 pages. I will begin my read-through tonight, making notes in the margin. Here’s a peek at the first draft. 🙂

Bedwetter Manuscript, First Draft

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. In the meantime, drop me a line!


Progress Report on THE BEDWETTER

A month ago I posted the first scene of my work in progress, a dark psychological thriller I’ve titled THE BEDWETTER. It’s about an abused young man with chronic secondary nocturnal enuresis who, as pressures mount, embarks on a killing spree using the tools of his dark fantasies.

I’ve started to keep track of my writing progress and wanted to update you in a more comprehensive way than my daily Facebook status updates and tweets.

Idea Development in THE BEDWETTER

I originally received inspiration during some time off I took at the end of last year. I got the idea about a young man being punished in a horrifying way for wetting the bed. I used those two weeks to formulate a big-picture plan for the story, filling out plot and character questionnaires, just getting to know the story.

From that point on, I began to hear this character’s voice and was often interrupted by creative “downloads” of information that I would later work into scenes and dialogue.

Plotting of THE BEDWETTER in Truby’s Blockbuster 6

I spent all of January and the first half of February doing more detailed plotting using John Truby’s screenplay development software, Blockbuster 6. The application leaves a lot to be desired, but it enabled me to draft a list of scenes and arrange them in the right order. Then, I fleshed out each scene, answering questions such as:

  • My challenge in writing this scene
  • My strategy for writing this scene
  • The scene goal (POV character’s desire)
  • The character’s plan to achieve the goal
  • The opponent in the scene
  • The scene’s conflict
  • Any twist revealed
  • The scene’s moral argument (value A vs. value B)

Blockbuster 6 also enables you to include the structures of up the three genres in your story (for example, horror, thriller, and myth); track six storylines; and monitor key words, symbols, and tag lines.

I completed a scene form for 59 scenes in the book, and included in each scene some details about what needs to happen and the information I must reveal when I write the scene.

Drafting THE BEDWETTER in Scrivener

I downloaded the Beta of Scrivener for Windows over a year ago and played around with it, but didn’t use it seriously. I got serious with THE BEDWETTER. I created folders for characters, research, and scenes. Scrivener 2.0 isn’t perfect either, but it offers scads of cool project management features geared toward writers. I love using it now and likely will continue to do so.

Starting mid-February, I began taking my Blockbuster scene sheets and writing actual scenes from them. Weeknights I would spend two to three hours in any one of half a dozen coffee shops around Pittsburgh’s east end—the same on Saturdays and five hours on Sundays—drafting scenes and making progress. I didn’t start keeping detailed stats until March 3, but here are my word count stats so far:

Date Daily So far Weekend
2/12/2013 1000
3/1/2013 ? 6,980
3/3/2013 1691 8,671
3/4/2013 406 9,077
3/5/2013 1253 10,330
3/6/2013 1848 12,178
3/7/2013 912 13,090
3/8/2013 1001 14,091
3/9/2013 1201 15,292
3/10/2013 2290 17,582 4,492
3/11/2013 711 18,293
3/12/2013 666 18,959
3/13/2013 875 19,834
3/14/2013 884 20,718
3/15/2013 884 21,602
3/16/2013 942 22,544
3/17/2013 1,845 24,389 3,671
3/18/2013 541 24,930
3/19/2013 604 25,534
3/20/2013 766 26,300
3/21/2013 537 26,837
3/22/2013 735 27,572
3/23/2013 1,907 29,479
3/24/2013 2,134 31,613 4,776

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My initial goal for a first-person, present-tense novel in this voice was 42,500 words. But by the time I finished the beginning scenes and started writing the middle, I realized it would be longer. My present goal is 52,500. We’ll see where it comes in at when I’m finished. And I already have 45 scenes; my total will exceed 59.

Read the First Scene of THE BEDWETTER

I invite you to read a draft of the first scene. I’m warning you, it’s dark. (I’ll confide that some of it has been tough to write.) But I must remain true to my inspiration. This story wants to be told, and I’ve never before enjoyed such a flow of ideas and writing.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!


Book Review: BUTTERFLY POTION by Trent Zelazny

BUTTERFLY POTION by Trent Zelazny

4.7/5.0 stars

BUTTERFLY POTION by Trent ZelaznyPerry got rolled last night during a blackout. He’s looking for what he’s lost, and that’s more than his wallet and cell phone. He finds Talia; Talia finds him.

Reading Zelazny is like going on a drinking binge and waking in the gutter. But among the messy people in a sad, depressing world is existential philosophy cocooned in beautiful writing. Zelazny has a knack for turning phrases—not just on the page, but in your mind.

Along with despair, there is humor: “To Perry he looked like a kid who’d been picked on in school, which over time had given him the options of suicide, junkie, criminal, or law enforcement.” Priceless.

In the end, there is satisfaction. And thankfully, some hope. All while the butterfly watches.

Available in paperback and for e-readers. On Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13613311-butterfly-potion.

You can discover more about Trent Zelazny at: http://trentzelazny.com/


Book Review: DESTINATION UNKNOWN by Trent Zelazny

DESTINATION UNKNOWN by Trent Zelazny

4.6/5.0 stars

DESTINATION UNKNOWN by Trent ZelaznyI’ve read most of Trent Zelazny’s work, and along with TO SLEEP GENTLY, this is one of my new favorites.

Again, in DESTINATION UNKNOWN, Zelazny really puts the screws to his characters, and I relish that in a suspense tale. Just when you think you know where the story’s going,—blammo!—you’re off in a different direction and, by the end, careening downhill with no brakes. (I should warn you that I had to stop reading this one late at night because it was jacking my adrenaline and I couldn’t get to sleep.)

The characters are deep as they are wounded. Brian and Kate tragically lost a son and think they’ve received a boon when they come across some money. A lot of money. But the owner wants it back, and will do anything to get it.

DESTINATION UNKNOWN will keep you guessing to the end, and wincing at every development along the way. Classic TZ with an 80s music soundtrack. Loved every freaking page. Please write another.

Available in paperback and for e-readers. On Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13276701-destination-unknown.

You can find out more about Trent Zelazny at: http://trentzelazny.com/