Thursday, December 6, 2012
First a news update for those of you wondering what the status of this year's Bloody Parchment short story competition is. November was my reading period during which I graded the entries and made up the selection that went through to the judges.
What were my criteria? First off, I had to ask myself whether the story could fit the bill for horror or squeak through on the tailcoats of dark/urban fantasy. And you'd be surprised at how many authors clearly ignored the fact that horror/dark fiction was the theme. (No. Really.) Then I looked at originality. Torture porn, stories that were derivatives of movies/TV series that are currently popular, or stories that had absolutely no point, these didn't pass muster. Perhaps the most telling reason for rejection was stories that technically still needed a lot of work (as in, if you use ampersands instead of the humble "and" and structurally need a lot of work mastering the mechanics of writing).
That being said, I think the judges are going to have a tough time this year. I'm overwhelmed by the high quality of writing. The judges will be sending in their scores by the first week of January, by which time I'll be sending out the rejection letters... And will be mailing the lucky 13 who'll make it through to the anthology.
And now, without further ado, I'd like to welcome the author of the current anthology's title story, Brett Bruton.
So, Brett, tell us a little about yourself.
Born and raised in the Eastern Cape. Studied fine art, English and modern fiction at Rhodes University. Played in one rock band, then another. Occasionally, I blog. Am currently living in Cape Town, South Africa, and working in advertising. It was the only industry that offered me free beer.
Tell us a little about the background of your story.
I have a love/hate relationship with sci-fi. Much like pulp fantasy, too many authors use sci-fi as an excuse to get away with wildly improbable scenarios. Character stuck on a roof surrounded by ray-gun toting goons? Suddenly his boots have jet-boosters and his belt doubles as a gyroscopic stabiliser, because fuck logic, this is science fiction.
Good sci-fi, however, makes logic work for it. It carefully and subtly layers the sciences involved until you’re forced to look at it and go, “Yeah, that’s plausible.” It takes small bits of things you know and carefully reorganises them to create something that is both familiar and yet entirely alien.
That’s what I tried to do with Hidden Things, Lost Things. Rather than write a scary story built on everything the reader didn’t know (‘horror of the unknown’ and all that), I wanted to create something so familiar that, when he or she sits down to watch television, or curls up next to a loved one, they can’t help but wonder. I didn’t want to tell readers that monsters exist; I wanted to suggest how they could.
Are there any interesting anecdotes relating to its creation?
What do you like about horror as a genre?
The characters. The horror genre is built on good characters, people in the story that you can empathise with. The simplest story can be made terrifying with the right players, and if you can convince your reader that your character is scared, you’re far more likely to scare your reader.
What scares you?
Taxes. Death I’m kinda okay with.
Where can people find you online?
You can read my humour blog, These Creases, although it’s in desperate need of an update.
You can also follow my private ranting on Twitter at @BrettRexB.
You’ll have to decide which is scarier.
Purchase Bloody Parchment electronically at Amazon, Kalahari.net, and Kobo or in print at the Book Lounge.