Today I interview Australia's top Horror writer, Aaron Warwick Dries. He wrote a crazy awesome book called House of Sighs. You should all grab a copy from the link at the bottom of the page.
A little about myself… (*strokes chin*). Well, I’ve got the whole Bruce Wayne (sans fortune) /Batman (sans crime fighting) thing going on when it comes to my professional life. By day I work in the Aged and Disability sector, a frontline job, doing the nitty gritty. And by night I write these nasty little horror novels … in the dark. These dual paths rarely cross, and for the sanity of all involved, I think I’d like it to stay that way. I’m also an avid traveller (when I can afford it); I burn really easy in the sun (of which I have no choice); my first pet was a fish named Flipper (who committed suicide by leaping from his bowl); I’m the eldest of three boys (and I don’t let the other two forget it); and I spend way too much time wasting time (no excuses — or at least that’s what I tell myself).
Could you tell us what work you currently have available?
At the moment I’ve got three novels, a novella and a couple of short stories floating around on shelves across the world. My first novel is the award-winning HOUSE OF SIGHS, which is about a mentally disturbed bus driver who takes her passengers home with her to meet the family who drove her to insanity – grisly stuff, indeed. My second novel is THE FALLEN BOYS, a twisted psychological horror novel about a father’s journey to find out why his young son committed suicide, leading him from Australia’s sunlit streets to a rat-infested basement in the U.S. My third novel is A PLACE FOR SINNERS. And to find out what that beast is about, feel free to read on!
Tell us about your latest release.
The latest is A PLACE FOR SINNERS. It’s my great big backpacking book – a kind of evil Lonely Planet guide. Among other things, it’s about a young deaf woman trying to outrun her personal demons, running all the way to a scenic beach in Thailand, only to be confronted with … something … so much worse than her past. Ominous, enough? Basically it’s balls-to-the-wall horror, extreme, full-on, and absolutely merciless. I wanted to write a book that took the reader beyond blackness. It actually hurt to write the ending, but I had to go there. Sometimes, there are no choices.
For someone unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your writing?
I write as truthfully as I possibly can. Character always comes first with me. The only thing that doesn’t really register on my radar is mercy, which I guess is why a lot of people describe my work as brutal. Stylistically, I’m interested in the contrast between beautiful language, syntax, and rhythms vs. brutal, abrupt carnage. My words exist in that juxtaposition. There are some kind readers and reviewers out there who have described my writing as a mix of Thomas Harris meets Jack Ketchum, or William Peter Blatty meets Richard Laymon. I’m humbled by the comparisons as I’m a huge fan of all of the above authors, but I just write what comes out of my head. It’s working thus far. I hope. In essence, I like to think of myself as the ‘other kind of horror guy’. I’m never on-trend. I don’t give a shit about what’s popular. I write about what scares me, so it’s always personal. Honesty is everything — and I can’t expect a reader to hand over their hard-earned cash unless I give them a part of myself. Otherwise, what’s the point? In essence, my books are my own emotional vivisections. So come on over and see what’s on the slab. Chances are it ain’t pretty. But at least it’ll be raw, which not a lot of modern popular fiction is brave enough to be anymore.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
I’m about half-way through my new novel, titled LADY GUILOTINE. (I think) it will be the first in a projected trilogy. This one though … it’s different for me. It’s my first endeavour into supernatural horror, only it’s grounded in a reality I’ve already established, tonally, in my other works. I’m pouring all of my heart, soul, and secrets into this one. It’s the book I’ve always wanted to write, but wasn’t quite brave enough to put myself through the ordeal. Writing doesn’t come easy for me. Confronting my own past, my own losses, well, that’s even harder. It’s bleak. It’s painful. And I can’t wait for the world to experience it. It’s set in a nursing home and I know what they’re like. I know what they are like, deeply.
What writers have had the most influence on your own writing?
Like pretty much all writers, I write because I read. And there were a handful of wordsmiths who made me who I am today. I proudly stand on their shoulders. People like Robert Bloch (Psycho 2 is my favourite), Richard Matheson (whose The Incredible Shrinking Man blew me away), Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca), Stephen King (so many great titles, but the one that really shook me up was Gerald’s Game), James Herbert (The Fog taught me about just how much reading can physically hurt…) and Clive Barker (whose Imajica I’m convinced is the greatest novel ever written). These were the authors who influenced me at the time I really needed influencing. But was it not for R.L. Stine, I wouldn’t have even got into reading in the first place. Looking back, I owe a lot to that man. I’m quite proud to say that.
What was the last thing you read?
I’m one of those people who will read a couple of books at any given time. At the moment I’m re-reading Mick Garris’s Development Hell in preparation for his latest, Salome. I’m halfway through a play called Veronica’s Room by Ira Levin, which is absolutely diabolical. And I’m almost done with (fellow Australian) John Safran’s non-fiction piece, Murder In Mississippi — and that one’s got me on the edge of my seat. I’ll probably finish it up tonight.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
I write, direct, shoot, edit (the whole shebang) all of my book trailers, too. I worked in Video Production and television before evolving into my current role as a novelist. This is just one of my many creative outlets (I also paint and I’m an illustrator). I couldn’t have predicted the reception they’ve been gifted with, and with a lot of authors telling me I’ve set some kind of benchmark as to how they should be done. I find that incredibly humbling. I’m a huge movie fan, and cinema has influenced my writing as much as any of the above authors. And I think it shows in my fiction. HOUSE OF SIGHS is the kind of thing Peckinpah would’ve made; THE FALLEN BOYS is like a techno Lucio Fulci film, or as sweaty and anarchistic as William Friedkin; and A PLACE FOR SINNERS is David Lynch meets John Boorman.
Check out Aaron's book trailers below:
A Place for Sinners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-olJdOZqxho&list=UUzQCzOybh6-HPDcyH6kH8cQ
Check out Aaron's official website for the latest news: http://www.aarondries.com/
Connect with him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AaronDries
Get his books here: