2016 Snapshot: Brett McBean

Interview by Greg Chapman.

IMG_0155Brett McBean is an award-winning horror and thriller author. His books, which include The Mother, The Last Motel, Wolf Creek: Desolation Game, and The Invasion, have been published in Australia, the US, and Germany. He’s been nominated for the Aurealis, Ditmar, and Ned Kelly awards, and he won the 2011 Australian Shadows Award for his collection, Tales of Sin and Madness. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and daughter. Find out more at: brettmcbean.com
You recently released a home invasion novel, called The Invasion. Home invasions are unfortunately quite common around the world – is that why you chose to write a story about it? 

I wrote about home invasions because they’ve been a fear of mine since I was young, and I believe, for horror writers, in writing from your fears. I also often take cues from real life when writing fiction, and I’ve been fascinated by the horrible Manson murders ever since I was a teenager, and wanted to do a fictional version of that crime.

Your tales are heavily influenced by authors such as Richard Laymon, with characters put into situations of brutality. Is that the type of horror fiction you prefer to write? Is there an area of horror you’ve considered writing in?

Yes. I’ve always enjoyed horror fiction that pushes boundaries and doesn’t flinch from the barbarous nature of violence. I like honesty in fiction, stories that strive for an emotional truth. Even with a writer like Laymon, who falls into more fun, pulpy horror, there’s almost always an element of truth in the depiction of human nature: exaggerated at times, sure, but Laymon took care (and devilish delight, I think) in taking the reader to very dark places where the animalistic side of the human condition dwells. I like to be taken to those places in horror fiction, made to feel uncomfortable, and I like to take my own fiction there and, hopefully, evoke similar responses in the reader.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from writers such as Laymon is quiet horror. It’s a type of horror I admire greatly. I haven’t written much quiet horror, and it’s an area I would like to explore in the future.

What are you working on right now?

I’m just about to embark on a new novel, set in country Victoria and will deal with murder, isolation and what happens to children when their parents aren’t around to protect them. Wish me luck!

What Australian work have you loved recently?

I recently read Kenneth Cook’s Fear Is The Rider, which I thought was amazing. Think Duel in the Aussie outback, or a more literary Laymon novel. It’s an unsettling story of sustained suspense and terror and I probably liked it even more than Cook’s brilliant Wake In Fright. It’s a recently discovered novel, and I’m glad Text Publishing put it out.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Charles Bukowski. I’d love to sit and listen to his tales of ordinary madness. And, it being a long plane trip and me not being the greatest fan of flying, it’d be nice to have a drinking buddy.


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