Posts Tagged ‘margaret atwood’

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Deborah Sheldon is a … I don’t even know where to begin.. if it can be written, she’s probably written it! In recent times however, Deborah has published crime novels, a short story collection called Mayhem, and has a bio horror novel forthcoming form the very cool Cohesion Press.

Deborah Sheldon (1)

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m from Melbourne, Australia, and have about 30 years of professional writing credits across a range of media. I got my Bachelor of Arts (Multidisciplinary) way back when the Toorak campus of Deakin University was still Victoria College. I’m married to a wonderful man, Allen, who supports my writing both emotionally and financially, and we have a teenage son, Harry. Atlas, our pampered and bossy little budgie, keeps all of us in line.

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?

After many years of focusing on medical writing, journalism, and TV scriptwriting, I started writing fiction in late 2007. At first, I wrote literary fiction; specifically, short stories with a sad or melancholic aspect. Then I moved into crime writing. My crime noir, in particular, tended to include scenes of horror. In mid-2014, after signing contracts for two crime novels, I found myself at a loose end. Where to now? I felt uneasy, restless; itchy to try something new. I decided to write a horror story, and loved the experience.

What draws me to horror is the same thing that draws me to crime noir: life is a grisly exercise. There’s something cathartic about putting anxieties down on paper.

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?

It’s a cliche to say it, since so many others have said it before me, but Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ scared the absolute bejesus out of me when I was a kid. I make a point of re-reading it every five or so years, just to remind myself how it’s possible to transform the most ordinary things – a fire hose, a locked door, a row of hedge animals – into objects of terror, given the right words and attention to detail.

Q. What is your favourite horror film?

Oh, too many to name just one! ‘Psycho’ still gives me the creeps, particularly the look on Anthony Perkins’s face in the last scene. John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ is a glorious and gory take on paranoia that just gets better every time I watch it. ‘Aliens’, a perfect balance of suspense and shocks, will always be in my Top Five. While ‘Cape Fear’ (1962) isn’t a horror film by strict definition, the escalating sense of helpless dread always leaves me in tears. Then there are particular scenes in horror films that stay with me even when the rest of the film fades from memory… the eerie journey through the cane fields in ‘I Walked with a Zombie’ (1943), and the first time the monster appears in the original ‘The Thing From Another World’ (1951).

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

In 30 years, I’ve written a lot, too much to list here. More recently, I’ve had horror stories published in Midnight Echo, Pulp Modern, Lighthouses: an anthology of dark tales, and Aurealis, and upcoming in Tincture Journal, SQ Mag, and Allegory. One of my stories got an Honourable Mention in the AHWA 2015 Flash Fiction Awards, which was great. My most recent projects are the crime noir novella, ‘Dark Waters’ (Cohesion Press 2014), and the collection, ‘Mayhem: selected stories’ (Satalyte Publishing 2015). There is a full list of credits on my website.

I don’t have a favourite work overall. I tend to fall in love with each project asI’m writing it. Therefore, I’m constantly in love.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling? E.g Film, Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

DS: I love writing in all its forms. I’ve sold drabbles, flash, short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels, as well as stage plays, radio plays, TV scripts, and a telemovie shortlisted for production by Australia’s Channel 10. As a reader, I devour all types of storytelling media, including film – I’m a sucker for mid-20th century Hollywood. In both reading and writing, I crave variety.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

DS: My bio-horror novel, ‘Devil Dragon’.

It’s about a scientist, Dr Erin Harris, who is obsessed with finding a living Varanus priscus, a giant Australian lizard that apparently went extinct some 12,000 years ago. There are occasional sightings, like Big Foot or Nessie. Erin cobbles together an expedition party and travels into the unexplored heart of a national park. A nerdy scientist, an elderly farmer and two gun-toting deer hunters stranded in the bush versus an apex predator the size of a campervan – what could go wrong? I intensively researched herpetology, firearms, and hunting. What a steep learning curve! I’m very grateful to the professionals who helped vet an earlier draft for technical accuracy. ‘Devil Dragon’ is due for release in October 2016 through Cohesion Press. It is to be the first in a new series, called ‘Natural Selection’, of stand-alone bio-horror novels.

