Once in a while, I’ll meet someone who, without knowing it, inspires me to be all I can be and to never give up on my dreams. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and offer a pat on the back, a hug or a handshake and want to know a little about my life. They walk away, telling me I’m an inspiration but they have no idea how much they have inspired me, just in that short amount of time we chatted.
Today I bring you the amazing, inspiring story of up-and-coming author Anthony Price, known to his friends as Ant or to some as Tony, who doesn’t let a disability stand in the way of his dreams.
Anthony was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition when he was two years old, and doctors were doubtful he would reach his teens. Anthony is twenty-eight now, with a BBAC (Hons.), BA (Hons.) and an MA under his belt. He’s also a published author, who lives life to the fullest and doesn’t ever let his disability stop him. “I’d like to think that might inspire some people,” he said.
Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, a genetic muscle-wasting condition that affects the voluntary muscles of the body, Anthony survived pneumonia twice and went to school from when he was five until he was 18, passed all his exams with good grades and went on to study at the University of Kent, receiving a 2.2 GPA in Business Administration. He looked for a job, but couldn’t find one, so he went to study history at Canterbury Christchurch University in his hometown of Canterbury. He received a 2.1 GPA, went straight on to his postgraduate Master’s degree in creative writing and has been writing ever since.
Anthony’s weeks are anything but typical, he said. “My time varies a lot,” he said. “I try and spend a few hours each day writing, or reading, but I also go to the cinema a lot, sometimes twice a week.” Anthony can always be found hiding out in a coffee shop, too.
Anthony likes to think that he’d be a good person regardless of his disability. “I think we all do,” he said, “but being disabled has certainly given me a unique perspective on life. I tend to be a lot more open minded and tolerant of people,” he said “My disability has given me ways of thinking outside the box, which has helped in a lot of situations.”
I encourage everyone to heed Anthony’s words of advice whenever you’re faced with adverstiy: “Life can be hard sometimes, and you’re probably going to be put down, berated for being different. It’s going to be frustrating. But above all, keep going and never quit. Fight for what you want tooth and nail because, one day, it’ll be yours.”
Anthony, thank you so much for taking a few minutes out of your day to chat with me and my readers. What do you say we get started? Pull up a chair and relax. I’ll make this as painless as possible 🙂
How long have you been writing?
I began writing when I was fifteen, but back then, I had a lot of things on my mind, so writing fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until four years ago that I refound my passion for it.
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
It’s always been there at the back of my mind. My grandfather was a cleaner at a local high school and used to bring home spare notebooks. I would go around their house and we’d play cards for a while, then I’d dive in to the notebooks and scribble away. I filled them all with stories and poetry. So yes, I think writing is something I’ve always wanted to do.
What books or stories have you written? Published?
I’ve had several short stories published since getting serious about my craft. Highlights include Drip-Drop (House of Horror E-zine, January 2011 [Sadly now defunct]), Circus Shriek, (Static Movement E-zine, February 2011), Bargain Dreams, (Bad Dollar Project, February 2012) and Hunger, Fear: An Anthology of Horror and Terror, (Crooked Cat Publishing, October 2012). Proceeds from these short stories benefit several charities.
I was also published at the age of fifteen in a poetry anthology titled, Kaleidoscope, and I have self-published a successful horror anthology with Amazon KDP titled Tales of Merryville.
But my biggest publication is my debut novel, The House of Wood, which will be unleashed on the public April 5, 2013, and published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
Well, my work is predominantly horror. My self-published anthology, Tales of Merryville, centers around the titular town of Merryville and the strange things that happen there. Most of the time people just ignore it. But whatever is out there is getting restless. Situations are getting stranger and stranger, as the darkness closes in on the town. Ash is the only one who knows the truth. This book is his legacy, the only thing left to fight off the evil. Tales of Merryville is an anthology of the bizarre, the twisted and the macabre.
My novel, The House of Wood, is a story within a story, one that asks two questions: What happens when a house sees so much horror it becomes evil incarnate? And, can a person ever really escape their past? It centers around Rachel James, a college student in her third year at the University of Maine, who knows the house all too well. When she receives a phone call informing her that her parents have died in a house fire, she must return to her hometown. Rachel is forced to confront her biggest fear when she discovers the House of Wood has been rebuilt in the last three years. But it’s not until she accepts a dinner date with the mysterious Dr. David Cochrane that things take a turn for the worse, as now she must recount the story of what happened at the house three years earlier.
How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?
I get a lot of my inspiration from movies and TV because I watch a lot. Music also plays a big part. But a lot of the time, the characters write themselves. I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve been around various, diverse groups of people my whole life, so I’m sure some of those characters can be found in my work, too.
Are the books based on personal experiences?
