Sinister Reads chats with Claire Fitzpatrick

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

Hiya. I’m Claire. I’m an author of speculative fiction and non-fiction. I won the 2017 Rocky Wood Award for Non-Fiction and Criticism for ‘The Body Horror Book,’ which I produced, edited, and co-wrote. I work for the government, which means I obviously have no soul. I have a six-year-old daughter who is starting grade one this year, which is crazy!  I’m a submissions reader for Aurealis, and I run Oscillate Wildly Press, a small indie publisher. My collection ‘Metamorphosis’ is due to be published by IFWG Publishing sometime this year, which is just awesome. Um…what else, what else, what else? I have pet cacti. They don’t have names yet, but they’re pretty great pets. They don’t scream in my face or poke me when I’m sleeping like my daughter does. Sheesh. That kid. Gosh, she’s a handful. My latest story is ‘Metamorphosis,’ published in Midnight Echo 13 (title story of my collection). The story is set in the near-distant future where puberty, or growing up, is monitored as a form of population control. ‘Metamorphosis’ follows a theme I have used within a few of my stories – the fear of parental abandonment coupled with Peter Pan Syndrome. I write a lot about child/parent relationships, and I consider this story part four of my short stories ‘Madeline,’ (first published in ME 11), ‘Synthetic,’ (first published in Breach Issue 6, republished in Phantaxis Issue 7), and ‘Scarab’ (first published in Breach Issue 7), a quartet of sorts. This story leans more towards SF, though contains elements of body horror, which is what I generally write.

What inspired you to write this story?

When I was a teenager, I read the book series ‘The Shadow Children’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The idea of hiding people away, of pretending people don’t exist, always interested me. One day, out of the blue, I was on a bus and started thinking about the book series. But this time I started thinking not just about population control, but body control – the control of how a body develops, how it grows, how a child becomes an adult. So I just started writing, and ‘Metamorphosis’ is what I came up with. I liked the idea that puberty was more than just the usual changes that occur in the body, that it was something out of your control, literally – that if you didn’t go through puberty you became something else, something monstrous, something to be hidden away and examined. I also sprinkled ideas of ‘be careful what you wish for’ throughout the story. There are consequences for growing up too fast, which are very real in ‘Metamorphosis.’

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

Always be open with yourself, and truthful. A good story has parts of its author within it. Go beyond ‘write what you know’ and write who you are, what you’re afraid of, what concerns you, what excites you. Almost all of my stories are in some way autobiographical. Always add a little bit of you into the mix.

What does the horror genre mean to you?

Gosh. Horror is something that is flexible, malleable, and adjustable. It is something to be pulled apart and put back together. What scares people so often changes. The horror genre should not only scare you, but excite you, encourage you to ask questions. I think of it as the agnostic of the writing spectrum. Horror is akin to Solipsism – you can never be sure what else is out there, only what’s inside your own mind. And that’s the scary thing. Horror encourages exploration, internal investigations, and philosophical questions. Why are we scared? What makes humans scared? What makes a human? Horror is usually metaphorical, and taps into our inner most fears and desires as individuals and as a society. The scariest monsters in this word are the humans themselves. Hmm. I think I’m scared of myself.

Who is your favourite author and why?

See, my favourite book is ‘Black Foxes’ by Sonya Hartnett, but that’s not horror. Overall, I love Clive Barker. I think he’s incredibly creative. I love that is work, his imagination, is limitless. His universe is so immersive. His writing is not only bloody but supernatural, religious, erotic, romantic. He writes such beautiful and terrifying prose. Clive Barker encourages questions, encourages fantasies, and turns humanity inside out. And for me, that’s what it means to be human.

 

Where can people read/purchase your story/novel?

