Counting down to Halloween!

Halloween is going to be awesome this year!

Bad Moon Books will release my novella The Last Night of October on October 31st, but if you want to ensure you have your copy in time for All Hallow’s Eve, you should pre-order it now.

Don’t worry, Bad Moon Books has anticipated just that and put the book up for pre-order on its website HERE.

To whet your appetite, here’s a poster I made featuring a quote from Lisa Morton’s introduction to my story

The Last Night of October-poster

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Author Interview: Matthew Tait

My friend-in-horror Matthew Tait will have a new book out on April 27 – Davey Ribbon.

I’ve read it and it blew me away. It reminded me a lot of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot with its focus on people of a small town trying to understand supernatural occurrences.

I provided a book cover blurb and designed a poster to help promote the book:

matt-tait-poster

 

Here’s an interview recently conducted with Matt.

There is no denying your writing has been heavily influenced by the dark fiction legends: Stephen King and Clive Barker. Are there any other authors you secretly read, admire, covet, or emulate in your stories?

Before discovering those minds of which you speak, I was certainly an ardent follower of the prolific tales so pertinent to childhood: books such as the Hardy Boys novelizations and early Tolkien. Did the DNA of these tales bleed into my life later on? I can unquestionably see snippets at times. Jules Verne was a big one when I was a kid. Also novels such as Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Last of the Mohicans. As far as writers who are a subtle guilty pleasure? I will admit to reading a few of Wilbur Smith’s in my time … also Jack Higgins (who penned The Eagle Has Landed), and John Irving (The Hotel New Hampshire and The World According to Garp). I mention these because they all fall afield to what we commonly call dark fiction.

Though my storytelling penchant has always been simpatico with writers like Barker, I need to give a shout out here to the science fiction authors who continue inspire on a daily basis: in particular Kevin J Anderson – a writer whose work ethic, imagination, and professionalism are giant tools for motivation.

You’ve listed some great novels from big names! How old were you when you wrote your first story? Have you always been a storyteller?

The first ‘adult’ story I tried to compose was after reading King’s The Dark Half in grade eight. It was called The Farmer and was about – you guessed it – a serial killer farmer in Ohio who dispatches people with a pitchfork. With that one, I wasn’t very successful. But has the impetus always been there? You bet. In primary school, I looked forward to English classes with an unalloyed fondness and mathematics for the most part was detested. Distinctly I recall reading a fantasy short out loud to the whole class when I was still learning basic grammar. On that day, I was accused by another student of plagiarism or ‘copying it’ from an adult book. At the time it was the greatest compliment a kid could receive.

We are curious how you flesh out your storylines and put pen to paper. What is your ideal atmosphere to get the creativity flowing, so to speak?

My apartment is a special kind of nucleus. Here there are very limited distractions, and with orchestral film soundtracks in the background, it’s very easy to slip into a writing trance … or what many call ‘creative sleep.’ Good incense can sometimes induce the right ambiance, as can dark hazelnut coffee.

Though I’ve always been a ‘write in a dark basement’ kind of guy, I hope to one day gravitate toward vocal dictating – an art that requires some serious practice. Traversing the trails of mountainous terrain while composing would be the ultimate office space.

Kevin J Anderson is definitely showing in your desire for the ultimate office space of vocal dictating on a mountainside. You are a man of many writing facets; each book you’ve published is different. Is there a particular style or genre that you favor above all the rest?

Over time, I guess my predilections for style have evolved. Whereas narrative simplicity used to be a kind of benchmark (syntax reminiscent of Richard Laymon), the future has seen me embrace a more elegant species of sentence structure – which is just another personal proclivity. Words can be magic – chosen and arranged with care, they are like spells. And without trying to sound pretentious, I will say that a bristling vocabulary will lend itself to the best enchantments.

As for genre? Stories of the fantastique. Those tales that are vessels for change, feeding upon their own spiraling inventions.

Regardless of your Australian nationality, most of your stories are based in the United States, especially the east coast. What influences your choice of U.S. settings?

It’s the geography and landscape I’ve always had an affinity with, and after travelling there in 2013, I came to realize my fascination wasn’t just pilfered from a steady stream of television culture growing up; no, there was more to it – and my attraction was justified. The choice of setting will always be those places where possibilities always present themselves: the country road, the small town … and environments where the social climate is like a powder keg ready to implode.