In between rewrites of ‘Devil Dragon’, I’m currently working on a horror short story that involves spiders… a few billion of them. And soon, I’ll be working on the final edits of my contemporary crime novel, ‘Garland Cove Heist’, due for release in November 2016 by Satalyte Publishing.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

Ds: Don’t make me choose! Top three, in no particular order: Annie Proulx, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson.

Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?

I would love to collaborate on a project, maybe a short story anthology.

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

DS: I always have a stack of books on my bedside table. At the moment, I’m reading Aurealis #87 (which has my short story, ‘Across the white desert’, beautifully illustrated by Andrew Saltmarsh by the way); ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood; and ‘Killing Pablo’ by Mark Bowden.

My TBR pile includes ‘A Hell of a Woman’ by Jim Thompson, ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘Doctor Sleep’ by Stephen King, ‘The Quiet American’ by Graham Greene, ‘The Scapegoat’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘Mockingbird’ by Walter Tevis, ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent, ‘One Count to Cadence’ by James Crumley, and oh God please help me I can’t stop buying books…

Q. What films are you looking forward to?

DS: Zoolander 2! I loved the first film and can’t wait for more silliness.

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges you have faced that are complicated by your gender?

DS: It’s a presumption that men write action/crime/horror, and women write romance/chick lit/erotica. The members of one of my writing groups – all women – are convinced that female writers are considered substandard by the industry.

Grudgingly, I agree. Why else would we need our separate spotlights, such as the Stella Awards and the Women in Horror Month, unless we are marginalised?

Q. Why is ‘Women in Horror’ Month important?

DS: The reading public needs to know that plenty of women are writing some seriously kick-arse horror fiction. Readers will catch on fast. In a few years, a ‘Women in Horror’ month will no longer be necessary, I hope.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

• Read a lot, across a range of genres.

• Write a lot. Ignore the marketplace, and write what stirs you.

• Join a writers’ group, preferably with people who are around the same level of experience. Feedback and constructive criticism are invaluable.

• Revise and edit, over and over, until your piece is the best you can make it.

• Don’t worry too much about rejection. When you’re a writer, rejection comes with the job. Have a glass of wine, steel yourself, and submit to a new market.

Deborah Sheldon links:

Website: http://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3312459.Deborah_Sheldon

Facebook page (run by Cohesion Press): https://www.facebook.com/Deborah-Sheldon-936388749723500/

Latest Individual Works

  • Dark Waters (paperback)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Waters-Deborah-Sheldon/dp/0992558158

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Dark-Waters-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558154

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-waters-deborah- sheldon/1120936372?ean=9780992558154

Fishpond: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Dark-Waters-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558154

  • Dark Waters (ebook)

http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00QZ6UKD0

  • Mayhem: selected stories (paperback)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mayhem-Selected-Stories-Deborah- Sheldon/dp/0992558077

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mayhem-deborah-sheldon/1121223029?ean=9780992558079

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Mayhem-Selected-Stories-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558079

Satalyte Publishing: http://satalyte.com.au/product/mayhem-selected-stories-deborah-sheldon/

Fishpond: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Mayhem-Selected-Stories-Deborah-Sheldon/9780992558079

Mayhem: selected stories (ebook)

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com.au/Mayhem-selected-stories-Deborah-Sheldon-ebook/dp/B00TP1FCZI

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mayhem-deborah-sheldon/1121223029?ean=2940046583090

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/520178

ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mayhem-selected-stories/id968888076?mt=11

Satalyte Publishing: http://satalyte.com.au/product/mayhem-selected-stories-deborah-sheldon/

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Sophie Yorkston is the extremely talented and awesome editor of SQ Magazine. She took home the Australian Shadows Award for Best Edited Publication, for SQ Mag issue #14 (IFWG Publishing). She’s quite active in the speculative ficiton scene and has several short stories of her own published. I look forward to reading more of her edited and written works!  Thanks so much for dropping by, Sophie!

SYorkston
Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
SY: I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
SY: I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
SY: That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
SY: My current published works include a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audioboo
SY: My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
Q. What are you working on at the minute?

SY: My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada.