Thankfully, all my stories are pure fiction. I’d hate to go through the things that I put my characters through. I think I’d be killed off pretty early on.
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
I would say, “Be disciplined and keep plugging away. The worst thing you can do is give up. The more you write, the better you’ll get. It’ll happen. Be patient.”
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?
I’m very lucky in the sense that my editor is very good at what he does. The writer is often far too close to the work to look at it objectively and be ruthless with the editing. We become attached. That’s when a second pair of eyes is needed and to have a professional, someone who knows what they’re doing, is golden.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?
Well, I think the hardest part for me was actually finding someone to publish my novel. I’d been searching for a literary agent for some time and no one wanted to take me on. So, I decided to bypass those and go direct to the indie publishers. The first one I tried was Crooked Cat, and they loved it.
How did you find time to write your books?
Writing is my full-time job, so I have plenty of time to do it. When I was at university, I would set aside a couple of hours, three times a week. Discipline is key.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?
I think writing has many benefits, both educationally and personally. It opens up the mind, allowing you to see and observe things with a greater clarity, keeping the brain ticking over. It’s also a great stress reliever.
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
Writing relaxes me, as it allows me to switch off for a few hours. It gives me a purpose. Knowing where you’re going and what you’re doing can be very relaxing in itself.
Can you also talk a little about how writing your book was therapeutic? What do you mean?
Writing my book was therapeutic for me because when I’m writing, I can lose myself in the worlds and characters that I’m creating. I can switch off my cares and worries for those few hours that I’m working. It allows me to beat out any frustrations. I can do things that I can’t usually do in my real life.
Has writing made you a better person?
That’s a tough one. I’d like to think it has, yes. I’m certainly a lot calmer and happier now that I have a purpose and a goal to work for. Writing has given me that.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?
I love to read and have quite wide tastes in fiction and non-fiction. Obviously, being a horror writer myself, I enjoy reading horror. Stephen King, James Herbert, Dean Koontz. But I also have a degree in history, so historical fiction is a big interest, particularly Bernard Cornwell. Non-fiction wise, I love a good film book, or even subjects like physics or philosophy. I’m also a big comic book nerd!
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?
I think that reviews are an integral part of the marketing process, especially once the book has been out for a while. They allow the public to make an informed decision about whether to buy it or not. I always look at reviews before buying.
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?
Thankfully, as of yet, I haven’t had a bad review. I think I’d be okay with it though, provided it was constructive criticism. You have to take the rough with the smooth. That’s life.
Check out this excerpt from Anthony’s debut novel, The House of Wood, out in e-book and paperback April 5…
The upstairs corridor of the bed and breakfast was long and dark. It went into a “T” junction at either end; one way led to more rooms, the other, stairs and a storage cupboard. The décor was much the same as the ground floor. Old. The difference was that it didn’t have the same welcoming charm. It was more like a narrow tunnel screaming for people to turn back. Rachel on the other hand, couldn’t. Not if she wanted answers.
She made her way down the narrow passage, heading towards the end with more rooms. All she knew was David’s room was to the right. With any luck, she thought, he would be out of his room before she got there.
Dreary faces peered out of ominous grey portraits as she passed by. There was something about black and white pictures that had always unnerved her. She guessed it was because the people in them were usually dead. Ghosts. She shuddered at the thought. They seemed to be even more creepy in the muted, sulphurous yellow light of the hall.
She continued, one step at a time, down the long passage. She could hear the wind howling outside, as it rushed through the old cracks of the building. The sound reminded her of laughter. Maniacal laughter. The kind she had heard before.
There it was again. The image of a whitewashed wooden house in her mind’s eye. Her heart rate quickened. Blood pounded in her ears. A picture of Jesus on the crucifix glared at her with his condemning eyes.
You’ll burn, bitch!
The lights flickered. Howling. Laughter.
You’ll burn in hell!
Rachel’s breathing was coming in rapid bursts. The eyes. Oh my God, those eyes.
She groped her way along the cold wall, as she tried to turn back. Disorientated. Tiny beads of sweat had formed on her forehead. The corridor had started to spin. Her voice was stunted. She couldn’t call out. There was a face. His face.
“Rachel, are you alright?”
She screamed before the darkness took her. The last thing she saw was David catching her in his arms.
Anthony Price is a twenty-eight year old male living in the UK, in Canterbury. An avid reader and film fanatic and having always wanted to be a writer, he was first published at age fifteen and since receiving his MA in Creative Writing, has had several short stories published in e-zines and anthologies. He’s also the author of his own horror anthology titled, Tales of Merryville, which is available in e-book format on Amazon.
His novel, The House of Wood, has been in the works for three years and started off as a small writing exercise on his MA. Being a disabled writer, he has had his fair share of doubters, so this novel is extra special. It’s out in paperback and e-book format April 5.