Chris Elphick

Hi there...

So, you want to learn a little more about me and this blog? Thank you :)

Here's 50 random Q&As to help you get a little deeper into my head:

Q1.  What is your favourite animal?

A. Cats. Without a doubt. They are the coolest animals ever. Their only drawbacks are their carnivorous cravings, their tails aren't droopy (they have a tendency to show their butts too much) and they don't learn to use the toilet and flush. :)

At work with The Soosh

Q2. What is your favourite colour?

A. Dark green. This colour has a very nostalgic quality to it. It looks very classy painted on walls too :)

Q3. What is your favourite food?

A. Potatoes. I'd be dead without them.

Q4. What is your favourite type of weather?

Thunderstorms. The angrier the better. I love everything about them. The build-up to a storm is almost magical! You can feel the air change and build up a bit of excitement. Then there is the storm itself. The sudden acceleration of rain belting at the window and ground. The hint of mild threat as the ice in the rain smacks on impact. The mud rush of it all. And then there is the lightning. It's like the dark sky cracking to reveal the light of Valhalla itself! And the thunder that roars amongst the clouds - the gods themselves arguing in the afterlife. Then there's that gorgeous fresh petrichor scent too - released from the ground as plant and soil oils when the rain smashes into the earth. Wonderful stuff.

Q5. What do you collect?

A. My cacti collection has skyrocketed this year but I will have to curb that expenditure next year for sure. I also buy the odd Horror Pop Funko if it catches my attention, which has only been twice this year so far (17.09.2022). I also have a few signed books and CDs that seem to be growing slowly but steadily :) I think that's about it at the moment. 

One of my more prized cacti

A few of my vintage Swansea bottles

Q6. What is your favourite month?

A. September. Perhaps more so than New Year's Eve, this has always seemed the time of new beginnings for me, a time to push on with fresh ideas and a renewed positive outlook. I guess this stems from childhood, when September always marked a new school year, with a new class or even a new school. There's a definite change in the air quality in September too. There's a bite to it as autumn really starts to make its presence known. The pleasant warmth of spring and summer has abandoned the land. The time of chilling in the sunshine has past and its time to really knuckle down with your plans and projects. I love it.

Q7. What is your favourite season?

A. Despite my answer to Q6, summertime is definitely my favourite season. One of my greatest pleasures in life is heading out into the garden sunshine with a drink, reading book, pen and some paper and whiling away the day in my own little world, the hum of the bees and the occasional jingle from an ice-cream van providing a perfect soundtrack to the day :)

Summertime writing sesh 

Q8. Where did you grow up?

A. My childhood home was set on the edge of the Burry Estuary, nestled at the bottom of a hill between, the then quiet, villages of Penclawdd and Crofty. My walks amongst this vast and picturesque landscape fed and enrichened my imagination and encouraged my interest in photography as I grappled to capture something of its immense beauty.

The estuarine village of Penclawdd

Q9. Where have you lived?

A.Having spent my whole childhood living in Crofty/Penclawdd, I moved into a student house in Swansea for my BTEC studies in Photography. I then moved to Bournemouth, then Farnham in Surrey as I continued my art education to BA (hons) level. 

Q10. Where do you live now?

A. I met why wife whilst at Art College in Farnham and when the course ended we moved to Swansea to settle down and raise a family. I love the place, especially living so close to the sea :)

The magnificent Swansea Bay

Q11. What is your day-job work title?

A. Caseworker.

Q12. What was your work title in your first job?

A. Um, a rookie industrial machinist, I guess. I left after the first week.

Q13. How long have you been interested in writing and photography?

A. I have been writing stories since my Infant school days. Creative writing was always my favourite subject in school. Some of my teachers might have argued that it was the only subject I excelled in. Living over a mile from my friends in school, I often had to make my own entertainment. I guess writing stories helped relieve boredom in this period of my childhood. As for photography, my interest in that subject started in my mid-teams after seeing some of Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes' photography in one of my sister's Smash Hits magazines. Nick was taking experimental photographs of his TV screen at the time and these images were the first artistic photographs I had ever seen! I tried my own hand at capturing unusual images from my own TV, only to find my simple box camera's shutter was not synchronised to  the vertical scanning of the TV's CRT and included black bands in the shots. And so I purchased my first, albeit a cheap Zenit, SLR camera...

