PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Episode 12 is here and it's our biggest one yet! Hosts Veronica and Darren are inspired to delve into all things dark and haunting thanks to a fabulous interview with author Matthew R. Davis, with topics including horror sub genres, why we like to scare ourselves, and the perceived creepiness of outback towns. Oh, and there's also an audio book trailer and a mesmerising reading from author Laurie Bell!
Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?
I suspect that most writers write for themselves, as I do. We create the things we would like to see, so our target audience is ourselves. And that’s the best way to write – don’t worry about what anyone else wants, please yourself first and foremost. If other people like it too, that’s a bonus!
Is there anything specifically Australian about your book/books?
Almost all my work is set in Australia, explicitly or otherwise, and though I don’t tend to lay on the Australianisms too thick in my short fiction, it has a certain character you won’t find anyplace else. That said, my first novel, Midnight in the Chapel of Love, is distinctly Australian – so much so that I never expected an overseas publisher to pick it up… and yet, that’s exactly what happened! Perhaps there’s a certain unplundered exoticism to our country town life that international audiences will find refreshing but also relatable.
Is there a message in your book/books/writing? / What’s the main message you’d like readers to take away after reading your book/books?
I have very strong opinions on pretty much everything, but I try not to be too didactic in my work. That said, the reader should get a pretty clear idea of me and what I hold dear from reading my fiction – it’s obvious that I prize compassion, intelligence, curiosity, and integrity, that I disdain bigotry, cruelty, mundanity, and selfishness. I’m basically a bookish nerd who grew into an arty punk, so like a lot of authors, I tend to side with the underdogs. I love clever, caring, creative, interesting people, and they’re threaded all throughout my work. I suppose my message would be something like this: life is short and often brutal, the universe an awesome but uncaring place, so let’s take this miraculous existence and spin ourselves some magic while we can. Man, that sounds a bit sappy for a horror writer… but we authors all celebrate life and its endless possibilities, don’t we? It’s just that some of my possibilities turn out to be rather terrifying.
What genre/s do you write in?
I write horror for the most part, with a literary depth and feel. Sometimes I cross over into a style that might be called emotional paranormal, where the darkness is rolled back and the emphasis is on grief, loss, love, and resolution; sometimes I write a kind of dark fantasy; sometimes I delve into light SF or gonzo blood-soaked carnage. And I love to mix them all up and see what comes out! There’s an element of humour that creeps in, too, and that can be broad or bitter, good-natured or very dark indeed.
What was the last book you read?
A Dream of Lightning Bugsby Ben Folds – it’s a great memoir of music and life that hints he could easily turn his hand to fiction. I also recently reread some Stephen King – Joyland, Blaze, Firestarter, and Bag of Bones– and I’ve almost finished the Monstress graphic novels by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.
Where do you write?
For a number of years in a few different homes, I wrote on my laptop whilst sitting on a red couch. When I moved into my current house, I got a desk so I could have a proper place to create. From there, I slowly moved over onto the lounge room sofa and then out into the media space I call the Red Room, where that old crimson couch awaited me, before returning to the desk again. No one-trick pony, I’ve also written on other people’s couches – and in hotel rooms on tour, in work offices on my lunchbreak, at tables in public parks or down by the beach, in my car…
What inspired your book cover/s?
Coming up with the internal images for my collection If Only Tonight We Could Sleep was fairly easy – between myself and Meg Wright, who photographed them, we had no shortage of inspiration. But thinking up the cover was a painful process, and for a long time I didn’t know what I wanted, only what I didn’t: no skulls, blood, or other standard horror images. One day the right idea hit me in a flash and everyone dug it, so we went with that. I think it’s evocative of the old horror paperbacks of the 1980s and 1990s without being cheesy, and the wraparound gives it depth. For Midnight in the Chapel of Love, my role was reduced to offering suggestions – colour schemes, scenes and locations from the book that could be used, that sort of thing – and Don Noble nailed the book’s feel on the first go. The cover is gorgeous and mysterious, and combined with that title, I think it’s bound to entice all kinds of readers.