Australian Story-Teller Brian Craddock talks to Kendall Reviews.

Brian Craddock is an Australian story-teller who has worked in various mediums (comics, puppetry, film), but loves writing most of all. His short story Ismail’s Expulsion won the Australian Shadow Awards 2017 for Long Fiction. When not writing, Brian can be found making monsters or dabbling in amateur photography, and is prone to wandering the neighbourhood pulling out noxious weeds (no word of a lie).

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I’m quite new to the publishing community, having been published in 2015 in Midian Unmade by Tor Books. My focus is mostly on horror, but I do have a series of stories that focus of urban life in Australia, beginning with my debut novel Eucalyptus Goth (2017, Oscillate Wildly Press). My last book was The Dalziel Files (2018 Broken Puppet Books), a collection of horror short stories originally published in Steve Dillon’s Things in the Well series.

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But for me writing has been a part of my life since I can remember. Hazy recollections of childhood attempts at self-publishing, making my own picture books of Kimba the White Lion. A series of underground comic books in the 90s, centred on the Goth subculture, and, much later again, writing a puppet webseries called The Hobble & Snitch Show. I’ve been a puppeteer and puppet maker since the mid-90s, actually, using that as an early avenue of storytelling to live audiences. Terrifying stuff, sometimes. It eventually led me into special effects makeup, and thus a stint as a makeup artist for The Lion King musical, completing my circle of life from Kimba to Simba, childhood to adulthood.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

I love to watch films. And travel. A lot of my short fiction is set in various parts of the world, based on my own travels abroad – I see no sense in restricting my writing to a suburban, white-bread landscape. I want colour and spectacle. That’s why the protagonist of The Dalziel Files is a globetrotting photojournalist – it was the easiest way I knew to put him in different cultures so often.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

The Jungle Book. I read it very late in my childhood, but I loved it. It was immeasurably joyful to finally hold a copy of the sequel in my hands many years later. Don’t watch any film adaptation with me unless you want a blow-by-blow commentary on the nuances of the characters and their motivations, and how they differ from the books.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I couldn’t pick a favourite album (it depends on my mood at the time), but music plays an integral part in my writing. A novelette (The Lunatic) I wrote in 2001 (unpublished save for a few photocopied copies) began each chapter with a verse of popular music. In Eucalyptus Goth, the title of each chapter for the character of Alex comes from Siouxsie and the Banshees. Music is referenced constantly by my characters. For Punk’s Not Dead (published in Petrified Punks by Oscillate Wildly Press), the album cover for iconic Brisbane band The Saints plays a pivotal role in the narrative.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

I love the vision of Clive Barker for Hellraiser and Nightbreed, the various elements he brought to both works. And though he’s not a horror film director exactly (he was known as a comedy director), Joon-ho Bong’s The Host is wonderful. Directorially, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s Delicatessen is superb. The Belgian black comedy (more a crime film, than horror), Man Bites Dog, is also a favourite for its direction (and copied a lot, I’ve noticed). Timur Bekmambetov’s Night Watch rates highly, too (as do the series of books by Sergei Lukyanenko – I highly recommend them!).

KR: What are you reading now?

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Currently I’m reading Cameron Trost’s Tunnel Runner, which I’ll follow up with D. H. Lawrence’s Kangaroo. I don’t have any horror books lined up, at the moment.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

I’m a fan of Irvine Welsh, so though not his strongest work, I couldn’t help but fall head-first into Dead Men’s Trousers last year. But it has been a while since a book thoroughly impressed me. I have a tendency to re-read a great book or author whom I’ve previously liked if the misses start counting higher than the hits.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback. Better on the eyes, better on the wrists, and great on the olfactory senses.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Initially it was HP Lovecraft, and my very early writing reflected that immensely. Lovecraft, and Anne Rice. But I’ve since been inspired by a wide range of authors: Spike Milligan, Clive Barker, Nick Cave, William Burroughs, Mervyn Peake, Irvine Welsh, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Australian author Louis Stone inspired my urban fiction style, actually. Essentially, I admire any author who can delight me, and there has been so, so many.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I almost always follow the story. I like to try and deliberately stop the narrative and ask myself where it could go instead. I’m mindful of the subconscious following well-worn territory. Otherwise it’s just cut-and-paste stuff, isn’t it?

