Interview: Horror! It's the Man from the Council; Beverley Jones Meets the Prolific Tim Lebbon, Winner of This Year's Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction, Whose Peaceful Day Job Belies His Writing's Piercing Analyses of the Dark Human Deeds

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Byline: Beverley Jones

AT first glance the tranquil town of Monmouth on the meandering River Wye does not seem the sort of place that would inspire tales of horror and human depravity. But for prolific novelist Tim Lebbon, recipient of this year's Bram Stoker Award for short fiction, it provides more than enough inspiration to fill his books with dark words about dark deeds.

Unsurprisingly, to those who have read his work at least, Mr Lebbon himself is a perfect case in defence of the phrase ``still waters run deep''.

By day he earns a living as a relatively mild-mannered surveyor for Monmouthshire council.

But despite his self deprecating manner, in the little spare time he has he likes nothing better than to delve into the dark side of the human soul.

Just don't call him a horror writer or you might spot a flash of his own demons when he explains why his work couldn't be further from the traditional horror fodder.

``I always say I don't write horror - I just write,'' he said.

``I guess I just have a grim outlook on life and my work can get a bit nasty.

``But I don't go in for the monsters and gory blood and guts or the vampires and werewolves. I concentrate more on the psychological angle of ordinary people.

``I'm far more interested in why someone would commit a murder than in how it is done, with all the gory details.''

But does he see any dichotomy between being the creator of such troubling tales and the workaday world of a civil servant in a sleepy Welsh border town?

Not at all - indeed Tim says he draws a great deal of inspiration form the places he goes and people he meets.

``Actually I know several people who work for local government who write horror stories - I'm not sure what that says about the job,'' he jokes.

``You really do meet some strange characters. And people that know me who read my books say to me, `we did that years ago' or `I said that to you once, those are my words.' ``I must just draw on all these things without realising it. I guess a writer is always researching and storing things to use.''

Tim, now 33, was born in London and lived in Devon until he was nine. But he was brought up in Newport and moved to Monmouth four years ago with his wife Tracey and daughter Ellie.

He confesses he had been writing ``since I could hold apen''. And after being dazzled by the work of Stephen King as a teenager he had dozens of short stories published in magazines in Britain and America before he landed a deal for his first novel Mesmer when he was 28. …