Behind the Chapel, Part 3: The First Draft

This week, I’m talking about the genesis of my debut novel Midnight in the Chapel of Love, which is released on Friday, January 29. This is Part 3 of 5 — stay tuned for the whole story!

May 2015. So there I was, all my work lost, freaking out at having to start over. But I started over regardless… and it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.

Because the writing was so fresh in my mind, I found I was able to reproduce the lost work with uncanny accuracy – sometimes on a line-to-line, word-for-word basis. Everything that was good about the writing was still there, and my fresh start improved the bits that weren’t gelling. White, blonde Stephanie Tannenbaum – a tip of the hat to the bassist of Something for Kate, who started this ball rolling in my mind – felt more like a conscious reference than a person, so I rethought the character and she became Sloane Nowak, a Chinese-Australian who acquired manuscripts for a local press. (Her familiarity with fiction and its tropes allowed for some subtle meta-commentary.) I added a few more chapters, including the opening scene in 1964 with teen spree-killers Billy and Poppy on the run, delved deeper into the Polish aspects of the story, and thought up some audacious thriller twists that I promptly discarded for being a bit too loopy.

I know a manuscript is working when minor elements start knitting together beneath the surface, adding layers of unintended connection. I’d already mentioned Diamanda Galás in the first draft, and when my research revealed that she covered “Gloomy Sunday”, the infamous Hungarian “suicide song”, I decided to put that in Jessica Grzelak’s CD player; Diamanda appears on the soundtrack of Natural Born Killers, which is mentioned in passing by Jessica and Sloane; at one point, some of the characters go to see The Blair Witch Project, which had an accompanying album that features Lydia Lunch’s version of “Gloomy Sunday”… I love this sense of things coming together, lending a story a sense of substance and casual verisimilitude.

I put the manuscript on hold in June, frustrated that I still hadn’t solved some of its deeper issues. At this point I’d written most of the past chapters but had held off on the present ones. The next writing I did was in October, in a Collingwood hotel room while I was on the road with Priority Orange, and that comprised the opening paragraphs of the new first chapter. I chipped away for a while before taking another short break, and when I returned, it was again in an unfamiliar writing environment: I bashed out the entirety of the first Jonny chapter, “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea”, in the Pirie Autopro office on my lunchbreak while I was back there to pick up some extra work.

A note here about the chapter titles: they’re all named after songs. I’ve included them along with their associated artists in the back of the book as a playlist, and it’s a fairly diverse one: The Cure (naturally), Joy Division, Metallica, Chelsea Wolfe, Godflesh, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and so on. I also made sure to include some Australian bands such as Something for Kate (obviously), Silverchair, Effigy, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (who kind of count as a couple of members still live here). Each of these acts is mentioned within the manuscript itself, as well as a number of others who didn’t score a chapter-title guernsey. (This may be the only novel in existence to namedrop Frenzal Rhomb, Regurgitator, and Testeagles alongside Eminem, Johnny Cash, and The Baha Men!)

With the remaining plot issues resolved, I determined to get the manuscript finished by the end of the year. At the beginning of December I still had thirteen chapters to go, but I knuckled down and got stuck into it. This included writing on Christmas night, at my parents’ house while the rest of my family watched Terminator Genisys (I still haven’t seen it or any of the franchise’s subsequent films, but I don’t think I’m missing much). It came right down to the wire, but my dedication paid off: I finally finished the first draft at around dinnertime on New Year’s Eve, knocked down a few celebratory beers, then went into town and caught up with some mates for a few more.

The first draft was done! My eighth novel manuscript was complete. But so far, I hadn’t managed to get any of them published. Would this one be any different?

Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question for dramatic effect – by now you know that yes, it would. But the path to publication, like the course of true love, never did run smooth…

Read all about it tomorrow in Part 4!

Meanwhile, the book will be available next week at Dymocks Adelaide and other SA stores that are selling my first book – I’m also working on getting it into a bunch of shops nationwide. Meanwhile, here are some links (valid worldwide) for online purchase.

Booktopia (AUS): Midnight in the Chapel of Love by Matthew R Davis | 9781950305582 | Booktopia

The Book Depository (UK): Midnight in the Chapel of Love : Matthew R Davis : 9781950305582 (bookdepository.com)

JournalStone store (US): Midnight in the Chapel of Love – JournalStone

Cheers,

MRD

Behind the Chapel, Part 2: In Loving Memory

This week, I’m unveiling the creation of my debut novel Midnight in the Chapel of Love, which is released on Friday, January 29. This is Part 2 of 5 — stay tuned for the whole story!

