Midnight Echo #15 Showcase: Stuart Olver
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 Stuart Olver. Welcome Stuart!
Who are you and where do you write from?
I was born and raised in Durban, South Africa, but Brisbane, Queensland has been my home for many decades. As a kid I created comic books for my family to read, starring an adventurous talking crocodile. My Dad initiated my love affair with science fiction and horror when he took me to a first-release screening of ALIEN. Though my family keeps me busy (well, that’s my excuse anyway) the computer is always there in the corner, wanting to know why I’m not tapping its keys.
Please comment on your involvement in the AHWA and its importance to you.
I’ve been a member of the AHWA for quite a few years now, and through the Association I’ve been able to find an outlet for my stories, and also met some cool writers (some even in person!) along the way. I initially struggled writing short stories, then had some success with flash fiction. That probably helped me develop a love for stories that are driven forward by the potent power of a few well-chosen words.
Can you tell us what inspired your contribution to Midnight Echo #15?
The inspiration for my story “The Midnight Song” was initially a very vague idea of a person walking through a city at night, tasting it rather than predominantly seeing or hearing it. From there the words dribbled in over a period of several months until finally, somehow, a complete story emerged – although I didn’t come by the ending until very late in the process.
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?
OK, if Marie Kondo told me I could only keep three books on my nightstand, I’d have to choose “Body Rides” by Richard Laymon (a classic I keep going back to), “Time for the Stars” by Robert A Heinlein (wowed me as a youngster with its time-dilation concepts), and perhaps a “Year’s Best” anthology of Horror or Science Fiction that I hadn’t read yet.
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’m very much looking forward to holding a physical copy of ME 15 in my hands, and posing seductively with it on Instagram, where I go by the very imaginative moniker of “olver.stuart”.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m looking forward to the publication in South Africa of my first-place winning story “At The Mountain’s Dying”, as part of the SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment competition. I’m also hanging out for the Italian publication of “The Midnight Song” in Mondi Incantati as part of the Lucca Comic and Games festival. And my first novel is going through its third draft.
STUART OLVER is a medical researcher living in Brisbane. He relishes all things science-related, including a wide range of speculative fiction. His articles and stories have appeared in Aurealis, Midnight Echo and Writing Queensland Online, as well as several anthologies, including Short and Twisted, Monsters Amongst Us and Shelter From The Storm. His story “What Came Through” won the 2014 Australasian Horror Writers Association Flash Fiction competition.