Why Did I Write a Werewolf Novel?

I have been asked this. More than once. Sometimes by people who don’t know why I “waste” time writing speculative fiction anyway. Sometimes by people who think the genre isn’t popular). Sometimes by people who are genuinely curious.

There are two answers to this question.

The first answer is: I wanted to and an idea came to me and I acted on it.

In fact, through there are of course many changes from the initial draft of Black Marks to the final production, the guts of the story remained the same: a man with a problem whose desire to be good makes life worse for him and for someone he cares about.

There were also the details such as the silver allergy, and the curse hitting the sufferer on three nights a month rather than one (so we could have more werewolf action and more complexity than just that one night). When you have something as clear as I had it then, you have to write it. Or at least, try.

The second answer is: I could not find a werewolf novel I enjoyed.

As a youngster, I enjoyed several werewolf movies, comics and also a TV show. But everything I read as a “mature” adult left me either pissed off or bored. Where was the thrill? Where was the polished prose? Where were the interesting characters and the subtle menace and the human being wrestling against his demon?

I started and stopped so many MANY books after the first sixty or sixteen or six pages (and sometimes after the first page).

Because I could not find what I loved, I wrote it instead. And while it’ll never win me a Booker or Pulitzer, Black Marks became and is that thing that I love. I’m proud of it and I’m glad it’s brought pleasure to so many others.

Since writing it, I’ve fortunately discovered several shifter/werewolf novels I truly enjoyed cover to cover. You can find my list of completed reads here. There’s not many books on it. And each one is VERY different from the ones around it.

In conclusion, I am always ALWAYS fascinated by the wrestle between our inner selves and outer selves and I think it’s this that I look for in a wolf novel. How about you? What do you look for?

Terrain and Towns: Doomsday’s Child’s Tasmania

Let’s face it. I have taken a lot of liberties with the topography and geography of Tasmania in the Doomday’s Child series.

The terrain around the east coast and for some way inland is largely mountainous. Not mountainous like the Swiss Alps or the Rockies, but it’s mountainous nonetheless. Rugged. The country that Lewis and Elliot hike through is based on forest and farmland more in the midlands of the state.

Apart from Hobart, Launceston, Jericho and the Esk Highway (these last two are mentioned in Book 2), the other locations are fictional. The Downs for example–the former sheep farm and orchard that Elliot and Lewis end up at–for the sake of writing the story, I located it on the coast (on the Tasman Highway) and in the triangle between the Elephant Pass Road and the Esk Main Road. But very very little of the types of properties and roads I mention in the story to be in that area (including the one they drive in on with the Cambodian families) are accurate. A quick glance at a map will tell you that (about the roads), and the properties along that strip are often vineyards, farms to be sure (but far hillier than The Downs) and there is the magnificent Iron House brewery/distillery if you’re ever in that area.

There is definitely no honking great Barnabas Island off the coast (that’s sort of based on Bruny Island a long long way south of there). Birns River Bridge (Jock’s home town) is typical of towns you will find up in those mountains near Fingal or St Mary’s.

I’m a believer in accuracy and research in as much as it serves story; where it doesn’t, I believe in making things the hell up. We all want interesting stories, after all, and stories that work.

But I did base these locations loosely on typical places and real terrain in Tasmania (like Bruny). The following images are taken with my dodgy iPad during the 2017 touring vacation my wife and I took, driving from Hobart up along the East Coast and across the hills/mountains to Launceston and Devonport.

Tasmania is a beautiful state. These few images won’t do it justice. But they may bring some of the story to life for you. And I offer them in that spirit.

The kind of terrain through which Elliot, Lewis and Birdy flee from the undead horde in the middle of Book 1

The kind of terrain inland around The Downs. This is what they would scout through in Book 2 to scavenge for resources or hunt wallabies. Much thicker. More places for decomposing zombies to hide and ambush…

Two views of a farming property like The Downs, seen from the road and through the wire…

Typical views of the beach and true coast that the residents of The Downs might see across the “highway”:

 

The Downs homestead from the front. Imagine breaching this when you don’t know who’s inside, nor what they’re armed with:

And lastly, while it might not be very interesting, this is the small creek I envisage splitting The Downs from roughly west to east, which will feature in a couple of scenes for Book 2 (the book I’m currently writing at the time of this blogpost).

