Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dark Harvest: Six of the Best with Rab Fulton

Rab Fulton needs very little introduction to regulars here at my spot. Recently I edited his novella, Transformation, which is a twisted kinda half-fairytale, half-romance yarn with some horror elements thrown in for good measure. I can't really come up with a pinpointed description save to say, if you love tales involving Ireland, then this one will definitely be memorable. Having been to that merry green land myself, I was was immediately transported into a serious dose of nostalgia while reading.

Anyhoo, Rab is one of the contributing authors in Dark Harvest, a collection of short stories recently released via Dark Continents Publishing. A very big welcome to him today to chat a little more about his art. 

Tell us about your story. Where did you pick up the story seeds?

This story was written during an awful bout of depression following 9/11. Like most people I was horrified by the events of 9/11 but that horror was deepened and darkened by the propaganda on all sides - whether anti-Islam or anti-American. I guess I was fortunate in that I was in a position to talk to both young Americans and Muslim refugees in the immediate aftermath. Far from either group fitting into trite and dangerous stereotypes I was surprised by the shared grief and common sense of the men and women I talked to. There was much disagreement but it was reasoned and rational. Those conversations didn't just give me another insight to the aftermath of 9/11 but they managed to lift me enough so that I could set down a response to the ugly propaganda that was polluting the planet. However I had to be very careful not to fall into propaganda myself. I am an atheist but I did not want this to perceived as an anti-religion or anti-god work. The result is one of my darkest pieces of writing but hopefully it will still strike people as beautiful.

What creeps you out?

Mirrors in dark rooms. I keep thinking I'll see the faces of dead
friends in them...

Oh aye, mirrors get me too. When I was staying in a hotel in Killarney in Ireland I was so creeped out by the mirrors in the room I had to cover them with my spare blankets. Why do you love dark/unsettling fiction?

Dark fiction can push boundaries and twist expectations in powerful and shocking ways. It makes the reader doubt the reality they exist in, makes them aware that there are other things beyond our ken - some of which are incredibly malevolent and will destroy you if they can.

Coming from Scotland and Ireland, I was very much brought up with an awareness of the dark side to stories. Irish and Scottish fairies are seldom pleasant beings - and the ways of dealing with them can also be pretty savage. Its something I've long played with, most notably in my books Transformation and Galway Bay Folk Tales. Favourite dark tales would include The Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft and from Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or The Beach of Falesa.

What are you working on now?

Oh I'm up to my eyes just now. I'm trying to find the time to finish the draft version of my blog novel Marcus Marcus and the Hurting Heart. The final five chapters are sketched out but finding time to write them is difficult. The draft has to be finished by the end of this month as I'm doing a reading from the book in February at the Muscailt Arts Festival, which originally commissioned the story. But I'm also having to prepare for a theatrical tour in Ireland and a storytelling tour in the UK. Oh yeah add in raising two young boys and you can imagine I'm a little bit frazzled at the moment

What’s the most unexpected thing people discover about you? 

I'm shorter than I look!

Tell us a little more about what you’re reading at present?

At the moment I am reading The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde. It is one of the darkest and most unsettling pieces ever written in the English language. It is a fictionalised account of the years Oscar Wilde spent in gaol after he was convicted of being a homosexual. The core of the story is the hanging of a murderer and the impact waiting for the killing has on the other prisoners, including Oscar Wilde. Some of the images are just so eloquent yet utterly terrifying, like the Lord of Death with his icy breath and the dance of the evil sprites the night before the hanging of the murderer. It is prison writing as important as any of the work by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn that exposed the horror of Stalin's prison state. Oscar Wilde's poem equally exposes the savagery at the heart of the British Imperial system but sadly it is a work that is little read.

Perhaps there are just too many truths in it...

Oh and i'm also reading Winnie the Pooh. There are some lovely understated moments in those stories like when on a rainy day Pooh manages to float to Christopher Robin on an empty honey pot. He tells Christopher that the pot is either a boat or an accident depending on whether he is on top of it or underneath it. My boys find that hilarious!

Rab's website, Marcus Marcus blog, Transformation, Galway Folk Tales.

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