Greetings from the Ether,
Our friends at the Shadow Booth are making steady progress with their Kickstarter. This literary journal is going to be out of this world and we are very excited to see the dreams of the editor Dan Coxon and these amazing writers come true. We will be interviewing all of the authors involved to help spread the word.
If you haven’t already, please make sure to stop by and visit their Kickstarter! Some Gehenna & Hinnom products may be awaiting you there.
Alas, let’s begin! We’d like to introduce you to Shadow Booth author Gary Budden.
CP: You have had some great success with your writing, being featured in Dead Ink, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and Black Static, among many others. What about The Shadow Booth piqued your interest? Why are Dark Fiction and Weird Fiction important?
Weird fiction I find useful due to its versatility. The fact that no one can really agree about what it is, is actually one of its greatest strengths; essentially a literary genre with its roots in pulp genre writing, it’s able to merge elements from horror, surrealism, science fiction, fantasy, folklore, mythology, psychogeography, magic realism and more. I view it as a method rather than a strict genre.
The world we find ourselves living in is inherently weird, and currently very dark and horrifying. I find that realism in fiction has struggled to deal with this in a meaningful way. I view the weird fiction I write as completely truthful, trying to get to a psychological reality that accurately reflects my lived reality. Weird fiction allowed to me say the things I really wanted to say, in the manner I saw fit – for me this meant bringing in aspects of folklore, the fantastic and horror into my work that already heavily focused on landscape and subculture. It seemed to work.
CP: Could you tell us a little about your story “Where No Shadows Fall?” What inspired it, how did it come to fruition?
GB: The title comes from an epitaph I saw on a gravestone in Tottenham cemetery, north-east London. The phrase stuck with me. A land of light and happiness, or one of complete darkness where no shadows could be cast in the blackness?
The story is one of the darkest I have written. I wrote it specifically for The Shadow Booth when Dan Coxon asked me to contribute. It was an attempt to channel the feelings of surreal horror and anxiety felt living in London over the last year or so; a city of terrorist attacks, the tragedy at Grenfell tower, the far-right on the move, the housing crisis, electoral chaos, the looming catastrophe of Brexit. When I knew there would be an outlet for such a story, I felt I could write the piece and do what I wanted with it, knowing it would have a sympathetic home.
CP: Your debut short story collection Hollow Shores is being released this month from Dead Ink. Can you tell us a little bit about the piece?
GB: Hollow Shores is my attempt to blend the traditions of weird fiction and landscape writing, whilst weaving in my own interest in British sub-culture (especially the DIY punk/folk world, of which I am very much still a part of). This is why I’m calling it a work of “landscape punk.”
It’s an interlinked set of stories from what I call “emotional geographies.” For me this means London, a city that forms a crucial part of my identity, bits of Finland (mainly because the country struck me so deeply when I visited) and a place known as the Hollow Shore. The Hollow Shore is a fictionalised, shifting version of a real place, namely the north Kent coast of England where I grew up. It’s a place where flowers undermine railway tracks, relationships decay and monsters lurk. It is the shoreline of a receding, retreating England. It’s where things fall apart, waste away and fade from memory.
CP: Who influenced you as a writer? How does this reflect in your own work?
GB: Not in terms of style, but certainly of content, one of my biggest influences was the writer Niall Griffiths. His novels such as Grits, Runt, and Sheepshagger were the first books I read that cemented a fascination with British landscape, but from the perspective of sub-cultural dropouts, addicts, alcoholics and other lost tribes. I found much to recognise in those books (I have a few lost years in my twenties, shall we say) and they still utterly thrill me. Griffith’s books showed me you could write about these subjects, and do it in incandescent style.
Other big influences would be M. John Harrison, Rebecca Solnit, Robert Aickman, Angela Carter, Ursula Le Guin, Iain Sinclair, Arthur Machen . . . actually there’s too many to list!
CP: What other ventures do you have planned for the future? What can our readers look forward to?
GB: I am currently writing a horror novella, but I’m not sure how much I can say about that right now . . . I am also working on a non-fiction landscape punk project, and writing a number of new short stories. With Hollow Shores about to come out, I’m doing lots of events and readings in the next few months with M. John Harrison in London, Christopher Priest and Aliya Whiteley in Cambridge, other Shadow Booth authors at Listen Softly London, a launch for Year’s Best Weird Fiction 4 with Helen Marshall, Irenosen Okojie, Malcolm Devlin and Aki Schilz (every single one of them a stunning writer) and more. You can keep up with what’s going on here.
A film adapted from my short story “Greenteeth” was just released by the filmmaker and author Adam Scovell. You can watch it here. Hopefully we’ll be setting up some screenings and events very soon.
And I’ll be with an Influx Press stall at the Anarchist Bookfair in London October 28th if anyone wants to come say hello!
Thank you as always for stopping by and please make sure to visit The Shadow Booth and follow us on social media!