 

Q. You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference? 
SY: I love to write, and I was lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
Q. What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
SY: I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say, because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?
SY: Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Q. Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
SY: There’s some amazingly well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazine) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
SY: Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.
 
Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
SY: I think the greatest challenge for women in genre is that we’re silenced purely by the gender we were born into, unconsciously or otherwise. Including our experiences and our stories. Horror luckily has some excellent editors who are more egalitarian than others, who rectify that by giving equal credence on the basis of excellent writing.
 
Q. Why is Women in Horror month important? 
SY: I think it’s really important to make sure we work against a system that actively works against female writers. Particularly given we have such a wealth of talent here in Australia with internationally-recognised writers like Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Margo Lanagan, and that’s just off the top of my head; there are many more excellent writers than I have named here. And for the lack of recognition of excellent writers in our own countries. 
 
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SY: Connect up with other writers and offer to help beta read their work. You learn so much about your own work from the very first time you do it. And if you’re lucky, you end up with a great group of friends!
Plus, read, read read! (And don’t forget to review if you got any enjoyment at all!)
 
 
Website: www.sqmag.com
Book Links:

https://mail.google.com/_/scs/mail-static/_/js/k=gmail.main.en.OVq8hpf-I6w.O/m=m_i,t,it/am=PiPeSMD83_uDuM4QQLv0kQrz3n9-95FiZ889_H9vAojULwD-b_b_AP4P3pu2UA/rt=h/d=1/t=zcms/rs=AHGWq9CKi-kYNM_Rzj3abb7zTohAY_Qxkghttps://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/?ui=2&view=bsp&ver=ohhl4rw8mbn4https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/?ui=2&view=bsp&ver=ohhl4rw8mbn4

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WIHM Questions

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Simon Dewar <simon.dewar83@gmail.com>

Feb 1

to sophieyorkston

Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies?
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
What are you working on at the minute?
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically?
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with?
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you?
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Website:
Blog:
Facebook:
Twitter:
Lnkedin:
Pinterest:
Amazon Author Page:
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
Goodreads:
(* Any order you like and if I’ve missed anything, just type it in.)

Sophie

AttachmentsFeb 15 (2 days ago)

to me
Hey Simon,
Sorry this has taken a little while to get to you.
Hope it’s not too late!
Sophie


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:28:05 +1100
Subject: WIHM Questions
From: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
To: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com


Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My current published work include a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
What are you working on at the minute?
My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada. 
 
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference?
I love to write, and I was lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
There’s some amazingly-well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silva Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazine) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.
 
What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the  challenges have you faced that are complicated by your gender?
I think the greatest challenge for women in genre is that we’re silenced purely by the gender we were born into, unconsciously or otherwise. Including our experiences and our stories. Horror luckily has some excellent editors who are more egalitarian than others, who rectify that by giving equal credence on the basis of excellent writing.
 
Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 
I think it’s really important to make sure we work against a system that actively works against female writers. Particularly given we have such a wealth of talent here in Australia with internationally-recognised writers like Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter, Margo Lanagan, and that’s just off the top of my head; there are many more excellent writers than I have named here. And for the lack of recognition of excellent writers in our own countries. 
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Connect up with other writers and offer to help beta read their work. You learn so much about your own work from the very first time you do it. And if you’re lucky, you end up with a great group of friends!
Plus, read, read read! (And don’t forget to review if you got any enjoyment at all!)
 
 
Website: 
Pinterest:
Attachments area

Sophie

12:32 PM (39 minutes ago)

to me

Hi Simon,

I was just going to email to ask if you could include a link to SQ Mag as well. http://www.sqmag.com

I also spotted some typos/mistakes in my replies–crumbs. Probably what happens if I do these things late in the evening. I’ve bolded the questions below where I made answer changes if it is at all possible to just copy paste those responses.
Thanks Simon for the opportunity. It’s been great to see all the interviews, and to see writers whose other spec fic stories I’ve enjoyed that are also horror!
Sophie

From: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com
To: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
Subject: RE: WIHM Questions
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 19:21:52 +1000

Hey Simon,
Sorry this has taken a little while to get to you.
Hope it’s not too late!
Sophie


Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2016 21:28:05 +1100
Subject: WIHM Questions
From: simon.dewar83@gmail.com
To: sophieyorkston@hotmail.com