Midnight Echo 13

 

Are you on social media? Please supply links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ClaireJean1239

Twitter: @CJFitzpatrick91

Instagram: wetoo.arestardust

Website: www.clairefitzpatrick.net/

 

Sinister Reads chats with Alister Hodge about his new release – Plague War 3 Retaliation

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

I’m a horror author, and I also work as an Emergency Nurse Practitioner where I get to deal with the everyday traumas of real life. My latest book is PLAGUE WAR 3 RETALIATION, published through Severed Press. This novel concludes my trilogy that was preceded by PLAGUE WAR: OUTBREAK, and PLAGUE WAR 2: PANDEMIC. For fans of apocalyptic and military horror, the Plague War series is an action packed journey following a group of survivors through the downfall of Australian society, to an eventual military fightback against the zombie masses.

What inspired you to write this story?

After reading ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks and a number of different Grimdark titles, I decided I wanted to write an apocalyptic story with real life grit on the pages, and a book that would explore the events through eyes of the civilian, health, army and police workforce confronted by the situation.

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

Some days it comes more easily than others, but if I stubbornly keep my arse parked in the chair, I’ll manage to get words down that will progress the story (even if I need to heavily edit them later).

What does the horror genre mean to you?

A chance to explore the best and absolute worst of which humans are capable.

Who is your favourite author and why?

This changes frequently. I recently completed Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law series and hugely enjoyed it.

Where can people read/purchase your story/novel?

The Plague War series is available via the Severed Press website, or on Amazon as an ebook / KU / paperback.

Are you on social media? Please supply links

https://www.facebook.com/alister.hodge.3

https://twitter.com/AlHodge79

https://www.alisterhodge.com

 

Visit www.australasianhorror.wordpress.com

 

Sinister Reads chats to Alan Baxter about his exciting new book, Devouring Dark

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

I’m an author of horror, often in the supernatural thriller and dark urban fantasy arena, and my latest book, DEVOURING DARK, is an urban horror novel set in London. It involves organized crime and supernatural assassins crossing paths in the most dangerous ways.

What inspired you to write this story?

I won an Australian Shadows Award for my short story, “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, and I knew there was more to explore in the subject matter of that yarn. This novel is essentially a sequel to that story.

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

Never quit! That’s applies to reading, learning, practicing, submitting, revising. You have ot work your arse off and never quit.

What does the horror genre mean to you?

Honesty.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Probably Clive Barker – he’s been a bigger influence on my own writing than anyone else. I love the way he combines horror, fantasy and the weird, and that’s something I do in my work as well.

Where can people read/purchase your story/novel?

Wherever books are sold, all the online retailers, or order from your bookstore or library. If you want a signed copy, contact me through social media and we can make that happen. Anyone who buys a signed paperback from me will also get a limited edition enameled metal pin while stocks last. There will only ever be 500 of them!

Are you on social media? Please supply links

My website: https://www.alanbaxteronline.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlanBaxter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alanbaxterauthor/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/warrior_scribe/

 

Visit http://www.australasianhorror.wordpress.com

Sinister Reads chats to Pete Aldin

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

I write spec fic thrillers. My latest novel “Came Monsters” (a sequel to last year’s “Doomsday’s Child”) is available for preorder at a discounted price on Amazon/Kindle. Paperback to follow.

What inspired you to write this story?

Lol: probably Book One in the series. Also, I wondered what it would be like to set a zompoc novel three and half years after the outbreak when all the zombies are “dying off”.

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

When writing a scene, come in late and leave it early. We don’t need to see the detective get out of bed and drive to the crime scene: just have him arrive and get on with it. Then don’t hang around at the end with boring dialogue or details: cut to next scene.

What does the horror genre mean to you?

Tension and honest examinations of what it means to be human and to embrace life.

Who is your favourite author and why?

At the moment it’s David Morrell who wrote the original Rambo novel. More often he writes thrillers than horror, but there are no dull moments in Morrell’s writing.

Where can people read/purchase your story/novel?

Are you on social media?

petealdin.com or http://www.facebook.com/PeteAldinAuthor

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: https://www.amazon.com/Teeth-Wolf-Dan-Rabarts/dp/1947879073

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 http://dan.rabarts.com

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