Interview: with Claire Fitzpatrick
Claire Fitzpatrick is a journalist, editor and author of speculative fiction. In 2017, she co-wrote and edited The Body Horror Book, a horror anthology which has been nominated for the 2017 Aurealis Convenors Award For Excellence. She has been a panellist at Monsters After Dark, Continuum 13 and Conflux, and lives in Brisbane in a house full of books and a five year old obsessed with My Little Pony. Contact her here, here, Facebook or Twitter. Her story Eat is featured in our 3rd issue.
Your first anthology 'Misanthropy' is due to be released soon. Can you tell us a little about it? The anthology will be published through the Australasian Horror Writers Association. Usually, they publish Midnight Echo and various seasonal anthologies. However, I am working with the current AHWA President to produce the anthology. It will contain my published stories and horror poems, as well as select unpublished pieces. I'm most excited to share some of my earlier works which have flown a little under the radar. The stories are a mixture of horror, science fiction, paranormal, and what might be considered dark/creepy young adult fiction. The title 'Misanthropy' comes from a the general theme throughout all of my stories, which I've always been interested in. I'm asocial, have been told I'm cold, find it hard to maintain relationships, and experience symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. I suppose it's helpful for my writing, as I spend a lot of time alone. But I'm really nice, honest!
There are millions of people around the world with great story ideas, but who never even start to write them down. What drives you to sit down and aim for finished, published stories? I generally avoid talking to people, and only have a few close friends. I'm not allowed to drive because of my Epilepsy, so I spend a lot of time observing people on public transport. My general hatred and frustration with Epilepsy has been somewhat of a blessing for my writing. I always handwrite my stories and find it incredibly cathartic to do so. But I tend to write stories suited for particular publications, more as a challenge than anything else. I suppose that's why I write stories within multiple genres.
To what degree do you feel everything has already been written, in some form or another? Have you ever started writing a story, only to discover someone has already written it? I think there's a lot of books in every genre, but not every book has been written. There are so many sub-genres to work with. Clive Barker writes horror and fantasy, and was considered revolutionary at the time The Books Of Blood were published. Anne Rice forays into science fiction with The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches, and Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. I like writing body horror because I don't think there's a lot of literature in the genre. But I have written several Frankenstein-esque stories and later thought 'crap, this is too similar,' and deleted the entire thing. Maybe the whole vampire love triangle can be toned down a little?
Are there any horror/fantasy/sci-fi tropes or sub genres which you feel are played out? And vice versa, what tropes would you like to see more of? I don't like when genres are overwritten, so high fantasy is filled with swords and quests without anything else interesting to the story. This is why I like A Song Of Ice And Fire by George RR Martin because it's basically a story about politics set in a fantasy world. Probably why it's so popular. But I'd like to see body horror more accepted in the horror genre. I find it difficult to submit to magazines because the first thing they mention in the submission guidelines is 'we don't like gore!' And gore is my thing.
What books are beside your bed right now? The Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye by David Lagercrantz Eucalyptus Goth by Brian Craddock
So many books! So little time!