Friday, 15 October 2021

An Interview with Tabatha Wood

Tabatha Wood’s new collection, SEEDS, is about to sprout. I thoroughly enjoyed it (Goodreads review here, and please follow Tabatha and myself on Goodreads) and decided I’d invite her to answer a few questions to share with you, my dear readers.

First things first, Tabatha—do you have a favourite type of seed, whether for eating, planting, or feeding birds?

Kia Ora, Cameron, and thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. 

Since you’ve read the story “Bloom” in SEEDS, I expect you can guess which real ones are my favourite–sunflower seeds. Which, funnily enough, you can do all three with. But you must be careful, because if you eat the wrong kind, well, you might have to make some tough choices… 

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. I was born in Whitby, as featured in Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, on the Northeast coast of England and I’ve always been drawn to anything gothic. I moved to Aotearoa, New Zealand in 2017. 

2. I’ve been deaf since childhood and wear two hearing aids, which also means I can lipread accents with a good degree of accuracy. 

3. I genuinely believe in the power of manifestation, which is a technique I learned about from Octavia Butler. Whenever I start a new project, I spend some time thinking about and writing down what I want to achieve from it and reminding myself how much I believe in its success. It helps shut up the imposter syndrome gremlins a bit and gives me hope on the days when the words don’t flow as easily. 

A number of tales in SEEDS explore the issue of not fitting in or feeling at home in one’s skin. Why does this theme speak to you?

I’ve definitely always felt like an outsider, and it took a long time for me to find a peer group I felt like I really belonged in. Some of that is down to my deafness and the sense of isolation that a sensory disability can bring. Some of it is linked to being an immigrant, displaced 12,000 miles away from where I grew up. I also, within the past few years, discovered I have ADHD. I’ve tried on many “hats” over my lifetime trying to figure out which one fits me the best, but I think gaining a greater understanding of why my brain works the way it does has also leeched into my storytelling. The theme of not fitting in is such a powerful and personal one, and it’s so important to us as human beings to feel needed and secure, to find where we belong. Removing that safety net can feel quite terrifying. 

There’s a distinct Kiwi flavour to several of the stories in this collection which we see in setting and dialogue. Why should people read fiction from New Zealand?

Funnily enough, I wrote about this recently for The Spinoff, New Zealand’s biggest pop culture website. (Find it here https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/19-08-2021/what-you-need-right-now-is-a-nice-soothing-horror-story/) In this article I say that, “New Zealand horror offers a unique perspective that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.” Our landscape, culture and history are entirely unique to our islands, and our geographical location brings with it both a sense of safety and separation. A lot of New Zealand horror focuses on themes of resilience and community in the face of disaster. It explores how the rugged landscape can be thrillingly beautiful yet also deadly and threatening. I think New Zealand horror can sometimes be a little quieter, more gothic, than its American or European counterparts, but it is also extremely human, and I think it punches much harder emotionally because of that.    

What do you do outside of writing that helps the creative process?

To beat any writer’s block, I always find it best to get away from my desk and move my body. I like sea swimming, indoor rock climbing, long walks in the bush or by the sea. In my debut collection, DARK WINDS OVER WELLINGTON, I found a lot of my stories were intrinsically linked to the ocean in some way, a reflection of the way I was feeling in my life at that time. SEEDS is more about putting down roots and growing. So yeah, my biggest inspiration is being in nature. It helps me turn off the part of my brain that’s being too loud so I can focus better on what’s important. 

What does your editing process look like? 

CUT TO /me, slumped over my desk into the wee small hours, swearing profusely at my laptop, mashing the delete button and drinking copious cups of coffee, hoping… just hoping… something good might come out of it all. 

But seriously, my most helpful editing tools have been the Read Aloud function in Word and ProWritingAid. Both help get me to a baseline where my work is basically *good* but I can also go over and improve even further. Also, letting a story sit awhile before editing is essential. I can easily get bogged down in tiny details and miss the bigger picture, so working on a piece with fresh eyes is always a good idea. 

