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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

Midnight Echo #15 Showcase: Rebecca Fraser

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's guest is Rebecca Fraser.

Who are you and where do you write from?

I wear a few different hats, so I’ve always called myself a ‘Writer and Moonlighter’. By day I’m a mild-mannered copywriter and part time facilitator of creative writing workshops; by night I’m a genre-mashing storyteller with a particular fondness for all things dark and speculative.

Where do I write from? Well, firstly I’m fortunate to live on and write from Bunurong land and I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, and their elders, past, present, and future. The Mornington Peninsula (Victoria, Australia), where I’ve lived since 2012, is home to an abundance of natural assets surrounded by moody waters that reflect the seasons with their respective calm and chaos. My coastal-bush home is immersive and interactive, so I also write from a deep well of natural inspiration.

Lastly—this is such a cliché—but I also write from the heart. I feel I’ve become a lot more organic and experimental in my writing over the past decade, which has helped develop my voice and versatility.

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

The AHWA was the first writers’ association I ever joined. It would have been way back in 2006 or 2007. I forget the exact year, but my membership number is #0012, so the AHWA was definitely in its foundation years! As a fledgling genre writer keen to connect with dark scribes for community, networking, and fellowship, I was pleased to find the AHWA…and years on, I’m still here!

I served on the committee in 2012, and have seen the AHWA cycle through various presidencies, and evolve through some challenging times. The AHWA feels more progressive these days. We’ve expanded to incorporate our Antipodean friends, female membership is healthy, and Midnight Echo, the mentorship program, the annual AHWA competition and the Australian Shadows Awards are all well supported and eagerly-anticipated annual events.

Ultimately, the AHWA is a place that supports, celebrates, and showcases horror and dark fantasy literature in all its diverse forms, which is why I will always support it.

Why does the poetry format appeal to you?

I love poetry in all its formats. From traditional, to experimental, ballad, free verse, and other classic or contemporary forms and structures—poetry engenders creative and complex vehicles to carry and convey big themes, emotions, ideas, or narratives.

While I enjoy exploring experimental poetry, I’m a sucker for the rhythmic beauty and meter of traditional poetry, and this is the form I felt would best serve Keep Walking.

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

I try to walk every day, both for fitness and mental health. As many writers know, walking also offers a terrific headspace for working through pesky plot points, solving that character motivation dilemma, or receiving an unbidden bolt of inspiration.

I guess it’s unsurprising that the idea for Keep Walking formed while I was out walking! The rhythmic, relentless crunch-crunch of shoes on gravel, the endless ‘picking them up and putting them down’ got me thinking about the type of person who would simply walk forever. Who would they be? What would drive them? Perhaps it would be: “An ageless man with a ceaseless plan to square long-forgotten scores.”

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?

Argh! This is such a difficult question to answer! Okay, ask me again next month and the answer might change, but for now the three books are: Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon (winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1992, and my all-time my favourite book). Boy’s Life is a genre-melding coming of age murder mystery tale that everyone should read once in their life for its truly beautiful writing and masterful storytelling.

And the book I’m reading right now would have to stay so I can finish it: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. Based on true events, it covers the timespan between 1882-1989. With a plot surrounding the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary by a team of lexicographers, it also covers themes of women’s equality and the Suffrage movement. I’m captivated!

The third book I am going to keep is A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement by David Attenborough. No one Marie Kondo’s the important work and legacy of Sir David Attenborough, the greatest hero this planet has ever known!

Poe, Straub, King & Co aside, can you name any lesser known but deserving writers of horror fiction whose work has resonated for you recently?

On an international level, I am totally digging the work of Paul Tremblay, and I’m also looking forward to Usman Malik’s debut collection Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan. As far as homegrown talent goes…wow, so many deserving names spring to mind. My advice to anyone looking for some of the best Aussie and Kiwi horror and dark fantasy is to pick up any of the recent or forthcoming anthologies from IFWG Publishing Australia, Things in the Well, Ticonderoga Publications, and zines such as Aurealis, Breach, Andromeda Spaceways and, of course, Midnight Echo, or to check out the shortlists and winners of the Australian Shadows Awards, The Ditmars, the Aurealis Awards, and the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for a good introduction to some of the best dark literature of recent years.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got a few projects on the go. I’m working on the first of a middle grade horror/mystery series, which is shaping up to be a lot of fun, and I’m (still) grinding away at a space opera novel which is proving to be quite the world building challenge!

I’m putting the finishing touches on Disturbia, a collection of dark and weird poetry, which I hope to have “submission ready” in the next couple of months.

Apart from that, I’m still always tinkering away at short stories, and looking forward to the release of my first collection of short fiction Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract (April 2021 with IFWG Publishing Australia).

Rebecca Fraser is an award-nominated Australian author who writes genre-mashing fiction for children and adults. Her short stories, flash fiction, and poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, and journals. Her first novel Curtis Creed and the Lore of the Ocean was released in 2018, and her collection Coralesque and Other Tales to Disturb and Distract is due for release in 2021, both through IFWG Publishing Australia. Rebecca holds a MA in Creative Writing, and a Certificate of Publishing (Copy Editing & Proofreading). To provide her muse with life’s essentials Rebecca copywrites and edits in a freelance capacity and operates StoryCraft Creative Writing Workshops for aspiring authors of every age and ability…however her true passion is storytelling.

Instagram: @becksmuse

Twitter: @becksmuse

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