2020 Snapshot: Brian Craddock

Brian Craddock is the author of Eucalyptus Goth – a semi-biographical account of life in Brisbane’s subcultures in 1996 – and The Dalziel Files, a collection of short stories influenced by his travels around the globe. The latter includes the award-winning story “Ismail’s Expulsion,” and is inspired by a tale of local vampires told to him on his first trip abroad, to Pakistan. His novel Chuwa: The Rat-People of Lahore has been shortlisted for an Aurelias Award. His books can be found at www.brokenpuppetbooks.com

Brian cut his teeth writing and illustrating his own comic books and horror zines in the 90s. His comic books developed their own cult following, and select titles are archived with the National Library of Australia. These days they are free to read online (look for Crimson: Riot Goth, and Alida: The Reluctant Goth). He was also a puppeteer on-and-off between 1992 and 2008, travelling throughout the Outback and abroad to Pakistan (the basis for the documentary Donkey in Lahore), which led to writing the webseries The Hobble & Snitch Show. Later he worked on indie films as a special effects artist and was a makeup artist on Disney’s The Lion King musical in 2014.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

“Mumbles Pier” is the last notable piece I have had published, in the anthology Beside the Seaside, by Things in the Well. I used my past experiences as a booth-puppeteer to help inform this horror short story. I approached the narrative structure a little as if I were writing as William Burroughs, so it has a slightly disjointed, dream-like quality to it.

Most of my recent writing are WIPs, though. My sequel to Chuwa: The Rate-People of Lahore is the most developed, hopefully to be completed by mid-year, picking up from events in the first novel. It is a horror-adventure, which seems to be my forte: action mixed with monsters; a sort of Indiana Jones meets Hellraiser.

A comic book adaptation of my 2017 novel Eucalyptus Goth is also in the pipeline. It has been almost 20 years since I published a comic book, but it was relatively easy getting back on the bike. Finishing it is a different story since it is a mammoth task. I’m going to just take my time with this one.

There are two other novellas I have started. They are colonial tales each set in Melbourne and Brisbane, with a mind-numbing (but fun!) amount of research involved.

2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?

It is difficult to say, given each new experience is fresh and exciting. But amongst them are the genuine firsts, which feel particularly rewarding. In 2015 I was published in Midian Unmade, a collection of short stories using the world of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed characters. I am a fan of Clive, and Nightbreed had been a pivotal film for me when it was released, speaking to the loner and misfit in a conservative rural town. My submission, “The Angel of Isisford,” was inspired by a visit I had made as a young travelling puppeteer to a strange Outback town called Isisford, and a reviewer praised my vivid depictions of the landscape. That same landscape is by turns haunting and beautiful. The streets of Isisford are named for the Saints of Christendom, but the neighbourhoods look like they would be Hell to live in. It was inevitable the town would emerge in a story one day, and thankfully it did at the right time and got me into a book dedicated to one of my favourite authors.

The other first – and thus, also a best publishing experience – was the release of my debut novel, Eucalyptus Goth. The title had come to me about twenty years ago, and several attempts to begin the story had met with defeat. I had been working on a lot of indie films as a special-effects artist and was increasingly frustrated with how many didn’t see the light of day. This led me to finally to stop that work and devote myself instead to getting Eucalyptus Goth done. To write about the city of one’s youth and then be reminded of the changes time has wrought proved quite depressing, which took me a while to recover from. But I humbly liken it as my opus.

3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge? 

There is a wealth of old and new writing to choose from, of course. I recently read some Greg Chapman (Netherkind) and am currently into some Narelle M Harris (Kitty & Cadaver), both released at the same time as my own Chuwa.

I went through a heavy bout of nihilism in 2019, and as a result I became invested in a new(ish) genre of spec-fic called hopepunk, a sort of antidote to dystopian fiction. To which end, Lachlan Walter’s The Rain Never Came caught my attention, not least because it is set in a future Australia gripped by severe drought, and I’ve lived in rural Australia during drought and know how negatively it affects both the community and one’s own mindset. Though I’ve yet to read it, Archie Weller’s Land of the Golden Cloud comes highly recommended as an example of hopepunk and is set 3000 years in a future Australia.

There was a collection of horror volumes from a few years ago called The Refuge Collection. Disclaimer: I had a few stories in these volumes. But I sincerely recommend these for the scope and vision their architect brought to the books: Steve Dillon nurtured a shared world, with shared characters and locales, over several volumes, amongst a variety of authors from different backgrounds. It was a truly remarkable project which continues to impress me to this day, so it would be my recommendation.

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