April 2015. I knew my manuscript was going to feature a funeral, but I wasn’t prepared to write it. Life had been kind to those around me – I’d been to maybe three funeral services in my life. I didn’t have the experience to write this scene.

Then my mother rang with some awful news. Her older sister, my Aunty Margaret, had passed away. Her funeral was to be held at the end of the week.

Ask and ye shall receive, huh? This may have been bitterly ironic, but it was certainly upsetting. I have a great many fond memories of Margaret, mostly of her chain-smoking at her kitchen table as she talked to Mum while my brother Ethan and I watched VHS movies with our cousin Daniel. (Blade Runner, Aliens, anything with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Jaws series — I loved it all, but a dread of deep water and great white sharks has haunted me ever since.) One cherished memory that I shared in the afterword of If Only Tonight We Could Sleep was Margaret laughing raucously when presented with a story of mine that Mum had found, a Masters of the Universe fanfic that included some saucy business in a bathtub between He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Teela – I was eight at the time. The last occasion I’d seen Margaret had been at Christmas a few years before, when she wound me up like a toy soldier about the issue of gay marriage; only later did Dad tell me she’d tipped him a sly wink as I ranted on about the injustice of homosexuals being forbidden to wed. (This is a failing to which I’ve always been prone and that friends and family have often used for their own amusement – toss Matthew an issue he feels strongly about, then sit back and enjoy the show.)

So I drove back to Port Pirie for the service that Friday morning… and maybe it was the influence of the manuscript I’d been working on, but I was kind of dreading the reunion with my extended family. I’ve never had any issues with them, but it had been many years since I’d seen most of them, and since Jonny Trotter was coming back to face some resentment in his hometown of Waterwich, I had somehow convinced myself that the same was waiting for me – a feeling that didn’t abate when I arrived half an hour late and missed most of the service. It wasn’t a great scene – funerals rarely are, oddly enough, and seeing your mother in tears is something that hits hard and deep – but I was incredibly relieved to attend the wake and realise I’d been worrying about nothing for no tangible reason. I reconnected with cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles, and though I felt somewhat out of place – the weird long-haired one all in black with no kids, no house, and ideas about being a career musician and horror writer – it was a lovely reunion. Talking to my family, I announced that if I ever finished the novel I was working on and got it published, I would dedicate it to Aunty Margaret… not knowing that nearly five years would pass before I could tell my cousin Karen that this spur-of-the-moment resolution was finally coming to fruition.

I returned to the writing, and as May rolled on, I’d put down nearly 19,000 words. But it wasn’t really clicking for me – I was having more fun writing the past chapters than the present ones, but both were lacking that certain spark. I gave the work in progress a quick tweak and started to see a way forward… and then something monumental happened.

(I met Meg Wright that month at a photoshoot for a band I was playing in at the time, not knowing how important this meeting would be in hindsight… but big as that was, that’s not what I mean.)

My laptop slipped off my lap and hit the floor, breaking the USB stick plugged into it. And for some bloody unfathomable reason, I’d been saving my work solely to that drive. I took the splintered stick to data recovery experts, desperate to fix this… to no avail. 18,904 words were gone forever – the entirety of my first draft to that point.

What the hell was I going to do now?

Pop back tomorrow to find out in Part 3!

Mx

Behind the Chapel, Part 1: The Song at the Start of Everything

This week, I’ll be revealing the not-so-sordid history of my debut novel Midnight in the Chapel of Love, which is released on Friday, January 29. This is Part 1 of 5 — stay tuned for the whole story!

The genesis of Midnight in the Chapel of Love dates back to August 2014. My hours in Adelaide had been cut down for the time being, so I was working a couple days a week at my parents’ shop in Port Pirie to make ends meet. One Saturday afternoon I was driving home along the Port Broughton road (the Back Way, as opposed to the highway) and listening to Something for Kate’s Leave Your Soul to Science when the lyrics from the song “The Fireball at the End of Everything” put an image in my head. (To avoid copyright issues, I’ll just send you to read the words here, and to hear the song here.)

