Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
Gary McMahon: I think it might have something to do with the beauty of the beast, and how much danger is wrapped up in that sleek, unforgiving package. There’s also the mystery of the deep to factor in: we’re all fascinated by the ocean, and what those deep seas might be hiding – things we haven’t yet discovered.
SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Silent Waters, Running Deep?
GM: Well, I knew I couldn’t write a pulp horror story about a shark – that isn’t my style. So I imagined a kind of conceptual shark, one that might or might not exist in the real world but certainly existed inside a character’s head. The rest of the story followed on from there.
SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story?
GM: Nothing out of the ordinary, really, just the usual challenge of writing a decent tale. I needed to make sure that it didn’t lapse into melodrama, so I spent a lot of time on the tone of the piece, making sure I got that right.
SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
GM: It’s got to be the Great White – I’m sure that’s everyone’s favourite. I do also have a soft spot for the Hammerhead, though, because of how it looks. It’s a scary looking thing: monstrous.
SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)?
GM: Hookjaw, from the old Action comic. I loved that comic strip. It was gory, frightening, beautifully drawn, and really stuck in my mind. I remember a childhood friend had a Hookjaw poster on his wall. I was always jealous of that.
SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Gary McMahon?
GM: I’ve been working on my next novel for over three years now, so I hope to get that finished and sent to potential agents before the end of the year. I have a short story coming in Black Static, and a couple of other commissioned stories that I’m working on now. There’s also a novella called The Grieving Stones due to be published by Spectral Press later this year to mark the fifth anniversary of the press.
Gary lives with his family in West Yorkshire, where he trains in Shotokan karate and cycles up and down the Yorkshire hills. Website: www.garymcmahon.com