Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Lee Brickley about what the interests he hast that inspired him to write his book, Ghosts Of Cannock Chase, and the creative process that went into it. As it is October 1st, it felt appropriate to start the month with an article about something spooky!
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I was born to working class parents in the town of Cannock in 1988. I went to school here, and I’ve lived here my entire life. After a series of terrible jobs, I decided to become a writer in 2013, and that’s what I’ve done for a living ever since. I write books on many different subjects under various pen names, but I have also had three books published now on the subject of paranormal activity at Cannock Chase, which I have been investigating for around ten years.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I think I first became interested in writing at the same age I became interested in reading. I remember writing all through my teenage years, whether that be stories, poems or even songs. The first time I realised I wanted to write a book about my paranormal investigations was in late 2012. My first book “UFOs Werewolves & the Pigman: Exposing England’s Strangest Location – Cannock Chase” was published around nine months later.
When did you take a step to start writing?
There were lots of different motivations to start writing, but losing my job was probably the one that convinced me 2012 was the perfect time to put fingers to keyboard.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
As I had been investigating paranormal happenings in Cannock Chase, I already had a lot of new sighting reports and lots of information about local supernatural stories that hadn’t been published anywhere online before. That made the whole process of writing my first book much easier than it otherwise would have been. I believe from idea to bookshelf, the entire process lasted around nine or ten months.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
My latest book “Ghosts of Cannock Chase: Terrifying reports of paranormal activity from the UK’s most haunted town” was a long time coming. I’d been writing up the stories in that book from my investigation for about three years, although there were months I didn’t write a single word. I wanted to make sure the book would be as interesting as possible, and so I had to wait until enough fascinating cases landed on my desk. I’m very proud of the book, and although it’s only been out a few weeks, sales are very encouraging.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Ghosts Of Cannock Chase?
As I say, I wrote this book over a long period and wanted to make it as interesting as possible for the reader, and so I only included the most exciting and creepy paranormal stories from my investigations. This is the first book about Cannock Chase to focus solely on ghost sightings and encounters, and knowing there were no others available was my main motivation for writing it.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Ghosts Of Cannock Chase?
The writing part comes quite easily to me. I have somewhat of an internal monologue when I sit down at the keyboard, and so I am able to write at almost the same speed one would speak for lengthy sessions. It’s more about practice than anything else, I think. The biggest challenge for me when creating Ghosts of Cannock Chase was the process of gathering the interesting sighting stories from people who’ve seen weird things in the forest and surrounding towns. That’s what takes the most time when writing books of that nature.
What was your research process for Ghosts Of Cannock Chase?
Thankfully, my first book, and the black eyed child sighting reports it contained, attracted mainstream media attention in 2014. In the space of two weeks around Halloween that year, news of my book was published on almost every single mainstream news website around the world. Stories covering the events appeared in the Mirror, the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Sun, and lots of other internationally selling newspapers. The Daily Star ran no less than six front pages on the story within a single week. Coverage like that meant I quickly became known as the best person to contact if you see something weird on Cannock Chase. Since then, I receive multiple reports of potentially paranormal encounters every single week. So, the research tends to fall in my lap. I just contact the people with the most interesting stories, interview them, and go from there.
How did you plan the structure of Ghosts Of Cannock Chase?
For the sort of book I write, there’s no real need to plan a structure more detailed than Introduction – Stories – Conclusion. However, I do try to make sure I select stories that link together in some way so it feels like there is a natural progression for the reader. As one would expect, I also like to start with the second most interesting case, and end with the one I deem most fascinating. Hopefully, that approach helps to hook the reader and keep them turning pages.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Ghosts Of Cannock Chase need?
With more than ten years of full-time writing experience, I don’t tend to see many changes made these days when I submit the projects to my editor. However, during the early days, editing was essential. I suppose you just become a better writer the more you do it?
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
I think the only piece of advice any author should give to aspiring writers is that they should write as much as possible. Take me for example. I didn’t achieve much at school, and I left without a proper understanding of spelling and grammar. Even so, I have managed to become a successful author through sheer willpower. I taught myself everything, and I did that through a process of trial and error and learning from my mistakes. If you sit and write a million words about any subject over the course of say, a year, you will end up as a much better writer than you were at the beginning.
Also, be sure to write about something that interests you. There is nothing worse than creating boring content that doesn’t stimulate you as a writer. That’s a real drag, and it takes all the fun out of the process.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’m actually just finishing off a new book that should be published by the end of 2021 about a recent investigation I undertook into sightings of what some people believe to be the British Bigfoot. Keep an eye out for that one! It’s going to be wild!
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Most definitely. Choosing to become a writer changed my life for the better. No longer do I have a boss looking over my shoulder all day long telling me what to do. I can work as much or as little as I like, whenever I choose. Writing is freedom, and I recommend anyone with the ability to seriously consider a career switch if they’re not currently fulfilling their potential. You just have to find your niche.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
NEW BOOK: Ghosts of Cannock Chase: Terrifying reports of paranormal activity from the UK’s most haunted town – Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09GJKK724
OTHER BOOK MENTIONED: UFOs, Werewolves, & the Pigman: Exposing England’s Strangest Location – Cannock Chase – Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0992603900