Saturday, 9 April 2016

Dinosaurs: My Very First Story?

Here's a little work of fiction my mother recently unearthed during a palaeontological dig through a box containing some relics from my school days. This artefact dates from circa 1988 and may very well be my first work of written fiction (although I know this was not the first draft of Dinosaurs). I assure you that my knowledge of English grammar and punctuation has greatly improved since I penned this particular piece, but it probably represents the apogee of my imagination. What do you think?


If you'd like to read some of my more recent work, simply click a cover image on your right-hand side.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Literary Hatchet #13


The Literary Hatchet #13 has arrived, and I have to say, it is a gorgeous publication. The cover is perfect, the interior design stylish, and, most importantly, it's packed full of short fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, and art. When I opened the package this evening, I was pleased to discover that this magazine (or anthology, or mook, or whatever you want to call it) is even more professionally produced than I had hoped.

The Literary Hatchet is promoted as a dark fiction publication dedicated to genres and themes like mystery, murder, macabre, horror, monsters, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night. Apparently, "absolutely bloody bizarre" should also be on that list, because Milk, my most recent short story, is lurking within.

What's so weird about a tale with such a mundane title?
Well, you'll just have to read it to find out!

Purchase a print copy here
Read it for FREE (PDF) here

Friday, 15 January 2016

An Interview with Greg Chapman

Greg Chapman, in case you didn't know, is one of Australia's great horror fiction scribes, and his new novella, The Eschatologist, is being released today. Greg kindly agreed to answer a few questions for you, my dear readers.



Thanks for agreeing to answer my questions about your novella, The Eschatologist. Let’s start with the obvious. For the uninitiated, what does the title mean?

An Eschatologist is a person who is concerned with the final days – or the end of the world. In the case of my novella, this person is known as Amos, the primary antagonist of the story. Someone who will do anything to fulfil what he believes is God’s final plan for humanity.

This is your fourth (?) published novella. How is it different from the others in terms of theme, characterisation, setting, and style?

It will actually be my fifth after Torment, The Noctuary, Vaudeville, and The Last Night of October. The Eschatologist is different mainly in the fact that it’s my first post-apocalyptic piece of long fiction. The style is the same as my last two novellas, but it is told by a number of narrators – namely the central characters of David Brewer and his wife and daughter, and Amos. The setting is what remains of the earth after a biblical scale apocalypse (think floods, firestorms, tornadoes and earthquakes). They’re walking around on dust and between scorched trees. There’s really nothing left of the old world.

What do you have planned for 2016? What are your goals?

I have a haunted house novel that I finished towards the end of last year that I am shopping around to a few publishers. I’d like to write another novella and a novel-length sequel to my 2011 novella The Noctuary. I recently re-acquired the rights back to it and Torment and I’m very keen to stretch the mythology of The Noctuary into darker territory. Other than that I’d love to write my short stories and create more art.

You are gaining a reputation as one of Australia’s biggest Halloween fans. Do you have any new ideas for this year’s spooky display? Where can we find photos of last year’s display?

I think our Halloween display is going to grow, but slowly. This year, I really only managed to create a new zombie, but I’d love to do something with animatronics. We’ll see how much time I have.

Most importantly of all, where can we buy The Eschatologist and find out more about your work?

The Eschatologist is available in digital and print formats from Voodoo Press.


For more info on my writing visit www.darkscrybe.com or my art page at www.darkartiste.wordpress.com

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

2015: The Year of Darkness and Lighthouses

The year is drawing to a close, and I'm certainly looking forward to a holiday from the day job as an English teacher. Perhaps, just perhaps, I'll even have an hour or two to get some writing done before the clocks herald the midnight hour on the 31st of December. Please join me as I look back on what I accomplished in 2015.

