A couple of months ago my Movie Maintenance compatriot Carney came to me with an idea. Basically, joining forces with our other colleagues Drobb and Handsome Tom we would write an anthology of horror novellas. Each one of our stories would be based around a different season, we’d spend the next few months writing and editing them then self-publish the book in time for a Halloween release. Looking down the barrel of enough projects that I was already feeling like I was drowning, I said yes to the idea but didn’t initially give it a ton of thought.
I vaguely knew the story I wanted to write; one about a couple of backpackers who stumble on a secluded town in the Australian wilderness only to find they can’t leave and the locals are a little rougher than your standard Aussie larrikins. It’s somewhere between Wake in Fright and Wolf Creek with thematic similarities to the plays The Golden Age and When The Rain Stops Falling. The concept had been kicking around in my head for a while, but I only started planning and writing in earnest a couple of days ago and now I’m really excited.
I’ve never really written outright horror before. To be honest I’m not even sure if this counts. I know the others are angling for more supernatural stories, but mine is going to be a down and dirty, brutally violent, sickening satire about some kids who go looking for the real Australia and get way more than they bargained for. It probably veers closer to a thriller than actual horror, but I’m pretty sure if I do my job right you might get a sleepless night or two out of this story. Above all, I want it to feel somewhat credible; there are plenty of urban legends out there about Australian towns you should never go to and this is a way for me to explore the notion without, y’know, actually subjecting myself to any danger. Plus (not to get too political) I feel like in the age of Reclaim Australia and Pauline Hanson shrieking away on the news there’s probably something depressingly relevant about what this story has to say.
But I don’t want it to feel preachy. I want it to have you on the edge of your seat; a visceral, nasty thrill ride unlike anything I’ve written before and hopefully unlike too much I’m going to write in the distant future. It’ll be called Sunburnt Country and at the rate I’m going I think a first draft will be done soon.
All that said, this will only be one part of a bigger work I can’t wait for people to read, a collaborative effort combining four very different creative voices in an effort to make you really, really afraid. So yeah, get excited. Or get scared. Either way, get ready.
Writing words about writing words.