Short Sharp Shocks! #38
Theresa Derwin: Hearts & Bones
Reviewed By Stred Stred
‘Hearts & Bones’ is a two story collection by Theresa Derwin that represents another amazing release in Demain Publishing’s Short Sharp Shocks! Series.
This one comes with an odd little story about my reading experience. I read this previously – 100% remember writing a review and sending it to Gavin for Kendall Reviews. But, like boats going through the Bermuda Triangle, it left port but never arrived at its destination. So, with a review slot pending, I dove back in to re-read and re-write this review!
The first story is ‘Doris.’ This would be the ‘Hearts’ part of the title. This is an incredibly sweet story buried under a post-apocalyptic, creature-feature. As the world crumbles and ‘things’ scurry forth from the dark crevices created, a woman befriends a dog and the two survive together. I adored this tale and on its own would have elevated any rating for this collection, if the second story faltered.
But fear not, because the ‘Bones’ story in the title, officially known as ‘Fruit of the Womb’ was equally fantastic.
This story has two sections or two plot lines to it. A farmer struggling with his crops stops for a pint in a pub and meets Attis, a large man who likes to help out folks on his journeys. The second plotline is that of two travellers, who like to do off-the-beaten-path activities on their trips. Sight-seeing and touristy stuff is great and all, but they want to make memories before settling down. They too meet Attis, and Attis gets them a gig helping the farmer.
Once Derwin reveals all with this story, you’ll be blown away at how well those pieces fell into place and just what the entire plot truly was. Outstanding.
Derwin was the 2019 recipient of the HWA Mary Shelley Scholarship, and this mini-collection shows just how fantastic of a writer she is.
This was a ton of fun and while I typically never re-read something I’ve read before, I’m glad I made an exception for this one.
Hearts & Bones
“Hearts & Bones” a collection of two short stories by 2019 HWA Mary Shelley Scholarship recipient, Theresa Derwin.
Of ‘Doris’ Theresa recently said: “Well, I decided to write my own interpretation of the Harlan Ellison story ‘A Boy and his Dog’ but with a woman instead.”
And ‘Fruit Of The Womb’, a Christmas story gone wrong – inspired by a Partridge in a Pear Tree. As Theresa herself says: “I love Christmas horror. And it’s a bit of a folk horror involving the idea of fertility.”
Theresa Derwin Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 25th October 2019 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome to the family Theresa. I know time is precious for you. So let’s get straight down to it. Kindly tell us a little about yourself.
THERESA DERWIN: Hi. I started writing at age 9, inspired by the BBC horror double bill that used to show when I was a kid. Other girls dreamt of glass slippers; I dreamt of headless horseman – I kind of scared my first teacher. I only really started putting work out there, when I became ill seven years ago, and used it to escape my sofa. Now I’m doing the MA Creative Writing at BCU.
DP: Yeap, well done on that! So with regards to Heart & Bones – which is made up of two stories, Doris and Fruit Of The Womb – what is the book about?
TD: Fruit Of The Womb is a Christmas story gone wrong – inspired by a Partridge In A Pear Tree. I love Christmas horror. And it’s a bit of a folk horror involving the idea of fertility – whereas Doris. Well, I decided to write my own interpretation of the Harlan Ellison story A Boy And His Dog with a woman instead.
DP: Did you have to do much research for your stories?
TD: For Fruit Of The Womb, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of harvest time, birth and rebirth, so I did lots of research into fertility deities – and I might have researched Christmas – just a bit!
DP: Good for you, good for you. What creatively is your biggest success to date do you think?
TD: Actually, I think Doris is a very strong story. It did well in a few long lists of anthologies but didn’t quite make it. However with each near miss, I sought feedback from friends and beta readers, re-working it until it felt right. And now, I think it’s as good as I can make it.
DP: We agree and were very happy to publish it. Talking on a more personal level, what books/authors do you read and do they influence you?
TD: I love the way horror is right now seeing a real revival. I’m a huge fan of the small press, and it’s great seeing bigger names such as Adam Nevill pioneer his own voice through that medium. I love the work that Demain [thank you!] and Black Shuck Books are doing, but also Titan Books. Clive Barker was always an early influence, but now there’s so much to choose from it’s like a beautiful time for the genre. I have recently discovered Paul Tremblay, Laura Mauro, Angela Slatter and Jeff Strand, though Tim Waggoner, Wrath James White, Christine Morgan and Dave Jeffery are working in areas I want to explore. As for the anthology, it’s a its highest level right now, and I predict great things for again for Dan Howarth and James Everington.
DP: Some great names there and a couple already published by Demain! Someone says ‘horror’ to you – what do you think that word means?
TD: Well, if I had the perfect scalpel, I could tear that question to pieces. If I also had 90k words to use. It’s personal. So, for me personally, pushing boundaries, dark mingled with ironic humour, fun and risqué.
DP: Great definition. Is there a particular horror book or film that you’re looking forward to?
TD: Having only recently seen Hereditary and Us, I want to see Midsommar, whatever Jordan Peele does next, and Rabid from the Soska Sisters. Books?? Too many to mention but The Reddening Adam Nevill and Priya Sharma’s TOR books.
DP: What scares Theresa Derwin?
TD: Spiders – Big Ass Spiders. I included Giant Vampire Spiders from Outer Space in my collection ‘Wolf at The Door’.
DP: In terms of creativity, what would you like to do in the future?
TD: Aha! Screenwriting and comics. Though I’m currently working on a screenplay for my MA. And, it’s Christmas romance!!
DP: Cool. So, Marvel or DC?
TD: Both? Well, if we’re talking TV, DC is killing it. Never mind the huge crossover events, it’s Titans and Doom Patrol that kick arse. Though I must catch up with Swampy.
DP: I’m yet to see Doom Patrol but love Titans – I think Curran Walters who plays Jason Todd is outstanding and I’m actually trying to get his interest on a script I’m writing right now. As soon as I started writing the character he popped into my head straight away – hopefully we can make that happen. Anyway, enough about me. Final one Theresa, please tell us something about you we don’t know.
TD: I once yelled “Yogurty” at William Shatner.
Theresa Derwin has lived in Birmingham since birth and her career has been pretty varied; from Warehouse Packer, then bar work, to being a crap waitress then swiftly into retail, Admin, Professional Student and dosser until finally entering the Civil Service in 1999. She left the Service in 2012 on medical grounds, then decided to pursue a career as a writer.
You can find out more about Theresa via her official website www.theresaderwin.co.uk
Please follow Theresa on Twitter @BarbarellaFem
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
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