Interview with P. A. Sheppard

Terror Forming: Interview with P. A. Sheppard

It’s my pleasure to host P. A. Sheppard, who joins me to talk about his latest release, a Sci-Fi Horror novella Terror Forming, which was published on January 1, 2023.

Meet the Author
P. A. Sheppard

Writer – Adventurer – Scruffy looking nerf herder.

Paul is a digital nomad and homeschool teacher to his young son as they travel the world. Currently based in rural Bulgaria. Paul spends most of his time butchering the Bulgarian language, explaining general relativity to a twelve-year-old, and renovating a spooky old house in the woods.

An avid traveller, accomplished martial artist, and less-than-accurate archer -Paul’s bucket list is his blueprint for life.

Connect with P. A. Sheppard

About the Book
Terror Forming by P. A. Sheppard

When all else has failed, Dr. Lylah goes to extraordinary lengths to save her patient. Using untested technology, she undergoes a process of digitization and downloads her consciousness onto a nano craft to explore the ever-expanding tumor pressing against her patient’s brain. What she finds is far from what she expected. An entire universe inhabited by big game hunters, criminal cartels, and timeless monsters.

Suddenly digitalization and ethical dilemmas are the least of her concerns as she searches for a cure within this tenebrous bubble of reality.

“Space Horror at its finest. Artificial Intelligence, space pirates, and bad-ass sapphic heroes!”

Welcome to the Asylum, Paul! Take a seat by the fire and have a glass of beverage of your choice. For those who don’t know you yet, tell me something about yourself that’s not in your bio!

Something that’s not in my bio? Well, the most interesting thing is probably my climbing and mountaineering. I don’t climb as many mountains as I used to, because of the time commitment of restoring the homestead and running the YouTube channel, but I’ve climbed quite a few. My bucket list challenge is to visit the capitol city and climb the highest mountain in each European country. I’ve only got four more to do.

Oh. That’s awesome! I hope you’ll get to do the rest soon!
Being a seasoned traveller and adventurer, what was the most exotic place you’ve visited so far? Did it inspire any of your work? How that experience affected you personally?

I lived in Thailand and explored Southeast Asia for three years before moving to Bulgaria. Probably the most exotic (and inspiring) place I visited was Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I always carry a notebook with me, and I remember sitting in the shade of one of the temples and writing the outline of a story that I’ll finish one day. As for how travelling has affected me; I think that life is like a book, if you stay in one place, you only get to read one page.

Man, I’m super jealous. I’ve seen some documentaries about Angkor Wat and that place must be breathtaking in person. So much history and mystery. I’d like to read what you came up with while being there.
What’s the best and worst thing about living in rural Bulgaria? Based on the pictures on your Twitter feed, the view definitely seems to be one of the perks.

There are so many good things about living in the Bulgarian countryside. The air is fresh; the wilderness is beautiful, and I can walk out of my garden into the woods anytime I like. But for me, the best part is the freedom. When I lived in the UK, I worked sixty hours a week in a job I hated just to pay the rent and monthly bills. In Bulgaria, the cost of living is much lower. So I can dedicate my time to writing and editing. 

I don’t like to dwell on negatives, but If I had to pick a downside, it would be the number of abandoned dogs. It breaks my heart to see them, so much so that I’ve converted my barn to a kennel where I can keep rescued dogs until I find them a new home.

What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil? Maybe all of the above?

Well, I definitely don’t make deals with the devil, not after the last time… Most of my inspiration comes from travelling and interesting conversation with people I meet along the way. I take a lot of notes when I’m travelling, but my brain turns that information into stories while I’m sitting in front of the fire with a glass of whiskey, a cigar, and one of my dogs.

The last time, huh? I’m sure there is a story there…
You seem to be writing in a wide range of genres – you have some horror novels, some dark epic fantasy. Do you approach novels differently based on their genre? Which is harder/easier to write (if there is a difference) and why?

I started writing dark fantasy with my Norse novel, The Wolf We Feed. But after seeing an interesting submission call from The Greyrooms podcast, I went a little darker and stepped into the world of horror. Some amazing voice actors accepted my story and turned it into an audio drama. After that, I was hooked. I saw another interesting submission call and wrote ‘The Nightcrawler’ which was published by Aphotic Realm. I think The Nightcrawler is my best work so far, but the horror genre is a subjective thing. Some people have read it and called it a 5 star horror, other reviews called it a five star thriller. Either way, I’m happy with all those stars.

