Interview: with Mouse Diver-Dudfield

Mouse Diver-Dudfield is a speculative author situated in New Zealand’s southernmost city. To keep her hands warm she loves to write heart-pounding horror, ponderous mysteries and out-of-worldly sci-fi. Her novella The Sleeper’s Dance was a finallist at the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel Awards. The name “Mouse” was given to her by her brother who, when first introduced after she was born, declared her to be nothing more than the size of a mouse, and it stuck from that day on. You can find out more here, Facebook and Twitter. Read her story The Long Weekend in our 3rd issue.

Your novel The Cloudberry is based on real events in 1860s NZ. Can you tell us a little about how you came across the story, and the inspiration behind adding zombies? Well, I grew up with my father boasting anytime one of us broke an arm, knocked out our teeth or fell from a great height that we were “unkillable” all because our great-great grandmother was the only child to survive a disastrous immigration crossing from England to New Zealand in 1860. As an adult, I decided to research just what he was going on about and found out the ship was called the Clontarf, and it was indeed a horrible voyage. So horrible, I ended up publishing a full account of the voyage in 2011 (published under my maiden name.) It wasn’t until I was contacted by a few of the other descends of the Clontarf who had their own stories passed down to them that I was hit with the idea of writing a fictional depiction about the passengers and the ship. I wrote up all the notes and then it just sat there, until one day someone said the voyage could have been worse, it could have had zombies. And then suddenly I desperately wanted there to have been zombies. While the Cloudberry is a different ship, completely fictional, I drew all my inspirations from the individual stories and the ships log from Clontarf to guide me, and it’s pretty close to the original story, well, all except the zombies of course.

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 see my stories as little babies that I have to nurture for them to grow. Some of my babies suck and get turfed to the orphanage but when you find one with real potential you want to see it grow into adulthood. That's how it goes with kids right?... But yes, I found writing a novel to be the most rewarding and frustrating task to take on. I think the only thing that really keeps me going is loyalty to the story. I want it out there for others to read, I want to share how awesome it is. If I stopped the world would never know.

How important is social media to you as an indie author? There was a time when I thought it was incredibly important but over the last few years, I’ve seen a huge change. Back then it was as simple as tweeting your book, boosting a FB post and you saw a wee uplift in sales. Now it's far more difficult because of the share amount of people screaming out for you to read their book. While the sales side of it is changing, the actual social side is still awesome. Getting advice and warm fuzzies from other authors, seeing a fledgling author grow into greatness. But as a publishing tool, I think it's diminishing 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’m a firm believer that any story, if written well, regardless if it’s a story that's been done a million times, could still be awesome. While I myself strive for the impossible original idea, in terms of horror and sci-fi, an author may take something old and reinvent it, opening the path for a new exciting genre for us all to dabble in.

What are the books beside your bed right now? At the moment I have the fun-filled The World’s Worst Historical Disasters of All Time and enchanting Take It Like A Man: The Autobiography Of Boy George. When I think about it both books kinda sum me up. I read about horrible events in history to make me feel safe in warm in my bed at night, but I also like to focus on the fascinating characters life has to offer too.

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