Weclome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week, I've put my questions to Australian horror writer, Raymond Gates ...
Tell me a bit about yourself …
I’m an Aboriginal Australian writer based on the Gold Coast, in Queensland, whose childhood crush on everything dark and disturbing has led me to a love affair with writing horror and dark fiction. Since 2010 I have had a number of short fiction pieces published, and am hoping to drag my first novel kicking and screaming into the light of day in the not-too-distant future.
Tell us about your most recently published book?
I have yet to have my own book published, however my last published short story was All I Want for Christmas in Grinning Skull Press’ Christmas-themed anthology O’ Little Town of Deathlehem. It tells a tale many writers can probably relate to: a writer struggling to overcome writer’s block to meet his publisher’s deadline gets his Christmas wish... at a price. All I Want for Christmas is one of three short stories of mine on the reading list for the 2013 Australian Shadows Awards.
The anthology was done for charity and proceeds from its sales will go to the , a non-profit charity in the United States of America dedicated to preventing paediatric HIV infection and eliminating paediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention, care, and treatment programs.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
I still find it a great irony that as someone touting themselves as a horror writer, my first ever fiction publication was a short story in an erotica anthology. Pill Hill Press published my flash fiction piece, Eros of the Blade, which I had originally submitted to a horror flash fiction anthology they were putting together at the time. The editor of that anthology came back to me and said it didn’t fit in with the other stories they had already selected, however I should forward it to one of their other editors who was compiling flash fiction for an erotica anthology, Daily Flashes of Erotica #1. I never expected it to get accepted – I thought it would be far too violent – but figured I had nothing to lose, so I submitted it. Twenty-four hours later I had my first contract.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
Anytime someone says they’ve read my work and they liked it is a proud moment for me. I’ve always felt the main purpose in choosing to write and put your work out there is to be read. So if people are reading my work and enjoying it, I’m pretty proud of that. The more readers I have, the prouder I am.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I have several short stories in the works and plans for my first novel. In fact I have several ideas for novels, however one has recently come to the forefront and I’m hoping this will be the one that helps me break into novel-length fiction.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
I’m a traditionalist: it’s paper for me. I do think eBooks create an exciting opportunity for both readers and writers, particularly those writers who self-publish. However, for me, eBooks will never recreate the feel of a book in your hand, the excitement of turning the next page, or fond memories associated with seeing well-worn covers and spines on the shelf. Plus, books are easier to sign – people get upset when you scribble on their Kindle or Kobo.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
Both have their merits, both are here to stay, and there is some excellent – and to be honest, some less-than-excellent – work coming from both sides. As far as my own work’s concerned, right now I’m more interested in traditional publishing. I have learned a lot by pursuing the traditional path, not just in terms of writing itself, but the writing industry, and had I not gone in this direction I don’t believe I would be as far along in my own writing journey as I am. In my mind, I still have a lot to learn, and a lot to achieve, before I consider striking out on my own.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
How do I pick just one? It would be very easy to rattle off a list of books from the big names in horror, especially “the King”. I’m going to go with a book from Clive Barker called Imajica. I grew up reading a lot of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, so I was pretty comfortable and familiar in the spec-fic world. When I read Imajica, it took the whole idea of creating another world – another universe – to a whole new level. I feel Barker really showed the scope and breadth of his imagination in this book. He created a place where the reader could become truly immersed, and he did that by creating an idea so big you couldn’t help but become lost in it. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy it, but it inspired me to find ways to fuel my own imagination. To feed it and nurture it and let it grow. As adults, many of us lose touch with our imagination. Imajica is a great way of reconnecting with it.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
Firstly, thank you very much for your interest in my stories, and in me as a writer. I hope you’ll continue to follow me on my journey as I share my stories with you.
I also want to encourage you to keep supporting Australian writers, particularly spec-fic writers. Australians have a unique way of looking at the world, and consequently our stories are unlike any others you’ll find anywhere else. We have a wealth of talent here that needs your support. Look beyond your big publishing houses. Go to your small press publishers, your indie bookstores, your libraries, and seek out Australian writing. It’s waiting for you to discover it.
For a full list of my short fiction and where to find it, head to my website: http://raymondgates.com/my-dreams/short-stories. And keep an eye out for a ‘freebie’ story from me, Last Supper, available on all electronic formats.