Tell us a bit about yourself and your latest story.
My name is Deborah Sheldon and I live in Melbourne. My professional credits span 32 years and include TV scripts, feature articles, award-winning medical writing and non-fiction books. These days, I write short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum. My latest releases include the bio-horror novella Thylacines (Severed Press) and the dark fantasy and horror collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (IFWG Australia), which won the Australian Shadows “Best Collected Work 2017”. My website has a full list of credits: https://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com/
In September, IFWG Australia published my noir-horror novel Contrition. The back-cover blurb reads:
In her late teens, Meredith Berg-Olsen had all the makings of a runway model. Now in her late forties, after everything she had been through – including horrors that John could only guess at – she looked bloodless instead of pale, skeletal instead of slender, more dead than alive…
John Penrose has two secrets. One is the flatmate he keeps hidden from the world: his high-school sweetheart, Meredith. His other secret is the reason he feels compelled to look after her.
Contrition is a horror story with noir undertones and an atmosphere of mounting dread.
What inspired you to write this story?
A few years ago, I met a strange couple. He was mild-mannered and stoic. She was hostile and aggressive. They lived together but were not related, and were not involved (romantically or sexually) in any kind of way. In short, no ties. He went to work and paid all their bills, while she stayed home and did nothing but hate his guts with an absolute passion. Why did they stay together? What the hell was going on?
This couple got under my skin. I couldn’t fathom the dynamic of their bizarre relationship, so I kept dreaming up scenarios to explain it, each one more outrageous than the last. Contrition grew from one of those scenarios.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
That it’s a lifelong devotion. There’s always another technique to try, another writing medium, a different way to extend yourself. The craft of writing contains infinite possibilities.
What does the horror genre mean to you?
Freedom. You can broach any topic and explore any taboo. Yes, horror is considered “genre fiction” but unlike other genres such as romance, there are no strict conventions or parameters, which means you are free to push yourself as far as you’d like (or dare) to go. Horror has so many subgenres that it offers a virtually limitless supply of fresh challenges.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Oh, you can’t make me choose just one, I won’t allow it! In no particular order: Annie Proulx, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Daphne du Maurier, James M. Cain, Pete Dexter, Fay Weldon, Stephen King, and that’s just for starters… A few of my favourite spec-fic/horror novels are The Handmaid’s Tale, The Haunting of Hill House, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Shining, Flowers for Algernon, Rebecca and The Man Who Fell to Earth.
An author will automatically become one of my favourites if he/she can move me. If they scare the crap out of me or make me cry, I’ll buy everything they’ve ever written.
Where can people purchase your novel?
Right now, Contrition is available as an ebook and in paperback from Amazon. In time, it will go through distribution channels and end up in bookshops and libraries too.
Are you on social media? Please supply links.
Please friend me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3312459.Deborah_Sheldon
I’m not on Facebook personally, but IFWG Australia runs a page on my behalf: