Category Archives: writers

Five questions for Steven Paulsen

Today, Steven Paulsen answers five questions about his new book:

Steven Paulsen

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

My latest book is a short story collection called Shadows on the Wall. I played around with a bunch of titles but none of them seemed fit right. Then one day I remembered a discarded novelette I wrote many years ago that was called “Shadows on the Wall”, and I realised it was a great title for my collection. There are numerous shadows lurking in these stories. Some are overt, such as in “The Black Diamond of the Elephant God” where the protagonist is pursued by a shadow, and in “In the Light of the Lamp” where an ancient brass oil burner casts shadows on the wall.

But for me the title also spoke to the theme of the book as a whole. When Isobelle Carmody read the collection, she wrote that the stories are “shadows, shifting on the wall, barely seen, slipping into our minds to lie, light and cold over our hearts…” So I think the title works well.

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

That’s a tough question because my book is a collection of short stories. But if I were to pick one story, there is a new novelette in the book called “The Black Diamond of the Elephant God”. The man character of this story is a 19th Century English Orientalist and Sanskrit scholar named Giles Freeman. To play him, I would choose Laurence Olivier in his mid-late thirties. He would have no doubt done the character proud.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Dark, weird, heart-wrenching, spooky and humorous.

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

My favourite fictional duo are Fritz Leiber’s sword-and-sorcery rogues, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Unlike so many wooden sword and sorcery characters, they feel alive, albeit larger than life. Fafhrd is a tall sword-wielding northern barbarian, prone to the occasional song, while the Mouser is a short thief and swordsman, with a little skill in magic. Together, they carouse, brawl and gamble their way through some rollicking, chaotic adventures.

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

Hmmm… The stories in this collection vary a lot on tone and style, plus they were written over a few decades so it’s difficult to pick just one song that represents the book.

I probably listened to David Bowie a lot when I wrote some of these stories, so it’s reasonable to say his music was an influence. I’ve been listening to his 2013 compilation album, Nothing Has Changed, which was the first album to showcase his entire career.

As for a song that reflects the theme, let’s go with John Lennon’s ‘Watching the Wheels’ from his Double Fantasy album. It’s a tenuous link, but people do say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing, and I like that he said he was doing fine watching Shadows on the Wall.


About Shadows on the Wall

Shadows on the Wall is a short story collection that contains the very best of Paulsen’s dark and weird tales…plus stunning new fiction written expressly for this volume.

  • Glimpse a future where population controls force families into terrible choices.
  • Visit Colonial British India and experience the awakening of an eldritch horror.
  • Walk the steaming jungles of Vietnam alongside the spirits of the forest.
  • Light an ancient oil lamp but beware, the shadows on the wall…

About Steven Paulsen

Steven Paulsen’s bestselling dark fantasy children’s book, The Stray Cat, illustrated by Hugo and Oscar Award winning artist Shaun Tan, has seen publication in several English and foreign language editions. His short stories, which Isobelle Carmody describes as beautifully written and subtle, have appeared in magazines and in anthologies around the world.

His short story collection, Shadows on the Wall (IFWG Publishing Australia, 2018) contains the best of Paulsen’s dark and weird tales plus new fiction written expressly for the book.

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Buy Shadows on the Wall

Five Questions for Jason Franks

Today, Jason Franks answers five questions about his new book.

For our interview, Franks is wearing a pair of classic-cut Levis that are probably Costco fakes. His black t-shirt is frayed at the collar but the Black Sabbath logo looks crisp as if it had just been printed. He hasn’t shaved in a couple of days and his glasses are smudged. He has terrible posture and a very small head.

(Descriptions supplied by Jason Franks.)

Jason Franks

  1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

The book is called FAERIE APOCALYPSE. Originally it was going to be LOVERS, POETS AND MADMEN, which sums up the seed inspiration for the story, but does not give much of a clue as to what the book is about. So I went looking for some other options.

The book is set mostly in the fairy realms and deals with the nature of the place and the people who venture there, so FAERIE seemed like an obvious place to start.

I was reading about Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian—a key influence on my book—and I came across the phrase ‘apocalyptic prose’. That immediately seemed to fit not just the style of my own work, but also the story. So there it was.

Faerie Apocalypse.

  1. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

I have this one already sussed from IFWG and I were working out the cover art. In the end we opted not to show any characters on the cover, but here’s what I came up with. There are five leads, as follows:

  • The Veteran: Contemporary Christian Bale. Long hair, bearded, a bit haggard, a bit spaced-out.
  • The Magus: Contact-era long-haired, crazy-eyed Jake Busey.
  • The Warrior Queen: Carey Lowell circa 1990.
  • Malo: A teenaged Benicio Del Toro.
  • The Engineer: A CGI rendering of a youngish lady, designed not to stand out in a crowd. A bit pixilated and well inside the Uncanny Valley.
  1. What five words best describe your story?

Dense, circuitous, violent, occulted, and reflexive.

  1. What faerie creature would you most like to meet – or be?

Out of all the creatures in the book I’d most like to meet the Queen of the Ore-lands. She wouldn’t have much time for me, but she’s also less likely to try to trick, murder or eat me than any of the other characters.

  1. What song reflects a theme, character or scene in your book?

The book references a number of songs quite explicitly. There’s a couple of Hendrix songs that flag key plot points. One of the monsters is a Blue Oyster Cult song given flesh. But the last part of the story is called Black Wings, after the Tom Waits song, and I think that perfectly sums it all up.

If you want a second helping, try Earth Died Screaming, also from the Bone Machine album:

About Faerie Apocalypse.

Over the centuries the Faerie Realms have drifted away from the mortal world. But for some, the Doors will open. For some, there is a Way to travel there, if they want it badly enough.

If they dream it hard enough.

In this era, only lovers, poets, and madmen can access the Realms of the Land—and for good reason.

A succession of mortals travel to Faerie: a veteran seeking beauty; a magus seeking power; an urchin seeking his wayward father; an engineer seeking meaning. These mortals bring the horrors of our age to the Land, and the Folk who live there respond in kind.

About Jason Franks

Jason Franks is the author of the novel Bloody Waters, the Sixsmiths graphic novels, and the Left Hand Path comic series. His work has been short-listed for Aurealis and Ledger Awards. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he is widely known as a person of low character and wicked intent.

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Buy Faerie Apocalypse