With AHWA on Elffingern

This weekend, we interview Dan Rabarts. His short story of wartime horror closes the anthology with a frightful bang.
‪#‎DanRabarts‬ ‪#‎NZHorror‬

1. Tell us something about your story that we won’t find out by reading it. Was it inspired by a particular event? Were you sitting in a tree when you wrote the first draft?

Heading into the 100-year commemorations of Gallipolli, there had been lots of talk in writerly circles about stories or anthologies tackling the subject of war, and especially of New Zealand’s part in the First World War, so I had lots of crazy ideas sifting around for a horror war story that brought the terror of the front lines back to the peacefulness of home. That, combined with my own memories of my grandfather’s old truck workshops and my father’s printing presses, and the nostalgia of small towns in a time turned dusky with recollection, and Elffingern was the result. For what it’s worth, most of it was written sitting on a yacht in the Marlborough Sounds in the middle of a stinking hot summer holiday, which is a bit like a tree but not really.

2. The title of the anthology is “In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep”. Where in New Zealand is your ideal place to spend a sunny day? And what about a dark night?

For sunshine, anywhere that I can be with my family, hanging out with the kids. The aforementioned Marlborough Sounds rank pretty highly, as does Tasman Bay at the top of the South Island, but there’s also a very special place in my heart for the Coromandel Peninsula, where my family hails from. Give me a beach and the shade of a pohutakawa and a cold beer, and I’m happy. Dark nights? As above, with a campfire, or a bonfire, depending how cold it is.

3. Do you have a favourite Kiwi or Australian horror writer?

I’m a big fan of a whole raft of the Australian horror writing scene, and I couldn’t possibly single anyone out without feeling like I was excluding others. But if I had to hang my hat on a single author, I can’t go past the late great Hugh Cook, who was primarily a writer of science fiction and fantasy but whose work is riddled with the dark, the macabre, the brutal and the horrifying. He was posthumously awarded New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for Services to SFFH, and it was well-deserved for the many Kiwi spef fic writers his work has inspired over the years.

4. Why should horror fans from around the world read Kiwi and Aussie horror?

For the same reason they should just read more horror: Because horror. Which isn’t really an answer at all, so to be more helpful, because Australia and New Zealand are producing some really brilliant work from highly talented writers at the moment, supported by skilled, dedicated publishers, and vibrant fan communities. There are so many good Aussie anthologies of speculative fiction out there that it’s hard to know where to start, but a quick look over the Australian Shadows Awards nominees and winners of the past couple of years is a pretty good indicator of what’s worth a look in horror right now.

5. Where can we learn more about your writing? Do you keep a blog or Facebook page?

I can be found at http://dan.rabarts.com I’m also on Facebook, and Twitter, and Google+, where I can be found most the time, though right at the moment I’m neck deep in editing for our new anthology of Kiwi and Aussie spec fic, At The Edge (co-edited with Lee Murray and due out from Paper Road Press in mid-2016).

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