Saturday, 10 April 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Sarah Jane Justice

 


Sarah Jane Justice's "The Box" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

These are the barest summaries of stories that I could talk about for hours. Reducing them to a single sentence makes them all the more intriguing.

- When I was fresh out of high school, I was recruited by an established ska band and spent two years touring Australia and New Zealand.

- Over the course of a few strange years, I managed to achieve nationwide notoriety in an extremely competitive augmented reality game.

- In 2016, I wrote and performed a science-fiction cabaret show that was on the programme for the Adelaide Fringe Festival that year.

What drew you to this particular theme? 

I love writing to prompts, and I especially love finding creative ways to approach any given theme. The submission call for this anthology came with a list of suggested authors for stylistic influence, and that drew my attention more than anything else. The list contained some of the most classic authors in the genre, and it completely set the tone for how I should approach writing this piece. I took the time to sit with it, aiming to think of something that might not have been done before. With the style in mind and the idea I came up with, I had an excellent time writing ‘The Box’. (Editor’s note: And what a chillingly original tale you came up with!)

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

This might seem like an odd answer, but cars. These are immensely powerful machines that have the potential to kill in an instant. What makes them so frightening is that most drivers rarely, if ever, consider that. Because we drive them every day, we let ourselves get distracted, we ignore safety regulations, and we drive dangerously just for the fun of it. Even though the worst consequences are happening every day, it’s far too easy to forget about them. These are machines that surround us, that kill more consistently than any other, and we barely think twice about it. It can be quite terrifying when you stop to think about it.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

Shirley Jackson is a horror author whom I find both inspiring and deeply fascinating. I highly encourage readers to look up her work, as well as her life story. For a more obvious choice, Mary Shelley is incredible as a pioneer of the genre.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

‘The Fly’ – When I was a teenager, I worked at a video rental store. We were encouraged to watch as many movies as we could, and I decided to watch all the most classic horror and thriller movies. This one stuck with me. It’s such a fascinating concept.

What does your editing process look like? 

I’m very methodical in my writing and organisation, and my editing process is no exception.

I get the initial draft down first. Then, I go back and pick it apart from start to finish, rewriting everything that needs to be changed while keeping the flow of the story intact. Finally, I go through and neaten up the writing. I watch for phrases that are too repetitive, metaphors that could be more creative, grammatical mistakes etc. I go over and over until I can finally declare myself to be finished. Then I let it sit for a few days and discover that I was not, in fact, finished. Repeat.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

There is an element of spontaneity in the drafting process, but always within the frame of a plan. I find that my writing is far more efficient if I know where it is going, and where I want it to end up.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m crawling through the editing processes on a science-fiction novella. This has been very satisfying to write, especially given how easily it seems to be coming together. There have been no major problems in the drafting process, major plot elements and characters are all fitting where they need to, and I’m already pleased with the quality of the writing. I’m getting very excited about the finished product.

Where can we find you online?

I have a website that I keep regularly updated – www.sarahjanejusticewriting.com

Additionally, I have a Facebook page, an Instagram, and a Twitter, all linked below:

https://www.facebook.com/sarahjanejusticewriting 

https://www.instagram.com/sarahjanejusticewriting/

https://twitter.com/sjjusticewrites

Thanks, Sarah!

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Kurt Newton



Kurt Newton's "The Wedge" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. I went to school to become an engineer and came out discovering I was a writer.

2. My current job of over twenty years is in the field of Health Physics. In other words, I work with radiation.

3. I’m nearing retirement age and have a six-year-old who’s better at Mario Kart than I am. I hear “I beat you Dada” in my dreams. The kid will one day be the death of me.

What drew you to this particular theme? 

The inner workings of machines have always fascinated me. As a kid, I used to take things apart just to see how they worked. The same applies to people, except it’s psychological. As a writer, I try to get at the heart of the invisible machine inside us all.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

A kitchen sink garbage disposal. It’s even got lips. It’s gross. And scary.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

Three of the best short story collections (that happen to be predominately horror-based) are Ray Bradbury’s The October Country, Stephen King’s Night Shift and Dennis Etchinson’s The Dark Country. If I taught a course on the great American short story, I’d definitely put these on the reading list.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

When I was kid, watching the movie The Time Machine with Rod Taylor and the Morlocks was mind-altering. Another was the Twilight Zone episode A Kind of Stopwatch with Burgess Meredith.

What does your editing process look like?

I hardly ever have enough time to write a complete story in a single sitting (flash being the exception). Most times, I write then I print what I have so far. The next time pick it up, I edit that then write some more, print, edit, write, etc. until it’s done. Then I print the whole thing and set it aside. It could be weeks or months before I revisit the story with “fresh” eyes.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write?