I pictured a couple making a drive much like mine – a blonde woman with her feet up on the dashboard, reading something as her partner drove, the summer sun hot and bright in the sky. Who were they, and where were they going? I quickly decided they were heading back to the town where the man had grown up, a place he had conflicted feelings about due to a tragic past. I’d been listening to Ultraviolence as well and so I saw the woman as a little like Lana Del Rey, fashionable and intelligent and beautiful.

It didn’t take long for more ideas to accumulate. The idea of our lead having once had a teenage relationship that ended badly, a mysterious cave outside the small town, a reunion with old friends whom he’d lost along with his first girlfriend, some kind of test… it all fell into place pretty quickly. At the time, I thought I might write this story as a novella – Samhain Publishing had an open call for works between 25-30k that dealt with childhood fears, and I figured this might be suitable. But the deadline was looming, and I soon realised that this story was going to need more than 30,000 words to do it justice, so I put the idea aside for a time.

Early in 2015, with the novel I’d been planning to write not coming together (six years later, it’s still under construction!), I returned to this plot and did some more work on it. I’d been thinking of titling my cave the Cathedral, but it turns out there’s already a huge underwater cave system by that name, so I figured the Chapel would do. This gave me a couple of possible titles. I liked the incongruity of calling a horror novel The Chapel of Love, but it wasn’t quite clicking with me. Beneath the Chapel, perhaps – or Beneath the Chapel of Love. Hmmm, close… how about… Midnight in the Chapel of Love?

And there it was. Armed with a cracker of a title, I forged forward. I was just about to move out of the flat I’d occupied for the past four years and into a townhouse with a SFX-making, horror-loving loon called Zaen Ghast, so this was a poor time to be starting a project of this magnitude. Naturally, I left off packing one day and sat down to write the first chapter. We initially picked up with Jonny Trotter and his girlfriend, the blonde, white Stephanie Tannenbaum, in the very scene I’d first envisioned. At this stage, he was a restorer of classic cars – I’d ditched my first idea of him working at Centrelink, and don’t ask me where either idea came from! – and was driving a red 1971 Ford Galaxie back to the town of Blackgate for his father’s funeral, trying not to think about his old dreams of a wet, dripping figure and cracking bad Christmas tree jokes to his partner. I wrote a couple pages and put it away, vaguely unsatisfied. This attempt was premature – the tale wasn’t ready for writing.

Unfortunately, some painful inspiration was about to come my way…

Come back tomorrow for Part 2! Meanwhile, here’s some more news:

As the wheels of the promo push begin to turn, a new interview with me has gone up on Maureen Flynn’s website. You can read it here. I’ve been very busy emailing and writing, so expect a swathe of further interviews, guest posts, and reviews over the coming weeks and months!

MRDx

BEST OF A BAD YEAR: 2020

This post got pushed back by the release date and cover reveal of Midnight in the Chapel of Love. A little old news, then, before we wade through my favourite stuff of 2020.

“Vigil at Singer’s Cross” has been confirmed to appear in Tales of the Lost Vol. 3 along with an absolutely stellar list of authors that I can’t mention just yet, so I’m suitably stoked about that…

…and, well, that’s pretty much that for publishing news at the end of 2020. Let’s celebrate the worst year in recent memory with lists of things that absolutely did not suck! I’ll reel these things off in an order that roughly approximates how much I enjoyed them, though quantifying enjoyment is of course impossible and the feeling changes from day to day. Here goes!

MY TOP 13 NOVELS OF 2020

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir — The Wise Friend, Ramsey Campbell — Worse Angels, Laird Barron — The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow — Tender is the Flesh, Agustina Bazterrica — A Cosmology of Monsters, Shaun Hamill — Hope Island, Tim Major — Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Survivor Song, Paul Tremblay — The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix — Dead to Her, Sarah Pinborough — Nothing Can Hurt You, Nicola Maye Goldberg — A User’s Guide to Make-Believe, Jane Alexander

MY TOP 4 NOVELLAS OF 2020

The Tindalos Asset, Caitlín R. Kiernan — The Attic Tragedy, J. Ashley-Smith — Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey — The Roo, Alan Baxter

MY TOP 3 COLLECTIONS OF 2020

If It Bleeds, Stephen King — Bleedthrough and Other Small Horrors, Scarlett R. Algee — Grotesque: Monster Stories, Lee Murray

All the new anthologies I read last year featured my work, so I’ll refrain from writing up a list of those!

