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June 11, 2010

Masters of Horror Anthology:
Interview with Marty Young

from Writer of the Horrific and Surreal

Marty Young was interviewed by Karen Johnson Mead. His contribution to the anthology is titled "Fireflies of the Bushfire".

Where did you come up with your anthology idea?

This story was written back in 2007. It's actually based on a true story. I was living in Canberra (ACT) during the 2003 bushfires, living in the suburb of Kambar, which was one of the heavily hit places. I woke up that day to a surreal world, headed out (through necessity) to the supermarket and found it filled with frightened people, then when I came out, noon had become pitch black. The fire front reached the house across the road from me before the wind took it back upon itself. So the story idea was really given to me. All I had to do was survive.

How long did it take for you to put together your story?

Not long at all. I think the first draft only took a couple of days to write. The revisions always take me longer.

Why did you submit your MoH story – was it one you have had for a while or one that you put together especially for the Anthology?

Fireflies of the Bushfire is a story I've been proud of since I wrote it, but for whatever reason, I never got around to actively submitting it anywhere. When this anthology came along, I thought brilliant!

What research / preparation did you do for your story?

I usually do a whole heck of a lot of research for my stories-this probably stems from me being a scientist during daylight hours. Research is part of the job, so that obviously carries over into my fiction writing. My stories have to be grounded in fact, they have to be realistic, or else I won't believe in them.

Why do you write horror? What is the fascination in it for you?

I don't choose to write horror; I just write whatever stories turn up in my head. Most of the time, these stories are pretty dark, although I prefer the 'quiet horror' side of things. All that blood and guts isn't for me. I like the shadows, the monsters hiding in the dark, the things you hear but don't quite see. I reckon that works far better than the violent in-your-face stories and flicks that are so common.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing back in the early 1990's, but somehow got waylaid by science and geology before I got anywhere. In 2002, I was in the early stages of my PhD and feeling the pressure, so I began escaping into fiction again. As a consequence, I founded the Australian Horror Writers Association (and have acted as the President since our official launch in 2005). But it wasn't until I finished my studies in 2006 that I started spending more time on writing fiction. The problem here though was that I'd spent over a decade writing science, and that is a whole world away from fiction; it's taken a long time to be able to separate the Dr. Marty Young from Marty Young, the writer. And running the AHWA didn't help matters either, because when I should have been writing I was building the organisation. It's only this year that I finally decided my writing had to come first.

Why do you write?

I write because I love writing, I love creating stories, and because I need to write. Ideas spiral into my head and I need to write them out. I also think that writing keeps me balanced. It stops me from going postal-only kidding. I think...

What are you currently working on?

I've been spending the majority of my time lately on my novel, actually. I've been working with an editor friend in the States, who has pulled my novel apart and demanded I do better. In March this year, I finally finished the last edits of the story, got my editor's approval, and am now working on writing a synopsis and researching agents. My editor (Paula) has been brilliant; she's really made me pull my finger out, and the end result is something of which I'm immensely proud. The next step will be to submit it to agents, and that, I imagine, will be a horror story in itself!

Tell us about yourself (that you didn’t put in the Anthology) a bit about you as a person, your writing habits / styles etc. Something so the reader of the interview gets to know who you are.

I grew up in Hawkes Bay, and take particular delight in watching the All Blacks win. I'm also a massive cricket fan, but this isn't always as much fun being a kiwi… I'm a geologist by day, but once the day is done, dinner finished, and my time my own, I slink away to my study, put on loud cranky music, and write for at least an hour a day. It's a schedule I keep religiously. I'm far more comfortable writing novels than short stories though, and am 1/3 the way through my next novel. But still those pesky short stories hound me, forcing me to take time away from my novel writing to clear them from my head. And yep, I'm a massive Stephen King and Clive Barker fan, but I'm also a new fan of Charles L. Grant (can't believe I haven't read Grant's work before now! That's just embarrassing). My blog is and this is my AHWA Member’s Page-–oh, and I love scotch!

You can read Fireflies of the Bushfire in the Masters of Horror Anthology.

Music: The Breeding House by Bruce Dickinson.

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Robert G. Male
Name: Robert G. Male
Location: Ontario, Canada
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