Monday, 28 July 2014

The Genesis of Martha and May

 
Today, I am hosting a guest post by Pauline Montagna, the author of "Suburban Terrors". I read this collection more than a year ago and absolutely loved it. Pauline and I have a very similar take on the suspense genre.
 
Over to you, Pauline...
 
Suburban Terrors is a collection of twelve stories with thriller, supernatural and gothic elements and Cameron has asked me to write about the origins of one of those stories, Martha and May.
 
Strangely enough, for a story with absolutely no supernatural elements, Martha and May came out of a lesson on Magic Realism. As Magic Realism often revels in the shocking and macabre, our teacher asked us to write about the most bizarre thing we had ever heard of.
 
Only recently I had seen the BBC television series, The Secret Life of Twins, and one pair featured in that series were the American conjoined twins Lori and Reba Schappell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lori_and_George_Schappell In their forties at the time, they were born joined at the head and shared part of their brain. Reba had spina bifida so she had to move on a specially devised wheeled stool, but Lori often had to carry her and this was putting a strain on her spine.
 
What I found bizarre was their absolute ordinariness despite the strangeness of their situation. In every other way they were like any two sisters. Despite their shared brain parts, they had completely different personalities and led separate lives. Reba was reserved while Lori was outgoing. Reba was artistic and had performed as a country and western singer. Lori was more of a homebody. (They’re actually even more different than that but, fortunately, I didn’t know that at the time. Heavens knows what I would have made of the fact that Reba, who had already changed her name from Dori to escape rhyming with Lori, has since identified as a man and is now called George. George has also become a Mormon while Lori hasn’t.)
 
Pondering how to build a story around such a pair of twins, I wondered what would happen if one had a boyfriend and the other got jealous. What would be the result if the jealous twin acted out that jealousy?
 
It was at this point that a second bizarre element entered the story. This time it was a case which had stayed with me since my youth, that of Karen Ann Quinlan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Ann_Quinlan As a young woman, back in the 1970s, again in America, Karen collapsed into a coma after taking a combination of drugs and alcohol while on an extreme diet. After several months, realising their daughter would never recover, her devout Catholic parents wanted to let nature take its course and they asked the hospital to take her off her life-support system. The hospital refused and the Quinlans had to drag the matter through the courts. When they finally got permission to take Karen off the machines, amazingly she survived though still unconscious. The last I heard of her, Karen was lying, shrivelled and comatose, on a nursing home bed. (She survived for another nine years.)
 
How did I combine these two strange cases? I’m sure you’ve guessed by now.
 
The final element, the twins’ names, came from my school days. The nuns loved to tell us the Bible story of Martha and Mary of Bethany. Whenever Jesus went to visit them, Mary would sit at his feet listening to him while Martha busied herself making him comfortable and preparing his food. One day Martha got annoyed that Mary wasn’t helping her, but Jesus rebuked her saying that it was Mary who was doing God’s work. Since the nuns were preparing us to be good wives, I don’t really know what point they were trying to make with this story!
 
Could I also take this opportunity to tell readers that I’ll be holding a book group discussion about Suburban Terrors on my Goodreads Group between September 1 and 12 (one day for each story). To join in you will need to become a member of my group at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/114808 . In the meantime you might want to comment on this book tour, or put a question to me. I look forward to seeing you there.
 
Thank you, Pauline.
 
Dear reader, you could win your very own copy of "Suburban Terrors" by participating in this raffle. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Curious Whispers

The Queensland Writers' Centre has kindly asked me to speak some curious words for about four minutes on Saturday the 9th of August at The Library Café, the State Library of Queensland. The event starts at three o'clock. Come along and listen... if you're curious (both meanings) that is.

Here are some more details and a curious image to whet your appetite:

Whispers is a monthly reading salon showcasing Queensland's best-loved authors alongside exciting new talent.

This months salon features Katherine Battersby, Cameron Trost, Kathleen Jennings and Kaya Ra Edwards sharing their curious (and curiouser) tales.

