Tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest story?
I’m Claire Fitzpatrick, award-winning author, poet, and occasional music journalist. I’m a public servant, so obviously my short stories are going to be horrific. I live in Brisbane in a chaotic house with five other people and a pug. Of these people, one is my almost 6-year-old daughter. She has ASD and is a bit of a savant with regards to reading. Life is currently a bit hectic for me, so I haven’t had a lot of time to write, but I do what I can.
My latest story published is ‘Dragonfly’ in Phuket Tattoo, an anthology from Zombie Pirate Publishing. It’s about Will, who seeks out the mysterious Vietnamese Dragonfly club in the hopes of finding his lost friend, John. He soon finds himself at the Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park and face to face with the dark magic of the Ruc people. It’d consider it a thriller adventure story, as Will meets many different people as he travels from one side of Vietnam to another in search of John. It took me a few weeks to write, but I’m happy with the way it turned out.
What inspired you to write this story?
The Ruc people are real people who live in the forests and mountains of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang national park. It is said they possess dark magic, as they perform ‘witchcraft rituals’ and use ‘charms’ to avoid beasts and expel demons. I’ve done a bit of travelling throughout Asia and have always been interested in different cultures. I suppose it was just about writing a story about travel and culture with a dark twist. I’m glad there was a submissions callout for such a story!
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Write about what you know, and don’t hold anything back. Writing can often feel like pulling teeth, but usually the most painful things to write turn into eloquent prose. Writing can be cathartic, rebellious, and passionate. For me, it’s a process of removing unwanted thoughts in my head and turning them into words. Of course, I write when I am happy, but I find my best work comes when I’m feeling slightly morose. That’s not to say you should only write when you’re having a bad day! I suppose the most important lesson I would try to teach someone is to write during emotional periods in your life – write when something good has happened, something bad, something fun, something surprising, etc. Use your emotions to fuel your imagination. A lot of my stories stem from my feelings towards my daughter, my feelings regarding my Epilepsy and BPD, and especially my feelings after I’ve had a seizure or a dissociative episode. Just write when you’re feeling an incredibly overwhelming emotion.
What does the horror genre mean to you?
The horror genre is an intrinsic part of who I am. It allows me to explore my thoughts and emotions in a productive and supportive way. I spend a lot of time observing people. I spend a lot of time sitting on buses and trains staring out the window. For me, I mostly write body horror within the horror genre.
Body horror is often a metaphor for real life transformations. The inevitable process of ageing as a form of body horror. If we live long enough, we all become monsters. Our hair falls out, our skin changes, and we become a burden and sometimes even a threat to those who love us. Body horror is also a metaphor for the failings of our body. Neurological diseases such as Epilepsy affect injuries of the mind. The condition of being flesh and blood elicits fear. The condition of being flesh and blood, of madness, of wounded flesh, reminds us just how human, how fallible we are. We often fear our own body, how it controls us, and how we relate to it.
Horror is a way to understand who we are as humans, what frightens us, and why it’s good to be scared. Freud tells us the love of horror comes from repressed feelings, Jung tells us it’s our primordial unconscious that enjoys watching people getting chopped up in a woodchopper. Rabelais and Bakhtin tell us we take pleasure in exploring the grotesque and carnivalesque celebration of the circle of life. For people who enjoy horror books and movies, their adrenaline, endorphins, and dopamine levels tend to go totally crazy, as the fight-or-flight response is triggered by the imagined fear. Our brains need this for healthy functioning. Certainly, adrenaline is good for you. Most people associate adrenaline with fear and stressful situations—which occur in horror movies and books! —however, this is simply our bodies way to bring your physiological and psychological systems back to normal, keeping everything in check, but in an entirely safe space. So, I suppose the horror genre, for me, means a combination of catharsis and a way to explore fear in a healthy environment.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Sonya Hartnett! Interestingly, she’s not primarily a horror writer, yet she writes quite dark and disturbing stories about human relationships, especially within families. However, my favourite horror writer is Clive Barker. Clive Barker introduced me to body horror. He was the one author who has similar ideas to mine. As soon as my friend lent me his copy of Weaveworld I was hooked!
Where can people read/purchase your story/novel?
You can find ‘Dragonfly’ within ‘Phuket Tattoo: Crazy Tales Of Faraway Places’ on Amazon.
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