Author David A. Riley has had a highly accomplished literary career spanning more than four decades. As a renowned editor and storied creator of horror, science fiction and fantasy, he’s been putting pencil to paper since the 1960s when authors actually still did that type of thing.
Riley sold his first story, “The Lurkers in the Abyss,” to the legendary Pan Books back in 1969. That piece has gone on to be chosen by John Pelan as one of the best horror stories of the last century. In 2013, Riley’s “Lurkers” become the centerpiece of his long-awaited collection of short stories. Released by Shadow Publishing and titled The Lurkers in the Abyss and Other Tales of Terror, the collection continues to receive rave reviews from both readers and critics alike.
J Daniel Stone Online horror magazine Hellnotes describes the universe the Riley creates as one that is dangerously unforgiving. “His universe does not care about you nor is it concerned with whether you are a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person or even what could be considered ‘fair’ in life,” says Hellnotes.  ”Many of the main characters in Riley’s fiction are people who are simply going about their regular lives until something happens and suddenly they have been marked by darkness.”
This is precisely the world that Riley creates in his haunting tale of creeping evil “Scrap” that focuses on the lives of two underprivileged young brothers trying to come to grips with some very dark changes they accidentally set in motion on their new English estate. “Scrap” is featured in the Bram Stoker Award-nominated anthology from Grey Matter Press, DARK VISIONS: A COLLECTION OF MODERN HORROR – VOLUME ONE.
We recently had the chance to sit down with David to get his take on his writing, his world, what he likes to do in his precious spare time and where he’s going next…

GMP: David, your career has spanned more than forty years. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?
DAR: It’s not something I have ever thought about, writing being an ongoing thing, but if push came to shove I would probably have to say that I think my greatest accomplishment in the field of writing would have to be my novel, The Return, which was published last year by Blood Bound Books. It’s my most ambitious project to date, one in which I invested a lot of time and effort.
Other than this, in my shorter fiction, that would have to be “Scrap” in Dark Visions 1.  One reviewer said it “could easily have been a kitchen sink drama, depicting the lives of two brothers growing up in a poverty-stricken council estate in England. Riley chooses to inject a healthy dose of horror, elevating his story to a different, altogether more gruesome level.” This is exactly what I was aiming for in this story, which I wanted to make as grittily realistic in its deprived setting as I possibly could.
Of course I am also proud of my two collections of short stories, His Own Mad Demons  from Hazardous Press and The Lurkers in the Abyss  which was brought out by Shadow Publishing a few months ago. I have had to wait a long time to see any of my stories collected like this and it’s been encouraging to see just how well received they’ve both been by reviewers.

GMP: Are there any pieces you’ve published that you wish you could remove from your bibliography?
DAR: I can’t think of any published stories I would want to remove from my bibliography. Most of these remain on the hard drive of my computer awaiting more work on them or deletion. Though there are one or two which might need revising before they are published again, sometimes to improve the writing but mainly to alter some descriptions which today don’t resonate as well as they did decades ago in less politically correct days. Some, after all, go back to the 70s.

GMP: You are inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. What is it about his work that speaks to you?
DAR: It is true Lovecraft has had a great influence on me, as he has on many writers in the horror genre today, not so much in terms of his writing style, but in his view of the absolute impersonality of the universe. I certainly don’t aim to mimic the use of the Cthulhu Mythos, though I did use elements of it in my novel, hopefully in my own distinctive way.

GMP: Are there any other writers who you feel are an influence on you and your writing?
DAR: Many other writers have influenced me too, including Robert Bloch, Ramsey Campbell, M. R. James, Ray Bradbury, so on and so forth. It would be impossible to say where these influences end. Every writer I read probably has an input. I have noticed that as time goes by that my style has become more pared down from what it was when I first started to write. At the same time, I hope I have started to develop my own personal style, though that is for others to confirm, not me.