Dark Meridian is the first book of the Meridian Series. When do you anticipate the next book to be published? What should readers expect from Meridian/Adam Lavas? Any juicy details you can spoil us with?

I hope to see the next book, OLEARIA, published somewhere in 2015. Provided the muse keeps his word quota, of course.

With the sequel, readers can expect not only a very different book, but a very different character. Though shades of Adam remain, he has for the most part been aborted – and Meridian is an exceedingly dissimilar creature: one who is viewing his world through eyes that have only just been opened. In some respects, he is like an infant in this regard; in others, a being who is slowly remembering his past encompassing thousands of years. But he won’t be alone in the journey, of course. His companions will be there to help him: Laura, Seth, and Daniel … creatures every bit as protean as their leader.

The title should tell everybody all they need to know about what lies in store: this is a book set almost entirely in another world, and the realm of earth has (for now) been diluted to the shadows. New territories, new characters – and all of them packaged around different themes and tones I’ve been waiting to explore since adolescence.

Davey Ribbon is hitting the marketplace at the end of this month. Can you tell us your personal story behind Davey Ribbon?

Back in early 2006, my younger brother Tom was really hitting his stride creatively as an illustrator (he is now an accomplished tattoo artist and the cover designer for Davey Ribbon). During a brainstorming session at my house at this time, he conceived a character through images … and we both felt this mysterious representation deserved his own story – if not outright mythology. Initially, I abandoned the concept for a while … but Davey Ribbon never entirely left my consciousness. Many belated years later, I finally sat down and wrote the story. The end result? Hopefully a macabre fairy tale that reflects those long ago discussions.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Davey Ribbon, available on April 27, 2014. Follow the release on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1407351216198170/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Unlocking the doors

Ironically, if someone asked me why I write and draw, the only way I could put it into words would be to write it down. Hence this post.

It’s like breathing; a necessity. If I don’t create one drawing or write something every day, then I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything.

Just today, I drew this. It’s by no means a perfect drawing. It doesn’t mean a great deal, but I just had to get it out of me. It took me about 20 minutes to draw.

arisen

I also started a new short story that I plan on subbing to an anthology. The central theme for the story is “wounds”, both psychological and physical. I look forward to seeing where it takes me.

If I had my way this would be the extent of my existence. Writing and drawing my life away. Because it’s what makes me TRULY happy.

I saw a picture on Facebook today, an illustration of what looked like Alice about to step inside a gigantic book that had had a door cut into it. This is exactly what it’s like to be a reader.

1782139_10152302304407389_1165496727_n

For a writer it’s much more. There are hundreds more doors, waiting to be opened. Behind those doors are monsters, or angels, signs and wonders. When I am writing or drawing I feel like I’m unlocking all those doors and freeing what’s on the other side.

My art can be quite macabre at times and I think it’s my subconscious trying to express some fear of mortality.

I’d love to know what drives everyone else to create. Is it a compulsion that you have to fulfil, or is it simply a labour of love?

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

New Spheres of Influence

In my previous post, I discussed the authors who influenced and inspired me during my formative years, well now, I want to tell you about the authors whose works encourage me today. These are just a few of the authors, who continue to astound:

Benjamin Kane Ethridge – His novel, Bottled Abyss, made me love the darkness of mythology all over again. It’s a unique take on the Underworld myth.

Daniel I Russell – His works are many and wondrous, but his novella, Critique will leave a bad taste in your mouth, for all the right reasons.

Andrew J McKiernan – Mr McKiernan is an extremely talented author and artist. His stories really hit home and carry considerable emotional weight. I look forward to his collection, Last Year, When We Were Young coming out later this year from Satalyte Publishing.

Lisa Morton – Lisa Morton is the expert on Halloween, but her fiction is also masterful. I highly recommend her books, Hell Manor, Wild Girls and her collection Monsters of L.A. as a good place to start.

Brett McBean – Brett McBean is one of the rising stars of horror in Australia. Find his books, The Mother, The Awakening, his Jungle series and you’ll never look back! He also recently co-authored the Wolf Creek 2 tie-in novel, Desolation Game.

Matthew Tait – Tait’s work is very original, bordering almost on the philosophical. His collection, Ghosts in a Desert World and his novel, Dark Meridian are hauntingly memorable.

Kaaron Warren – Her collection Through Splintered Walls is very powerful stuff, with the horror being on a deep, psychological level.