 


Hey,

See below … attach your approved and endorsed personal image I can post with the interveiew.  If there is anything you want me to ask or want to discuss, let me know. Now is a chance for you to have take the mic. Make my blog your bully pulpit if you like.  I might shoot back some additional questions (*if I have time) based on stuff you say.
Thanks
S.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a bit of a wanderer (my muse is too) who has lived all over the east coast of Australia. I’m also the Editor in Chief of Australian speculative fiction ezine, SQ Mag (which best of all is free!). In my day job, I’m a scientist, with a love and interest in many scientific fields, and I think that really gets into my writing.
 
What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where you something mad you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  
I admit, I started out with horror as my first foray into the genre, somewhere between Christopher Pike and Goosebumps. My tastes evolved, but for me it’s a toss-up with exploring the dark side of supernatural beliefs or alternatively how easily humans cross the line with misguided morals. A story I’m writing at the moment is all about people responding violently to someone they perceive “deserves” it. 
 
What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I really like the stories where there’s an element of futility, in that whatever the protagonist does, they still get caught in the mire. 
 
What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My current published work includes a short suspense story titled Downpour in Subtropical Suspense (Black Beacon Books). A friend of mine said it reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock’s brand of fright, and I thought that a high compliment indeed. I also have a fun story called Manuka Mischief in a kids Christmas collection, The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, from New Zealand’s Phantom Feather Press. I’m shopping to find the right home for my favourite story I’ve written. And not to forget SQ Mag, which I edit, and whose Australiana edition won the Best Edited Work in last year’s Australian Shadows Awards. Still pretty chuffed about that.
 
Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook
My work is largely about in short stories, but I think translating them to audio formats is a great way forward. And so many are so suitable to short film as well. One of my hobbies is photography and I think there’s a lot of scope for horror in visual mediums. Horror as a genre is a gold mine, particularly in its ease of translation to many different media types.
 
What are you working on at the minute?
My computer and notebooks are always littered with dozens of shorts, from scrappy notes through to polished pieces striving to find a published home. I’m also chipping away slowly at a magical realism novel that was inspired by my time living in Canada. 
 
You’re an editor as well as a writer. Do you have a preference? 
I love to write, but I was also lucky enough to fall into working with SQ Mag and with IFWG Publishing (both Australian and international imprints). Editing is mostly wonderful, apart from having to deal out rejections, because it opens you up to a lot of different stories and voices. If you’re lucky, you get to work with some of the true professionals of the business and learn something. But I have to admit, my own words on a page is still a special thrill.
 
What attracts you to editing the work of others? And is there any quality or skill etc that makes a good horror editor, specifically? 
I’ve always wanted to help; I’ve unofficially been editing work for decades for friends. We all get too close to our work and need the help of a little perspective. I don’t know that it’s only a horror genre issue, but I think what makes you a good editor is being able to hear your writer’s voice and not overriding that, to make their story the best it can be. It also helps to read widely to know the tropes of your chosen genre, in as much as you can (only so many hours in the day and many of us have day jobs). Lastly, I have to say because part of it means I get to know new (at least to me) writers, and do what I love (second) best: read!
 
Who is your favourite woman writer?
Don’t make me choose! There’s many I love for different reasons. Anne McCaffrey, Audrey Niffenegger, Margaret Atwood, Emma Newman. Their explorations of the dark ways of human relationships and interactions are a real draw for me. 
 
Are there any projects involving other women that you’re looking forward to or would like to get on board with? 
There’s some amazingly-well run publishers (who coincidentally are run by women) in Australia producing great works and anthologies; Fablecroft and Twelfth Planet for example. I’m in awe of what they’re doing. Some of the anthologies showcasing women behind the stories and at the centre are pretty exciting, like She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press, eds. Silva Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles), Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga) and the Women destroying (Lightspeed & Nightmare magazines) have been great for us as readers to know who to keep an eye out for.
What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?
Oh, so many! I’m trying to diversify the voices I’ve been reading so I’m currently reading: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; I’ve just finished and am reviewing Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I’m also trying to support Australian and New Zealand writers and read and review as much as I can.