Relax in The Library Café, and connect with passionate readers and writers as we celebrate the unique stories and voices that define Queensland.


https://www.facebook.com/events/336177306534633

Friday, 11 July 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

Pauline Montagna is a wonderful writer with whom I have much in common. Her short story collection, Suburban Terrors, is right up my alley. It explores the strange and disturbing events that may very well take place in your street on a daily basis. The biggest difference between us is that her tales are set in Melbourne and mine are mostly set in Brisbane. With this in mind, I couldn't refuse Pauline's invitation to this blog hop.

Here are my answers to the four questions. Rest assured, I'm much better at writing fiction than responding to questions about my writing process.

1) What am I working on?
I always have several tales on the go at once. I have an urban adventure novel set in - and under – the streets of Brisbane being considered by a publisher at the moment. I started writing a second novel, a tale of gothic horror, a few days ago. I also have two or three short stories that are at various stages of being written or edited. One is a ghost story with a difference, one is disturbing social satire, and one is a weird horror tale.
   But the biggest news at the moment isn’t about my writing, my editing and publishing work. Subtropical Suspense, a Brisbane mystery and suspense anthology, will be launched at Black Cat Books (179 Latrobe Tce, Paddington, Brisbane) at 2 pm on Saturday the 19th of July. The anthology will feature sixteen gripping tales of mystery and suspense set in Brisbane! http://blackbeaconbooks.blogspot.com.au/p/subtropical-suspense.html

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It’s my writing, my ideas, and my style. I admire many writers but I don’t copy any of them. I don’t know how or why my work differs from others in the genres of horror and mystery, but my readers have told me they would recognise one of my stories even without seeing my name. I like that.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I write the stories that creep into my head, and I have a natural tendency towards all things mysterious, eerie, and strange. It’s as simple as that. I never have and never will jump the bandwagon or try to write a “marketable” story. I write provocative and disturbing tales, and I’m not talking about graphic violence, that’s not my thing, I’m talking about themes and topics. Most readers, even if they won’t admit, want to read the same comfortable plot over and over again. I don’t do that. I write stories that surprise and inspire me, and work hard at making them as original, thought-provoking and, entertaining as possible.

4) How does my writing process work?
Do I have time? A weekend in isolation from all worldly responsibilities? I’ll take that. Do I have ideas? Always! The only question is which one needs my urgent attention?
   My writing process varies from story to story. Sometimes, I start with the final scene and build a story that leads to it. Sometimes, I have an idea for a quirky character and the story develops itself as I write - although these stories tend to come in short spurts over a long period time. They incubate.
   In terms of atmosphere, I like to write somewhere far from human activity, a place with trees and birdsong, or the frolicking of bats at night.  A few glasses of scotch never go astray either, and candlelight, and a full moon shining through the clouds, or during a thunderstorm. Atmosphere is the key to a great writing session.

Nene Davies is next in line for the blog hop. Here's a little about her:


In 2002, Nene and her husband packed up their home and three children and emigrated to Australia from Pembrokeshire, Wales. These days Nene is living her dream in sunny Brisbane where she writes full time. 
www.nenedavies.com

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Subtropical Suspense

July is set to be a special month for me. I'll be making my debut as an anthology editor!

"Subtropical Suspense" will feature sixteen gripping tales of mystery and suspense set in Brisbane!
It will be launched at Black Cat Books (179 Latrobe Tce, Paddington, Brisbane) at 2pm on Saturday the 19th of July. There will be readings and signings, a raffle, a detective costume competition, and complimentary drinks.

Here is the impressive table of contents and the cover design by Greg Chapman:

A Lasting Impression    FN Karmatz
Penelope Potter    Frank Ince
The Deluge    Gerry Huntman
Magnetic North    FN Karmatz
Scarlett Fever    Alice Godwin
Downpour    Sophie Yorkston
Missing    Kerry Lown Whalen
The Woman from the West    David Dolan
Living Statue    Barry Rosenberg
Incident in Wilston    Phil Brown
Like Me, The River    Duncan Richardson
Campus of Fear    Frank Ince
Cold Comfort    Sam Muller
The Final Cut    Linda Brucesmith
Blood on the Ice    Helen Stubbs
The Death, Rise and Deliverance of Greer Cabot    Kirk Marshall


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Of Devils and Deviants

Crowded Quarantine Publications have just announced that "Of Devils & Deviants: An Anthology of Erotic Horror" is now available to pre-order from Barnes & Noble. It is available as a hardcover or paperback, the ebook will be available in late May. 