Martin Livings – This Perth-based author is a pleasure to read, particularly his collection, Living With the Dead. His tale, Birthday Suit, will leave you feeling ill at ease for a long while after you’ve finished reading.

Paul ManneringTankbread author from New Zealand, re-imagines the zombie apocalypse in all its gritty glory. Mannering’s writing is snappy, but oh, so memorable.

Stephen M Irwin – This Brisbane-based author has penned two supernatural novels and a television series. His novels, The Dead Path and The Broken Ones offer unique takes on the afterlife.

Angela Slatter and Lisa L. Hannett – their collaboration Midnight and Moonshine is a wonderful mingling of Norse mythology.

Felicity Dowker – Her collection, Bread and Circuses, is horror with heart.

These are just a few of the authors have left their mark on me. I’d Would love to know which authors inspire you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sphere of Influence

So there’s this post going around about naming the 15 authors that have influenced you in 15 minutes and my first thought was “If I’m going to talk about the authors that have stuck with me over the years, then I’m going to give them more than 15 minutes!”

For some bizarre reason, horror still doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves, unlike some other speculative fiction genres. I love writing horror, I love reading horror, not simply because of the scares and mystery, but rather I savour it because the characters are so easy to identify with. We have all been scared, but it’s how we react to that fear that really tells us who we are.

I’ve read many fantastic horror authors over the years and dedicated some of my own books to them, but I thought I’d go into a bit more detail about the ones who have influenced me the most in my own writing.

1. Edgar Allan Poe – Poe was one of the first classical authors I read. His dark prose spoke to me and instantly I rediscovered my love for writing. If you want deep, exploratory exposition on life and death, and love, then try Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

2. Clive Barker – The Books of Blood were my first introduction to Barker. Clive’s masterful use of horror and the grotesque as an allegory for sex, death and our place in the universe, is what horror is meant to be about. I recommend his aforementioned collection, The Hellbound Heart (which spawned the Hellraiser film franchise) and Weaveworld as must reads.

3. Graham Masterton -After reading Sleepless and The Family Portrait I was hooked. Everything Masterton writes is so damn good!

4. H.G. Wells – The Time Machine, The Invisible Man. All classics.

5.  Stephen King – the bestselling author who continues to keep people reading horror! Salems’ ‘Lot, The Stand and his Dark Tower series are some of his best works IMHO.

6. Richard Laymon – a writer who loves to get to the heart of disturbing horror, while doing it in style. Try his novels Island, and The Travelling Vampire Circus and you’ll see what I mean!

7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – the creator of Sherlock! Nuff said!

8. Bram Stoker – the creator of Dracula! Nuff said.

9. Mary Shelley – the creator of “Adam” (and his creator Victor Frankenstein). ‘Nuff said!

10. James Herbert – sadly this aficionado of the ghost story passed away last year.

11. H.P. Lovecraft – the pioneer of cosmic horror. At the Mountains of Madness is highly recommended!

12. William Peter Blatty – the author of The Exorcist, one of the most terrifying books you’ll ever read.

13. Shirley Jackson – Author of House on Haunted Hill and The Lottery. She was an expert of disquieting horror.

14. Neil Gaiman – author of The Sandman comic series and the amazing American Gods.

15. David Morrell – author of First Blood (the first Rambo novel).

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Writing Process Blog Chain

It’s been a while between posts, but this post should hopefully make up for it.

So, my buddy Amanda J Spedding, tagged me in this Writing Process Blog Chain thing. The idea is to send your author friends four questions in a bid to find out what makes them tick. Then, you pay it forward to three more authors. Here goes…

1) What am I working on?

Right now, my writing and drawing is a like walking on a tightrope, 100 feet above a pit full of homicidal clowns. Because of my full-time job, I can only write and draw after hours. But I’ve got a few writing projects going; the second part of a Young Adult dark fantasy series and a post-apocalyptic themed horror novella. I also try and fit in a short story or two in between, depending on the idea and whether it grabs me around the throat and throttles me.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think my work sometimes borders on the metaphysical and borrows from many genres and sub-genres. Whenever I have an idea, I try and mash two or even three concepts together, always asking myself: “Has this been done before?” Torment is a blend of haunted house, meets the exorcist, meets ghost story. The Noctuary is metaphysical because I wanted to look at horror writing itself and where it might come from; my other two novellas, Vaudeville and The Last Night of October, were all about childhood fears.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I believe in the idea that we’re not alone and that there is a logic to good and evil. I also think that the world is full of things we cannot see unless they reveal themselves. I like to put my characters in the centre of those concepts and see if they come out on top.

