Fungoid is the next title due for release in an ever-growing list of pulpy horror from William Meikle. The story itself spans the globe, but settles mostly over Canadian landscapes that, once the fungus takes root, describe like anywhere else in North America. The apocalypse is boundless and without giving up too much of the plot (or the forthcoming feature review within the pages of Unnerving Magazine Issue #1) it’s brightly lit with rolling hills and a beckoning tune. DarkFuse is the publisher and Fungoid is portion of a multi-book deal.
“I've got at least two more novels from DarkFuse, both set in Newfoundland, and I've got a contract to write 3 more for them. I've also got a Sherlock Holmes novel coming from Dark Renaissance, a novella coming from Dark Regions, over 20 short stories coming in various anthologies, and several secret things in the works I can't talk about yet,” said Meikle.
Newfoundland for those that do not know, is a province (hitched to Labrador) with most of its inhabitants living on an island just off the Atlantic coast of Canada. It’s known for its Irish historical ties, the often thick accent of the Newfoundlanders and its harsh weather. Of course, as a local, Meikle sees the entire picture.
“We came over for a holiday in 2005, and fell in love with the place. I was considering writing full time, and when the opportunity came up to sell our house in Scotland, we took the plunge and came on over. Got a great house on the shore with a sea view for a tenth of what it would have cost back in the UK.
“It's still pretty rural and unspoiled, a lot of the old traditions, mainly Irish ones, are still followed, and a lot of the old songs are still sung in the bars. It feels more like a Scots/Irish community than anything else. It feels a lot like home to me.
“As I say, we live on the shore, I've got a great view from the writing desk, I can write full-time, and watch the eagles fly over the bay and icebergs go past in Spring. It's a quiet fishing village, and it suits me just fine,” said Meikle.
After crossing the country, pinging out about the globe for news and suspecting the source issue residing in the Far East, Fungoid comes to its finale in a small town atmosphere Meikle knows well.
“The later parts of the book in particular are firmly set around the area where I live now. Early on, I take some liberties with Newfoundland's capital, St. Johns, but the small town stuff is very much reality based.
“For me, I like to see places in my mind's eye while I'm writing, so naturally, having the firsthand experience helps. I also like to get a feel for the rhythms of speech of local people, and that's really best done by talking to them,” said Meikle.
Meikle builds on his personal familiarity with Fungoid and expands into the speculative; beginning with Meikle’s pool of experiences, habits and interests, and fanning out like spores on the breeze from there.
“I've got a Biological Sciences degree, and a big part of my final year was the study of fungi and algae. So there's that, and I've always had a fondness for horror that deals with plant and animal life gone wild. It's a motif that turns up in quite a lot of my fiction.
“It's pretty obvious there's a big Day of the Triffids influence, and that's deliberate, as Wyndham was one of my favorite writers when I first started reading in the genre back in the late 60s/early 70s. There's also several William Hope Hodgson touches,” said Meikle.
Scenery and knowledge do well to set the scene, allowing characters to bring home the humanity. One aspect I found especially truthful and strangely important: returning to tobacco because the world’s gone to shit. This is a thought I've had myself.
“Definitely. I was a heavy smoker in my younger days, getting through a pack and more a day of Marlboro. I haven't touched one for over 15 years now, but I think, if I knew everything was crashing down around me, it wouldn't take much for me to light one up,” said Meikle.
While Fungoid is a horror told with a classic, paperback pulp vibe, Meikle has a vast swatch of published work straying away from this style.
“I'd love to do a straight western. Whether I could pull it off without bringing in a single supernatural element would remain to be seen, but I've been a western fan all my life. Maybe someday.
I've got a lot of more literary short stories and novellas in print. The novellas CLOCKWORK DOLLS and BROKEN SIGIL from DarkFuse in particular were more literary, and picked up rave reviews. It's just that the longer works tend to come out pulpy. For example, I've got many traditional ghost stories to my name, and a few more modern examples of the genre too. I've also sold more than a few science fiction stories that aren't in the slightest bit pulpy. But it's the pulpy stuff I'm better known for, and if it makes the readers happy, it makes me happy,” said Meikle.
Fungoid is due for paperback and eBook formats from DarkFuse on January 17th and is currently available for purchase in limited edition hardcover. I would like to thank William Meikle for his time and lightning fast responses to my emails.