Australian Horror Writers' Association

This year, as vice-president of the AHWA, I wanted to carry out a project that would become part of the association's history. That vague idea soon grew clearer and I decided it was time for the AHWA to publish its first anthology of horror stories written by members. With an enthusiastic nod from my fellow committee members, In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep: An Anthology of Australian Horror was published in the lead-up to Halloween. It is now available for purchase in print or as an ebook.

I was also pleased, as the AHWA's competitions coordinator, to have organised the Flash Fiction and Short Story Competition, which was won by J. Ashley-Smith (short story) and Zoe Downing (flash fiction). Their winning entries will be published in the next issue of Midnight Echo, the magazine of the AHWA. The guidelines for the 2016 competition are available now and entries can be submitted as of the 1st of January.


Black Beacon Books

In 2013, I founded Black Beacon Books, one of just a handful of Australian small press publishers dedicated to horror, suspense, and mystery short fiction and novellas, and the only one currently active in Brisbane. This year, we published our second anthology, Lighthouses: An Anthology of Dark Tales, which features tales set in and around lighthouses by authors from around the world - but predominantly Australian. It was no mean feat publishing two anthologies in one year and making sure that both were of the highest quality in terms of content and design... but it happened!

Writing

Needless to say, with so much editing and marketing taking up what little free time I had, this year wasn't my most productive when it came to penning my own tales. All the same, I did manage to work on several short stories this year, and two of them have found homes. They are both strange and disturbing, and that's all I'll say...


The Crows of Eildon Hill

Milk





Next Year

Can this momentum be kept up? Well, probably not, to be frank. That said, one of my resolutions is to find more time to work on my own writing, and I'm intent on making the AHWA Flash Fiction and Short Story Competition even more successful than it was this year. What about another anthology? Well, you've probably worked out that I'm hooked, so yeah, you can expect submissions guidelines to be announced early next year for the next Black Beacon Books anthology. After all, there is a wealth Australian writing talent out there but a lack of psychological horror and suspense markets these days.

So, stay tuned for 2016! 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Carrie The Musical : Brisbane Powerhouse

Carrie The Musical, inspired by Stephen King's classic novel, is coming to the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2016. The director, ZoĆ« Tuffin, has kindly agreed to answer a few questions for the members of the Australian Horror Writers' Association.



Thanks for answering our questions about the upcoming musical, Carrie. Could you introduce yourself and Wax Lyrical Productions to our members?
Sure. I’m a theatre director and producer. I work as a producer at Brisbane Powerhouse and have directed, this year, Titus for Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble and Enter Macbeth, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, for Vena Cava Productions. Both quite bloody and violent shows, there seems to be a running theme in my work lately, not sure what that says about me…
Wax Lyrical Productions is a company that my writer/director husband, Shane Pike, and I started when we first moved to Brisbane. We recognised that there wasn’t a great deal of work being created in Brisbane that had a strong narrative. Brisbane loves spectacle, there is oodles of circus and physical theatre being created here. Wax Lyrical is all about creating work that first and foremost has a great story. And so far Brisbane audiences have responded really well.

As you can imagine, many of the AHWA’s members are Stephen King fans. Why do you think they will enjoy the musical? What are the major differences and similarities between the novel, the film, and the musical?
The musical, in my opinion, takes the best bits of the novel and the 1976 film and adds some songs. The musical was first performed in 1988, it caused a great deal of controversy and wasn’t presented again until 2012 when it went through some major rewrites. The rewrites brought the musical closer to Stephen King’s novel. The 2012 version, which Wax Lyrical is presenting, is told from Sue Snell’s point of view. She is being interrogated, forced to relive the memories that still haunt her.
The music is obviously the biggest difference between the novel and the musical. Like any good musical though, the songs are always either an expression of character or a way to move the plot along. So they are still deeply tied to King’s story. Even the style of the music is a reflection of each of the characters. For instance, Margaret White’s songs are big, dramatic almost operatic numbers that perfectly capture her eccentricity. Compared to Chris Hargensen who has this great dirty pop number.