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I begin with minimal research, and end up neck-deep in the stuff, researching as I the story unfolds, sometimes doing nothing but research for a week solid before I’m back into writing the actual story itself. Pre-internet, I’d trawl libraries and encyclopaedias. Online is where most of the research happens now, but I’ll also ask around, looking for someone who might work in a particular field I’m writing about. I’m obsessed with getting that one line or turn of phrase only a reader with intimate experience of the subject would recognise.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

Eclectic. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, and as such can and will shape my narrative techniques to suit the story I’m writing. For example, my non-horror series of semi-autobiographical fiction is written from a psychological realism perspective. And I’m particularly fond of picaresque narratives, too. The Dalziel Files have been compared to Clive Barker’s writing. The Cemetery Children is the first in a series of horror sci-fi tales set in the city of Jabodetabek, a future dystopian Jakarta, and these stories are an altogether different style again for me.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

A tonne of procrastination, some self-recrimination, and finally a cup of sugary tea to accompany the furious typing. Add a dash of foul language and temper for when I’m interrupted for something as menial as food or sleep.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

Not my favourite story because of the story per se, but for what it helped achieve. Steve Dillon’s The Refuge Collection was a series of anthologies in a shared world, and writers were encouraged to build upon the foundations Dillon had put in place. My first story for those books was Plato’s Cave, and the publication of the Refuge stories and tomes generated money for two aid agencies that assisted refugees in Australia and the UK. It was an honour as a writer to have been part of that fundraising effort.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

I try to take on board what editors and publishers say, even if at the time I rage like Godzilla at contrary suggestions for my work. I’m not one for changing an idea to suit the world at large, but on things such as technique and development it can be necessary.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

I’m proud of the little I have achieved, but won’t rest on my laurels. I know much of what I write is wanting (editors tell me so!). But it can be a hard slog.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

Have someone else edit your work.

KR: What scares you?

Oblivion. The absolute pointlessness of everything.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

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I’ll be published in Beside the Seaside – Tales from the Daytripper (Things in the Well series) and The Asylum Diaries: Arkham (Oscillate Wildly Press). The former is a horror anthology which will include my story about a mysterious puppetshow on a pier. I have a story set in the deserts of Pakistan in the latter, the first issue of which is dedicated to Lovecraft.

KR: What are you working on now?

A prequel to the novel Eucalyptus Goth is currently in the works, and a couple of short stories to follow on from The Dalziel Files.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

There aren’t many of my characters I’d want to be stranded with anywhere, let alone a deserted island – they’re either awful people or they’re highly damaged.

b) One fictional character from any other book.

Lestat de Lioncourt. So long as he doesn’t bleed me dry, as a vampire he can fly great distances, so we wouldn’t be stranded for long (presuming I’m not left behind). The bonus is I might acquire immortal life from it, so I have much longer to dwell upon the pointlessness of everything, as mentioned before.

c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

Mark Zuckerberg – I reckon he’d find a way to miraculously network with 5,000 “friends” and if none could come save me, at least they’d be able to furnish me with survival tips and the latest in memes.

KR: Thank you very much Brian.

Brian Craddock

Brian Craddock began his artistic career as a touring puppeteer before moving onto underground comics as both writer and illustrator, then dabbling at documentary film-making before finally working as a special effects makeup artist for film and theatre (Disney’s The Lion King musical was the feather in his cap from that exploration). All throughout these ventures he was always writing, but it is only in recent years that the fruits of those labours have seen earnest yield.

He has travelled throughout Pakistan and Indonesia, and both those countries have much bearing upon his fiction. Comedy and horror are his go-to genres, although his début novel is about his time spent in Australia’s Goth subculture and living with mental illness.

You can visit Brian’s author page  here

Beside The Seaside: Tales From The Daytripper

A seaside-themed anthology of short, scary stories from past masters as well as award-winning and and emerging new talent.

“For anyone with happy memories of days out to the seaside. May our memories last longer than our days, and stick faster than floss to our fingers!”

You can buy Beside The Seaside: Tales From The Daytripper from Amazon UK Amazon US

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