This stunning anthology features artwork throughout and stories from Graham Masterton, Lucy Taylor, Aaron J. French, Mandy DeGeit, J. Daniel Stone, Kenneth W. Cain, Taylor Grant, Maynard Sims, and many, many more. My contribution, "Lauren", is a tale about what happens when boy meets girl in one of Brisbane's grooviest cocktail bars, The Bowery. Where it goes from there, you can't possibly imagine... suffice to say, it's kinky and creepy.


Place your order today at:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/of-devils-and-deviants-adam-millard/1119120676
 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Writing Process Blog Chain

Last Monday, Marty Young of "809 Jacob Street" fame tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Chain. Always happy to be tagged for a post chain - especially since wrestling isn't my thing - here are my four answers:


1) What am I working on?

There’s a lot happening at the moment. In terms of my own writing, I’m concentrating on the sixth (or is it seventh?) draft of my urban adventure novel set in and under the streets of Brisbane. I’m taking my time with this manuscript and don’t intend to submit it to publishers until I feel that there is nothing I could improve upon. Of course, if it manages to grab a publishers’ attention, I’m sure there will be hundreds of changes suggested all the same. But, hey, whatever makes the story stronger. I’ve always got a short story or two cooking on low flame. My next short story to be published is “Lauren”. It’s a sexy and maniacal tale and, honestly, I think it’s one of the best I’ve written. It will be released by Crowded Quarantine Press on the 1st of April (no joke) in the anthology, “Of Devils and Deviants” and will be accompanied by tales by a host of other talented authors, including the illustrious, Graham Masterton. I’ve also been busy with my small press, Black Beacon Books. Our debut anthology is coming along nicely. “Subtropical Suspense” will be a volume consisting of mysterious and suspenseful fiction set in Brisbane. Submissions close on the 31st of March.
 
 
 
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
 
Every writer has his own voice and I think that mine sounds different from any others. My fiction tends to be a mix of mystery, suspense, horror, and the just plain strange. The fact that most of my stories are set here in my city of Brisbane makes them different. However, the big difference is my originality. The plot and twists in my short stories are unusual and, in many cases, unique. Read them and you’ll soon know what I mean.


3) Why do I write what I do?
 

That’s a difficult question. I have ideas for stories and I write them. That’s what it boils down to. I love mystery and suspense, tales that are full of atmosphere and that expose characters who are weird, or completely normal – which can be the weirdest of all. I want my readers to reach the end of my stories and react by gasping, pinching themselves, or getting up to check that the doors and windows are all locked.


4) How does my writing process work?
 

I need solitude and a glass of scotch. Every story has its own story. Sometimes I have an idea for a climax and have to work towards that. Other times, I imagine a character or initial setting and discover where the story is going while I write – which can be exciting – or frustrating. Once I’ve completed a second draft, I tend to let a story incubate for several weeks before going back and attacking the third.

 
My turn to do some tagging:
Jeremy C. Shipp, Kit Power, Greg Chapman

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Church of Asag

"The Church of Asag" is a very strange tale. It teeters at the cliff edge that separates the uncanny from the supernatural, asking the reader to decide whether or not the plunge has been taken.

Gary Inglewood, a CSIRO scientist, moves from Brisbane to Isisford with his family for a work project. They find themselves in a quiet backwater where the townsfolk seem peculiar, to say the least. But it's when a couple of locals come to talk to the Inglewood family about the town church and its 'conversion' that things really get surreal.

Issue 13 of SQ Mag features tales by Jeremy C Shipp, J R Johnson, Dan Rabarts, Brian G Ross, Megan Neumann, Tom Barlow, and Patricia Russo. The chilling cover illustration is by Steve G Santiago.

You can read the issue for free, but donations are greatly appreciated: SQ MAG #13