Interview by Matthew Morrison.
Bram Stoker Award Nominee, twice-World Fantasy Award Nominee and Shirley Jackson Award winner, Kaaron Warren has lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Fiji. She’s sold more than 200 short stories, four novels – the multi-award-winning Slights, Walking the Tree, Mistification and The Grief Hole (IFWG Publishing, Australia) – and six short story collections, including the multi-award-winning Through Splintered Walls and her latest short story collection Cemetery Dance Select: Kaaron Warren.
You can find her at kaaronwarren.wordpress.com and she tweets as @KaaronWarren
The Grief Hole will be launched in August.
Congrats on the imminent release of your novel The Grief Hole. You’ve described it as “dark and nasty” and said that it “hurt to write”. How do you find the strength to plumb those dark depths and put that pain on paper?
I’m driven. These are the stories that present themselves to me; I’m not exactly sure why. There are times when I don’t want to hit the keyboard and lay the next words down, because I’ll be heading into those dark depths you’re talking about, rather than staying on the surface with cats, sunlight, family, friends. But honestly; one is reality. The other one exists in my imagination. And I always know I can come back out.
You have a knack for creating truly monstrous characters and disturbing images, and leaving readers (this one in particular) with many a long-lingering sense of disquiet. What are you going to haunt us with next?
I have a finished novel inspired by my story ‘The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club’ that explores crime and punishment, asking how cruel it would be to give a criminal eternal life then set them out in an abandoned tower where there’s very little life to life.
I have a story in an anthology called Sisterhood, imagined all-women religion stories. Mine’s about a group who dig up the dead to see if they deserve forgiveness.
A SF-Horror novella from Cemetery Dance called Bitters about a giant metal man and what fills him.
It’s a cliché to say I love them all the same, but I do. That said, I’ll never forget the first time I sold a short story. I can remember where I was standing (it was the same place I was standing when I found out that Princess Di was dead) and how very stunned I was. The editors actually called me, because I’d moved from Sydney to Canberra so a letter didn’t reach me. I can’t remember how they got my phone number.
My first Aurealis Award came a few years after that, when my son was only seven weeks old and I was in a world of sleeplessness. That amazing award, landing in my letterbox, could not have been better timed to convince me to keep at it.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I’m loving the anthologies Australian publishers are putting out at the moment, such as Blurring the Line from Cohesion Press and In Your Face from FableCroft Publishing. In the latter, I adored stories from Jason Nahrung, Kirstyn McDermott and Angela Slatter.
I also loved Alan Baxter’s Crow Shine collection, coming out from Ticonderoga (I got a sneak peek!) Other brilliant single author collections came from Ian McHugh – Angel Dust, Ticonderoga – and Deb Kalin – Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
I’d like to sit with the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer because I’ve long thought that his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable would be my Desert Island book so I might as well take him with me.