Simon Dewar <simon.dewar83@gmail.com>

12:37 PM (34 minutes ago)

to Sophie

Cool. Got it. And thankyou 🙂  You’re coming up soon… along with Ellen Datlow, Lauren Buekes and so many women my brains is turning to mush.

Good fun though.
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Welcome back to another WIHM Interview!  Today we have Karen Runge visiting my blog.  Karen Runge is one my favourite authors. We first crossed paths in Jack Ketchum’s horror class at Litreactor.com. The work she presented in class was so good that I invited her to put a story in my debut anthology Suspended my Dusk. Karen has since gone on to sell to Shock Totem and we even co-wrote a story together, High Art, that was collected the Death’s Realm anthology from Grey Matter Press.

Probably one of the more twisted women in horror, I give you: Karen Runge.

krunge.jpg

Q. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

KR: I’m a horror writer, dark literature writer, wannabe poet and artist… well, a lover of all things creative. I’m native to South Africa but was born in France, and have been past resident of several other countries too over the years. Okay, this is already too complicated! I don’t have a straight-lane background. But since we’re both in the lit world, I’ll try to keep it there. I’m primarily a short story writer, but have a novel coming out this year as well as my own short story collection. Maybe I write because I’m trying to make sense of such a muddled history and background? I wouldn’t be the first!

Q. What draws you to horror generally, and was there a defining moment where something made you think “Fuck it, I’m writing a horror story!”?  

KR: Essentially what draws me to this marvelous, diverse genre is its depth. People who aren’t into horror tend to think that its fans and creators are lunatics, sickos or psychos, or just generally very shady people. Not at all. Horror, first and foremost, is an exercise in empathy. From schlock to high-end dark literature. What they all have in common is that if it doesn’t make you feel, it’s not working. Horror tells hard truths from all angles, and from what I’ve seen it’s the only genre that does so without flinching. Sincerity can be brutal. But it’s also honest. I admire that. No, I adore that.

My “Fuck it!” moment probably happened when I was very, very young—too young maybe to even know that word! My older brother, in true bully-little-sister style typical to that age, used to take horror story collections out of the library, read them, and then retell them to me (with heavy embellishments)—hoping to make me cry, give me nightmares, I don’t know. It kind of backfired because I loved it! My first ‘horror stories’ were drawings I did of werewolves and beasties based on the stories he’d told me. I can’t have been more than six or seven years old, but already I was obsessed. Down the years my English teachers quickly came to know that any creative writing assignments I handed in would be more than a little… well, let’s say quirky. Thankfully they encouraged me, and there weren’t too many awkward teacher-parent conferences!

Q. What is your favourite horror story and what about it specifically rustled your jimmies? 

KR: That’s tricky. I read horror from all edges, and when I’m impressed I get so drawn in I forget the others for a while. I guess there may be a few, from different stages of my life. I read Stephen King’s IT when I was about thirteen, and I was so struck by it that to this day I still have dreams with a distinct Derry-town feel. I know, it’s so common to list Mr King as the jimmy-rustler. But hey, it’s true. That one hit me hard because the horror I’d read up until then (and loved) had been very pulpy. That book was the first to show me how very serious and adult horror can be, even when talking about a psycho alien ‘clown’. It completely shifted my perspective on the true nature of horror as a creative medium. Joyce Carol Oates’ MAN CRAZY took it even further–into abuse cycles, physical and psychological trauma… the first time I recognised what I’d argue is a horror story without the supernatural bend. Latest on my knee-jerk list was Stona Fitch’s SENSELESS. It’s what some would describe as Torture Porn, but there’s a storm of very intent, focused intellect driving it. Again, one to show that what you assume a genre or sub-genre is can be very different when done right, by the right hands. Which I think is sheer magic.

 

Q. What have you written? And what is your personal favourite of your own work?

I’ve had a bunch of short stories published—first appearing in South Africa’s Something Wicked, on to a few little ezines, on to Pseudopod, Shock Totem… and from there the very excellent Grey Matter Press. My favourite short would probably have to be GOOD HELP, the story I wrote in the workshop we took together, dear Simon. Not because it’s the best writing I’ve done, but because as a story it was probably the most concise. That one came out in Shock Totem #9 – my first 100% pro-published story. So it has a special place in my heart.

