Originally published on Helen Lowe’s blog, …on anything, really.
I’m a writer of all forms of speculative fiction, with a particular interest in the macabre and the slightly twisted. I’ve had short stories published in a number of print and electronic venues across a range of genres, including psychological SF, hard SF, dark fantasy, Weird West, steampunk, and rural horror (it’ll be the next big thing after urban horror, you mark my words).
Most recently, my entry “Children of the Tide” took first place in the AHWA/Melbourne ZomCon short story contest, drawing comments from the judges like “The pathos and suspense in this story are arresting and clearly deserving of the highest award.” Yeah, I was pretty happy to hear that.
My fiction and non-fiction have both been finalists for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards over the past four years.
A major project I found myself inextricably wrapped up in this year has been Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror, an anthology of (mostly) flash-length fiction donated by a horde of Kiwi and US authors, with all proceeds going to Duffy Books in Homes. Horror for charity. Go figure.
As well as short fiction, I have several longer works on the go, including about half a million words across a series of six fantasy novels which I’m currently shopping around. I still have this crazy idea that a publisher might like them. I’m currently working on a comic/dark fantasy novel and a gothic horror/apocalyptopunk novel (it’s a word, it really is. You can tell that because I wrote it just there).
I’m also involved in an exciting collaborative novella project which seems to be getting better as we go, and I look forward to being able to share more but for now, alas, it remains top secret. Just in case we both go mad, or something like that.
The short answer to that: “What else is there to write?”
But that’s a bit disrespectful to all those lovely people who write that fancy literary stuff. Instead, let me say that I spend a lot of time contemplating the “what-if” of, well, just about everything.
The big issues that affect us as a species lead me to writing SF with a view to exploring where humanity as a race is destined – for better or worse.
Questions of where we draw the line between real and unreal, possible and impossible feed my penchant for fantasy.
The possibility that beneath this veneer of civilisation we’re never more than a few meals away from our savage, animal sides and that, for some, not even this much is required, informs my horror stories. By looking past the faces the world shows us and wondering what’s there beneath the surface, we might see something truly terrifying.
Because fiction is about more than story and setting and character and craft. It’s also about asking questions. The “why” of fiction is why I write. I might not give you the answers – in fact, to do so would be contrary to the “why” of it all. But asking questions, being curious, is what makes life interesting. And, of course, you might need to find that question yourself, and what you find might not be what I thought I was asking. But that’s the fun of it.
Fiction is examination, a reflection of who we are, what we see and don’t want to see. I write to get a glimpse of what might be. Somewhere in there, you’ll find equal amounts of hope and terror. Just doing my bit to keep the universe level.
Here’s a snippet of my first published short story, Crucible, as it appears at the Wily Writers online magazine and podcast, a finalist for the SJVs in 2012, and still a favourite of mine:
“I am the thunder.
I am the arc of silver that sets the skies to burning.
I am both Lifebringer and the Blossom of Death.
I am deathless even in dying, and they will sing my name long after I am gone.
I am the echo at the end of time, and at the birth of a new age.
The storms will cry for me, as brittle and beautiful as a newborn wail.
I was everything; I am nothing, as I fall, fall, for her.
Once, we trod upon the stars, fleeing the gods. Now, we are the gods. Parsing the heavens on wings of steel and light, we sank into eternal sleep, light years unwinding around us, morphing the constellations into new mythologies. With technology already ancient we seeded new worlds, wrought civilizations on the bitter anvils of new suns. Then, again, to sleep, our cruciform vessels voyaging across lifetimes and voids of endless dead space, bearing us where no god could follow.
“And what are we now?”
I glance through the projections of atmospheric pressure and wind patterns far below our hull. “What we always were: Refugees. Pioneers. Dreamers. And it seems that we’re having this conversation again.”
“But how can we value what we create if we have no memory of loss?”
Kayla’s slipping back into one of her moods; they have been more frequent over the past few months. It troubles me. Sometimes I think she forgets how far we’ve come.”
(c) Dan Rabarts
Read or listen to the rest at Wily Writers.
Find links to all my published work, including stories, podcast narrations, old blogs, and other introspections at http://dan.rabarts.com. Please drop by and say Hi. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.