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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

Midnight Echo #15 Showcase: Martin Livings

In the seminal novel that launched a genre, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote, “There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” With this single sentence, Shelley cuts at the reason that so many of us embrace dark fiction. And it is with this notion in mind that I am showcasing some of the dark souls who contributed their twisted and chilling creations to the 2020 edition of the AHWA's annual magazine Midnight Echo. Today, my guest is Martin Livings. Welcome Martin!

Who are you and where do you write from? I choose to answer this question in the form of a limerick:

My name's Martin Livings, of course,

And in Perth I write,by choice, not force,

As for something to share,

Of which you're unaware,

Well, I once open-mouth kissed a horse?

(these facts might have a 33% error margin)

Please comment on your involvement in the AHWA and its importance to you.

Shameful admission time, I'm actually an ex-AHWA member, having been an early adopter way back in the day. But for the longest time I haven't really been part of the community, so I allowed my membership to lapse. Before that, though, I was heavily involved with the AHWA, particularly with coordinating the short story and flash fiction competitions for years. Maybe that's why I ended up leaving, just a bit burned out. Anyway, perhaps I'll be back one day, if I ever feel like I'm taking this seriously again. Why does the short story format appeal to you?

They say brevity is the soul of wit. Any questions?

Can you tell us what inspired your contribution to Midnight Echo #15?

"The Bone Fairy" is a story I wrote quite some time ago, and I have no idea where it came from, it just landed in my head complete. Writing it was less like creation and more like excavation, just uncovering something I found buried in the dirt in my brain. But I love it to bits, though some parts were emotionally hard to write. Why did you have to be so dark? 2020 has had its share of darkness. Do you think horror is more or less important in these very turbulent times?

You can't see the light without the shadows. Horror fiction can be an escape, especially this year. It's something to be scared of safely, unlike almost everything else around us these days. I think nothing can really match the horror of 2020, but at least we can distract ourselves from it, even if only momentarily. Boo! The Marie Kondo challenge: in an effort to de-clutter, you’re only allowed to keep three books on your nightstand. Which three would you choose and why?

Wow. Ah, wait, only on my nightstand? I only have three books there at the moment anyway, Kaaron Warren's The Grief Hole, Amanda Bridgeman's The Subjugate, and Chuck Palahniuk's The Invention of Sound. The rest are stacked into shelves promising to be read one day. I'll probably be buried with them. Poe, Straub, King & Co aside, can you name any lesser known but deserving writers of horror fiction whose work has resonated for you recently?

I actually haven't been reading a lot of horror lately, having been going through a weird Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot kick instead. Again, that might be because of the year that has been 2020. But I'm still greatly enjoying Kaaron Warren's work, as always, though I don't know if you could call her lesser known these days! Midnight Echo #15 is being offered in both print and ebook versions this year. Did the offer of print make a difference to you? Are you seduced by the waft of vanilla and printer’s ink?

I DO like my print editions of things. My brag shelf would look awfully empty without them. But that didn't influence my submission at all. I just wanted to come back to the fold, be part of the AHWA family again, even if only as the crazy old uncle who nobody invites but keeps showing up with a bottle of something hidden in a brown paper bag and suspiciously dilated pupils who just stands and raves incomprehensibly in a corner until he passes out. I gotta be me; if I can't be an elder statesman, I'm more than happy to be a cautionary tale instead.

What are you working on right now?

I'm just finishing up my latest book, An Ill Wind, which is my ill-advised attempt to write a Stephen King novel. It still needs some tweaking, especially the ending (which truly does make it a Stephen King novel) but I'm hoping to get it finished and on Amazon next year. I have to say, I'm quite enjoying mostly no longer submitting to traditional publishers these days, just writing whatever I want to write, chucking it online and seeing if anyone likes it. By and large they don't, judging by the lack of sales, but that's really not why I do it anymore. It's just fun to do now. Perth-based author Martin Livings has been writing short stories since 1990 and has been nominated for Ditmar, Aurealis and Australian Shadows awards. Livings resides in Perth, Western Australia. He has had over ninety short stories published, and his first novel, Carnies, was published in 2006, was nominated for an Aurealis Award and won the 2007 Tin Duck Award for Best Novel by a Western Australian. His collection of short stories, Living With the Dead, was released in 2012 by Dark Prints Press, and an original story from the collection, "Birthday Suit", won the Australian Shadows award for Best Short Fiction that year. Both Carnies and Living With the Dead are available now through Amazon, along with his techno-thriller novel Skinsongs and the novellas Rope and The Final Twist.


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