Writing is visual for me, so I can usually envision what the story will look like--the setting, the mood—even before I start. Then it’s just a matter of transcribing those visuals onto paper. For longer stories, I sketch out just enough actions or scenes to keep the story interesting. I find that if I think through too much, I tend to lose interest in the story because, in my head, it’s already written.

What are you working on now?

In my early days of writing, I created an alternate future world that I’ve revisited several times. There’s a novel in-progress and several other related projects of interconnected stories. At the moment, I’m working to finish a novella I began many years ago called House of Giants, House of Ghosts that takes place in the same world.

Where can we find you online?

The usual social media playgrounds: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I also have author pages at Amazon, Goodreads and Librarything.

Thanks, Kurt!

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Chisto Healy



Chisto Healy's "A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. I’m also an artist and musician, rock singer and rapper

2. The word “Undeathable” was coined for me because I have faced death and somehow survived a ridiculous amount of times

3. A lot of my most horrific ideas are actually inspired by the twisted minds of my children haha

What drew you to this particular theme? 

AI is something that has fascinated me my whole life and I always like to bring relevant real life issues such as domestic violence into my work. It felt realistic to me that the two would eventually find each other as we intend AI to be of service to us.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

I’m always worried about the robot revolt and worried about the fact that scientists don’t seem worried about it and obviously don’t read or watch enough science fiction. They just created a psychopath AI just to see….why?! As for current machinery….really…anything that can kill you….so….most of it haha

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

Goodness…this would be a long list if I answered it accurately. The authors that inspired me to be a writer are Dean Koontz, Simon Clark, Clive Barker, Robert R McCammon and Nate Kenyon. Now I’ve met and read so many fantastic authors in the indie community that I could write a very long list. To name a few: David Green, Tim Mendees, Natalie Brown, Callum Pearce, Mark Young, and so many, many more. If any of you are looking for good horror, hit me up and I can list at least a hundred worthy authors.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

I would have to go with Do androids dream of electric sheep? by Phillip K Dick

What does your editing process look like?

I write my first draft and try to catch spelling and grammar as I go and then I do a spell check to make sure. Then I leave it alone for a bit to get it out of my head because if you edit your own work when you know what it is supposed to say you will miss a lot, and then I go back to it later and start from line one and do a line edit which usually leads to me making content and phrasing changes as well so I need to repeat the process.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

I do minimal planning. I usually just come up with a concept and how I want to end it and then write and edit.

What are you working on now?

So many things… I am doing the first rewrite of the first novel of a series I am producing with Cursed Dragonship and I am working on five different invitation only projects I am not currently allowed to speak about, and a charity anthology I am leading for an incredible trans author who has faced some pitfalls recently, as well as editing and rewriting and finishing other novels I’m trying to get picked up. Any publishers that are interested…hit me up haha I stay busy. There’s a lot on the horizon if I happen to have any fans out there haha

Where can we find you online?

You can follow me on Amazon as there are pretty much always new books coming out or find me on Facebook as I love connecting with other authors and readers alike. There is also a blog that I’m really bad at updating that tells everything I have out and gives links to get it. It’s https://chistohealy.blogspot.com Promotion is my weakness though as my crippling anxiety kind of hinders it on every level. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to where I can pay someone to do it yet haha Maybe one day.

Thanks, Chisto!

Friday, 2 April 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Paul Williams


Paul Williams' "Fargan's Termination" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery. Out April the 3rd. Kindle pre-orders available now.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. I completed a PhD about the folklore of wolves.

2. I started watching Doctor Who in chronological order, one episode a week in 2018 and will finish the current run in 2035.

3. My favourite job was managing a collections office for HMRC.

What drew you to this particular theme? 

The guillotine and the Halifax gibbet; machines designed to kill. The purpose of machines is to make life easier for humans and reduce the unpleasant chores. Washing machines, microwaves, robot vacuum cleaners, computers, and mobile phones. What happens when a society takes that a stage further and employs machine for the jobs that people don’t want to do? Low paid manual work such as fruit picking. Toilet cleaners. Executioners.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

An aeroplane. Although I work in aviation and fly regularly there is still something unsettling about being in a sealed container high in the sky.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

Richard Laymon, Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas Burke.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

The Mangler by Stephen King.

What does your editing process look like?

Three drafts and three read-throughs. Then I check spelling and grammar and formatting rules. 

 Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

 A bit of both. I’m not always good on structure.

 What are you working on now?

 A book on the real identity of Jack the Ripper victim, Mary Jane Kelly.

 Where can we find you online?

 PaulECWilliams – Writing the future about the past

Thanks, Paul!

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with K. G. McAbee



K.G. McAbee's "A Whole New World" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery. Out April the 3rd. Kindle pre-orders available now.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. I have a passion for old Universal horror movies with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone—incidentally, the BEST Holmes ever—and Claude Rains, and Hammer Films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing...as who among us does not?

