Updated: Aug 7
Please introduce yourselves
We are C L Raven, identical twins from Cardiff. We’re horror writing, poledancing, ghost hunting mistresses of the macabre.
What initially got you both into writing?
We’ve always loved writing. We still have stories we wrote in primary school, where people were dismembered and their body parts displayed. We even drew terrible pictures to accompany these. Fortunately, it was the 80's, so no psychologists were ever called in.
Then for our 12th birthday, our uncle bought us notebooks and pens and we decided to start writing novels. We were either going to become writers or serial killers. Sometimes, we regret our life choices. Although you’re never too old to change careers…
Who are your biggest influences and why?
As teenagers, it was Dean Koontz. We loved his descriptions. As kids, Roald Dahl. His sense of humour matched ours, especially with Revolting Rhymes and cutting people’s heads off. The Twits was and still is our favourite book of his. Then there was Fat Cat, a Danish fairytale about a cat that ate people.
Now, our influences come more from films or horror art. Films like Silent Hill, anything by Guillermo del Toro, Tim Burton.
Are you traditionally published or self-published?
Both. We’re classed as hybrid authors. We bought Writing Magazine years ago and they have submission call outs. We submitted to Legend Press when we were 24 and that’s when we were first published.
Then in 2012, we decided to start self-publishing. In a month we taught ourselves how to format ebooks, how to make book trailers, how to do the cover and all about the self-publishing process. We were younger then, full of hope! We still get published traditionally and still self-publish, though other people do our covers. We love the control of self-publishing. It’s all ours. We decide what to write, when to write, when to release, what the cover will look like.
As for approaching agents or publishing houses, always research and address your email with the agent or editor’s name. Seriously, they hate the standard Dear sir/madam addresses. Forget about the big publishing houses – they only take submissions from represented authors. You’re best off trying independent publishers, but again, find out the editor’s name and what they publish. Also, try to have a good social media presence. Most publishing houses, even the large ones, expect you to do the marketing (which is not spamming people with ‘buy my book’ links).
How important is writing as an art form in the world, today?
Hugely important! Without writers there would be no TV shows, no films, no documentaries, no books, no web pages, no video games. The entire world revolves around writing, even if people refuse to accept that. During lockdown, people turned to entertainment to help get them through, which shows how important writing is.
Do you have a set process when starting a new project?
No outline, no planning, no word counts. One of us has the laptop, decides what we’re writing, writes a page and hands it over to the other one. We don’t discuss it. It really shouldn’t work. But it does. We hate planning! It’s too much effort.
What has been your favourite book to write and why?
We love them all for different reasons. Some we didn’t enjoy writing because we found them hard. Others were easy. The Malignant Dead, which is set during the plague in Edinburgh in 1645 was probably one of our favourites to write.
Which genre do you enjoy writing in?
Horror will always be our favourite, particularly ghost stories. But we also love writing historical fiction.
Is writing your primary source of income?
Hell no! It’s almost impossible to make a living just from writing. We have various casual jobs – setting up meeting rooms for community groups is our most regular. We’ve worked in prop workshops; made disco balls for La Traviata opera, hand painted an entire floor in a rich couple’s barn because they wanted it to look like tiles; worked on a BBC drama in Pinewood studios, which sounds glamorous but was really just painting skirting boards and doors for two days.
We’ve worked for a print company, first stuffing envelopes, then binding books, then doing their filing to eventually emptying their warehouse when they moved premises. We helped to build a Halloween attraction called Frightmare, which involved spending a week on a farm in Gloucester threatening to ride the ostriches. We’re not great at working 9-5 jobs. We can do it for a week or two then we have to withdraw from human company. Casual work suits us best.
Now we’ve opened a mobile pole dance studio and teach pole dancing in community halls. Well, we did until a global pandemic hit. Business Wales never mentioned that in the SWOT analysis! We’re currently teaching online and in our garden, when it stops raining.
What advice can you give our readers, should they wish to pursue writing?
Run. And don’t look back! If you go into it thinking you’ll be the next Stephen King, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak. It’s a hard job for very little pay. Writers don’t even make minimum wage! Do it for the love of writing. And get used to a lot of rejections. They do get easier. After 12 years, we’re close to 500 rejections. Now we just shrug them off. Sales are hard. Some months we don’t sell at all. You have to be incredibly determined.
You won’t be famous. You won’t be rich. You will have to tolerate people telling you to get a proper job. But if it’s what you want to do, then do it. Also, get feedback from people about your writing. Find someone who will be honest but not brutal.
What does success mean to you?
Being a recognised name, selling a lot of books, being invited to panels, being guests at cons. Basically, everything we don’t have!
What projects are you currently working on?
Loads! Preparing a gothic epistolary novella for release; producing our brand new pole dancing magazine, When In Chrome; working on a true crime article; we’re going to be in a feature length version of School Hall Slaughter, an indie horror film where we play murderous teenagers; creating a choose your own adventure horror game based on a game in our Silent Dawn novel – we’ve been doing this for over a year.
What are your hopes for the future?
World domination, travelling, getting back into poledance competitions, publish more books, bring down the government, buy a castle, saving our local meadows from development, publishing comics, making our magazine a success. We like to keep things realistic.
Lastly where can people find you?
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clraven666
Twitter – https://twitter.com/clraven – be prepared for ranting and pet pics.
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