Much of your work is inspired by Asian theatre, including butoh dance theatre. Is this evident in Carrie?
I think it’s inevitably there, it’s such an important part of what I do. I’ll be using it in a subtle way though, it’ll be more of the inspiration behind some of the movement than a direct integration. So I won’t be changing the dance numbers into butoh! No, rather some of the more supernatural and haunting elements of the show will have a flavour of butoh to them.

What qualities did you look for when casting?
It’s funny you know, I cast it very much the same as I would any straight theatre show. I looked for good actors, really good actors. Obviously they needed to be able to sing. It’s quite a difficult score and my Musical Director, Dominic Woodhead, had vetted them carefully on that but for me, it was all about the acting. The characters in Carrie, that King created, are very complex. There is nothing simple or black and white about King’s writing and it is vitally important to me that we don’t present simplified stereotypes (which happens a lot in musicals). So I needed to find performers who could bring out that level of complexity.

A question for those of us who know nothing about theatre; what’s the blood made of?
Such a good question. Fake blood is made from glucose syrup, red food colouring with a little bit of blue to make it nice and dark, then you add chocolate sauce to give it a good consistency (glucose syrup is super thick so the chocolate sauce helps to thin it out without making it too runny). As you can imagine, it is super sweet! We’ve planned to release a little video on our Facebook page showing you exactly how to make it—so keep your eyes peeled for that!

The Powerhouse is a unique venue with lots of atmosphere. What does it mean to you?
It gives us a great opportunity to honour the space we’re in. There’s not a great deal we need to do for the design, it’s such an atmospheric space as you say. We’re in the Visy Theatre, which is a lovely intimate space. There is some great graffiti on the back wall and these gorgeous big pillars in there too. We’ll be using all of that to help create our design.

Will Carrie be touring the country?
I hope so! I’ve been chatting to folks in Melbourne so you never know.

Where can we find all the details including times and tickets?
The show is running 20-30 January. Tickets are here: http://brisbanepowerhouse.org/events/2016/01/20/carrie-the-musical/

And for all the latest updates make sure you like Wax Lyrical on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaxLyricalProductions/

Saturday, 14 November 2015

An Interview with Hannah Raven

Internet gremlins (something even Poe couldn't have imagined back in his day) gobbled this interview up, but now it's back with a vengeance. Hannah Raven tells me about her work with Poe Productions Australia and Poe Burlesque Theatre.


Poe Productions Australia and Poe Burlesque Theatre. These two titles immediately grab the attention of any fan of all things mysterious, macabre, and Poesque. At the risk of unveiling your secrets, who are you?

I am the creative director of Poe Productions Australia and the curator of Edgar Allan Poe Australia.
I first began my research into Poe’s life in early 2010. His writings had always struck a cord with me. His grotesque unapologetic imagery, his use of cryptography. His influence always seemed to leak into my work. Whether it was a one women cabaret, or a devised short piece of theatre history for a class presentation, romance and gothic undertones were always evident.
When I began to dig into Poe’s personal history, it became very clear that his relationships with the women in his life influenced the much of his work. Being a theatre maker, I came up with the concept for Edgar’s Girls in 2012 in my final year of drama school at The Actors Centre Australia. So much of his work marries parallels; The Macomb and the comical (Never Bet the Devil Your Head) the sickly and the beautiful (Eleonora)
Burlesque in the 21st century is a wonderful eclectic art form. It honours the traditions of classic striptease while bringing Parody and Satire to the mix in Neo forms. I threw my three loves into one big melting pot and Poe Productions Australia emerged.  Our premier production of Edgar’s Girls celebrated the women who loved, inspired and challenged the most prolific writer of the 19th Century  

Australia in the twenty-first century is far in time and space from the world of Edgar Allan Poe, yet his work endures and influences a number of contemporary writers and artists. Why do you think that is?

