no, I wasn’t dreaming…
Chuffed to receive this handsome fellow in the post this morning (the likeness is quite striking!).
Nothing like a plaque to make it official. Thank you judges and AHWA! And, as if today wasn’t good enough already, this author interview went up on the release page of In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep.
1. Tell us about the inspiration behind your story.
When I first moved to Australia, ten years ago now, my wife and I went camping at Binna Burra in the Gold Coast hinterland. I embodied what the first settlers would have called a “new chum”, not at all adjusted to the Australian climate and landscape. The rainforest at Binna Burra completely overwhelmed me: all of that life! It was like a vast psychedelic tapestry, everything moving, everything interwoven. And in my (very paranoid) imagination, all of it was out to get me, to bite and sting, to suck my blood. I did find a leech on me while we were there and reacted in much the same manner as the narrator of Our Last Meal. (Sorry leech!)
2. Where in Australia do you like to spend sunny days and dark nights?
A sunny day? In the dappled shade beneath some gnarled old fig tree, leaning against an elephantine root with a book and a cup of tea. Night? Somewhere quiet, watching the moon rise through black trees. Somewhere with bats.
3. Who are your favourite Aussie horror writers?
I love Kaaren Warren’s creepy, dreamlike stories. They take a certain level of unreality completely for granted, stitching the weirdness in amongst the everyday. I come away from them haunted and disoriented, no longer convinced by the reality outside the pages. I’ve also been enjoying (if that is the right word) Robert Hood’s latest collection of ghost stories.
4. How is Australian horror different?
In order to stay relevant, horror, like all genres, needs constantly to be refreshed and reinvigorated by new voices, new images, new perspectives. So many of the tropes we take for granted these days are tropes of setting, sometimes British, more often American. If you think of a haunted house, the image that pops into your head will most likely be a Hill House or an Addam’s Family home: an American gothic cliché. But horror is at its best when defined, not by its tropes, but by its sole, abiding preoccupation: to scare the reader witless! Australia shares enough cultural overlap with other English-speaking nations to seem comfortingly familiar, yet beneath the similarities lies an ancient, alien and utterly unique landscape, a foundation steeped in suffering and brutality, and an historic culture that spans not centuries but millennia. Between these extremes lies a magical space, bursting with rich and unusal sounds, images and sensations: the wellspring of Australian horror. And there are so many talented writers working in that space, and so many singular visions! Any reader coming across a story like Joanne Anderton’s Shadow of Drought for the first time will find something uniquely Australian, that could not be transposed onto any other culture without losing its vital essence.