Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello! My name is Claire Fitzpatrick, and I’m 26.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally from a little place called Culburra Beach in NSW, however I’ve lived in Brisbane for 15 years now.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My daughter Isobelle is 4, and will be starting school next year, which is both exciting and terrifying! Bachelor of Government and International Relations/Post-Grad Certificate in Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Certificate in Psychology. I’ve studied at Griffith University, The University of Queensland, and RMIT University through online learning. I think I’ll grow old and die in university, and hopefully haunt the bathroom like Moaning Myrtle. I also run a small publishing business, Oscillate Wildly Press. One of the stories I published was shortlisted for a Shadows Award, which was amazing! I have epilepsy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My short story/poetry anthology ‘Phantasmagoria’ will soon be released by the Australasian Horror Writer’s Association (AHWA), which is stupendously exciting. It includes previously published work, and new work. I’m also working on a horror/dark fantasy novella as part of the AHWA Mentorship Program. The novella stemmed from one of my short stories, so it’s great to flesh it out and turn it into a larger project. It’s hard to discipline myself to write, however it’s also great, because discipline is just what I need now!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I still have all my stories I wrote in multiple exercise books as a kid. I suppose I started writing because it simply came natural to me. My first serious attempt at writing was at eleven years old. I wrote a poem called ‘Rainbows,’ which was commended in the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Competition. After I was diagnosed with Epilepsy when I was twelve, I started writing as a form of catharsis. I used to write a lot of fantasy stories, but now I’ve moved to speculative fiction. And I haven’t stopped!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a ‘serious’ writer after my short story ‘Madeline’ was published in Midnight Echo 13, nominated for a Shadows Award (the story has since been republished in The Best Of Midnight Echo), however I had four other short stories and a few poems published beforehand. But I’ve always considered myself a writer, even as a teenager, and especially when my novel ‘Only The Dead’ (under the title ‘Vinyl’) was accepted for publication by The Zharmae Publishing Press. However, that was a long and rocky road, filled with my holes! The publisher ended up closing and reopening as TZPP books, however they didn’t renew my contract. Once my novel ‘Only The Dead’ was finally published, I felt a tremendous sense of pride, happy all my years of writing had amounted to the completion of a novel. Also, earlier this year I was a panellist for ‘Horror In The 21st Century’ and ‘Saving The Future With Science Fiction,’ further cementing my status as a writer. 😊
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book I wrote, ‘The Ostracism Of Ophelia’, is a terrible novel, and one you should never read! Never, ever, EVER! I would like to revisit it someday, but for now, I consider it non-existent. It’s a catastrophe. Don’t read it. Your eyes will bleed.
My book ‘Only The Dead’ (which I consider my first book), was inspired by the Vietnam War. It’s a military romance/horror/thriller novel, which I decided to write due to my interest in the military. As a teenager, I originally attempted to join the Army, but was rejected because of my Epilepsy. I wouldn’t consider the main character ‘Lydia’ to be autobiographical, however I used a lot of my own and pain and frustration to create her character. For research, I travelled to Vietnam, which helped me to really flesh out my story. I visited several museums and national landmarks, went underground in the CuChi tunnels, and learned all I could about the culture of Vietnam, especially during the Vietnam War. Then I started writing! (I also love MASH, so that probably helped! Haha)
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
As I mentioned, the book was originally called ‘Vinyl.’ I based Lydia’s physical description off Edie Sedgewick, who was one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars, and lived quite a tragic life and died at 28. However, my editor at Zharmae advised me to separate Lydia from Edie, so in doing so, I changed the title from ‘Vinyl’ to ‘Only The Dead,’ as ‘Vinyl’ is the title of an underground film Edie Sedgewick stared in based on the novel ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ ‘Only The Dead’ came from a passage in the novel, which I thought summed up the overall feeling and mood of the story rather well.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m a visceral writer. I tend to write body horror, as I am particularly interested in the graphic degeneration of the human body, and how human bodies function. Most of my stories have aspects of body horror, including ‘Only The Dead.’ I also like to mix fantasy with body horror. One of the most challenging aspects is that body horror isn’t the most sought-after type of horror, and there are limited publishers who accept it. But I’d like to think, as I branch out towards dark fantasy, I’ll be able to find more avenues for publication. I find mystery challenging to write! One of my unfinished manuscripts is a mystery novel, but I can’t quite get the hang of it. I also tend to write about obscure relationships. Mostly to do with obsession. I’m also a published poet, and my poetry tends to be similar to my fiction.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
‘Only The Dead,’ as I mentioned above, was partially inspired by my frustration with epilepsy. I channelled this through my characters, though in different ways. All of their frustrations are my frustrations, but I simply attribute them to their own trauma. Cassie’s character, the more drug-affected side of Edie Sedgewick, is partially based on my reliance of alcohol.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
For ‘Only The Dead,’ I went to Vietnam, which was part of a study tour with Griffith University. I thought it would be ridiculous and phony to write a book about a country if I hadn’t been there. I don’t travel often, so it’s not a part of my writing process. However, when I visited New Caledonia earlier this year, I was inspired by Yedjele beach on Maré Island, with crystal blue waters and powdery white sand stretching for over a kilometre. It was amazing. I’ll probably write an aquatic horror story! Who knows?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Shane K Ryan – a brilliant artist! – designed the cover for ‘Only The Dead’ and my novella ‘Of Man And Woman.’ For my poetry collection ‘The Ocean and Other Poems’ the artwork is by another fantastic artist, YuliaKatkova. She also provided the artwork for ‘The Ostracism Of Ophelia.’