 

I love Tasmania. If I were to ride out an apocalypse, I can’t think of a location more suitable for it.

On the other hand, if there’s never an apocalypse to survive, then “Tassie” is also a great place to cruise around on vacation! Especially without zombies, outlaw bikers and other desperate survivors all trying to kill you.

I hope this has been interesting. If you’ve visited the Apple Isle, please comment with your experiences and favourite places; I’d love to hear of it.

 

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Related blogposts:

Emerian Rich: 5 Questions, 1 Statement

 

Pete: Who the heck are you and why are you on my blog?

Emerian: I am Emerian Rich, horror writer, artist, and Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net. I came to tell you and your readers about my new vampire book, Dusk’s Warriors.

Pete: Vampires have been done to death. What makes your book special?

Emerian: Dusk’s Warriors has the traditional kind of vampires who thirst for blood and then three other kinds. These other three vampires have different “elixirs” that grant them immortality. One is a dream vampire that feeds off the dream energy of mortals. I really enjoyed playing with the idea of an immortal elixir and how different emotions or mortal motivations could be fed upon.

Pete: They say writers are their characters. Is there any character that you identify especially?

Emerian: I guess they are all a little bit me, but two characters in particular reflect my personality at the time I first created this series. Kristine, the meek, mild, broken character was who I felt like I back then. And then there’s my hero Jespa, who I wanted to be. She’s tough, strong, and takes care of business. As I get older, I feel like I let my inner Jespa show more.

Pete: Do you have any Australian vampires?

Emerian: Funny you should ask. I have a fan who wrote me from Australia and wants me to write one. She has offered to be the voice on the audiobook. Currently, I have no Australian vampires. Mostly because the characters I have written from other cultures are based on or influenced by people I know and have spent a lot of time around. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing any Australians for a long length of time. But now we are friends that could change.

Pete: Slow it down. We aren’t friends yet, are we? What constitutes a friendship?

Emerian: Someone who doesn’t slam the door when I ask to guest blog?

Pete: You don’t have very high expectations, I guess we are friends then.

Emerian: I knew I’d win you over. 🙂

Pete: What is your response to this statement: You should be a writer who does it for the art, not the paycheck.

Emerian: True. You really do have to love it and not expect much. If you can make a living at it, that is awesome, but you can’t go into it thinking you will. After all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

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Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Available now at Amazon.com in print and eBook

https://www.amazon.com/Dusks-Warriors-Nights-Knights-Vampire/dp/1544628803

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shuarette, Lilith’s Love

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

 

Praise for Night’s Knights

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

 

Emerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, HorrorAddicts.net. Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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Author MJ Bell: 5 Questions, 1 Statement

 

At time of writing, I am many chapters into MJ’s Bell’s Before the Full Moon Rises and loving it. I have literally dozens of books on my To Read shelves, so when I bought this at Denver Comic Con recently I thought I was crazy to add yet another novel to the shelf. But I’m sure glad I did. Excellent YA fantasy that I’m enjoying as a middle-aged male reader. I recently pitched MJ some questions and a statement to respond to. And here’s her responses…

PETE: What is it that motivates you to write?

MJ: I don’t really have to be motivated to write. For me, writing is more like breathing and eating—I crave it every second I’m not doing it. And when something takes me away from it, you know, like life, family, household chores, the story whispers in my head until I can get back to it. I’m just one of those people who loves to write.

PETE: Your Secret Prince series is YA. What do young people look for and need from a novel?

MJ: Ha! If only I knew that, I would be as rich as J.K. Rowling!! But teens today have so many more pressures on them than what I had when I was that age. Peer pressure and social media outlets are brutal, and I think that’s why so many young people tend to gravitate to fantasy/scifi novels. They need a place they can escape to and get emerged in, away from the realities of their lives. And they want some part of the book to be something they can relate to their own life, whether it be the character’s personality traits, the character’s struggles, the relationships, or the situations.

