Sinister Reads chats to Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest story?

DR: We’re Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray, we work as a collaborative writing and editing partnership, and our newest release is Teeth of the Wolf, the second book in the Path of Ra series from Raw Dog Screaming Press. Teeth of the Wolf picks up where Hounds of the Underworld, which won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel in 2017, left off, with Penny and Matiu Yee getting drawn deeper into a world of occult murder and talking fridges.

LM: It’s a fine blend of procedural police forensics and the supernatural, mixed up with a ton of dry black humour and all the challenges of sibling rivalries. All of which is fine, as long as Dan just does what he’s told.

DR: Yip. Because that’s totally how I roll. *makes a note to blow some more stuff up in Book 3 so Lee has to find a way to explain it scientifically*

What inspired you to write this story?

DR: Funny story, but this all started from a conversation Lee and I had about writing some collaborative novellas, tight word counts and fast turnaround, for the ebook market. We brainstormed a couple of characters and a premise and then got down to writing. As the first draft passed the 60k mark we knew we were no longer writing a novella, and that they weren’t going to be quick to turn around at all.

LM: We really wanted to write something that had both a solid backbone of science and real-world logic, to satisfy readers of crime drama, and a dark supernatural element, because our writing strengths lie in that direction, so to some extent we were working towards something we wanted to do and something we felt we would do well. We also wanted to draw on our differing cultural backgrounds and weave these into a narrative, which led to the complex family arrangements that prop up the characters.

DR: Plus, who doesn’t want to read about a fictional dystopian Auckland on the brink of environmental and economic collapse?

What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?

DR: Trust your gut. Know your characters and let them lead you. They know their world better than you, you’re just looking in. You’re a conduit, a vessel to bring their story to your pages. Open up and give them room to share it with you.

LM: I have no idea what Dan just said. Put your nose to the keyboard and put those words down, one at a time, one page after another, until you have a chapter, then write the next one. Persist. Research. Know your background material. And then trust your community, your beta readers especially, to tell you where you’ve succeeded and where you’ve fallen down. Then give that back. Because without our community, we’re nothing.

What does the horror genre mean to you?

LM: To reframe the question, horror isn’t a genre but a stylistic choice. It’s a decision to take a story, which could be any genre at all, and layer it with the disturbing. Crime and the supernatural lend themselves readily to being treated as horror, but we can do the same to science fiction, historic novels, and even literary fiction if we want to take the mundane and make our readers squirm.

DR: Horror is like opening a dark window on a quiet room and letting the screams in. They were always there, we were just trying our best not to hear them. This is something we play with a lot in the Path of Ra series, this juxtaposition of the real and the rational against forces that are neither, giving them an air of the surreal, the alien.

Who is your favourite author and why?

DR: Since it would be pithy of me to say Lee Murray – who is indeed a mighty fine writer – I’ll have to say Hugh Cook. Cook was a kiwi author of fantasy and science fiction with a heavy slant into the horrific, whose work I first discovered when I was still in college and which continues to inspire me to this day. His refusal to obey things like genre rules leant his work a truly original and unpredictable aspect which is rare. Sadly, he passed away after bravely battling brain cancer for many years. I sometimes wonder if the two are related.

LM: Aw. [Blushes] Well, I’ll have to say Dan Rabarts now, won’t I? In fairness, successful collaborative writing teams I’ve come across — Jeff Strand and James A Moore, James A Moore and Charles Rutledge, Heide Goode and Iain Grant, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, New Zealand’s own Matt and Debbie Cowens to name just a few— invariably demonstrate a mutual respect for one another’s work. If you’re going to be working closely with someone over the course of a novel, or a series of novels, you have to like their work. I wouldn’t have suggested collaborating with Dan if I hadn’t liked what I was reading. Dan’s first solo novel Brothers of the Knife, the first title in his grimdark fantasy series The Children of Bane, releases in early 2019. The series retains all the usual Rabarts flair, only without the constraints of a pesky co-writer. There’s the quirky element, the frenetic plot twists, and the dark underbelly, all laid out on a high fantasy palette. Outside of our writing partnership, I like Dr Seuss, Harper Lee, Grimm’s Tales, René Barjavel, Kaaron Warren, Hank Schwaeble… too many to count.

Where can people read/purchase your story/novel?

DR: Teeth of the Wolf is available from October 4th 2018 from Raw Dog Screaming Press, in print and ebook versions. We’ve probably got an amazon link around here somewhere. Did I put it down behind my beer…?

LM: Oh for crying out loud, it’s right here:

Are you on social media? Please supply links

DR: You can find me on FB as Dan Rabarts and Twitter as @rabarts. I also have a website at

LM: And you can find me on FB as Lee Murray and Twitter as @leemurraywriter. My website is




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