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s a few messages I hope readers receive! It’s unhealthy to cling to past trauma. Tell people you love them before it’s too late. Don’t disguise your sadness with humour to pretend you’re happy. Accept things as they are. The world is big and your life is short – it’ll be over before you know it.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
There aren’t a lot of new authors I’ve read, however, I am a submissions reader at Aurealis (their names are deleted from stories), and I like those!
My favourite author is Sonya Hartnett, however I LOVE Clive Barker, Isobelle Carmody, and Anne Rice. Sonya Hartnett’s darker characters are incredibly inspiring, especially in her earlier works like ‘Sleeping Dogs,’ ‘The Devil Latch,’ and ‘All My Dangerous Friends.’ I love how she manages to both intrigue and terrify you within a single paragraph. I’m hoping to be able to write like that one day.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My lecturers at the University of Queensland and The Australasian Horror Writer’s Association.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. While I’ve received mixed reviews (mostly positive), I worked on ‘Only The Dead’ for several years, and I’m happy the way it turned out.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned to be patient. Not everything turns out the way you want it to. But if things don’t work out, there are always other options. Don’t give up.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d build a time machine and fetch young Sienna Miller!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Try new styles. Don’t be afraid to write outside the box. I write horror, fantasy, thriller, historical fiction, comedy…. Don’t assume you must always stick to one genre. Chances are, you’ll learn more about your own writing if you try new things. Also, challenge yourself. If you’ve never written a poem, try it. Above all else, read. Read everything. Read every genre you can. Same rules apply with writing. Even if you’ve never read fantasy, give it a go. There are so many worlds out there waiting for you to find them.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Let me know if you’ve read something of mine! Haha
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
‘The Book Of Lost Things’ by John Connolly. I read the first page in the bookstore and knew I had to buy it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really. However, Deltora Quest and the Rowan Of Rin books by Emily Rodda were some of the earlier books I read. I read a lot as a kid!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My daughter and Epilepsy. Both at the same time!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Sonya Hartnett. She’s commented on my facebook posts before, and I almost had a heart attack (we have a mutual friend). As for the past…. Kurt Vonnegut seems like he’d be interesting to interview. I’m a journalist, so I have a long list, but Sonya Hartnett is on top! I’ve met Isobelle Carmody several times. She’s amazing.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Is reading a hobby? I’m quite antisocial. I used to recite poetry at various places, and I also used to be a performance artist. I watch Buffy. So much Buffy. That’s a hobby, right? 😉
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Buffy, Arrested Development, Supernatural…. I like a lot of foreign films. I linger in the foreign film section at JB HI-FI like a hawk circling its prey.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I’m a vegetarian, so anything vege! My favourite colour is purple. I love The Smiths, The Cure, The Stone Roses, Nina Hagen. SiouxsieSiox, Joy Division, New Order, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Simple Minds…. basically, a lot of bands who aren’t around today! I also love Placebo.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“I dreamed I spoke in another’s language,
I dreamed I lived in another’s skin,
I dreamed I was my own beloved,
I dreamed I was a tiger’s kin.
I dreamed that Eden lived inside me,
And when I breathed a garden came,
I dreamed I knew all of Creation,
I dreamed I knew the Creator’s name.
I dreamed—and this dream was the finest—
That all I dreamed was real and true,
And we would live in joy forever,
You in me, and me in you.” — Clive Barker
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
www.clairefitzpatrick.net/ – My personal website.
https://womeninhorrorblog.wordpress.com/ – My blog, where I interview and host guest posts about women in horror. 😊
Also, my Twitter is @CJFitzpatrick