May is turning out
to be a ghostly month for me.
I haven’t felt icy fingertips teasing my neck in the middle of the night (except for those belonging to my wife, of course) or witnessed any strange apparitions upon the hour. What I mean is that I’ve found myself spending quite a bit of time reading and writing ghost stories.
Now, in my opinion, a really good ghost story is one of the most difficult objectives to reach in the world of fiction. There are plenty of rather good ghost stories out there, but turning that rather into really is no mean feat. It takes a talented and diligent writer as well as a black seed of an idea from which a truly haunting tale can germinate. For me, the best ghost stories are the ones that almost aren’t ghost stories. They are tales of love, loss and longing in which the phantasmal only breaks the dark surface from time to time, like jellyfish in murky water. The most subtle hauntings are the most chilling.
This month, I am reading two anthologies of ghost stories (“Isaac Asimov’s Ghosts”, edited by Gardner Dozois, and “Hauntings”, edited by Ellen Datlow) and writing one tale of my own. For both tasks, my aim is the same; to discover a world beyond that which is known to us and to feel the tingling sensation on the back of the neck that a really good ghost story gives.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
May is turning out
to be a ghostly month for me.
Friday, 3 May 2013
Suburban streets can be terrifying, especially when a werewolf is on the hunt... but if you think "The Lutwyche Carnivore" is your typical monster tale, you're very wrong.
Fever Dreams #2 provides another issue of thought-provoking and delirious tales.
Monday, 1 April 2013
Ah, the wonders of underemployment and drizzling rain! Today is without doubt the most productive writing day I've had since my wordfest in Walhalla late last year (when I penned about 40,000 words of the third novella in a quirky mystery series I'm working on in just three days). This morning, I finished the first draft of my novel-in-progress. It's an epic tale of urban adventure, social tension, shoplifting and burglary, subterranean politics, love, sex, fear, curiosity and so much more that is set in - and under! - the streets of Brisbane. At 76,000 words this is the longest draft I've ever written and, although I have no doubt that short fiction will always be my fetish, it feels great to have embarked upon a journey with the characters in this story and watched them grow as they grapple with the ups and downs of a dramatic chapter in their lives. But it's not over yet, this is only the first draft. The characters need to be developed more and their individuality reinforced through their words and actions. There needs to be more saucy sex and conversation so profound that I put the entire French film industry to shame. Once that is done, there will be prose to be polished and (let's be honest) countless typos to be corrected... the second draft is going to be hard work. Wish me luck and pour me a glass of scotch!
In other news, my short horror story "The Lutwyche Carnivore" is going to be published later this month in issue two of Fever Dreams Ezine. In the meantime, the inaugural issue is well worth a read.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
It’s a self-published collection of short stories. Some of them have previously appeared in magazines and anthologies and others are brand new tales. The stories are varied, some are suspense or horror, others are just quirky works of fiction. Some are set in exciting places like the Scottish highlands or the French Pyrenees and others have a suburban backdrop. However, they all have one thing in common – they are all disturbing tales.
2. I notice you’ve written quite a lot of books, how do you devise the time to come up with all the great ideas and concepts for them?
Coming up with ideas doesn’t require much time, I get them at work or listening to music or in the middle of the night. I have a list of story ideas waiting to be worked into a work of fiction. Putting the ideas down in writing and developing them and then rewriting and editing over and over is the time-consuming part. Time for writing isn’t always easy to find but every now and then I try to dedicate a whole weekend to my passion.
3. Being a writer of horror, how big of an influence has Edgar Allan Poe been to work?
An enormous influence! Poe’s stories are amongst my favourite. Tales like “The Murders on Rue Morgue” and “The Gold Bug” aren’t just thrilling reads, they are also important milestones in the development of the mystery genre. His countless tales of horror still chill readers today and skilfully combine gothic imagery with supernatural and scientific speculation and psychological preoccupations. Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are probably my two greatest influences.