GMP: You juggle being a writer, editor and reviewer along with running a bookshop with your wife, Linden. What jobs have you held outside of the literary realm?
DAR: My wife runs the bookshop. These days my main task is packaging books that are ordered online and taking them to the Post Office. My full time job is accounts manager for a firm of solicitors (or lawyers, as you call them in the States). Before that I spent twenty years working for British Aerospace, again in accounts, with just a brief gap between when we published Beyond magazine for three issues.
That was our attempt to set up a new professional fantasy and science fiction magazine in 1995. We were distributed nationally throughout the UK, publishing writers like Karl Wagner, John Brunner, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Gallagher, Stephen Laws, Kim Newman, etc. Unfortunately our outgoings (printing costs, writers’ and artists’ fees, etc) outpaced our income and eventually it folded.

GMP: Your story “Scrap” appears in our first anthology, DARK VISIONS: A COLLECTION OF MODERN HORROR – Volume One, and was actually the first story we read that we knew we wanted publish. What inspired you to write this story? Do you believe in an existence after death?
DAR: I don’t know whether I believe in an existence after death or not. I tend to feel that there isn’t, though Linden and I do seem to share our house and bookshop with a ghost. A benign ghost, I would add. Linden believes the spirit’s name is Emily and that she sometimes helps out when we’re searching for a hard-to-find book. More than a few times, after fruitlessly searching for one which has been misplaced, my wife will ask Emily to help. And the next time we go into the shop it will be there, often pulled out an inch or two from the rest on the shelf. Whether this is a coincidence or not, I don’t know.
I’m not sensitive to such things, though Linden has sometimes glimpsed a figure which may be our friendly ghost. I would add that our house and shop is old, two centuries at least, probably more. It used to be a baker’s long ago and in the cellars underneath there are the remains of old ovens and bricked up doorways.
“Scrap” was inspired by a council estate in a nearby town and the kinds of lives lived by some of the youngsters there. I also remember when I was a kid sometimes taking scrap metal to a junkyard for some extra spending money. The area in which the boys go foraging for metal in “Scrap,” Grudge End, is one I have used several times in recent short stories and figures quite a lot in my novel. It’s a bad place with a worse history. The town in which Grudge End lies is based on an amalgamation of several in Lancashire, old mill towns now in decline.

GMP: You went on holiday to Bulgaria this past fall. Do you write while on vacation or is it a time for you to take a break from everything?
DAR: I tend to do more reading while on holiday. I rarely if ever manage to get any writing done, though I would love one day to get my thoughts together to do something based on our time in Bulgaria, where we own a couple of properties, including a large, three-story house in a small village at the end of the Preslav Mountains. Visible across the road from our top-floor balcony is the village cemetery which lies near a wood, though I must admit neither feel at all spooky.
Bulgaria is a fascinating country, much of which is like stepping back in time, though it is modernizing fast. My preferred way of going there is by car, which takes us through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania or Serbia and once, returning home a different way, through Greece, Italy, Monaco and France. It’s a great trip, during which we are never quite certain where we’ll be staying overnight, which is one of the joys.

GMP: Can you tell us anything about any projects on which you are currently working?
DAR: I have a couple of projects to finish. I have completed about 80,000 words on a crime novel tentatively called George and Glenda. Linden and I are also working on bringing out a paperback copy of Craig Herbertson’s short story collection The Heaven Maker and Other Gruesome Tales. We published a hard cover edition of this book in 2012.
We are also looking into doing a couple of other books but it’s too early to reveal any details yet. I have also completely revised a fantasy novel I wrote called Goblin Mire which was originally published several years ago in the States by Renaissance Ebooks. I wasn’t happy with the book, though, and cancelled my contract with them a while ago, which is when I rewrote the book, shedding 10,000 words.
I am currently looking into either finding a new publisher for it or bringing it out under our Parallel Universe Publications imprint along with Craig’s book later this year. I am also putting together a third collection of short stories, many of which have been published in the Black Books of Horror as well as a few older ones that appeared in anthologies from Sphere Books and Corgi Books.