Your short story Glittering Were the Leaves is in the Ho Ho Horror anthology. What can readers look forward to in Glittering Were the Leaves?
I think they can look forward to having their preconceptions challenged, that the world as we see it isn’t the only one that’s out there. As well I think that the mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary is something that will drag them into the world of the narrator as well as J.L. I think I’ll have done my job if one reader checks the leaves on the trees or sees something flicker at the edge of their vision and wonder if it’s happening to them.
Glittering Were the Leaves and the other stories in Ho Ho Horror are Christmas horror stories. Have you read many Christmas horror stories before, or do you think writing Glittering Were the Leaves will entice you to read more Christmas horror stories in the future?
I can’t remember reading too many Christmas horror stories before but there must be some hanging in the memory banks somewhere. I do think I’ll read more but probably sparingly. I’d probably avoid some that run the the risk of becoming cliched. I’ll definitely write more. There is a rich trove of Christmas legends, carols and tales that seem to be crying out for a twist and a spooky take on them. I mean, what could have happened if Good King Wenceslas looked out and saw something he shouldn’t? I’d like to examine that a bit more.
Of the other Ho Ho Horror stories, what is one of your personal favourites and what made it work for you as a reader?
I thought Glittering Were the Leaves was…oh shit, sorry, that’s, mine isn’t it? Umm where was I? Oh yes, to my mind Christmas Secrets and Rainmaker stood out. They both had a good narrative drive and drew you along into the story and you felt the characters were real and reacted like I would, or as I think I would.
What kinds of fiction do you most enjoy reading, and what are some of your favourite recent reads?
Surrisingly I’m not a big horror reader but I prefer tales that depict ordinary people in life-changing experiences. Some can be like Tim Winton, others by Paulo Coelho. It depends a lot on my state of mind. I’ve just started reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series after hearing about them for so long. I guess stories like that are my inspiration despite the twist I like to put in mine.
Who is one of your favourite fictional characters from a story you have read recently, and what makes that character work so well for you as a reader?
In Tales of the City there is a character called Michael. He’s my favourite character because he can be related to on many levels. He’s serious, funny, looks for love in all the wrong places which is something I think we’ve all done from time to time. And despite that he keeps on going, knowing the something better is just around the corner and if not that one then the next. I guess he’s irrpressible and I like that trait.
If you could bring one storyteller back from the dead for a day for the sole purpose of talking to them about writing fiction, who would it be and why?
Charles Dickens without a doubt. In these days of getting degrees in writing he was a man who shows us all how it can be done without getting one. I’d love to know why he focussed so strongly on social and ethical issues yet still wrote such wonderful characters and plotlines that we can only marvel at today.
You used to live in Australia and studied a Grad Dip in Creative Writing in Australia before moving to the Ohio in the United States. Have you personally noticed major differences between writing in Australia versus writing in the United States, or do you think the internet just opens up opportunities and the ability to connect with people wherever you are?
With the internet you can connect with other writers and agents and publishing companies I don’t think it matters in that respect. But being in another country opens you up to the differences between the two as well as the similarities. The writing process itself doesn’t change for me but the themes and people do and the stories I write will probably reflect that. Time will tell I guess.
What is next for your fiction writing?
At this stage I really have no idea other than keep on observing people in action and then thinking ‘what if’. I suppose that although most writers would like to write a novel I like the concept of the short story and making something happen in a limited number of words. It’s a different form of writing and for me I’d like to master it and in time get a collection published. Any publishers out there?
The Australian Literature Review