The story in the Among the Headstones anthology is Short Cut by Cameron Trost, an Australian-born author.
The interview is from Rayne Hall, and I’ll do a short review at the end. Enjoy!
Do you ever wander around cemeteries, read the inscriptions on strangers’ headstones, and wonder what their lives were like, how they died, what families they left behind?
I do this whenever I go to a cemetery. The most poignant example of this was in the ghost town of Walhalla, in the state of Victoria, Australia. This former gold-mining town is a beautiful holiday destination today but the gravestones planted into the steep side of hill along the only road into the town are a stark reminder of Walhalla’s sad history. Sickness and mining accidents took the lives of so many of the town’s inhabitants, and many of the headstones bear the names of infants and children. The chilling effect this cemetery had on me played a role in inspiring my mystery novella, The Ghosts of Walhalla, featuring private investigator, Oscar Tremont.
What kind of headstone would you like on your grave? What inscription would you love?
In true poète maudit tradition, I’d like someone to pop by every now and then to pour a drop of decent whisky over my grave. As for the inscription, anything about being a wonderful man missed by his family and millions of readers would be fine.
What’s your favourite Horror book? What do you like about it?
Choose just one horror book I love? That’s a big ask—but I’d have to say Doyle’s “Tales of Unease”. The tales it includes are timeless classics and full of delightfully disturbing twists.
Who are your favourite short story authors, and why?
There are so many. My favourite authors include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Roald Dahl, Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, PD James, JG Ballard, and Charles Birkin. All of them are absolutely brilliant writers of short fiction because they know how to create vivid and believable characters—even though Doyle stretched believability to its limits with Sherlock Holmes—and they cast them into riveting and twisted plots. That’s the key. There are often debates about what’s more important in fiction, characterisation, plot, or writing style. As far as I’m concerned, any story worth writing deserves all three to be as near to perfect as possible. These writers did that over and over again. I’d also like to give Patricia Highsmith a mention because one of her short stories in particular stands out for me—The Snail Watcher. The same goes for Joan Aiken with Listening, Paul Haines with Her Collection of Intimacy, Leigh Blackmore with The Hourglass, and CS McMullen with The Nest. What really matters to me, however, is discovering new talent, and there’s so much of it out there. If you really want to know which writers I love, join me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/camerontrost
For readers who are new to your fiction, which of your books would be a good start?
I’ve written two novels and two collections and I’d recommend either the latest novel, Letterbox, which is a mystery story set in a village in the English moors. The mysterious “Postman”, as the locals have nicknamed him, is wreaking havoc by making nocturnal deliveries to the letterboxes of Mirebury, intentionally causing tension between neighbours. When blood is spilt, the townsfolk know they have to act, and Ian Carew, a schoolteacher, becomes the unlikely hero. It’s a short novel, packed with quirky characters, twists and turns, and plenty of action, but it’s also a mystery, challenging the reader to discover the villain’s identity before our hero does. For fans of the short story, I’d recommend The Animal Inside, my collection of strange tales that walk the line between humanity and the animal kingdom. This is where my love of Roald Dahl’s adult fiction is most starkly obvious.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cameron Trost is an author of mystery and suspense fiction best known for his puzzles featuring Oscar Tremont, Investigator of the Strange and Inexplicable. He has written two novels, Letterbox and The Tunnel Runner, and two collections, Hoffman’s Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales and The Animal Inside. Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Cameron lives with his wife and two sons near Guérande in southern Brittany, between the rugged coast and treacherous marshlands. He runs the independent publishing house, Black Beacon Books, and is a member of the Australian Crime Writers Association. You can find out more about him at https://camerontrost.com and read more of his strange and creepy tales by grabbing a copy of his latest collection, The Animal Inside.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest – and creepiest – graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.
Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.
You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.
Now let’s open the gate – can you hear it creak on its hinges? – and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.
But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.
Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones
The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.) A paperback will follow.
Nature reserve? It’s called a cemetery, sweetie, and you are not taking a shortcut through there!
But she does go through there, at night, it’s a full moon, and the trees in the reserve are dark, the path unlit, and the cemetery gate wakens more than fear. Will she make it home?
Loved the pace, and the place, and although it’s been a long time since I visited Brisbane, I can sense the place, see the shadows the trees make as they dance their darkened shapes over the gravestones, and I can hear the critters in the underbrush.
Nice sensory elements to the story and very enjoyable. Nicely creepy, too.