4. What is it like to collaborate with fellow authors to work on an anthology or book?
It’s what I love the most. Rock stars play at festivals and dancers participate in ballet performances. Anthologies are how we solitary writers get it on together.
5. What intrigues you most about the horror genre?
The everyday stuff - not monsters or vampires, but the way society can be horrible. Obsession and greed are a couple of themes that my stories often touch upon. Horror is a versatile genre and has a lot to say and, of course, it’s just plain exciting – like mystery, it keeps you guessing until the end!
6. What do you find easier about writing short stories compared to writing novels?
Short stories aren’t as complicated as novels and there is a lower risk of getting the story mixed up or contradicting yourself. That’s not why I prefer writing short stories though - I prefer writing them because I prefer reading them – it’s as simple as that. In my opinion, most of the best short stories say a lot more than most of the best novels even though they are so much shorter. I like being able to sit down and read a tale from start to finish in one sitting too. In general, I prefer the short work of my favorite writers - such as Doyle, Ruth Rendell, Stephen King and Christopher Fowler - to their novels.
7. How would you compare your writing style to other authors of your genres?
That’s a tough one. I don’t really think about my style. I just write the way the story reads itself in my head. I’m probably a little old-fashioned in my writing due to the fact that I read a lot of Victorian-era fiction… don’t worry, my characters don’t usually wear top hats though and they tend to use mobile phones to check the time, not pocket watches.
8. What would you say makes your writings of horror and suspense more intense compared to others?
I don’t know that my work is more intense than that of others but I think that it’s more thought-provoking than a lot of horror out there because I focus on real world situations and problems rather than speculative ones. My tale “Hardwicke’s Fair Share” is a good example of this, it’s about greed and broken promises.
9. Who is behind the magnificent cover art of your novels and novellas?
I did the cover art for my short story collection, novel and novella. I’m glad you like it.
10. How has social media helped you in promoting your blog and works?
It has helped quite a lot but there are so many people struggling to be heard on sites like Facebook and Goodreads. I really want to get involved in more direct promotion within my local community through representation in libraries, bookshops and other retail outlets – that’s my goal.
Friday, 15 February 2013
Monday, 28 January 2013
Yes, the answer is Appleyard College!
The Australian winner is: Michael Kitto of Townsville QLD
The Non-Australian winner is: Dita Skarste who lives in Latvia - I'd love to go there one day!
Congratulations to you both! A print copy of "Hoffman's Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales" is heading your way.
I'd like to thank you all (18 in total) for participating in the giveaway and sharing your thoughts and experiences concerning this classic Australian novel by Joan Lindsay and the equally enchanting film by Peter Weir. For those of you who didn't win a copy - don't despair! Just wait until the next giveaway or, even better, just buy a copy! I would really appreciate it and I feel confident that you would enjoy the tales.
And here's just a little taste of the film version of "Picnic at Hanging Rock"...
Thursday, 24 January 2013
It's Australia Day (or Invasion Day, if you prefer) this Saturday and while thousands of us roast ourselves at the beach, play a game of the world's most exciting sport - cricket, or just get drunk at the local and start a fight with a complete stranger - you can celebrate the occasion by winning a book written by an Aussie...
I'm participating in the Book'd Out Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop. Yeah, I know it's a mouthful but the concept is simple - you can win books by Australian writers by hopping through the participating blogs and entering the various competitions.
I'm giving away a print copy of my short story collection, "Hoffman's Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales". The book contains twenty-three dark and quirky tales of mystery, adventure and terror taking you from the Scottish highlands, through the Pyrenees and into the towns, suburbs and cities of Australia, Ireland and Britain. There are two copies to give away, one will go to an Australian resident and the other to a foreign (non-Australian) resident. All you have to do is answer this question about a classic Australian book in the comments box at the bottom of this post. Entries close at midnight on Monday the 28th and the winners will be announced by the end of the month - good luck!
What is the name of the school that the girls attend in Joan Lindsay's novel "Picnic at Hanging Rock"?