Interview with CRYPT author, Andrew Hammond

Andrew Hammond is the author of a seriously creepy new series called CRYPT (Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team).  The series is about a group of teens who work in a secret government agency to protect the world from paranormal forces.  It’s perfect for guys, especially any who like horror or authors like Darren Shan and Anthony Horowitz.  Andrew’s latest book, CRYPT: Traitor’s Revenge has just been released in NZ so I caught up with Andrew to ask him a few questions about his books.

1. Did you write a history of the CRYPT organisation before you started writing The Gallows Curse?

Yes, I did. It’s important when writing the first title in a series to ‘redefine the world’ containing CRYPT. Up until that point, there was no CRYPT and so it’s important to consider its history, its future and all the little inconsistencies in between. Readers are sharp these days – and they’ll spot mistakes if I haven’t considered how, why and when it all started.

2. Did you interview real ghost hunters when you were writing the CRYPT books?

Although I have not spoken to a real ghost hunter, I read many books, magazines and blogs written by ghost hunters whilst preparing for this series. I’m keen to use the right equipment and the right terminology, so that it seems as real as possible. But the great thing about ghosts is that everyone has a different opinion about them – so that leaves lots of scope for writers like me. We know so little about what really makes up the universe – even at the atomic level – and so I am open to the possibilities of ghosts. Why wouldn’t anyone be? Without proof they don’t exist, it seems strange not to believe that they do.

3. Are the CRYPT gadgets based on real technology or did you create these?

Yes, every piece of equipment issued to the CRYPT agents is real and available to purchase on line. It’s a well known fact that higher levels of electromagnetic energy are found in haunted places, so I’ve based much of the agents’ work in this area. Energy never dies – it remains as electro static and electro magnetic traces in the atmosphere and in the objects around us, and I believe it’s this energy that ghosts harness to take shape and return.

4. Which of the CRYPT gadgets is your favourite?

It has to be the tri axis EMF detector – it’s faster and more accurate than other detectors at measuring the levels of electromagnetism in the air – often a sure sign that paranormal activity is occurring.

5. Have you witnessed any paranormal events yourself?

Yes. I lived with a ghost for years in a big old Victorian house in Yorkshire, England. We often used to detect strange smells in the house, always around dinner time – the smells of fried onions, herbs, spices, sometimes even roast dinners. But it was never when any of us were cooking. Weird. Eventually we found where the smells were coming from – a small cupboard on the first floor of the house. We opened the cupboard door and were swamped in the smells of something cooking. But there was nothing inside it. We decided to look at the old floor plans of the house, dating back to Victorian times. Then we understood. The cupboard was a recent addition – before it was added there was once a small, spiral staircase which led directly down to the kitchen. That is precisely where the smells of dinner would gently waft into the house every evening in Victorian times.

6. What movies, books and music inspire you?

I don’t watch scary movies or read many scary books – I’m just too easily frightened. I have a vivid imagination and just can’t sleep after something like that. But over the years I’ve found that being so sensitive can make you an effective writer – because I know what fear feels like. I can remember the sweaty palms, the prickly neck, the sinking feeling in my stomach and the palpations in my chest. I don’t wish to numb those senses – not just yet!

Besides, I don’t want to be affected by other people’s notions of what horror could or should be. I like to come at this afresh.

But as a kid, my favourite book was always Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. I’ve read it so many times now and one summer I even rented a cottage on the fringe of Dartmoor and read it on location. Scary stuff.

7. How many books do you plan to write in the CRYPT series?

There are five books in the series. I’m working on Book 4 right now, which takes us back to Viking times – and some pretty ghastly rituals they carried out on their enemies. I like my history – always have done. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to write about real historical figures, events and places in each of my books. Recently, someone said of my CRYPT series: ‘This is great, history just got scary.’ I like that.

And I don’t plan to kill off the main characters in the final book in the series, as you just never know – there’s a lot of gruesome history out there still to be explored. …

Thanks to Andrew’s publisher, Hachette NZ we have copy of Gallow’s Curse and Traitor’s Revenge to give away.  Enter my CRYPT competition to be in to win.

Meet the Apocalypsies #1 – Leanna Renee Hieber

Today I’m pleased to welcome Leanna Renee Hieber, one of the first of the Apocalypsies to release her debut book into the world.  Leanna’s book, Darker Still, the first book in the Magic Most Foul series was released on 11/11/11 in the US (1st February 2012 in NZ).  Here’s the blurb:

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde… New York City, 1880.Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart’s latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing… Lord Denbury’s soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

It sounds intriguing and I’m really looking forward to reading it.  I’ll hand over to Leanna to tell us all about Darker Still and her inspirations.

I’m so excited to be here today! While I’ve written several novels, I’m here to talk about my YA debut, DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul. I’ve always wanted to write a haunted painting story: Ever since I was little and I saw Sesame Street’s DON’T EAT THE PICTURES where the Sesame Street gang get locked in the Metropolitan Museum of Art overnight. Ever since I read THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. Ever since I went to art museums wondering if the painter and the sitters infused part of their own life’s energy into the art. At last, I’ve written my haunted painting story. DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul begins the Magic Most Foul saga set in 1880 New York City. It tells the tale of a hot British Lord whose soul is trapped in a painting and the brave girl who must set him free.

I’m so excited to be shelved in teen fiction. But for my adult readership who know me from my Strangely Beautiful series about ghostbusters and Greek Mythology in Victorian England, don’t be deterred. DARKER STILL has the same flavors found in my Strangely Beautiful saga, it’s still the 1880s, it’s still romantic and spooky, (the Magic Most Foul series is far more spooky, actually) it’s definitely still Gothic. Similar attractions, different shelf. I want to be a “gateway drug to 19th century literature” for teens and for all readers. I want to build a bridge between today’s fiction and the books and style that defined me as a reader and a writer. When I was about 10 years old I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe and haven’t ever looked back. Poe was my own “gateway drug” and my love of his work led me to appreciate Stoker, Shelley, and all the spooky 19th century classics. Especially Dorian Gray. (If you haven’t read The Picture of Dorian Gray, you should. It’s short, creepy, sensual and amazing.)
I hope you’ll be so kind as to check out DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, it landed on the Indie Next List as a recommended buy in the Kids/YA section by the American Association of Booksellers, and Seventeen said: “You’ll love it if you love murder mysteries with a supernatural twist… the story is so different from other fantasy novels that have been coming out recently. This chilling tale will draw you in and keep you guessing until the very last page!” – I hope you’ll have fun getting to know Natalie and Jonathon and will join them on their next harrowing adventures this November when the sequel releases! Cheers!
Leanna Renee Hieber

Award winning, bestselling Gothic Victorian Fantasy