{Demain Publishing Announcement} The Again-Walkers By Deborah Sheldon, out 24th June 2022.

We welcome Deborah Sheldon back to DEMAIN with her horror novelette The Again-Walkers, published on June 24th (with a cover by Adrian Baldwin). This is Deborah’s third title with DEMAIN, following her Short Sharp Shocks! Hand To Mouth and her Murder! Mystery! Mayhem! title Garland Cove.

The Again-Walkers was inspired by ninth-century Danish mythology and superstition. The premise: To end a blood feud between two Viking families, Svana Norup is offered as a peace-pledge bride to blacksmith, Hallkell Jenson. Within weeks of moving to Hallkell’s village, however, Svana meets and falls for the shepherd, Agmundr Rask. If Svana and Agmundr want to make a life together, they must first get rid of Hallkell. But can the lovers risk murder when Hallkell might return from the dead to take revenge?

You can buy The Again-Walkers from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Deborah Sheldon Talks To Demain Publishing

(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog, 7th May 2022 HERE)

DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello again Deborah! Great to be working with you again. So, for those that don’t know your work can you tell us a little about yourself.

DEBORAH SHELDON: Hi. I was born a writer – I used to draw stories before I knew my letters – and I’ve never fallen out of love with the written word. Over 37 years, my career has segued from magazine articles to TV scripts to non-fiction books to medical writing to fiction to horror fiction to stage plays to poetry, and I love it all with every breath. I’ll die a writer too. You’ll no doubt find me slumped over my keyboard, a half-drunk glass of chardonnay on my desk and a half-written story on my computer monitor.

DP: Sounds a great way to go out to be honest. So, The Again-Walkers, why did you decide to write it?

DS: I’m married and our son is now in his early twenties. Throughout his childhood, he held a deep fascination with antiquity and old cultures. My husband is Danish on his mother’s side so, naturally, our young son was fascinated with all things Viking. In supporting his hobby, I discovered an interest of my own in the Viking lifestyle, gods and traditions. Contrary to popular tropes, the Vikings weren’t marauding horn-helmeted savages. Instead, they enjoyed a sophisticated culture which they shared – quite often non-savagely! – with other peoples and lands, to everyone’s benefit. I enjoyed the Viking superstitions and found myself drawn to their belief in revenants and particularly “again-walkers”, which are restless souls whose thirst for payback reanimates them as mindlessly vengeful creatures.

DP: That’s really cool, so did it take long to write?

DS: I’d wanted to write something about Viking revenants for some time, but the idea didn’t take root until I experienced one of the worst nightmares of my life. The nightmare woke me, sweating, in a sheer gasping panic. I had to get out of bed and turn on lights just to stop my heart from slamming around. (If I wake from a dream and start thinking about it, I often slip back into it when I fall asleep again.) How did I calm down? By telling myself that, wow, I’d just got a kick-arse ending to my again-walker story, and all I had to do was work backwards to find the plot. So, my nightmare actually forms the climax of my novelette. I started writing The Again-Walkers the next day. It probably took about three weeks to write, allowing for fallow days in between. The Again-Walkers was first released in my award-winning and multi-award-nominated collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (IFWG Australia, 2017), and I’m thrilled that DEMAIN Publishing has chosen to turn my novelette into a stand-alone title.

DP: I really enjoyed reading it and even more so now reading your explanation above. Can you tell us a little more about your writing process…

DS: It’s start stop, start stop, start stop. I researched ninth-century Danish mythology, superstition and culture to get myself grounded before writing, but still had to pause at every turn to check historical accuracy. For example, what was the fashion? What about jewellery? Hairstyles? How did villages look and function? What was the layout and décor of a typical house? How did people travel? What was the hierarchy of professions? Relations between the sexes? Between relatives? Opinions on marriage? Blood feuds? Political systems? Justice systems? And on and on. Even what people ate for dinner and how they cooked their meals had to be researched. The Again-Walkers was perhaps one of the most research-intensive stories I’ve ever written because it mattered to get the details right. Verisimilitude suspends disbelief in the reader. The only way to get verisimilitude is through extensive research. That said, I only included the very tip of the iceberg. If a writer gets too enamoured with research, the story risks becoming a Wikipedia info-dump.

DP: As somebody who writes period drama/historical stories I really loved your balance…you totally nailed it so well done. Right now I’m looking at several historical projects…if The Again-Walkers was going to be made into a movie, who would you want in it?

DS: Fun question! Anya Taylor-Joy has an otherworldly, ethereal, sensual, Nordic beauty about her. I think her acting style would make a wonderfully complex and nuanced Svana Norup (my main character).

DP: Great choice. Deborah, horror fiction has a long history, which era do you consider the most effective period in the whole history of the genre?

DS: That’s a tough one to answer because I believe every period has something to offer. Over my lifetime as a reader, I’ve delved through the centuries – basically, from ancient Greece onwards – and read a lot of amazing works. Currently, I’m re-investigating nineteenth-century horror fiction, including In a Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. As a fan of horror films, I’m also working my way through Lon Chaney’s filmography – what an incredible actor! In short, every horror era is amazing in its own way. My advice for the novice aficionado is to cast a wide net and enjoy.

DP: That’s brilliant and you’re so right regarding Lon Chaney – I don’t think people realise what a great actor he actually was. What would you say horror meant to you?

DS: Honesty. The universe is chaos, bad things happen to good people, and everyone suffers and dies. Yeah, I guess I’m a bit of a nihilist although I try to consider myself a stoic. As both a writer and a reader, the horror genre helps to reassure me that life is messy and we’re all in this random meat-grinder together. It keeps my propensity for generalised anxiety in check.

DP: And finally Deborah, what draws readers to the horror genre? What do readers look for?

DS: I believe that readers are looking for truth, for a window into the genuine human experience. It’s reassuring to read a story where crazy things happen for no reason, especially when life is kicking you about. And it can feel cathartic to be scared or unsettled in a safe environment and come out the other side not just unscathed, but moved and entertained.

DP: With that, thank you very much for your time Deborah. Best of luck with The Again-Walkers.

Deborah Sheldon

DEBORAH SHELDON is an award-winning author from Melbourne, Australia, who writes short stories, novellas and novels across the darker spectrum of horror, crime and noir. Her award-nominated titles include the novels Body Farm Z, Contrition and Devil Dragon; the novella Thylacines; and collection Figments and Fragments: Dark Stories. Her collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories won the Australian Shadows ‘Best Collected Work’ Award, was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award, and long-listed for a Bram Stoker. She has won the Australian Shadows ‘Best Edited Work’ Award twice; as editor of Midnight Echo 14, and for the anthology she conceived and edited Spawn: Weird Horror Tales About Pregnancy, Birth and Babies. Deb’s short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, Midnight Echo, Andromeda Spaceways, AntipodeanSF and Dimension6, been nominated for various awards, and included in ‘best of’ anthologies including Year’s Best Hardcore Horror. Her previous titles with Demain Publishing are Hand to Mouth and Garland Cove. Other credits include feature articles for Australian and international magazines, non-fiction books (Reed Books, Random House), TV scripts such as NEIGHBOURS, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing. Visit Deb at www.deborahsheldon.wordpress.com

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.