Interview with C L Raven

How long have you been writing for?

We started writing novels when we were 12 – we’re now 35, but we only had our first short story published ten years ago.


You’re a sister writing duo, how does that dynamic help your stories 
come to life?

It’s great when one of us is stuck, because we just switch, rather than having to stare at a blank page and wondering where the hell our muse has wandered off to. We’re like a hive mind so immediately take over where the other has finished without discussing anything. Even we can’t tell who wrote what part at the end of it.


What is it about horror that made you think ‘This is the genre for 

We’ve always loved horror. When we were kids, our favourite films were Snowbeast and Blood Beach. We weren’t fans of Disney! We did watch Care Bears but used our Care Bear powers for evil purposes. Safe to say, we were not ‘normal’ children. As teenagers, we mostly wrote crime fiction, but the murders were always horror-based so we switched to horror and haven’t gone back. Even when we try not to write horror, it will end up being horror. We love trying to scare people. We only own horror films and always drag our friends to the cinema to watch horror. We even ghost hunt and have slept in many haunted locations. And we’re goths. Horror isn’t just our genre, it’s our lifestyle!


Any tips for combatting writer’s block?

Cry? Human sacrifice? Kidnap your favourite writer and force them to do your work? This is actually something we’ve been dealing with for about a year. (Writer’s block, not kidnapping people.) Usually to get over it, we’d find a deadline or an anthology wanting a specific theme and that would kickstart our brains into writing again. But this year, our nemesis, the darkshines (our depression and anxiety) have thwarted our usual methods of dealing it, so we’ve just been editing our back catalogue of work. Then we found that switching to writing in a different format – drabbles, comics and film scripts rather than short stories and novels, was easier and it got us writing again. Often, horror or gothic artwork tends to get our minds tingling with potential story ideas.


Any rituals you have before starting a new story?

Having a can of Red Bull!


How do you handle character creation? I find using Dungeons and 
Dragons character sheets helpful but it’s fun to see the many ways other
people go about this.

Ooh D&D is great for creating characters – we play RPGs a lot and doing the character sheets is our favourite part. But when it comes to fiction, we don’t plan anything, not even our characters. We just write and see what happens.


Any projects coming up (or currently out) you’d like to share with 

Our Horseman of the Apocalypse novel, Bleeding Empire is out this month. Gollancz nearly published it but rejected it because they publish Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. *Shakes fists at those fine gentlemen* Our first comic, Of Wolf and Man, is also due for release this year and we will be writing and directing our first ever short film, The Black Kiss.


How can we support your work?

Buy our books! We have seven paperbacks and ten ebooks on Amazon and Etsy. We can also be found lurking behind our table at horror cons and comic cons around the UK so you can buy from us in person. We’re not that scary. Or maybe take out the competition for us. It would look suspicious if we did it.


Any advice to people just starting out in their writing careers?

Don’t expect to get rich, or famous. You will spend most of your career being rejected (we’re nearing 500 rejections) so don’t set out with unrealistic expectations. We thought that once we had our first story published, it would be easier to get more published. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a soul-crushing, depressing job. On a good day, you might get paid! But if you don’t give up, it’s the best job in the world. Working in a creative field, doing something you love, doesn’t feel like work. And at least there’s no commuting! Well, we have to walk to our writing dungeon (yes, it is a dungeon) in our garden, but the only traffic we encounter is our cats and our duck.

Also, things like Writing Magazine, or websites that list open markets are great for finding publishing opportunities. There are many, many markets that want you to write for free or for ‘exposure’. But you can’t pay bills with exposure. There are so many paying markets out there. You work hard, you deserve to be paid.

Another thing – don’t get down about other authors’ success. A lot of the time, it is not what it seems. Also, don’t feel you’re doing it wrong if your way of writing isn’t the same as anyone else’s. It’s what works for you that’s important. Our way of working – zero planning and switching after two pages with no discussion about what’s gone on would give some writers nightmares, but that’s what works for us. The advice is usually ‘write what you know’ but that’s not always true. We know nothing about cutting out a man’s heart or skinning someone with a cheese grater. We still wrote about it.


C L Raven – Authors, Radio Hosts, Film Makers