Oh, I bet. Stars are cool. The more the better.
Your latest novel, Terror Forming was released on January 1st, 2023. Congrats! If you could launch a release party with your MC(s) present, how would that go down? 

Thanks! I think if I held a party with all my Main Characters present, they would probably turn on me for creating all the horrible situations they’ve had to live through. If they didn’t know I was responsible for their suffering, it would probably be a delightful party! Big game hunters, assassins, serial killers and ethically dubious AI doctors. Yeah, that could be interesting…

I hear you… I’m sorry you had a rough time. I guess we all had it hard in the past few years.
Talking about Terror Forming, what was the main inspiration for the story? Which aspect of the book was the most challenging to write and why? 

Terror Forming started as short story, but soon grew into a novella sized book. What started as a sapphic space opera developed into something much darker as I listened to the news and read what was going on in the world. While I was writing Terror Forming, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. Every news website and social media platform was talking or arguing about it. I didn’t intend to write about reproductive rights, but that definitely became one of the underlying themes, and was certainly the most challenging part to include. 

Other than that, the story follows Dr. Lylah as she goes to extraordinary lengths to save her patient. Using untested technology, she undergoes a process of digitization and downloads her consciousness onto a nano craft to explore the ever-expanding tumour pressing against her patient’s brain. What she finds is far from what she expected. An entire universe inhabited by big game hunters, criminal cartels, and timeless monsters.

Whoa. Those are some heavy themes for sure. But I’m also intrigued…
You will also release the third book in your epic fantasy series, The Wolves of Amleth soon. It’s been in the works for a while, isn’t it? Introduce us to this Norse inspired world! What made you excited about returning to this series? What were the difficulties in writing a third book?

Well, that’s an interesting story. I wrote the third instalment some time ago, but I decided to part ways with the original publisher, and had to wait for the contract to end and the publishing rights to revert to me. 

I’ve compiled all three books into a massive 800 page epic fantasy novel that will hit the shelves in March 2023. I set the saga in Amleth, a rugged land divided by decades of bitter strife with a landscape and belief system heavily influenced by my time in Scandinavia.

Based on the tale of the two wolves that live within us, The Wolves of Amleth is a coming of age story that follows the twins Tirith and Drake, as they each feed a different wolf. Following his ambitions, Drake arrives in the dystopian city of Náströnd, where he finds a new mentor and becomes involved in a bloody coup to eliminate the city’s ruling class. While this is happening, Tirith undertakes a treacherous journey to meet her father for the first time, overcomes racial bias in a foreign land, and learns the truth about her family’s sinister past. What she discovers leaves her with no choice but to find her brother and attempt to save him from the violent life he has chosen. But does he want to be saved?

I know lots of people who read the second book, including yourself, wanted to know more about Jurgen. Well, I can’t give away any spoilers, but he plays an important role thin the last section.

Oh yes. It’s been a while, but I definitely remember Jurgen. I’m glad to hear he gets an important part to play 👀
Which character from any of your books do you identify with the most? What have you learned from them (if anything)?

Probably Dale from the Nightcrawler. His physical description matches mine, and the old Landrover he drives is based on an ex-RAF Defender I converted into a campervan and lived in while I travelled. Not sure what lessons I could learn from him, other than how to survive the apocalypse and avoid giant man eating bugs.

I mean… those sound like important lessons.
If you were a character in your book, how would you be described? And what your profession/role would be? How long do you think you would survive?

I used to live on a boat, and I see myself as a sort of rogue. So I’d probably be some kind of space pirate (big Han Solo fan!). I never bet against myself, so I’d like to think I would survive to the end. Probably with some horrific scars and an eye patch though…

I’m afraid our time is coming to a close. While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you to invite one visitor (fictional and otherwise) – who would you invite? And no, they can’t help you to escape.

That’s the thing, I’m not really a people person. I bought a spooky old house in the middle of the woods to get away from people. I think I’ll choose my new pup, Freya.

Well then, it was a pleasure to have a chat with you! Please allow these nice attendants to escort you out. We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! *locks the door*

Grab a copy of Terror Forming by P. A. Sheppard!

Terror Forming by P. A. Sheppard