MY TOP 5 NON-FICTION BOOKS OF 2020

Who is the Doctor 2, Graeme Berk & Robert Smith? — Sing Backwards and Weep, Mark Lanegan — Confess: The Autobiography, Rob Halford & Ian Gittins — Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created America’s Most Dangerous Man, Mary L. Trump — A Convenient Death: The Mysterious Demise of Jeffrey Epstein, Alana Goodman & Daniel Halper

MY TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2020

The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, Mr. Bungle — Cyr, The Smashing Pumpkins — Ohms (+ White Pony x Black Stallion), Deftones — The Modern Medieval, Something for Kate — Vamp/Bad Omens, Lux Lyall — Andro, Tommy Lee — Idiot Prayer, Nick Cave — Terminus, Jesu — Medium Rarities, Mastodon — Music to Be Murdered By, Eminem — Punisher, Phoebe Bridgers — Reluctant Hero, Killer Be Killed — Obsidian, Paradise Lost — S&M2, Metallica — On Behalf of TISM I Would Like to Concede We Have Lost the Election, TISM — We Will Always Love You, The Avalanches — Ghosts V-VI: Ghosts/Locusts — Nine Inch Nails — Self-Surgery, Mrs. Piss — Necroscape, Tētēma — Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, Lana Del Rey

MY TOP 7 TV SHOWS OF 2020

Rick and Morty Season 4 — Doctor Who Series 12 — What We Do in the Shadows Season 2 — The Haunting of Bly Manor — Truth SeekersThe OutsiderRed Dwarf: The Promised Land

MY TOP 13 MOVIES OF 2020

The Vast of Night — We Summon the Darkness — Sea Fever— Color Out of Space — Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears — The Lodge — Guns Akimbo — Tenet — Shirley — Come to Daddy — After Midnight — Scoob! — Host

And that’s the wayyyyyy the news goes.

Right, back to madly emailing everybody in the throes of promotion for my upcoming novel. Only a week and half away now! Madness! But this madness has been a long time coming, and I’m so stoked that it’s finally here. Speaking of madness, the world is still topsy-turvy, but at least some positive change is on the way. May you all be safe and well.

Mx

MIDNIGHT IN THE CHAPEL OF LOVE

Well, here it is — my first published novel, Midnight in the Chapel of Love, will be released by JournalStone on January 29, 2021!

Cover art by Don Noble @ Rooster Republic Press

I can’t wait for this to hit the streets, shelves, and hard drives of the world! You can preorder a copy at the publisher’s website here. Other purchase links and so on will be announced as release day draws ever closer.

This post replaced the one I was previously writing, which wrapped up 2020 with lists of the stuff I liked best and other news. Look out for that one shortly, and I’ll also tell you all about the plotting, writing, editing, and publication process in another post soon.

Exciting days! (And disgraceful ones for American politics — sheesh, don’t even get me started on that mess — but exciting!)

MxRxDx

Listening: Terrifyer, Pig Destroyer — On Behalf of TISM I Would Like to Concede We Have Lost the Election, TISM — Antenna, Cave In — All Day Venus, Adalita — Camp, Childish Gambino

Reading: The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow — Shadows on the Wall, Steven Paulsen — Monstress Books 1-4, Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda — A Cosmology of Monsters, Shaun Hamill — Confess: The Autobiography, Rob Halford & Ian Gittins

Watching: Mindhunter Rick and Morty Possessor (Uncut) Scare Me Tenet

“Meanwhile, behind the facade of this innocent-looking bookstore…”

SHORT STORY NEWS! “The Black Regent” has been accepted for Sinister Smile Press’s If I Die Before I Wake Vol. 4 — Tales of Nightmare Creatures, and “George Romero Doomed Us All” for Wicked Taxidermy Press’s Apocalyptic Monsters. I’m glad these stories have managed to find a home; “The Black Regent” has been kicking around in one form or another since 2000 (!) and “George Romero Doomed Us All” is a tricky proposition since it’s (sigh) a self-aware zombie tale written in the form of a transcribed podcast. That’s not to imply they’re weak stories, by the way — the former is a joyride blast through a haunted theatre and the latter packs a real emotional punch amidst some natty banter. Josie Hughes from “TBR” went on to make a guest appearance in a novel called We’ll At Night Play that will continue to moulder away in that much-vaunted Trunk where writers keep their old, unpublishable crap; Kurt from “GRDUA” is based on one of the few people I can honestly say I loathe and would possibly knock the fuck out should our paths ever cross again, so writing him a grisly potential fate was cathartic and quite satisfying.