PETE: What made you choose a French heritage or connection for Deston you main character?

MJ:  I fell in love with France the first time I visited, so there’s that. But also, the Forest of Brocéliande (significant to the story) is in France, so it made sense for Deston’s mother to be French. Why I chose the Forest of Brocéliande is because I’m a huge fan of the King Arthur legend, and it is said that Merlyn the Magician went to Brocéliande after he left Arthur. That’s where Merlyn met Nimue, and it’s also where Nimue trapped him in a cave of ice. He is supposedly still there today, waiting to be released. And since Merlyn has a BIG role in the Secret Prince chronicles, it again made sense.

PETE: What’s your advice for young people wanting to become a published author like you?

MJ: The same advice I give all new authors. Don’t judge your success by the success of others. Everyone has different goals, and just because someone else might put out 12 books a year, does not mean you are a failure if you only put out 1. It’s easy to get bogged down and deflated if you try to follow someone else’s path that isn’t right for you. Just do what you can, the best that you can, and be happy with it, for writing even 1 novel is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud.

PETE: What’s the next or new direction for your writing?

MJ: I’m currently working on a science fantasy – time travel. It will be a single book, because my life is too full right now to keep up with a new series. I loved doing the Secret Prince trilogy, but it was a lot of pressure to get the next book out in a timely fashion for the readers. And I’m a slow writer to begin with, so that added even more pressure (it was only my own personal pressure, but it was still too much!).

 

STATEMENT TO RESPOND TO:  A lot of the advice to indie authors says that we can’t be successful unless we write and release 3-4 books per year.

MJ: If this weren’t a family blog, I would throw out some choice words for that statement! Haha. Success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. In my eyes, if you’ve written and published a full-length book, you’re successful, because it is not easy to do! But of course, I know what they’re talking about is financial success. Even with that, I don’t know that I agree. There are many highly successful indie authors who take a year or more to write a book. Look at Darcie Chan for example. Her very 1st book sold over 400,000 copies and was on the WSJ Best Seller’s list for 28 wks. Her next book didn’t come out until 3 years later. E.L. James’ books are also about a year apart. So these two examples alone blow that statement out of the water.  Sure, it’s great if you can pump out a lot of books in a short time. And of course, the more books you have available, the more opportunities you have to sell. But each sale we get and every book we put in the hands of a reader is a success, and we should rejoice in those moments instead of despair that we can’t live up to another broad statement.

PETE: thanks for your time!

***

As a mom of 3 boys, MJ Bell wrote the Chronicles of the Secret Prince trilogy to appeal to boys as much as girls. Readers will recognize several Arthurian characters/places in this trilogy: Mordred, the Lady of the Lake, Avalon, and Excalibur’s twin brother sword, which is given to Deston…and of course there’s Merlyn…

She holds a Mom’s Choice Award (Gold Award Winner for Fantasy). More about her here.

Before the Full Moon Rises (and the rest of the trilogy) is available here.

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So What’s Next, Pete?

 

A few readers have been asking me variations on the question “So what’s next?”

So here’s my answers to those variations:

