Into Bones Like Oil: Kaaron Warren

1. What do new readers need to know about Kaaron Warren?

I’m afraid of the dark, large crowds, mold spores, confined spaces, violence, unpredictability, loss, viciousness, a lack of kindness. I’m afraid of the world my children will have to live with.

Some people say to write about the dark side of life you need to be immune to it.

I say the opposite. It’s only by being deeply affected by the world around me that I can write stories that have any value.

2. What was the inspiration for your novella Into Bones Like Oil?

This is one of those stories that cooked for a long time. It wasn’t until I finished writing it that I realised quite how long.

There are two major inspirations for the novella. One is Safe Houses programme, the other is a boarding house I stayed in very briefly 25 years ago.

I recently found a newspaper clipping I saved from 1995, talking about Safe Houses and some inadequate checks that went on. A Safe House carried a sign out the front, and children could run there, in theory, and find a safe place if they felt they were in danger.

The thing was, I had a boyfriend in the early 80s, who had fallen on hard times and was living in a caravan in his sister’s backyard. Her house had one of those Safe Houses signs. But she lived in an abusive relationship, and my boyfriend lived with his ‘uncle’, a very, very seedy man I didn’t trust for a second. Safe House, my arse.

Another boyfriend and I (not fallen on hard times, and now my husband) stayed in a Boarding House in Melbourne when we were there for a wedding 25 years ago. I was profoundly influenced by this place; by the people who lived there permanently, and those who were just staying over, by the couple who ran the place, by the smells, the sounds, the whole thing. I realised as I wrote “Into Bones Like Oil” that I had been collecting inhabitants for my own Boarding House ever since.

3. What draws you to horror?

So many things. I like the honesty of horror. I like the surprise endings, the unpredictable developments, the truth of it all. I’m often disappointed by a happy ending because they can have a sense of compromise about them, of giving in to ‘good feeling’ rather than staying true to the story. Horror rarely has a happy ending.

4. Which books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Cut to Care Aaron Dries’ first short story collection, from Poltergeist Press.

The Attic Tragedy, a novelette by J. Ashley Smith from Meerkat Press. I’ve had a sneak peek at this this and it is bloody good.

Cat Sparks has a collection coming out from Newcon Press. Called Dark Harvest, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Robert Wexler had a collection coming out, his first book for ages. That’s from PS Publishing.

5. What’s next for Kaaron Warren?

I’ve signed with IFWG Publishing to bring out four books. The first will be a small chapbook, inspired by a collaboration between myself and Ellen Datlow on Facebook. Ellen’s amazing photos of her odd tool collection, my flash fiction in response. It’s going to be fabulous.

IFWG will also bring out a backlist of three of my novels. I recently got the rights back for Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification. Walking the Tree will come out in illustrated form, with an additional novella written from the point of view of a child . Slights and Mistification will both have new bits as well.

I have two novellas coming out from Cemetery Dance. One is Bitter, a novella about a giant iron man and what comes out of his toe. The other is a reprint of The Grinding House.

There’s also this anthology, Gods and Globes 2. It looks so cool, and has a story of mine I had a ball writing, inspired by a trip in the bus from Chicago to Grand Rapids for Stokercon, and also my time in Rotorua during the NZ Natcon.

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