NOVEL NEWS! Midnight in the Chapel of Love has not, as I feared, been pushed back in the publishing schedule due to COVID-19 — it is, in fact, still slated for release in January 2021! I’ve been working hard on the final edits and rediscovering my own talents, and it’s a pleasure to be reminded that this book is pretty bloody special. Yes, I rate my own work. Why else would I bother foisting it upon an unsuspecting world? More updates, news, cover reveals, etc coming soon…

BOOK NEWS! Meg and I travelled to Port Pirie on Saturday December 12 to hold an author event at my old workplace, Meg’s Bookshop (no relation). I gave a bit of bafflegab to the lovely people who showed up, read “Debutante”, then mingled and chatted and signed copies of If Only Tonight We Could Sleep with the Red Wallflower. Thanks again to everyone who came, and to Margie and Mark Arnold at Meg’s Bookshop for having me — especially since our initial attempt at this event back in March was COVID-cancelled! After the event, we met up with Owen Gillett and did a photo shoot for icecocoon at Weeroona Island and a derelict church, and at the end of a very long, hot, and draining day (running on almost no sleep and too much caffeine) we drove home to Adelaide and were finally able to crash headlong into sleep.

Photo by Marc Swensson
Photo by MEW/RWP
Photo by MRD

And that’s all the news fit to print for now. Tune in again soon as the promotional hamster wheel grinds into motion for my first published full-length novel!

Mxxx

Reading: Venus in the Blind Spot, Junji Ito — What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography, Bruce Dickinson — Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir — The Tindalos Asset, Caitlín R. Kiernan

Listening: Cyr, The Smashing Pumpkins — The Modern Medieval, Something for Kate — Terminus, Jesu — Brave New World, Iron Maiden — We Will Always Love You, The Avalanches

Watching: The Junji Ito Collection — Rick and Morty — The Haunting of Bly ManorThe Nightingale — The Outsider

Tales of the Lost and Lamented

A couple of new releases since my last post: Trickster’s Treats #4 is out now through Things in the Well, featuring my short story “Tender Age in Bloom”, and you can find that here; Tales of the Lost Volume 2 from Plaid Dragon/Things in the Well features my tale “Our Tragic Heroine” directly after Neil freaking Gaiman in the table of contents, and you can buy that here.

Some good feedback on my published work: here is a review of If Only Tonight We Could Sleep from The Creative Shed, and here is an interview with Shadowy Natures editor Rebecca Rowland with Rue Morgue Magazine, who have selected my story “Walking on Knives” as one of the book’s highlights — somewhat typical of the anthology’s many reviews so far, I’m glad to report!

My friend Raven Baylock passed away a few months back, and after his memorial, I wrote a story inspired by and in tribute to him. With the final exhibition of his work coming up, I thought it would be really cool to do something with the piece, so I decided to print it up as a limited booklet to give away at the event. I ran the idea past Meg (the Red Wallflower) to see if she’d be interested in contributing and she was immediately on board. It didn’t turn out quite the way we’d envisioned — Meg then came down with pneumonia, so we couldn’t set up any new shoots — but the constraints pushed us in a different direction. I found an image she had shot on a previous expedition, one I’d always really liked, and it started worming its way into the story, becoming a part of it. I laboured over the edits until the last minute, wanting this tale to be just right — not only did this tale have to be worthy of Raven’s memory, but pretty much everyone who would read it would know him and his friends better than me, plus I was handling a set of characters even more diverse than usual and aware that people who identified as such would be the prime audience. No pressure, then! I think I got it right, but we’ll have to see what the feedback is like. All copies of “The Haunted Heart of Ebon Eidolon” were taken on the night and the idea behind it was generally met with enthusiasm; I just continue to hope that I’ve done my friend (and his friends) justice.

Raven’s exhibition took place on Halloween, due to the hard work and organisation of his friends, and I’d like to share a few images here — just a small taste of the man and his work, and also the work of those who loved and miss him.