Q. Do you have a favourite form or media for story telling?  E.g Short story, Novel, Audio drama or podcast, audiobook

KR: I’m a hardcore book junkie. I love the feel, the smell, the story that builds within the story each time you turn a page. I’m all for coffee stains and dog-eared pages. They show that a book has been read, really read—which means loved. I listen to podcasts at least three times a week when I’m mucking around, doing housework or whatever. But without actual books… my life would not be complete. And so of course I love seeing my own name, my own stories on paper. It’s a thrill that never loses its potency.

Q. What are you working on at the minute?

KR: Edits! Oh joy. I started what might maybe be a new novel a few weeks back but, as I mentioned, I’ve got two books coming out this year that are demanding my attention. I’ll get back to the real work soon, very soon, because this one keeps on nagging me and I think that means she’s serious about being written. But for the moment, it’s all about the red pens.

Q. Who is your favourite woman writer?

KR: I’m a huge fan of Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates. I simply cannot choose between the two. I loved Lionel Shriver’s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, but that’s the only book of hers I’ve read. I’ve been obsessed with Sylvia Plath since I was about twelve. What do these women have in common? They talk real, they talk deep, they talk disturbing. They’re not afraid of their own intelligence, and their works are super powerful. Any artist—never mind woman—who can create like that has my full attention. Not to mention my admiration.

 

Q. What book/s are you reading at present and what is in your TBR pile?

KR: I’m currently reading Sidney Sheldon’s THE NAKED FACE. I’ve never read any of Sheldon’s work before, so I’m taking my time with it to see what all the fuss is about. I’m also due to reread LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN by Hubert Selby, Jr. The one that sparked a court case over its obscenity, and almost got itself banned. Or did? I think it actually did, somewhere. Yes, that one. I first read it when I was about eighteen and its unflinching rawness beyond impressed me. I’ve thought about it often over the years. So, it’s time for a revisit I think. I also have a pile of dark lit books on their way to me from the States… South African bookstores don’t understand that the Horror section should not necessarily be the exclusive domain of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. So I’m really, really looking forward to getting my hands on them. When they finally do arrive, I’ll probably give up sleeping altogether just to make time for them!

Q. What challenges have you encountered that are unique to being a woman in the horror genre, or can you describe some of the challenges you faced that are complicated by your gender?

KR: There’s a reaction I sometimes get from men. A kind of You?? No way! reflexive double-take when I mention I write horror, collect disturbing films, or even just say anything that doesn’t fit the corset confines of what they assume I must be into / like / do as a woman—or as I appear to them, as a woman. You have to work harder to get people to accept that, yes, you really do like this. Yes, you really do do this. That you’re not just posing to get in with the boys or look cute or what have you. The irony is that women have created this problem themselves, by posing/feigning their interests to get attention. It’s created something of a vicious circle I think. When I was younger I’d get a bit worked up about that—being talked down to, being misunderstood (or even disbelieved) on the basis of my gender. Now I just shake it off and get on with it. Over the years I’ve developed something of a I’ll show ’em attitude, as opposed to tears or helpless outrage. Never a bad thing, right?

Q. Why is Women in Horror month important/important to you? 

KR” Because of the above-mentioned—guys just don’t expect to see women in the darker edges. We’re supposed to be planning weddings, mooning about having babies, scrapbooking… something. We’re not supposed to cheer when someone gets taken out in brutal fashion in a Slasher film. We’re not supposed to be first in line at horror conventions. WiHM is in place to shift that over a little, wake people up to the fact that maybe the girl in the flowery dress has a shelf full of Stephen King novels at home. Maybe the babe with the big blue eyes has a penchant for cannibal films. But I do also have to say here that the men I’ve come to know in horror lit circles have been incredibly open and supportive. No, that’s not right. They’ve been normal. Totally normal. Not a blink at the fact that I’m a female with a desperate fascination for the hardcore macabre. Thanks, guys! So the tide is already shifting, which is more than encouraging. Let’s keep at it though, because we do still have a ways to go.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write it, don’t be afraid of it, just do it. Do not stress about what other people will think of it. Write to express yourself. Do it for you.