For readers who like their adventures laced with a dash of horror.... Look out for Gabriel Dylan's Shiver Point series!
Gabriel Dylan is a surfer, snowboarder, secondary-school teacher and children's author. He's a huge horror fan, having grown up on a diet of King, Herbert and Laymon. He is the author of YA horror novel Whiteout and middle grade horror series Shiver Point.
He lives in the south west of England with his wife and three children. You can find him on Twitter @GabrielDylanYA
Shiver Point: A Tap at the Window (Piccadilly Press)
For readers who like their adventures laced with a dash of horror.... Look out for Gabriel Dylan's Shiver Point series, which begins with It Came from the Woods. The series is a great recommendation for those who also enjoy the Crooked Oak and Dread Wood series. Set in Shiver Point, where strange and unearthly things happen, these adventures follow the Shiver Squad as they try to solve these creepy mysteries. We spoke with author Gabriel Dylan to find out about the second book in the series, Shiver Point: A Tap at the Window, and what first inspired him to start writing horror stories.
Review: "I absolutely loved reading this book, it created an atmosphere of fear and suspense that hooked me in from the very first page."
Q&A with Gabriel Dylan
"I've loved horror from a young age, ever since I found a book of short stories in my own primary school library
when I was nine or ten... It grabbed me like nothing else I'd ever read."
1. What's your day job? What gets you out of bed in the mornings and what keeps you awake at night?
I'm still a teacher by day, at a busy inner-city secondary school in the south west of England, so usually it's my alarm clock that gets me out of bed, or if not my three-year old, clambering into my bed when it gets light.
I love my day job, both the teaching bit and the part where I get to help pupils with the stuff they have going on in their lives, but I also spend a lot of time daydreaming, and thinking about how the students I teach would be great characters in some of my horror stories!
I'm the same at night when I go to bed; my brain keeps going no matter how hard I try to stop it, imagining different scenarios for different scary stories, so I keep a notebook by my bed to scribble down any ideas that might pop into my brain in the middle of the night.
2. How did you start writing for children? What inspired you to write horror stories, and what do you feel makes a great horror novel?
A few years ago, I had a class that really struggled to read, or to access any of the books the school had purchased for them, so I wrote short stories for their lessons, and I enjoyed making up horror stories we could read in class, which spurred the pupils on to write their own.
I've always written, right from primary school age, but teaching focused me on writing for children, and convinced me that was my audience. I've loved horror from a young age, ever since I found a book of short stories in my own primary school library when I was nine or ten. The book was called Creepies, and it was full of horror stories, and it grabbed me like nothing else I'd ever read.
I've always enjoyed being scared, whether it's by books or films, so it seemed natural to write horror. I think the key to a great horror story is setting - if you get the setting of a book right, it becomes a character in its own right, like a haunted house, or a deserted ship out at sea.
3. How would you describe your Shiver Point series in three words?
Mysterious, scary, and fun.
4. What's the latest book, A Tap at the Window, about?
A Tap at the Window centres around Darkraven Farm, an old, creepy property at the edge of Shiver Point that was abandoned long ago. After a break-in at the farm, mysterious things start happening around town, and the Shiver Squad team up again to try to figure out what's going on before someone gets really hurt. Through a series of scary encounters, they discover that Darkraven Farm is at the heart of what's been happening, and that something supernatural lurks there, too. And then they have to try and stop it!
5. Who are the Shiver Squad at the heart of this story?
There's five main characters that make up the Shiver Squad, and they're all very different. In this book Riley takes centre stage. She's the squad's inventor, who comes up with gadgets to help her friends with the mysteries they have to solve, but in A Tap at the Window she not only has a new creature to contend with, but also problems at home with her poorly grandfather.
Next there's Alex, who in book 1 was the rebellious new kid in town, but has now been fully accepted by the group. Sophia is the brains of the gang; she loves school, and learning, and vies with Alex for leadership of the squad. Mo is the character who finds being a member of the Shiver Squad the hardest, as he's scared of pretty much everything. And last but not least there's Oli, who always seems to get in trouble, no matter how hard he tries.
6. How did your setting, Shiver Point, develop? Are you planning more stories set in Shiver Point?
I based Shiver Point on some of the Cornish towns where I spent a lot of my teenage years. They were often sleepy, quiet places in the winter, but if you looked a little closer, there was a sense that there was a mystery to the towns, a hidden history that made them a little bit creepy.
My idea was that Shiver Point could be anywhere, though, with shops, and playparks, and cemeteries, so hopefully all young readers could relate to it, no matter where they lived. And I've just handed in draft 1 of book 3, so hopefully there should be more Shiver Point later this year!
7. What's the most frightening moment in the book for you?
I think the most frightening moment involves the tap at the window that gives the book its title. Riley wakes in the dead of night, and finds herself thinking about the scarecrow she keeps seeing out in the fields near her house, one that seems to be coming closer and closer. Unable to sleep, Riley goes downstairs, at which point the lights go out and she hears a noise and sees something tapping on the window… something scary! I won't tell you what happens next!
8. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you in real life?
There's probably two events that spring to mind. One was when I was surfing out alone one morning in San Diego a few years ago, and a fin rose slowly from the depths and started cruising towards me. I'm still not sure to this day what type of shark it was, but I paddled like mad and caught the next wave to shore.
The other moment that stands out was when I was driving across Bodmin Moor late one night with a friend, on our way to camp out near a beach on the north coast of Cornwall so we could get up early for a dawn surf and have the waves to ourselves. As we rounded a country lane, we saw something on the road in front of us. It was huge, about the size of an Alsatian, but as our car drew closer it vaulted up into the hedge like a panther or big cat would. I can still remember the glow of the headlights in its eyes - it was scary! I'm convinced it was the Beast of Bodmin Moor.
9. What horror / suspense stories or films did you love as a child? Any recommendations for our readers?
Creepies was the book that triggered my love of horror, and pretty soon after that I graduated to Stephen King and James Herbert, proper grown-up horror books which were usually too scary for me! There's some great horror books out there at the moment for young readers, such as Dan Smith's Crooked Oak books, which my year 7 and 8 pupils devour, and Jennifer Killick's Dread Wood series.
My favourite teenage read for when your readers get a little older (or braver!) is Peadar O'Guillan's The Call, where the main characters are teleported to a terrifying fantasy world and have to survive 24 hours being hunted by monsters - very scary!
10. When you're not writing, what does a favourite day look like?
I think a favourite day would include four key ingredients - Surfing, snowboarding, hanging out with my family, and a bit of writing. So, I'd probably wake up somewhere in Cornwall for a dawn surf, then teleport over to Finland for a bit of snowboarding in the thick snow there.
As I'd be exhausted by that point, I'd probably spend the afternoon writing something scary, and then hang out with my wife and children in the evening. They all love board games, which I'm not the best at, so I'd probably spend the evening getting thrashed by them!
Then maybe a good, scary classic horror film like The Thing or A Nightmare On Elm Street to finish the day…