Q14. Are there any authors or photographers who inspire you today? 

A. I think Guy N. Smith still ranks as my writing inspiration. He was very much a story-driven author and very much in a pulp horror class of his own. His productivity was also staggering. Enid Blyton, particularly her Faraway Tree series of books, kind of got stuck in my head as a kid and I still find the idea of magic as portrayed in these stories fascinating. Indeed, my current WIP (work-in-progress), Pyewacket, owes a long hard nod to these particular tales. Photographer inspirations? Paul Capongro, Wynn Bullock, Minor WhiteJohn Blakemore... too many to keep listing.

My homage to Paul Caponigro's
Galaxy Apple (which you can see here)

My Wynn Bullock homage

Q15. How many books have you published?

A. I have 29 books in print so far (September 2022). 6 folk horror novels, 3 short stories, 2 local folklore books and 18 zines. I am currently working on a children's book and a new local guidebook, which I hope will be published sometime in 2023.

Q16. Do you prefer ebooks, printed books or audiobooks?

A. I have a dislike of ebooks. There is something insubstantial about them like they only half-exist. The printed book is by far my preferred option when reading. They look better on a shelf too :) A good audiobook, however, serves a good purpose as they are very handy to listen too whilst at work in the office.

Q17. What comes first when writing a new book - plot or character?

A. My novels are very much plot-driven stories. Characters tend to come to mind after my initial story has been decided on. Situations and landscapes tend to feature quite heavily in my stories and involve scenarios where the average Joe or Jane wouldn't easily find themselves. And so my stories dictate the kind of out-of-the-ordinary characters who would find themselves in such places or situations.

Q18. Do you ever base characters in your books on people you know in real life? Does this offer any therapeutic benefit?

A. Hmm. I suppose I had better answer this question carefully lol. Not always, but occasionally. I suppose the best example of one of my tales using real people as characters would be my novel Berserk! I won't go into any further detail than that. :)

Q19. Do you see your writing and photography as spiritual or therapeutic practices?

A. All art is therapy, whether it be creative writing, photography or any other art. Whether they are spiritual practices, I'm not sure. They certainly can be, if your belief system lies in that direction, which I am still in two (or five) minds about. Photography is definitely a useful tool to look out for the extraordinary among the ordinary and banal. It also focuses the mind on the immediate here and now, to the point where the camera becomes a great mediational tool in the practice of 'Mindfulness'.

Q20. What novels have you read more than once in your life?

A. Not too many. All have been horror titles. Tying in first place with 4 reads each are Daughter of Darkness and Elizabeth. Daughter of Darkness was also the first book I ever read in one day-long session. In joint third place is The Magic Toyshop and The Uninvited, with 3 apiece.  The final three books have each been read twice: The Sucking Pit, The Sorcerer and The Manitou. Fantastic reads, all of them.

Q21. Do you find the process of writing agony or ecstasy?

A. I find little enjoyment in writing. It's a chore - as much a needed human function for me as occasionally visiting the lavatory. Though, designing the book cover can be a little fun. It's the mental formation of a solid story, developing an idea into a plot worthy of a novel-length book, where the bulk of my enjoyment is gained, watching ideas suddenly click together is a beautiful feeling )

Q22.Was the first novel you wrote published or is it still lurking in a drawer somewhere?

A. The first novel I wrote started life in my late teenage years (when it was titled Crash). It was then abandoned as my writing played the second fiddle to my photography education. Later, I completed the story (now re-titled Cold Comfort) shortly before starting the office day job that still supports me financially. It's now firmly wedged in a drawer somewhere in the house. Will the manuscript of a demon raising the dead to create zombie chaos ever see the light of day? Who knows? Lol/

Q23. Has any fictional story ever physically moved you to tears?