Painting by Elena Maslarova (who once played guitar in icecocoon and later painted the cover art for one of our albums)
The exhibition was held at the Dungeon, which Raven helped to decorate… and it’s a real sex dungeon, too, hence some of the fittings
Wonderful tribute piece in rhinestone by Michael Thompson
Death mask of Raven Baylock, artist unknown
Floor piece by Emerson Ward
Raven’s nieces as the Blood Brides, modelling the last pieces he finished before his death. The dress on the left was stained with real blood, both Raven’s and some that was donated to him for the project
A distinctive Raven piece – however, he worked in a great many styles and fields
Raven’s pieces often involved real skulls; the tubes here are from his inhalers; the plastic tub on top is one of many “lolly jars” he created and sometimes gave away to friends

I’m proud to note that I was allowed to select a work to take home with me, and though I already own one little thing that Raven made for my 30th birthday, now I have a more substantial piece in a place of honour in my Red Room.

On that note, let’s cue the lists and be on our way.

Mxxx

Reading: Hope Island, Tim Major — See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse, Jess Hill — Survivor Song, Paul Tremblay — The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America, Jim Acosta — Tender is the Flesh, Agustina Bazterrica

Listening: The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, Mr. Bungle — Self-Surgery, Mrs. Piss — Ohms, Deftones — Andro, Tommy Lee — The Sound of The Smiths, The Smiths

Watching: Jay & Silent Bob Reboot — The Dirt — Clerks II

Spondulix and What to Do with Them

A few new releases worthy of your hard-earned spondoolies:

Outback Horrors Down Under: An Anthology of Antipodean Terrors is out now, featuring my novelette “Heritage Hill”, and you can grab a copy here (I’ve linked to Amazon Australia, with whom the publisher has had some pricing issues, but you should be able to find the book on any of the major Amazon pages).

Shadowy Natures is also out now, featuring my story “Walking on Knives”, and you can grab it from the AM Ink store here (use the code DAVIS10 and you’ll get 10% off).

Trembling with Fear: Year 3 has just been released, featuring my drabble “Under the Bridge Downtown”, and you can buy it here. (Fair warning: a drabble is a story of exactly 100 words – this book compiles all the drabbles, poems, and flash fiction published on The Horror Tree in 2019.)

That’s about all that’s going on for the moment. The remainder of 2020 should see the release of Trickster’s Treats #4, Tales of the Lost Vol. 2, and Flashes of Hope, whilst Nightmares in Yellow (both volumes) has been pushed back into 2021.

Something I should really be doing is adding a little tag to each post to let you know what I’m reading, listening to, and watching. So let’s start now, yes? Have yourselves a lovely day, and I’ll be back to drop some more science in due course.

MxRxDx

Reading: Moranthology, Caitlin Moran; Doctor Who: Paradox Lost, George Mann; Lost Futures, Lisa Tuttle

Listening: Medium Rarities, Mastodon; Three Men and a Baby, Mike & The Melvins; Vamp, Lux Lyall

Watching: The Field Guide to Evil; If All Goes Wrong (The Smashing Pumpkins); Ready Player One

Running Up That Hill

I’ve recently had a couple of shorter pieces picked up for publication: “Hole to Feed” will appear in Flashes of Hope, a COVID-19 themed charity anthology of flash fiction, and “Tender Age in Bloom” will be published in Trickster’s Treats #4, Things in the Well’s annual Halloween digest. I’ve had stories in each issue of Trickster’s to date, and I’m glad I’ll be featured in this one since it will probably be the last.

Aurealis Magazine #133 features a review of If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, and it’s a cracker! Some selected highlights: “Davis is an exceptional writer. His attention to detail – no matter how terrifying that detail is – from description to word flow is evident in his excellent body of work… you can see the care Davis has gone into to get each story right… a wickedly enjoyable read… a great read from a fantastic author… a must for any horror fan’s library.” Wow! It’s so gratifying to have a reader notice the painstaking work one puts into these tales. Thank you, Belinda Brady! And in the spirit of reciprocation, I urge you, the reader of this humble blog, to check out the whole issue; you can buy it here.

Outback Horrors is nearing release, and it’s available for Kindle preorders here (there will be a paperback, too). This book features my novelette “Heritage Hill”, a furious meditation on the unending cycle of racial hatred, and I’m curious to see how that one is received. Its theme is horribly timely and relevant, but then, when isn’t it?

Shadowy Natures is out next month, and AM Ink are running a series of author interviews on their website. You can read mine here, and the others, too.

I hope you and yours are doing well. Look after each other out there.

Mx

Talk Talk (Red Beret Talk)

Okay, so sales if If Only Tonight We Could Sleep are ticking along, slow and steady. I’ve been surprised at how many I’ve been selling through local stores, and I can only hope that online sales have been at least as healthy. Thank you to anyone who’s bought a copy, and to the rest of you, thanks in advance (cough, cough).