  • Both novels have been attracting terrific reviews and there have been questions about sequels for both. At the moment, there’ll be no sequel for Black Marks (sorry!), but there’ll be plenty for Doomsday’s Child (can I hear an amen?).
  • With Black Marks (BM), I’ve tinkered with ideas for a sequel for a couple of years now (that novel’s been essentially finished for that long), but I’m yet to come up with something that won’t dilute or cheapen the impact and themes of the initial story.
  • With Doomsday’s Child (DC), I am already well down the road to completing the first of two (and possibly three) followups. Book 2’s first draft is nearly complete. I’m also writing a short story for release between Books 2 and 3 (it’ll sit before the original story and so be kind of a 0.5 in terms of chronology). The short story’s first draft is halfway complete.
  • Like many authors, I have other projects at various stages of completion. One thing I’m considering is releasing some medieval fantasy under a pseudonym. Reasons being that a) it’ll be a different genre from my other novels, b) it will potentially be a little more upbeat, fun, PG-rated. I’m interested in the thoughts of anyone who can be bothered commenting here: would it bother you to buy a book with Pete Aldin’s name on it which wasn’t dark, gritty, violent and full of bad language? Is that what you’ve come to expect? Or would you like something I’ve written which is completely different from the noir thriller style? (BTW, you can purchase a book of short fiction of mine — on all platforms including iTunes and Kobo — which would give you a sample of my range. The Kindle copy can be found here: Nine Tales. 99cents).
  • There’s a collaboration with another author in the winds (maybe two collaborations), but we won’t get to them until next year. I’m also chipping away at a scifi crime thriller which may be done next year some time, but I’m hoping to shop that around some major publishers. Initial feedback from critiquers on the first draft is very positive.
  • However. In terms of you the Reader, what’s next will be more Elliot. More DC. More post-apocalyptic shenanigans exploring life in an emerging dark age. I’m enjoying writing it and that has to translate into fun for the reader.

Hey. Thanks for asking! 🙂

Top Ten Aussie Spec Fic Books of My Past Decade

 

Before about 2005, I never read Australian fiction. I also rarely watched an Australian TV show or movie mainly because they were no good, and they still aren’t mostly.

But I had no excuse for avoiding local writers — this was simply ignorance on my part. Australia can be proud of its speculative fiction authors (and publications, such as Aurealis). I am hooked on local produce now; my palate has become edu-ma-cated.

So it was difficult to set myself the task of rating my top ten reads since I became thus edumacated. But I found it fun, and it reminded me again of just how much Aussie-produced wealth is out there in our libraries and bookshops.

In no particular order:

  1. The Business of Death – Trent Jamieson. Well this one is in a particular order, since this short trilogy is one of my favourite reads ever.
  2. The Extraordinaires – Michael Pryor. YA. Lively, funny, immersive and professionally polished.
  3. Worldshaker – Richard Harland. Also YA. Intelligently constructed world building and a gripping (and at times funny) plot.
  4. Epilogue – FableCroft Publishing. With variations on a theme by writers such as Steve Cameron, David McDonald, Tehani Wessely, Thoraiya Dyer, Jason Nahrung, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Elizabeth Tan, Jo Anderton, Lyn Battersby. The theme is an always-interesting one (what happens after the end of the world?) and these takes on it are creative, diverse and brilliantly crafted.
  5. The Ghost of Ping-Ling. Peter Cooper’s fantasy adventure has been slated as a children’s book, and sure this is a book my kids would have loved me reading to them when they were younger… But I’m an adult and I LOVED it. Fun, funny and tense enough to make you finish a chapter no matter how much you wanted to go to bed, Blue Jade Book 1 is a fresh take on the crowded genre of medieval fantasy. Peter Cooper draws on Eastern mythology to create the magic and spiritual foundation for his world. And the trio of child characters who take on the frightening people and creatures of their world are clearly differentiated from each other. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.
  6. Ghosts Can Bleed – Tracie McBride. Well okay, Tracie is a Kiwi. But she lives in Australia. And that was good enough for us to claim Split Enz as an Aussie band. Her collection of short stories is 5 stars all the way. Razor sharp storytelling. Seriously: download the sample on your Kindle and you’ll see.
  7. Salvage – Jason Nahrung. Brooding, compelling, pacy. The perfect vampire novel (novella?).
  8. The Vengeance Trilogy – Devin Madson. Probably the best epic fantasy trilogy I’ve read and I’ve read a few. A revolving multiple viewpoint plot where all the POV characters speak in first person. Facinating magic. And political intrigue that works particularly well because the politics are above all on the level of personal gripe and offence and redemption.
  9. Slights – Kaaron Warren. True horror. A main character I did not like for the entire book and who still compelled me to read the next paragraph. Superb.
  10. Confessions of a Pod Person – Chuck McKenzie. Tight, clever and often very funny short stories. Definitely worth a look.

