Robert Hood’s long career in the fantasy/horror/SF/crime genres has seen the publication of over 150 stories worldwide. Many of these have been re-printed in his five collections to date. He has been called “Australia’s master of dark fantasy” as well as “Aussie horror’s wicked godfather” – though he writes in other genres as well as horror.His novels include Backstreets, the Shades series, and an epic dark fantasy novel, Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead (Borgo/Wildside Press), which won the 2014 Ditmar Award for Best Novel. His latest book is Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2015). He reads a lot of graphic novels. Hood’s website can be found at www.roberthood.net and www.roberthoodwriter.com.
1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?
My last major publication was Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories from IFWG Australia Publishing, which was released in 2015. It was a career-defining work, collecting every ghost story I’d written since 1988, plus two new ones – 44 in total.
Since then I have written only three short stories: “A Man Totally Alone” (in The Mammoth Book of Halloween, edited by Stephen Jones, 2018), “Time and Tide” (in Cthulhu Deep Down Under, Volume 2, edited by Steve Proposch, Christopher Sequeira, Bryce Stevens, 2018), and “Bad Weather” (soon to appear in Outback Horrors Down Under, edited by Stephen Dillon).
But most of my writing over the past two years has involved novels. I’m pleased to have finished two of them. One, the product of work begun many years ago (in various versions) is called Scavengers, a noir-inspired crime/horror novel. It has been through many rewrites and last but not least a full (and thorough) edit by Angela Slatter. The second novel is a classic supernatural horror novel, with a decidedly weird concept underlying it, titled Hear the Darkness Howl. It was finished a week ago. Hopefully I’ll find a home for both books soon.
2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?
Undoubtedly the best publishing experience of my career has been Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories, all 820 pages of it. A career-defining book, the beautiful hardcover version, complete with excellent illustrations by my good friend Nick Stathopoulos, received the 2015 Australian Shadows Award for Best Collected Work. It also comes in paperback format as two volumes. It was a mammoth effort and I will be forever grateful to IFWG Australia Publishing and Managing Director Gerry Huntman for undertaking the project.
But on a different level, perhaps the most emotional experience in my career, and hence the most meaningful of my books, has been the writing and publication of Backstreets, a YA novel published by Hodder Headline in 2000. I wrote it in memory of my adopted son, Luke, who was killed when hit by a train while on an outing with friends celebrating the end of Year 10. Writing it was a gruelling and deeply emotional experience, but the novel did well with not only its intended audience but with adult readers as well, many of whom told me it made them cry. It still makes me cry, just to think about it. The novel, which is actually about grief, wasn’t directly about Luke and what happened to him, but was inspired by him and is full of “hidden” references for those who knew him well.
3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?
Leaving out a plethora of older works and anthologies, here are a few recent books I would recommend, picked at random from my bookshelves, without meaning to downgrade the value of the many others that deserve mention.
Kaaron Warren’s The Grief Hole is one of the best and most original horror novels I have ever read, and her other books also deserve the attention they have received, both here and overseas. Aaron Dries is at the very contemporary and extreme end of horror, with an in-your-face attitude to the genre that is winning much deserved attention. House of Sighs is a good way to start. Alan Baxter, over a fairly short period, has honed his name in horror/fantasy circles, producing many worthy books. Manifest Recall is a good example of his style of dark fantasy/horror, with a follow-up just released, Recall Night. As an aside, on a sort of internet dare, he recently wrote a novella featuring a killer kangaroo. It’s called Roo and is a lot of fun.
Some worthy examples of recent Aussie SF and fantasy are Margaret Morgan’s The Second Cure, Leife Shallcross’s The Beast’s Heart, Sam Hawke’s City of Lies, Jack Dann’s new novel Shadows in the Stone, Thoraiya Dyer’s Titan’s Forest Trilogy (which starts with Crossroads of Canopy), Angela Slatter’s Verity Fassbinder series (Vigil and Corpselight), and Cat Sparks’ Locus Blue (as well as her just released collection, Dark Harvest). Among New Zealand genre writers, Lee Murray has been deservedly successful, both in Australia and overseas. Good examples of her work are Into the Mist and its related follow-ups Into the Sounds and Into the Ashes – military horror with monsters, based on aspects of Maori culture. Finally, I want to mention a new book from a New Zealand author living in Australia, Russell Kirkpatrick, well-known for his earlier fantasy epic, the Fire From Heaven trilogy. His new fantasy novel, Silent Sorrow, is due for release in February 2021 from IFGW Australia Publishing, but I read an earlier version a while ago. We all should be hanging-out to get a copy!