A few new interviews and free-for-alls are up for your edification. Firstly, I took part in my first podcast interview with champion comedian/political pundit/grindcore drummer Jon Brooks, a fellow Pirie boy made good. We had a great natter for five hours, one and a half of which was recorded for posterity and edited down to seventy-six minutes of… well, stuff. Listen to us snipe about politics and the comedy scene – not that there’s a huge difference between the two in some cases – and reveal our past humiliating mistakes for all to hear as we discuss everything from the escapist nature of horror to our shared history in metal bands! You can find it on various platforms: here are the links to Whooshkaa, Apple, and Spotify. And here’s a sloppy snap of us afterward; sadly, I’ve cultivated not only an isolation beard (or at least the best I can approximate one) but also more than a few isolation pounds.

20200619_165900

Er, that’s me on the left. Glasses, beards, so much of us to love – it’s an easy mistake to make.

Also up now is my entry in the Australian SF Snapshot Project, a series of quick interviews with authors from Australia and New Zealand curated by Tehani Croft, and you can read that here.

I took part in a Booklove Tuesday online happening last week, along with gritty romance author B. Michael Radburn and poet Deb Stewart, and you can find that Facebook event here. Skip to the bottom and scroll up to read the posts in order, and check out the action in the comments where readers chime in and interact with us. It was quite fun and interesting, and I look forward to doing more things like that in the future. 

In terms of new publications… well, it hasn’t been announced yet, so I may be jumping the gun again, but I’ve had a novelette called “Heritage Hill” accepted into Outback Horrors, a collection of Antipodean frights from me old muckers at Things in the Well. It’s tragic and quite timely in subject matter, unfortunately – we’ll see how it sits alongside stories by Robert Hood, Marty Young, Lucy Sussex, and other luminaries. I’ve also been tapped for a tale for another upcoming anthology that promises some big names, but I’ll keep schtum about that one for now…

I’m currently isolated in my house after falling sick and being tested for COVID-19. I’m sure I’m fine – we’ve had it pretty easy here in South Australia, all things considered, and it’s highly unlikely to have reached me at this stage – but it does drive home the impact this pandemic has had on other states and countries. I’ve already been feeling the strain of that as well as recent political and social upheavals here and abroad, as weird as that may sound to you – I care deeply about my world and the people thereon, and bigotry hurts me even as a relatively pampered straight white male because a) I have friends of all creeds and orientations all over the globe who suffer from it, b) I have benefited from it indirectly even if I have never been actively complicit in it, and c) it’s just so fucking stupid and hurtful that I can’t wrap my head around it. So yeah, it bugs me, and it depresses me, and that makes acts of creation more difficult because they feel so meagre and trite by comparison to what’s really going down in the streets, in your homes, in our minds.

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but if you’re about to vilify or abuse someone, or hurt someone – even yourself – then just stop and take a moment to think, please. It’s not so hard, and I promise it’s best for everyone. Come on, we’re all humans here… and to create schisms between us because of our genitals, or what we do with them behind closed doors, or whether we were born with them or not, or what pigment they are, is absolutely ridiculous after all these years of shared growth and experience and evolution. Truly, we’re all in this together, and the only ones who benefit from telling you otherwise are reaping profit from our blood and bile, which makes them our common enemy. Fuck the new dark ages. This is our time. It is always our time. It will always be our time. I called my band Blood Red Renaissance because that is what I want to see in the world, a new era of prosperity and intelligence and compassionate creativity, and those first two words don’t stand for violence or gore or the genocide of those that won’t change – they represent vitality, vivacity, virility – boldness, beauty, the stuff of life itself. We are up to the challenge if we set our hearts and minds to it. We just need to set our shoulders to the wheel and work to make it happen, and every little bit of effort counts – every story or song that encourages empathy or deeper thought, every piece of resistance to toxic bullshit, every act of love or courage or righteous defiance, however minor.

That’s what I tell myself, sitting in my house alone, unemployed, tapping away at my made-up stories about things that aren’t real for a tiny audience to read.

I try to believe. To persist. To survive.

I know that I have sometimes inspired people to be better, to try harder, so it’s just a matter of staying the course. Working what little magic I can. Hoping that you feel the same and pass it on, pay it forward, so we can all breathe a little easier.

Sometimes, just being here and being us is all we can do. And sometimes, that’s enough.

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