Praise for Twisted Tales Events

'In the past few years Twisted Tales has become a major force in the promotion and appreciation of horror fiction. As well as putting on author readings and signings at bookshops it has expanded into organising larger events, bringing authors and critics together for discussions of the field. I've been involved in quite a few of both and have found them hugely enjoyable and stimulating - I believe the audiences did as well. May Twisted Tales continue to grow and prosper! If you love the field, support them! I do.' - Ramsey Campbell

‘Twisted Tales consistently produce well-organised events for writers and readers of horror. What really distinguishes Twisted Tales for me is the intelligent themes and investigations they pursue, and the high quality of the discussions they always stimulate. As an author I've been invited to three of their events and have been pleasantly startled, to near shocked, by the attendance levels - two out of three were even sold out. I salute anyone who contributes so much to the literary and cultural life of horror fiction.’- Adam Nevill

'Twisted Tales events are wonderful... a great way of promoting 21st century horror fiction. Supported by Waterstone's Liverpool One and really well organised, Twisted Tales brings together established names in the genre as well as new voices and of course readers. Looking forward to much more to come...' - Alison J. Littlewood

Monday, 19 August 2013

Laird Barron interviewed by David McWilliam

Laird Barron is the author of several books, including the short story collections The Imago Sequence, Occultation, and The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, and the novels The Light Is the Darkness and The Croning. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. He is a three-time winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and has also been nominated for the Crawford, World Fantasy, International Horror Guild, and Locus awards. He resides in upstate New York.

We discussed his latest venture as the first editor of Year’s Best Weird Fiction, a series currently seeking crowdfunding through Indiegogo:

DM: What attracted you to the weird as a reader?

LB: Thank you for the interview, David.

In my youth I read a lot of Poe, Dunsany, Burroughs, and Howard—the usual suspects. Later, that circle expanded to Smith, Lovecraft, and Jackson. I can’t discount the morbid old volumes of world fairytales with the sinister illustrations illuminating such odd, bizarre stories. In those days, my family lived in a remote area of Alaska. We were surrounded by forests and rivers. Geography defined our existence. The wilderness is a component of a certain strain of weird tale: Blackwood’s 'The Wendigo' and 'The Willows', and Lovecraft’s 'The Whisperer in Darkness' being exemplars. I identified with that as a child. It served as a gateway. Now, I’m as likely to become lost in the urban phantasms of Joel Lane or Robert Aickman as I am anything else.

DM: What opportunities does it offer to you as a writer?
LB: Any sort of writing represents the opportunity of expression. Weird fiction, as with all fiction, is a lens to view reality. It’s a filter.

DM: Do you think that, in the wake of the New Weird and with the rise of H.P. Lovecraft's status in popular culture, we live in a new golden age of weird fiction?
LB: To me, the weird is simply the weird. I am skeptical of the term New Weird as anything other than a convenient literary classification for booksellers and certain individuals within the cultural mainstream. We’ll see what the consensus is in another twenty years. If there is a legitimate movement, we’d do well to credit the actual innovators—Fritz Leiber, Gene Wolfe, Michael Shea, Shirley Jackson, Robert Aickman, Jack Vance… That crowd was redefining weird fiction long before the genre was stamped with a big NW marketing label.

DM: What do you hope to achieve with the Year's Best Weird Fiction series?

LB: Ultimately, I hope it means a broader audience for this classical genre and a sharpening of focus on those who often toil in obscurity. Michael Kelly, the publisher of this new series, perceived a gap in the year’s best anthologies between fantasy and horror. There’s always cross-pollination, but the weird is in dire need of a showcase that explicitly represents what it can do. A certain amount of vital work in this region of genre gets marginalized every year precisely because it’s too strange or too subtle. This is an opportunity to plant a standard and hold a line. If the series flourishes, as I suspect it will, a number of previously unknown or overlooked authors will gain recognition. 

DM: How did you become involved as its first editor?
LB: Michael Kelly of Undertow press contacted me. He laid out his plans and I seized the opportunity to helm the inaugural book. It’s an honor.

DM: What are you looking for in submissions?

LB: My taste is diverse—it encompasses a spectrum from Livia Llewellyn and Stephen Graham Jones to Gemma Files and Michael Cisco; from violence and psychosexual madness, to the glacially calm and austere. I’m looking for material that fits in the cusp between pure horror and pure fantasy. I’m looking for stories that skew my perception of reality, that leave me with a sense of unease or dislocation. I’m not interested in work that mimics Aickman, Ligotti or any other masters of the genre, but rather work that rivals what has gone before. I want writing that contributes to the canon.

DM: What new weird fiction are you working on and have planned for the near future?

LB: Night Shade Books recently brought out my new collection The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. I’m working on several projects, but Ardor, the Alaska-themed collection, is definitely in the wheelhouse of weird fiction. I hope to hand it in to my agent next spring.

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