Matthew Williams – How my Weakness Became a Strength

I’ve always been an imaginative person.  I loved every minute of being a Star Wars kid, but when the movie ended, that was just the beginning for me.  Hours would be spent pretending to be Luke Skywalker.  It didn’t matter if I had friends around or not, my imaginary lightsaber was real enough to me, so why not the entire cast?

Some people reading this will be smiling right now, remembering that they used to do the exact same thing that I did. Although, since becoming an adult, I have discovered that pretending to be Han Solo was probably a cooler thing to do. But he didn’t have a lightsaber! Sorry. I only meant to think that.  As I said, Han was definitely cooler.

Anyway, later in my life, I discovered horror: Poltergeist, Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween. Oh, God, even Jaws gave me nightmares at one point!  Did you ever get that thing where you were scared to go to the toilet because of a shark?  No? Okay, well it was just me then.  I would like to point out that I was only about six or seven at the time.

Right. So by the time I was entering my teenage years, the years my parents would rather forget about—you know the ones—I was hooked on horror films and attempted video piracy. I say attempted because I always seemed to get that strange wobbly screen every thirty seconds or so.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you’re either too young or you were too well behaved.  If you’re smiling again, you were obviously a criminal too!  If there are any antipiracy police reading this, I swear that I never profited by it, and if I had, I’d have spent all the money visiting theme parks in Orlando, my favourite place on earth.

If you haven’t smiled yet, then you should probably stop reading.  Honestly, it doesn’t get any better!


When you consider that I am a horror writer, it might come as a surprise to learn that I hated reading and writing at school.  There was no one less likely than me to publish a novel, let alone two novels with another on the way.  I could never understand why I struggled with it so much.  I had a head full of ideas and stories, yet English lessons were a nightmare.  All that changed in my final year.

My English teacher left the school, and the deputy head stepped in. She was brilliant and put her finger on my problem straight away.  I was dyslexic! Wow!  That answered a lot of questions, and it altered my life.  I guess I could have used it as an excuse to fail like some of the other kids chose to do.  But instead, I chose to read more, and naturally, my choice of books was in the horror genre.  The best way to beat my demons, it turned out, was to read about them.  Well, not just demons, there were a few mutant rats and a nasty nurse with an axe at one point. I think her name was Annie?

At first, I read mostly Stephen King and James Herbert novels.  I found that reading really got my imagination working again, only with a lot more gore than with Star Wars.  I passed English and went on to gain distinctions in electrical and mechanical engineering. I will always thank Mrs. Hughes for that.

With my demons vanquished and my career moving along nicely, I soon found myself up for a promotion.  Obviously, I was over the moon. That was my initial reaction.  But as my promotion loomed closer, my little dyslexia demons crept back out from behind the wall I’d built.  Oh God!  I’d have to communicate in writing, not with friends, but with managers!  It was worse than the shark in the toilet incident. I was terrified.

Fight fire with fire! I don’t know about you, but I do find it hard to resist the odd Metallica lyric.  Anyway, I decided to write a story but never planned for it to lead me anywhere.  It was simply an idea that I’d had in my head for a while, and I used it to stunt the growth of my demons while I learned how to kill them for good.  And that’s exactly what I did.  When I was finished with them, they were….Oops? Sorry, I’ve just remembered that I was asked to keep this clean.  You can learn more about the gory side of my writing in my novels if you like.

Years later, I found my story. I reread the pages that I had written, and it struck me that it wasn’t all that bad.  In some ways, it was better than some of the novels that I’d read. I figured, why not give writing a go?  It took me a few years and a lot of help from people around me, people who were prepared to be brutally honest about my writing.  But that short story of maybe ten thousand words grew into a one-hundred-thousand-word manuscript that I now know as The Shady Corner, my first novel.

As soon as The Shady Corner published, I was already writing another.  Shadowchild was also a few years in the making, but I can say with confidence that it wasn’t my demons of dyslexia that held me back.  It’s the demons of time that get in the way now. I’m still working on the best way to beat them, but I’ll get there.  My next novel, Talia’s Kiss, is already well underway.

Thanks for reading and please take a look at my website for samples from my books, I welcome your feedback and support.

reading books, flickr

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Ollie and Her Creation of Envisage: In Through the Mirror
R.L. Smith – My Experiences as a Writer
Bradley Simpson – My World of Fantasy
Suzi Albracht – The Queen of Scream

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