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Daniel I Russell - Writer of Horror Fiction

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

On being a Shadows Award finalist

Been over a week since the Australian Shadows Awards finalists were announced. I've been so busy trying to get promotion for the other finalists that I haven't gotten around to talking about it until now! 

With winners announced on Friday, I have a few more days of living the dream, so if I'm going to post, I'd better post.

I've never been in the running for a major horror award. I've been a Tin Duck nominee before, and no discredit to that, but a national award is just so...well, national!

Before I rabbit on, allow me a moment to parade the book in the middle of all this. Critique, a novella from Dark Continents.

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Sandy Devanche considers himself to be a five star gentleman, although he never gives more than three.

As the harshest food critic in the business, he is feared and respected by the top chefs of the city. On a standard assignment, Sandy visits the experimental restaurant The House of Jacob, run by chef extraordinaire, Jacob Enfer.

What Sandy will experience is a journey beyond flavour and texture, a meal that will change his very existence. The worst thing about the food here is the person eating it.

Critique. It's here to make your life better… or much, much worse.

Click on the link to have a look over on Amazon. Go on. ;-) It's $2.99 on Kindle and a ridiculous $6.99 in print. Reviewers at Goodreads tend to like the book, and those that didn't were still affected by it. Some even demanded that the publisher should have included a warning.

Yet the book is far from a splatterfest. This has been on my mind quite a lot of late, and why I'm appreciating by the award inclusion, perhaps more than some. Read on.

When I first entered the Australian horror scene, I felt I didn't belong. The standard of writing over here is exceptional. While I certainly believe I have adequate writer tools in my box, my subject matter... I don't know. My particular brand of splatter and 'torture porn' didn't gel with the more literary horror scene. I felt a bit like a bogan at the opera.

Yet one thing I've always striven for: horror is meant to be horrific, to shock, to elicit a goddamn reaction. The finale of Laymon's Endless Night made me look up from the book and say 'oh shit'. Masterton has had me cringing and not wanting to turn the page and continue a graphic scene of dismemberment. This is what I want. I'd rather have a reader not recommend my book because it went beyond their boundaries than have the same reader admire my lovely use of similes.

But...why can't I have both? Write in a way that paints that picture and has the descriptive texture...yet still push those buttons, still toe that line. 


A goddamn reaction.

Critique was my first honest attempt at a deeper work; a novella that meant something more than just a satisfying horror romp.

I put the gore aside (almost all of it. By my usual standards there's hardly any! Honest!). Okay, certain items literally on the menu have disgusted readers, but for me, that's not where the horror lies.

It's the feeling of being powerless as the bully is walking across the schoolyard towards you. The crippling desire to have something you can never have. The things others force you to do, against your judgement, your conscience, your character.

That's why this Shadows Award placing means so damn much to me. My level of writing must have improved over these last few years if a book that has shocked and appalled a good many readers can stand (for the moment) shoulder to shoulder with two writers I place on very high pedestals. Rob Hood is AMAZING, and Karron Warren is quite literally Miss Australia when it comes to horror!

I was told today that Critque, simply, is horror. I can't think of a better compliment, and I was touched deeply. You know who you are.  

As I say in the blurb. Critique. It's here to make your life better. For me, it certainly did.

Go on... Click the link. $2.99 on Kindle. That's less than a coffee! ;-)

Posted by Daniel I. Russell :: 7:14 pm :: 0 comments

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