Black Marks Winners

 

Congratulations to the five Goodreads Giveaway winners. Your copy of Black Marks will be in the mail shortly.

I hope you enjoy. Thanks to everyone who entered and good luck with some other giveaways out there…

Chuck Regan: Five Questions

 

It has been my pleasure to work with Chuck Regan – Artist on the cover art for Black Marks. If you like that cover, thank Chuck! In the process or working with him, I also discovered he is Chuck Regan – Author. At the time of writing, I am 80% through his book Chimera Shakes and have read the first two chapters of Leviathan. I own both books. Great novels. Great writing. Let’s ask Chuck some questions, shall we?

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PETE: Why book covers? What drew you into this line of work?

CHUCK: I have 20 years experience designing for advertising agencies, and after a string of layoffs (advertising is very volatile industry), I wanted to try something new where I had more direct influence over the end result of my efforts. Prior to advertising, I had spent an embarrassing amount of time and energy trying to break into the comic book industry as a writer/artist. By 2008, and the economic downturn, I was focusing more on writing stories without pictures, so designing book covers for that stuff I was writing seemed like a natural extension.

Some guys I met through Shotgun Honey teamed up and we started self-publishing anthologies of stories—zombies, sci-fi, noir, westerns—and all those books needed covers, so that’s where I started with Zelmer Pulp.

PETE: What things should an author do to make it easier for an artist to collaborate with them?

CHUCK: One issue I sometimes get are clients who already have a cast-in-iron idea of what they want on their cover—multiple characters and complex scenes. I tell them you gotta think like a billboard—catch the eye in a half-second. Less is more.bookcover-rip1

And a little about pricing here. I’m an indie publisher myself, and my budgets are nonexistent (I’m just lucky I already have an in-house illustrator on call), so I understand the sticker shock when I quote a price. I’ve had to turn down quite a few projects that would have been a lot of fun to work on, but when I quoted $500 for a highly detailed scene which would have required a lot of back-and-forth with the client, designing the character, costume, and background, one client countered my offer with ‘I can only pay you a hundred bucks.’ A lot of times, I’ll take a low bid just to illustrate something cool and add to my portfolio, but a project usually takes 12 to 20 hours or more to complete. I can’t think in terms of hourly rates, but a hundred dollars is ridiculous.

So I guess my answer to this question is: clients on a budget should consider giving the artist some room to have fun and explore options. The more excited and involved the artist is with the project, the more energy goes into their expression, and that, ideally, will translate quickly to the audience scanning a real or virtual bookshelf. You want your designer to love doing what they are doing for you, and if you can’t enthuse them with money, let them do what they do best. They’ll love you for it, and it will come out in their design. Ideally, it will work out that way. There are a lot of crappy designers out there. Ask your friends what their opinion is of the designer’s portfolio first.

PETE: Awesome advice. So, you have your own line of novels. I’m most of the way through Chimera Shakes and loving it. What is the inspiration for the novel?

CHUCK: It’s great to hear you like that story! I had two editors at a Bizarro publisher reject it for being ‘too insane’. Too insane for Bizarro?? Cool. I’ll take that as a compliment. A positive reaction from another author is the best compliment I can hope for, though.

Once the guys started dropping out of Zelmer Pulp, I still had stories I wanted to tell—short stories and longer projects, which usually started as ideas kicked around in our Facebook message thread, or through other publishers’ calls for entries—so I started my own imprint, ‘Rayguns and Mayhem’ to put out my own stuff. It’s purely a vanity press, and I wholly embrace that.

bookcover-chimerashakes
Yeah, so inspiration. I had just finished reading ‘Zombie’ by Joyce Carol Oates, which is a First Person POV unreliable narration about a serial killer who is trying to create zombie sex slaves by lobotomizing them. It’s one of those stories that sticks in your head like a tumor. It needed to be purged.

The first scene I wrote for Chimera Shakes was of the assassin in the rafters of the rock concert, which was inspired by a fun rockabilly song by Deadbolt, called ‘Tijuana Hit Squad’. I ran with that song as a short story prompt, adding in some elements from ‘Zombie’, making the hit man schizophrenic and an unreliable narrator. The novella grew out of that.