2. I live in a 200-year-old log cabin with resident ghost, a woman in a long blue dress who walks by my window. My second-floor window.

3. In a former job, I programmed robots.

What drew you to this particular theme? 

The delicate balance between humanity and machinery has always fascinated me. We humans love to create machines, and we need machinery to do what our puny muscles and minds cannot, but we’ve always had a love-hate relationship with it. Luddites, anyone?

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

Airplanes! The complete and total lack of control as you’re flung through the sky, defying gravity, is terrifying. Not to mention take-offs and landing.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Eddie Poe.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

I’m a serious Tolkien geek, and I’ve always been struck with how Saruman is happy to have trees shopped down to fuel his furnaces and make more weapons. Furnaces. Weapons. What can possibly go wrong?

What does your editing process look like? 

After I finish a story, I let it sit for a few days to get cold, then I read it from the beginning, editing as I go.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

I’m a die-hard pantser. I write first, then edit. My stories often take interesting and unexpected turns, true, but I can—usually—get them back on track.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a science fiction short about androids, and also on a new mystery series set at writers’ conferences. Because, really: haven’t we all seen people we’d like to murder at pretty much any conference?

Where can we find you online?

At my website: www.kgmcabeebooks.com and at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and all sorts of other places.

Thanks, K.G.!

Monday, 29 March 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Robert Bagnall



Robert Bagnall's "Driverless" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery. Out April the 3rd. Kindle pre-orders available now.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. Fat Boy Slim one asked me whether I had a football – I didn’t.

2. The now-defunct satirical magazine ‘Punch’ has owed me a bottle of whisky for over thirty years for a ‘Letter of the Week’.

3.  The make-up artists apart, I was the first person to see the ‘dead’ Inspector Morse: John Thaw was coming out of make-up as I—an unused extra—was going in.

What drew you to this particular theme?

Not sure I ever write about themes; to me, they’re things you see after the event, like Jesus in a piece of toast. I was curious where these characters would take me. Not to particularly pleasant places in this case, as I found out.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

Being amaxophobic, the car.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you?

I was given, aged ten or so, a book of short horror stories for a Christmas or birthday. ‘The Red Room’ by HG Wells made a huge impression on me; I still cite it as my favourite short story.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

Is it cheating to cite my own ‘Product Recall’ (Flash Fiction Online, and Best of British Science Fiction 2017)? – an unrequited love story between a fridge and a robotic floor polisher.

What does your editing process look like? 

Normally driven by panic over boiling a story down to the necessary word count, but of late far more controlled since I discovered ‘The 10% Solution’ by Ken Rand.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

Short stories are often like jokes – you know what the punch line needs to be and you write until you get there. Longer pieces, yes, I do plan, although they are rarely stuck to religiously.

What are you working on now?

Applying Ken Rand’s ‘The 10% Solution’ to all the stories that have almost got through the transom, but never quite make the final cut.

Where can we find you online?

meschera.blogspot.com

Thanks, Robert!


Friday, 26 March 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Linda Brucesmith



Linda Brucesmith's "#Selfie" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery. Out April the 3rd. Kindle pre-orders available now.


Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

I’m an introvert. Is that interesting? I’m not sure. What if I was to say, I’m an introvert, chronically shy, and paralysed by the idea of public speaking? I don’t like the spotlight. Which is why I made a career in journalism and public relations. So I could shine the spotlight on others, and keep it there.

What drew you to this particular theme? 

The double-edged sword that is social media. The fact that Facebook and all the other platforms facilitate such good and such ugliness at a keystroke. Social media brings people together and it pushes them apart. It hurts them and it saves them. I wanted to explore those notions in #Selfie.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

Anything used by the medical profession.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you? 

‘The Monkey’s Paw’, a supernatural short story by W. W. Jacobs (first published in 1902 in England in the collection ‘The Lady of the Barge’) pops up in most good ghost story collections and it scared the pants off me. I read it once - big mistake - at night, and was awake into the small hours, trying to forget it. In the story, Jacobs has three wishes granted to the owner of the monkey’s paw, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate. When it comes to atmospheric story-telling, Jacobs is a genius.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

Absolutely. The story of Data, the android in Star Trek. How could anyone not love Data?

What does your editing process look like? 

I edit as I go. How I envy all those who can write a full draft in one pass.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

For me, part of the joy of writing is in having the story come alive in those moments when you’re crossing the street, in the shower, or buying groceries. When suddenly, the next stage in a story comes to you. Those moments make it a living thing. I don’t plan. I dust off structure as part of the editing process.

What are you working on now?

An anthology on Brisbane bookshops!

Where can we find you online?

www.lindabrucesmith.com.au

Thanks, Linda!