Bill Hussey

Born the son of a travelling showman, I suppose the knack  to tell a (tall) tale was always in the blood. My family have been showmen for generations and were good friends with Tom Norman – the Silver King – exhibitor of the Elephant Man.

I was brought up in the famed seaside resort of Skegness – it’s the kind of town that might have inspired Kafka,  Salvador Dali and Lewis Carroll: I find it a perfect place in which to write dark fiction. During the summer holidays, while my parents worked fifteen-hour days to keep the family afloat, I was entrusted to the care of my grandfathers. They would take me on long walks through the town and countryside. My father’s father, a legend of the showman circuit and illiterate until the day he died, would make up stories to order, cobbled together from old movies and wartime nostalgia. A strange engine of invention, that old man’s brain: spilling out tales full of werewolves, John Wayne cowboys and Nazi scientists bent on the domination of the nearest touring fairground. My mother’s father was a more studious man, and from him I caught that bug that burrows under the skin and infects for a lifetime: the love of books. His tales were not his own but came alive through his reading of them: he was Jack the Giant Killer and Sherlock Holmes and Magwitch and Huck Finn. And so, with the stories of the grandfathers always in my head, I began to write my own.

I have always written and will always write. During my time at the University of Bristol, studying law, I wrote comedy plays for the new student radio. While at home I penned straight plays for local amateur dramatic groups. The urge to write was so strong that I gave up a career in law to study creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University. At Hallam (under the tutelage of award-winning novelist Jane Rogers of Mr Wroe’s Virgins fame) I studied the short story form, the screenplay and the novel, and completed an early draft of my first ‘proper’ book, Through a Glass, Darkly. This story has its roots, I believe, in my youth; in those strange villages that surrounded my hometown, tucked away from the world in the dim and eerie pockets of the Fens. And in the traditions of story-telling, oral and written, which were introduced to me by my grandfathers.

Whilst redrafting Through A Glass, Darkly – and writing the first draft of my next horror novel – my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was a devastating blow to the family. The repercussions of this diagnosis, and my mum’s subsequent battle with the illness, have no doubt been echoed in the tone and themes of both novels. During this time I more or less gave up work and, with my father and sisters, became a full-time carer for my mum. In the quiet moments in hospital waiting rooms, I found solace in stories and the need to write. In my mother’s bravery I found inspiration. Like her, my heroes stand against the darkness.

My parents, Bill and Marilyn Hussey, are my bedrock. Without them Through A Glass, Darkly would not exist. Throughout my life they have given me the encouragement, support (both financial and emotional) and – most vital of all for a writer – the time to write. Writing is a hard and, very often, unrewarding business. It is a career with absolutely no guarantees. To pursue that career a writer needs a strong bedrock from which to work, and there is none stronger than my parents. That is why my first published novel, Through A Glass, Darkly, is dedicated to them with all my love.

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