PETE: What kind of research did you have to use in order to get inside the main character Jasper’s head (so well)?

CHUCK: Um… yeah. Well, I researched the psyche profile of people with schizophrenia and schizotypal personalities to get the details as accurate as I could. I also read a few memoirs of what it was like to live with the disease. It’s always fascinated me, but to be honest, I would probably chart well within the spectrum of the disorder. It helps to be a little crazy to write crazy.

Seriously though, my wife is a student of psychology, and she’s given me some concerned looks over the years, but particularly after I read this story aloud to her. I grew up in a religious cult, so the paranoia induced by trying to discern what is a message from supernatural forces or just a random events derives from that cult experience. All of this I poured into Jasper Hobbes.

PETE: Well, I’m tellin’ ya, it works. And as someone who works with people with mental illness, I also found it empathetic to someone with such a condition. Last question: How do you manage your time to fit it all in, day job, writing, designing?

CHUCK: For the last couple of years, I’ve been working part time from home doing freelance graphic design and illustration, so I set my own schedule. I made it a ritual to spend a couple of hours in the morning writing each day, when it’s still quiet. My prose-related synapses start to stretch thin after 3 or 4 hours, so then I move on to the illustration and design part of my day. My days vacillate between those efforts, depending on what projects are due.

My wife has been very understanding as I pursued this change of career, but it doesn’t compare to the money I was making working as an art director in advertising. I haven’t been able to bring in quite enough money to sustain us, so I’m back to looking for a real day job again. I’ll still make time for writing and covers, because there’s still a lot of crazy that still needs to come out.

PETE: Thanks again, Chuck!

***

Chuck is what they call a “stand-up guy”. I’ve enjoyed working with him on Black Marks and I’m enjoying reading his work. If you’re a writer looking for an artist, talk to Chuck. If you’re looking for fresh spec fiction, look at Chuck’s.

***

More of the same?

 

Cover Reveal: Black Marks

 

With the impending release of Black Marks on March 30 (2017), I’m proud to reveal the novel’s cover (created by Chuck Regan)…

 

2017-BLACKMARKS_design2

Can you guess the subject matter?

 

5 Questions, 1 Statement: Claire Fitzpatrick

   cowp

Claire Fitzpatrick is a writer, an editor, all-round awesome human being. Recently, she launched Oscillate Wildly Press .

We caught up on good ol’ Facebook recently whereupon I asked Claire some questions and invited her to respond to a statement. This is what happened …

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Pete: What led you to creating your own publishing press and what are its goals?

Claire: In early 2015 my novel was accepted by a small North American publishing company. Naturally, I was elated. Over time, I worked with two editors, and the novel went through various stages of evolution. However, a few claire months ago, I found out the publishing company had closed, without any warning, or correspondence to me.

Pete: Ugh! I am truly sorry to hear that!

Claire: I was furious. I didn’t want to let all that hard work go to waste. Time passed, and I started looking for potential publishers for ‘The Body Horror Book,’ another project I am working on, and when I couldn’t find one I thought best matched the project, I realised I could just publish it myself. At this time, I started thinking about my novel again, and instead of giving up, I decided to create my own company, and proceed with publishing my book as well as ‘The Body Horror Book.’ Of course, I could have simply self-published it, but I realised there was potential for a new small publisher in Australia, and that I would have the support from the Australian Horror Writer’s Association.

I am a massive fan of The Smiths (I have a framed poster of Morrissey and Marr in my lounge room with Johnny Marr’s guitar pick he personally handed to me!) and I wanted to incorporate something from my obsession into the publishing press. I chose ‘Oscillate Wildly,’ as it is a pun from Morrissey’s enigmatic hero, and also the song was recorded without lyrics as Morrissey believed the song could stand on its own. This idea of a song standing on its own motivated me, and gave me the courage that I didn’t need my former publisher to release a successful book. I hunted around for a few editors-people I 100% trusted-and with that Oscillate Wildly Press was born!