A. Emotional reads aren't really my bag, to be honest, though I did read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas once, which was a pretty grim tale. One novel did sneak through my defences and bring a genuine tear to my eye, however, and it's a title I really was not expecting to affect me in such a way. Trevor Nevis' gloomy The Man who Fell to Earth. I own the cool 1976 Pan Edition of the book, featuring a David Bowie (who played the character in the Nic Roeg adaptation of the book) cover. Though I would have to snap up the earlier 1963 printing, which has a fantastic cover that would fit perfectly on a bookshelf in my home, were I ever to come across it at a reasonable price.


Q24. Why do you take so many photographs of yourself writing?

A. It's a great excuse for procrastination, giving me a few extra minutes grace before I have to put pen to paper. Overtime, it also makes a nice visual diary of the progress of my various writing projects. Plus it's nice to have my cat's interaction with me as I work captured for prosperity.

Q25. Are you a political animal?

A. Without wanting to ruffle too many feathers, yeah, I guess I am. Let's just say that I lean so much to the left I'm at risk of falling over lol.

Q26. Do you have a tattoo?

A. I do. It's of a monkey and is drawn in a stylised cave painting kind of design. It's a fairly small one and it sits on my upper right arm. I'd have more done but my pain threshold is on the low side 😟

Q27. If you had to give up one, which would you bin, the pen or the camera?

A. It would be really difficult, but, in the unlikely event it ever came to the crunch, writing is an intrinsic creative need that I don't think I could ever ditch. Whilst I gain more pleasure from photography, I think it would feel like a kind of amputation if I was ever to have a pen taken permanently from my hand.

Q28. What's your favourite tipple?

I am not a big drinker by any stretch of the imagination. Though the occasional fruity cider always goes down a treat. If I fancy any of the heavy stuff, a nice whiskey is always a winner in my book.

Q29. Tea or Coffee?

I'm definitely a Tea man. No other drink gives that comforting feeling. Sometimes, if I feel especially tired in the mourning, I do resort to a coffee, but they are not as exhilaration as popular culture makes them out to be, unfortunately.

Q30. Have you ever hitch-hiked?

Yes. I've hitch-hiked a few times, the furthest distance being from Swansea to Farnham during my college days. I've also been offered lifts when out and about on foot without having to advertise my want for a ride with a sign or a thumbs up. All this was many, many years ago though.

Q31. Have you ever been on TV?

A. Yes. On Newsnight - in the background when they covered the premiere of Kate Bush's last show at the Apollo :)

Q32. Have you ever fainted?

A. No. Though I can imagine what it feels like.

Q33. Have you ever needed stitches?

A. Unfortunately, yes. On my chin, of all places. I got run down on a busy road a while back. I still cringe when I remember the feeling of my chin bouncing along the tarmac for a few metres after the collision.

Q34. Have you ever shot a gun?

A. No.

Q35. Have you ever seen a ghost?

A. Actually, yes. Of a cat! I visited my father's, a fair while back now, and I remember seeing his cat on the outside sill of the kitchen window as clear as day. I was entering the room at the time and, taking a seat at the table, found myself with my back to him. Anyway, he was looking impatient about being ignored at not being let into the house. After chatting for a short while, I turned to see if the cat was still there, to remind my father he wanted to be let in. He was no longer there, but I mentioned the fact anyway. What he told me then sent real shivers down my spine. The poor cat had died a few days earlier, but a few of his neighbours had already mentioned seeing him wandering through their back gardens. Now, I can hear you thinking that we had seen a different cat with similar markings. But, and here's the thing, my Dad's cat has a very special appearance. He was an old cat, white as snow, with blue eyes. A blocky boy, he was too. And there was something else about him you wouldn't mistake. He had caught skin cancer and had a fair chunk of one of his ears to remove the thing. He had even appeared on the old TV show, The Big Breakfast, to teach viewers to rub a sun protector on the ears of white cats, which are especially prone to sunburn difficulties. And so, I am convinced I saw dear old Ben's spirit sitting there outside on my dad's kitchen window sill. I can still see him sitting there, clear as day, when I remember the incident. 


St. Nectan's Glen, Cornwall

Chilling in my magickal garden

Recovering from my climb up Kinder Scout

Admiring the sunset over the Gower Peninsula