Short Sharp Shocks! 71 is Autotomy Cocktail by previous DEMAIN author Zachary Ashford. The book is published on the 2nd July (available now for pre-sales) with a cover by Adrian Baldwin.
Short Sharp Shocks! #71
Autotomy Cocktail: Zachary Ashford
Serge Couture would do anything to rid himself of the illness that’s destroying his life. So when he discovers he can engineer his own cure with a DIY gene-editing kit, he jumps at the chance. And why wouldn’t he? It’s not as if his life could get any worse…
Autotomy Cocktail: an over-the-top tale of bad science, bad decisions, bad jokes, and bad mutations.
“Autotomy Cocktail is the starfish-themed body horror bonanza you never knew you wanted.” – Pat Lacey, author
(with a cover by Adrian Baldwin)
Zachary Ashford Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 15th June 2021 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome back to DEMAIN Zach – hope you’re doing okay during this very very weird time. Let’s get down to it – can you tell us who you are and why you became a writer.
ZACHARY ASHFORD: For me, it was just something I’d always wanted to do, and although I’d done some courses and things, I never really sat down and just did the thing. When I eventually did, I had a story picked up by Dark Moon Digest (which later become the second half of my first Short Sharp Shocks!) and used that as impetus to keep going. I’ve not got a couple of novellas on Unnerving’s Rewind or Die line, a couple of Short Sharp Shocks! and a release coming out through Horrific Tales later this year. I’m thrilled to be writing stories that people seem to dig.
DP: I’m really happy you’re building your audience – thoroughly deserved. What was your first introduction to the horror genre?
ZA: I think I spoke about this last time, so I’m gonna give some love to my first real look at the Indie Horror scene this time. I was a reader of the Great Jones Street app back when that was live, and I found Max Booth’s story Blood Dust on there. That led me to his website, and a book by Patrick Lacey called Bone Saw. I bought that book and it kicked ass. I didn’t realise people were actually writing fun horror books like that, and BOOM, I was into a whole world of awesome stories. There’s so much cool stuff in the genre that it’s amazing to just immerse yourself in it.
DP: 100%! I love horror because it really is a broad church with something for everyone…so, your new Short Sharp Shocks!
ZA: Yes, as you know this is my second entry in the series, and although my first is played straight, this one’s probably more similar in tone to my Sole Survivor novels. It’s very deliberately over-the-top. I wanted a comedic vibe to balance some of the more visceral aspects, and I’d been watching and reading some comedy-horrors and old-school EC comics around the time I was writing it. That’s not to say it doesn’t have nasty aspects; it certainly does, but I also want people to have a bit of a chuckle at this one and know that it’s a bit ironic. I think I’d gone down a YouTube rabbit hole and was looking at the idea of CRISPR DNA experiments (and the fact they could be done with home kits) and wanted to make a kind of response to that. I hadn’t really done much with body horror before, and I wanted to give that a go. Hopefully, people enjoy it.
DP: I’m sure they will. I loved the black humour of it all and really thought it’d make a cracking low budget movie. I said previously that horror was a broad church, what does horror mean to you?
ZA: I’ve always loved this question. It’s so different to everyone that it makes for a great discussion point. I’m in the camp that says horror doesn’t have to be ‘scary’ as such. For me, it covers the gamut of things that are deliberately over-the-top and ‘shocking’ in terms of gore, extremity, and bad taste, as well as those things that give you goosebumps (like a well-crafted ghost story). Of course, there’s so much more to it than that. The psychological horror of things that make you uncomfortable or that have the cringe and squirm factor are just as much a part of the horror genre as the traditional ghosts and goblins stuff, and that leads me to my final point – monsters! I love monsters in my horror.
DP: I guess you’re frightened of monsters then?
ZA: Of sharks, I am, yes. I don’t know if I mentioned this in the last interview, but considering they’re just big fish, they scare the crap out of me. I’m so not a fan of swimming in the ocean here in Oz. The place is chockers with them. They haven’t made their way into my work yet, but I think I’ll get there eventually. There’s obviously a lot of fun to have with them.
DP: There definitely is. I did write a shark story once for an antho which never happened, it was set off the coast of Australia actually – will have to dust that down someday soon. Um, so creatively is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?
ZA: I have a background in radio copywriting, so I’d love to write a proper radio play. I’ve done some sequential shorts in the past, but nothing that I could release holus-bolus. That would be amazing.
DP: I was lucky enough to have a short story broadcast on the BBC earlier in 2021 I’m really liking the medium and would love to do more stuff too – great fun where you can really let your imagination run riot. Writing: long term or short term career?
ZA: I’d love for it to be a long-term career, but even if it doesn’t become that, it’s something I’m going to keep doing. It’s very rewarding to see your stuff out there.
DP: Exactly, exactly! The lockdown…
ZA: We were really lucky here in Australia, and although we’re on the verge of another three-day lockdown tonight, we weren’t locked down for too long. The biggest challenge for me was teaching from home.
DP: I bet it was!
Mr Ashford, cheers for your time – it was great talking to you again and all the best with your second Short Sharp Shocks!
Zachary Ashford is the author of the killer koala creature features, Sole Survivor and Sole Survivor 2: Drop Bears on the Loose. Those, and his previous Short Sharp Shocks! The Encampment by the Gorge & Blood Memory have seen him called a “master of Australian bush horror”. He hopes that his next release, Beneath the Craggy Steep, a post-apocalyptic thriller set in the Gondwana rainforests of the east coast, lives up to that acclaim.
You can follow Zachary on Twitter @ashford_zachary
Find out more about Zachary via his official website www.zacharyashford.com