There is no doubt in my mind that Poe was an intelligent individual. He studied Latin, French and Greek mythology, was a skilled cryptographer and was more than versed in the English language. These qualities made him a great writer and poet, but what made him the brilliant artist he is known and respected as today?

Two words…Psychological Introspection.
Many people who read his work for the first time in the 19th century voiced the true horror and uneasiness they felt after reading a story of his (Helen Whitman being a very notable one) Well before Freud,  Poe was asking his readers to look within and come face to face with the morbid and frightful reality of the human psyche. Many of his stories deal with grief, loss and trauma …which then propels the protagonist of the tale into a state of guilt and a sense of lost identity. This is what makes Poe’s work so relatable….we identify with the subtext. Fear of the unknown and consequences of our actions haunt us, more often that not, subconsciously. It comes as no surprise to me that writers and artists who explore the deeper levels of human psychology are inspired by Poe’s unapologetic presentations of what it is to be human.

Of all the women in Poe's opus, who fascinates you the most? 

Signora Psyche Zenobia. The most prominent female protagonist in any of his stories. In A Predicament and How to Write a Blackwood Article, Poe’s unapologetic black humour is executed perfectly through this bolshy women from high society. It is very clear he is taking a stab at the Literati of the time. But what fascinates me most about Zenobia, is that she is in stark contrast to all the other women of Poe’s stories. She is not sickly, and there is no indication that she is a young, kept women.

What else should we know about your upcoming performances and projects?

Poe Productions is currently working on a play inspired by one of Poe’s most famous short stories….which one? You’ll just have to be patient I’m afraid.

Why EAPA?

In February 2015, I flew to California. It was my first pilot season in America and I had a few meetings and auditions with casting directors. I had worked very hard to save the money to get myself over there to be seen by the top industry professionals. But in the last week of my trip, I dropped everything, flew to JFK Air Port, and made my way to Baltimore in a matter of days. The man who had been my muse for so many years was buried only a train ride away. I reached the Westminster Church to find the Cemetery that surrounds it locked. Heavy snow that time of year had made parks and burial grounds to dangerous to be walking around in. The 8 foot high iron gate was not going to stop me from standing in front of his grave and paying my respects…I hadn’t come half way across the country to stare at his monument from behind an iron gate.  So I hoisted myself up and over the gate, slipping over on a patch of black ice as I landed on the other side, picked myself up and ran as fast as I could to the foot of Edgar Allan Poe’s grave. I made a promise to him then and there that I would dedicate a significant portion of my life to keeping his memory alive. To find a way of sharing his life story, his stories, his poems, with people on the other side of the world. I want people to admire Poe for his work, and how hard it was for him to accomplish the things he did. The first American writer who attempted to make a living solely from writing short stories, editorials and poetry. For me, it’s such an injustice to him when you mention his name, and people say “oh yeah, the Raven guy?” He wrote reviews, essays, created the detective fiction genre, and achieved all this with next to no financial aid. People are always amazed when I tell them how tough he had it…but that he never gave in to go work in finance, or a factory where he could have made a decent wage for himself. For me, he is the poster boy for the tortured, struggling artist. He set the bar.

I take my research into his work very seriously and am always keen connect with other Poe activists and fans.  My pages are listed below. Please feel free to drop me a line and share any Poe inspired work.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Crows of Eildon Hill

It's not every day that a writer finds himself penning a tale that explores the very essence of what it is to be human, and, more particularly, a man. What separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom? Is evil the inability to guard the veneer of civilisation we have constructed over time and to resist our most bestial urges? In writing "The Crows of Eildon Hill", I found myself seeking to answer these questions. The story follows a protagonist who deals with a horrific situation the only way he deems morally acceptable and dares the reader to walk in his shoes. It wasn't an easy work of fiction to write, and I suspect it won't make for light reading either.

For three weeks, Blue Crow Magazine #4 will be available for just $17.99 AUD