Greetings and Happy New Year!
Today, I'm interviewing Cameron Trost, author of "The Shortcut" in the upcoming anthology Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard.
What are cemeteries like in the country where you live?
As an Australian living in France, what strikes me is that cemeteries here are usually surrounded by a high wall with a gate that’s locked at night and they’re generally quite small. Australian cemeteries tend to be more open, perhaps with only a low wall or wrought-iron fence and they’re quite large and leafy. Other than that, I’m not sure Australian cemeteries have any particularly distinct characteristics. There are usually different sections for different religions or denominations, such as Catholic or Anglican. Crypts are perhaps less common here than in other countries. Most Australian cemeteries generally consist of simple headstones and slabs, often in the form of a cross or with an angel statue. Wherever possible, they’re situated on high ground, especially in areas prone to flooding. They’re busiest on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day or during a weekend ghost tour!
Has a real-life cemetery, grave or headstone ever inspired you to write a story?
In a way, every graveyard or cemetery I have ever visited probably feeds my imagination when it comes to writing a gothic tale or a creepy chapter set in such a place. There are the cemeteries I know in my hometown of Brisbane, like the rambling and leafy Toowong Cemetery, as well as famous sites like the Glasgow Necropolis, Père-Lachaise, the Venetian island of San Michele, and the catacombs of Saint Sebastian in Rome. I’ve seen the burial sites of countless English kings and historic figures from Leonardo da Vinci to Jimmy Morrison. However, the cemetery that has played the most direct role in inspiring a story is the one in the ghost town of Walhalla, which is in Victoria, Australia. This former gold-mining town is a lovely place to go camping and hiking 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. Disease and mining disasters claimed the lives of many of the town’s inhabitants, and a heartbreaking number of headstones bear the names of infants and children. The chilling effect this cemetery had on me was part of the inspiration behind my mystery novella, The Ghosts of Walhalla, which features private investigator, Oscar Tremont.
What do you like about the Gothic Fiction genre?
I love the suspense, the creepiness, the chill it sends up your spine. It’s all about creating a dramatic setting and atmosphere, quirky and disturbing characters, and a story that absolutely has to end with a twist or clever back reference. I particularly like it when the roles of hero and villain are played with, blurring the lines.
Who are your favourite Horror authors? What do you like about them?
There are so many, and a number of them are in this anthology with me, which is an honour. I’ve been following the work of Greg Chapman for years and also love Lee Murray and Kyla Ward’s work. Needless to say, I’m eager to discover all the contributions. The classics horror writers included are among my favourites—I’ve even written stories inspired by fiction penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Guy de Maupassant (both Oscar Tremont mysteries) and there’s more than a hint of Poe, Bierce, and Dunsany in my work. Most of my favourite horror writers tend to be British, perhaps because their writing style and the settings used appeal to me. Charles Birkin, Joan Aiken, Robert Westall, Christopher Fowler, Graham Masterton, Ramsey Campbell, Guy N. Smith, and Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes are some of the most notable names. I am, however, interested in discovering new talent, and am proud to have published the work of numerous authors who deserve more attention than they get through my publishing project, Black Beacon Books.
Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard, is an anthology edited by Rayne Hall, bringing together stories by different authors writing exploring the same theme. What do you personally, as a reader, like about anthologies?
First of all, I love short stories and really can’t understand why novels seem so much more popular. There’s no room for distraction and fluff. Just as a fine dram of whisky is ruined by pouring cola into it, an excellent short story can be ruined by being “stretched out” to novel length. Of all my favourite authors, I can’t think of a single one who has written a novel that is superior to their best short stories, and that includes Agatha Christie, known predominantly for her impressive range of mystery novels. The advantage of the anthology over the collection is that it enables the reader to discover a number of authors in one book and as is the case in this anthology, the reader can choose an anthology in which all the tales share a common theme.
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
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.
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.