Its goals are simple! I’m planning to focus on anthologies, and release perhaps one or two novels a year. Nothing big, nothing overwhelming. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself or my little team. 50% of royalties will go to authors who choose to publish with us, as a book is part of someone’s soul they choose to share, so they should reap the benefits. I’d love to focus on horror and science fiction, but we’re open to anything and everything! (My own novel is a combination of historical fiction and horror).

Pete: That sounds likes a fascinating blend, Claire. So, what excites you most about Australian speculative fiction?

Claire: There is such a massive market for Australian speculative fiction! I’ve been writing non-fiction for Aurealis since late 2015, and I love reading ‘The Year Ahead in Australian Speculative Fiction.’ It reminds me of the amazing talent in Australia, and keeps me in check with what people want to read!

There are many amazing writers in Australia, and I love that speculative fiction means more than just science fiction, fantasy, and horror – it’s everything in-between that writer’s might have felt wouldn’t fit anywhere, and it gives people hope their ideas and stories are wanted. One of my short stories ‘Yellow Death’ was deemed speculative fiction by the editor of Heater magazine, and I felt like I had tapped into something I had been working so hard to get to. Made me feel all warm and gooey on the inside.

I think the Australian Shadows Awards is also fantastic for speculative fiction. Yes, I’m biased, as I’m this year’s Award Director, but it really is an excellent chance to showcase all the amazing, talented stories produced by Australian writers. NZ might have Lee Murray, but Australia has Kaaron Warren! So there!

Pete: What are your own writing goals for the next year or so?

Claire: I need to release my debut novel, ‘Only The Dead.’ I can’t move on from it to something else until I release it. I write short stories in between, but I can’t seem to work on another novel! I’ve written two novels in the past that are god-damned awful, and I’d like to revisit them one day. But maybe I’ll burn them. It’s infuriating haha. But ‘Only The Dead’ will be out very soon. At the moment, I’m working with artist Shane K. Ryan on the cover, so when that’s done I’ll be able to start on the promotional side of things! (Shane also illustrated my eBook ‘Of Man And Woman.’ Check out his work, it’s amazing).

claire2I’ll also be releasing ‘The Body Horror Book’ early next year sometime. Marc McBride-illustrator of Emily Rodda’s ‘Deltora Quest’- has come on board to illustrate a few chapters, however he can’t get stuck into the project until January. But that’s not really a setback, since I want everything to be perfect before it’s published. I’m hoping to enter it in next year’s Shadows Awards for Best Non-Fiction. Fingers crossed it’s worthy!

I also have two short stories in ‘Remixing The Classics,’ an anthology printed by the University of Queensland Writer’s Club. That’ll be out soon, which is exciting. My stories are horror versions of Peter Pan and Hansel and Gretel.

As for other things, who knows? I’m working on a story specifically for an anthology at the moment, so I have to get crackilackin’ and get it done! Life gets in the way. I wish it would move off the sidewalk and let me through!

Pete: Beef, chicken or vegan?

Claire: Vegan. Save a cow, eat a human.

Pete: You get dumped on a desert island and you can only take that one book, that awesome book, the one you could read over and over for years to come. What is it?

‘Black Foxes’ by Sonya Hartnett. It’s been my favourite book since I was a teenager. Sometimes I think all my characters have a bit of Tyrone Sully in them. I would cut off one of my fingers if it meant I could interview Sonya Hartnett. Joking! But maybe not.

Pete: Please respond to this statement: horror is not real literature

Your mum’s not real literature!

Seriously, though, horror is amazing. Horror can be philosophical, artistic, political….it can incorporate so many different elements. The world is a scary place, and horror often reminds us there is light within the dark, if only one knows how to turn on the light (and it’s one of those quirky Goosebumps book lights from the ‘90s!).

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These interviews are purposefully short but occasionally I conduct one with someone I could talk with all day. Claire has interesting ideas, projects and experiences! If you want to connect with her, look her up on FB or at www.clairefitzpatrick.net.

And Claire, I speak for all of us when I say, “Get that novel published, dammit! I wanna read it!” 😉

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