4) How does my writing process work?

I can dwell on an idea for weeks before I start writing. Most of the time, a word will spark an idea, sometimes just the title. I handwrite all my first drafts because I find it seems to flow better (and I’m a crap typist). My tales are character driven so I tend to let them dictate the story, using a very bare-bones plot or concept. For some reason I’m more attracted to writing novellas. I have written a novel, but it became so complex that it sort of lost its momentum, but I plan on fixing it up one of these days. Still, it was a valuable lesson learned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Year of Writing Seriously

2014 is going to be the year of writing seriously for me.

This year has been one of self-reflection. I’ve been asking myself about what I want to get out of being a part-time writer and the answer has always been that I want to write full-time.

It’s time for me to up the ante and focus on becoming a the writer I want to be. I love to write; it’s a cathartic process, almost like a function I have to perform in order to live. The same can be said for my drawing endeavours. I’ll write what I want to and most of my writing has been well-received, but I want to move up from “emerging” author to “established”. Sometimes I wonder: is a writer only taken seriously if they’ve written something novel-length? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being paranoid?

Earlier this year I fished out an early draft of a novel I wrote almost three years ago. It was a novel that was expanded from a short story and, after looking at it again with fresher eyes, I realised that it wasn’t the novel I wanted to be my “first”, so I’ve put it away again, in the hope that one day I’ll be mature enough to get it ready for publication.

Self-doubt is part and parcel of being a writer and this year, I’ve been under its thumb a number of times, but I am determined to remain positive. Right now, I’m 30,000 words into a Young Adult dark fantasy story. I don’t know how long it will end up, but that’s not what I’m focusing on. What’s important (and always will be) is the story. I have a plan that this will be the first book in a series and come hell or high water, I’m going to follow it through.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to belittle my published writing here. I’m extremely proud of my novellas. My latest, The Last Night of October, has been well-received by reviewers, but I feel I need to give MORE if I’m going to increase my readership.

Things on the art side have been great. Since Witch Hunts received the Stoker back in June, I’ve seen a steady amount of design work coming in; from cover art for Black Beacon Books and Cohesion Press here in Australia, to creating custom art for Midnight Echo Magazine, the Australian Horror Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association – all of which I’m supremely grateful for.

Commercial drawing and design won’t be taking a backseat in 2014, but the drawing for leisure might, at least until I get my writing mojo back again.

So if you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know the reasons why…

And to all those readers and fellow writers who’ve supported me this year – thank you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Midnight Hour

In a few weeks, Midnight Echo Issue 1o will be released in paperback and digital formats and for me, it will be quite a milestone.

The magazine, which is produced with pride, by the Australian Horror Writers Association, has been a personal challenge ever since I first joined the organisation and saw the first issue in 2009.

Over the last nine issues, the magazine has created a name for itself, publishing many well-known authors, including Jonathan Maberry and Graham Masterton, as well as highlighting some of Australia’s up-and-coming authors.

Issue 10 – a ghost story themed volume, edited by Australian  Shadows Award-winning editor Craig Bezant, will contain my short story “Mother’s House”. I don’t want to reveal anything about it’s premise, but I’m very excited to finally have some prose in the magazine after a number of years of producing art for its pages.

Yet, there will be quite a bit of art from me in Issue 10. I created six pieces for the “corner art” and also a full-page illustration to compliment Gary A. Braunbeck’s creepy tale “Crybaby Bridge #25″. There’s also a full-page illustration to go with my own story and a bunch of ads that I made to promote the AHWA.

Better yet, there’s also a feature interview with myself and authors Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton on how our Bram Stoker Award(R)-winning graphic novel, “Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times”, came to life!

The Issue will also feature the final part of the vampire comic, “Allure of the Ancients: The Key to His Kingdom”. Written by my friend Mark Farrugia, this is a comic series which first appeared way back in Issue 7 and while I’m sad to see it go, it was also a pleasure brining Mark’s amazing story to life. I’ve included an image of the first page of the final part for your viewing pleasure below. For those who have been following the series since Issue 7, this page should bring back some memories :)

Allure-Key4-pg1

So if you love your horror fiction, please consider picking up a copy of Issue 10, or for that matter, subscribing to the magazine. You won’t be disappointed.

Midnight Echo Issue 10 is scheduled for release on December 29.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment