This week I’m doing an interview trilogy for the upcoming Gothic anthology, Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard, edited by the talented Rayne Hall.
Wait, what? Priscilla is posting three days in a row? This must be something special!
Why yes, dear blog reader, it’s an interview series of three fellow Among the Headstones contributors (“fellow contributors” as in I also have a story in the anthology, woohoo!). First up, author Cameron Trost. Full details about the haunting anthology are provided at the end of the interview.
What’s the creepiest place you’ve ever been to, Cameron?
I’ve been to countless creepy places over the years. There are castle ruins, enchanted forests, abandoned asylums, underground bunkers and pagan stone circles.
But in keeping with the theme of the anthology, the catacombs of Saint Sebastian on the Appian Way in Rome spring to mind. You enter a church and are led underground through tunnels lined with niches containing the remains of early Christians. For anyone who has read Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and Doyle’s “The New Catacomb,” you’ll understand how creepy it is to visit such an unusual site.
For your story in Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard, where did you get the inspiration?
I’ve often walked home drunk from a party through a cemetery. In real life, I always made it home in one piece and without incident. Naturally, I decided to spice it up for my story “The Shortcut” and give the reader the creeps!
Do graveyards scare you?
Graveyards don’t scare me. While we all enjoy a spine-tingling ghost story, the living are the real danger. So many graves belong to young men who were killed in a car or motorbike accident, or a young woman who fell victim to domestic violence. This is the stuff of nightmares. The cemetery in the ghost town of Walhalla, Australia, is full of children who died during epidemics.
Today, in 2022, our political leaders—in some countries more than others—still demonstrate their inability to react competently to a pandemic. As a student of history and a writer, this is what I find unfathomable and frightening—that as a species, we seem incapable of learning lessons that keep being hammered into us time after time, and we hold on to failed systems and structures instead of embracing fair and sustainable progress.
What do you like about the Horror genre?
I regularly dip into supernatural horror short stories and am a firm believer that this length lends itself readily to the genre—Poe and Doyle are prime examples. But what attracts me more is psychological suspense, exploring the terrifying and disturbing within the realms of reality—the possible, even if not always plausible. I suppose this is what I find appealing about ghost stories. While I don’t for a moment entertain the idea that vampires and werewolves exist, when it comes to spirits…well, we can never be quite sure, can we?
Who is your favorite Gothic author? Why?
The author isn’t strictly speaking a “Gothic author,” but the one book that came to mind in answering this question was The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. It’s one of the most troubling books I’ve ever read, and it definitely explores themes shared with more traditional Gothic fiction. If you haven’t read it and you’re, well, a daring reading, you have to grab a copy. You may not like it—although I certainly did—but you won’t forget it!
As a writer, what do you like about the short story format?
I love the short story and consider it a superior format to the novel. What I mean by that is quite simply that there’s no room for distraction and glossing over in a short story, and you have to make sure readers understand what you want them to understand—and not more—in a succinct way. You have to plunge into the narrative and introduce the protagonist from the very first paragraph—if not sentence—and you need to make readers think you’re leading them in one direction while actually taking them elsewhere in order to deliver a clever twist at the end. It’s quite a challenge.
What’s the scariest story you’ve written?
It really depends who you are and what scares you, but I think my short story “Lauren,” which is included in my The Animal Inside collection, is terrifying. It starts with a young man and a young woman meeting in a bar. For those who’ve never read my work before, it might appear at first to be a romantic story. As the story unfolds and the flirting becomes stranger, the reader starts to realise that it’s not going to end with wedding bells. I lay hints along the way, and although this story doesn’t technically have a twist ending, exactly what happens tends to take most readers by surprise. It scares me just thinking about it.
Thanks for visiting, Cameron!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cameron Trost is an author of mystery and suspense fiction best known for his puzzles featuring Oscar Tremont, Investigator of the Strange and Inexplicable. He has written two novels, Letterbox and The Tunnel Runner, and two collections, Hoffman’s Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales and The Animal Inside. Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Cameron lives with his wife and two sons near Guérande in southern Brittany, between the rugged coast and treacherous marshlands. He runs the independent publishing house, Black Beacon Books, and is a member of the Australian Crime Writers Association. You can find out more about him at https://camerontrost.com and read more of his strange and creepy tales by grabbing a copy of his latest collection, The Animal Inside.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest—and creepiest—graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.
Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.
You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.
Now let’s open the gate—can you hear it creak on its hinges?—and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.
But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.
Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones
The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.) A paperback will follow.
That’s all for now. Please join me tomorrow when I interview the award-winning author Kyla Lee Ward, and the following day when we learn from Zachary Ashford which vocal Australian mammal provides a nocturnal chorus for his story “The Hound in the Cemetery.” (Hint: it ain’t the hound.)