What are you working on now?

At the end of this year, I will be self-publishing my third poetry collection TO WISH ON IMPOSSIBLE THINGS, so I’m still tinkering with that a little. One of my favourite bands, The Cure, inspired the title, and the collection is about moving to Aotearoa, New Zealand, my experiences as an immigrant, finding myself and making a new home. I’m also working on a couple of nonfiction pieces about aspects of the horror genre while planning a dystopian hope-punk SFF novel. 

Where can we find you online?

My website, where I post regular blog pieces, stories and articles can be found at https://tabathawood.com/ and you can follow me on Twitter at @Tabatha_Writes

Thanks, Tabatha!

Grab your copy of SEEDS here from the 16th of October.






 

Friday, 11 June 2021

Welcome to Mirebury

Letterbox is a short novel, but a long story. It began about fifteen years ago with an idea for a truly original suspense novel, and I'm confident that it is indeed original. Take a quiet country town, little more than a village really, preferably in an isolated location, and toss a maniac hellbent on tearing the community apart in there. Now, to make it original, the antagonist mustn't hurt anyone with his own hands, but rather use the locals' underlying tensions and fears to provoke them to violence. How? By making nocturnal deliveries to their letterboxes. 

The result was a rollicking suspense novel full of dark humour and quirky small-town characters. Letterbox was picked up by a small publisher called Naked Snake Press, and (there's no other way to say it) barely made a splash in a bathtub. The publisher later folded (I'd like to assume not as a direct result of publishing my novel) and Letterbox was back in my hands. Armed with experience and invaluable reader feedback (hats off to fellow Australian writer, Anthony Ferguson, in particular), I decided to rework it, and that's just what I did, but I got on with other writing at the same time, including my urban adventure novel, The Tunnel Runner.

Fast forward to 2021, and Letterbox is finally ready to be unleashed once again after major rewrites. The bad news is that I can't really explain the changes to you without spoiling the ending. Suffice to say that Letterbox is now as much a mystery novel as it is a thriller. Think Midsomer Murders with a teacher as the unlikely hero and the craziness turned up a notch or two! 

Welcome to Mirebury. Are you ready to check your letterbox? I dare you!



Ian Carew is a mild-mannered teacher at the primary school in Mirebury, a quiet town lost in the moors. Six years after leaving London, he's still considered a newcomer, but his elderly neighbour, Mary Hopkins, treats him like a son, and the local butcher, Jack Fuller, is his best friend. All that's missing from Ian’s life is a touch of romance and a dash of adventure. Little does he know, he's about to get a taste of both. When Mary Hopkins opens her letterbox and makes a gruesome discovery, Mirebury is thrown into a state of shock and outrage. At first, the townsfolk assume it was a random act, but the horrible deliveries continue and they're forced to acknowledge they have become the target of a campaign of terror - and nobody’s letterbox is safe.

Letterbox is available through all good retailers, including Amazon and Bookshop, or you can order a copy directly from Black Beacon Books

Friday, 5 February 2021

A Tale of Two Novels

I've been busy working on two very different novels recently... 

POST-APOCALYPTIC

I've completed the first draft of my post-apocalyptic novel and am about to get started on the second. It clocks in at around 99,000 words, easily making it the longest story I've written to date. It's much too early to share all the details, but it's a tale of suffering, love, survival, and resistance set in the not-too-distant future. The narrative is told as a first-person account (an action-packed memoir, if you like) in which our protagonist, an underclass pyromaniac, flees the city after setting fire to the wrong car. It's a rollicking adventure with pauses in the action to let you catch your breath and ask yourself some big questions.

MYSTERY 

I've also started the first Oscar Tremont novel. The mystery takes place in Brittany and is designed to introduce the reader (because not everyone will have read the short stories) to my intrepid private investigator. Just like the short stories, this tale will focus on the puzzle, the characters, and the remarkable Breton setting; the cosy / traditional mystery fan's cup of tea. Would you like a glimpse at the setting? Here you go! 



 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

The Problem at Rose Grove


Where's Holmes???

I've joined Specul8 Publishing for their second volume of absent Holmes tales, and I've put a spin on it, which will come as no surprise to my loyal readers. I've often wondered what would happen if my very own investigator, Oscar Tremont, had the opportunity to pit wits against the most famous consulting detective of all time, but in "The Problem at Rose Grove", he's faced with an even greater challenge...saving Holmes, so to speak! Curiosity piqued? The game's afoot! Grab your copy from Specul8
 

About the anthology:
In 1887, Arthur Conan Doyle first published A Study in Scarlet in the 27th issue of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, a popular London magazine which had entertained 19th century readers for well over two decades. Yet this particular issue would introduce the world to something entirely new, a literary icon who would move on to become the greatest fictional character in modern history. Holmes certainly casts a great shadow, and what would we ever do without him? That is precisely the question this collection dares to ask. We have challenged nine exciting Australian authors to take up the daunting task of writing a Sherlock story, where the great man himself is conspicuously absent. The resulting work has been utterly fascinating, and we have found that even in his absence Sherlock Holmes is still a force to be reckoned with. As the man himself would often say, “The game is afoot!”

 

Monday, 5 October 2020

The Animal Inside

Pre-orders are now being taken for the ebook version of my second collection of short stories through Amazon. The print version will be published on the 10th of October.

The Animal Inside is a collection of thirteen strange and twisted stories that will take you for a walk along the fine line between insanity and reason, the peculiar and the prosaic, and the animal kingdom and human society, then leave you wondering where one ends and the other begins. These tales will confuse, amuse, shock, and intrigue, but they will also cause you to contemplate your very own animal inside.




Publication details: Black Beacon Books, 2020
Genres: suspense, horror, erotic horror, dark literary
Length: 13 stories / 200 pages / 57,000 words
      
Cleopatra’s Mystery Box
The Church of Asag
Old Mabel’s Stray Cat
Veronica’s Dogs
The Crows of Eildon Hill
Lauren
Milk
Horror at Hollow Head
Declan’s Fantasy
Forgotten Falls
Animal
Like Sisters
It Starts with Insects
            

Friday, 10 July 2020

Cleopatra's Ghost

It has been quite a while between posts, and I must apologise for that, but as I'm sure you're all aware, I've been busy with the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery. This is our début anthology and it includes the second Oscar Tremont novella, "The Ghosts of Walhalla". After solving the mystery of the Stayne fortune, Oscar and Louise head to Victoria for a well-deserved holiday. They go camping in a ghost town called, Walhalla, but when Oscar's sleep is disturbed by a vehicle in the middle of the night, soon followed by a ghostly crying coming from the surrounding woodlands, he knows mischief is afoot! You'll find full details on the website, or you can buy a copy directly through Amazon.

In other news, my short suspense story, "Cleopatra's Mystery Box", was published by ID Press in their anthology, Nefariam: The Element of Crime. The book is separated into sections based on different motives. My story is one of revenge.

Remember to join me on Facebook and Goodreads. All the best! 


Thursday, 16 April 2020

Mystery Writer Interviews

The Disappearance of Jeremy Meredith

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‘The Disappearance of Jeremy Meredith’ started with a setting and an atmosphere in mind. The characters and plot elements were then created to fit. I wanted a story in which an unexpected visitor arrives at Oscar's house in the middle of a storm, involving a disappearance, a touch of romantic tension, and with the solution to it all hidden in a clifftop manor on the Breton coast. The idea of an overheard conversation with a verbal clue that later linked to a physical key required a lot more thought and fine-tuning. It had to be just right because this element is the means of making sure the reader is actively involved in the investigation and faces the same challenge as Oscar.

This was my answer to the question asked of every contributor to Flame Tree Publishing's anthology, Detective Thrillers: "What was the inspiration behind your story?" 

You can read the full interview here.