In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Matthew R. Davis and his story “Everything Is Red in This World.”
ABOUT THE STORY
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
Most of the stories I write require at least some research – sometimes a painstaking amount – but this one came with little need to investigate, perhaps because worlds of dream can ignore the strictures of reality at will. One thing I did have to look into was the stages of sleep and the drugs used to manipulate these, and what little I learned went straight into the story. I don’t see it being of much use in my actual life, but one can never know too much, right?
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Not really, no. The main character in “Everything is Red in this World” starts out knowing very little about himself or his world, and learns only a few tantalizing details as he goes along. The story is vague by design, but enough is intimated that the reader should end up knowing much more of Keene’s story than he ever does.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
The setting came directly from a dream, and I kept it in the back of my mind for some time because I liked the vibe. I figured it would have to be used for something that was unbounded by standard reality, as befits its origin, and here we are. Like many writers, I’ve drawn inspiration from dreams, though in my case it’s not so much ideas as the feeling of them, and the strange logic of their construction. I try not to lean on dreams and nightmares too much in my work, aware that it’s a horror trope that can come across as extremely hackneyed, but I just can’t stay away completely.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
The thought that here is a writer they would like to follow further into the strangelands, whose work they should track down and read with a near-fanatical zeal. On a more serious note… no, sorry, there isn’t one, really. This particular tale doesn’t touch on personal subjects of any depth, doesn’t contain any conscious philosophical or political allegories, and is basically yet another self-indulgent amusement foisted upon a distracted and impatient world. That said, I do hope that the story stays in the reader’s mind for some time after the last word is read, which is about all any writer can ask for in the end.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
Oh, geez. Skimming it now, I see a number of phrases and sentences and paragraph constructions that I like, and that’s how it should be! For brevity’s sake, I’ll pick one at random: The air sticks to your skin and refuses to allow it breath, clinging like a needy lover who cannot see that their affection is suffocation.
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
EVERYTHING IS RED IN THIS WORLD: WHO ARE WE, WHAT IS THIS PLACE, AND WHY CAN’T WE LEAVE?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Why would you assume writers have any money? The process is all-enveloping, so sure, it might be the hundreds of dollars I recently spent flying to Melbourne in order to attend Continuum 14 and finally meet a bunch of fellow writers and editors in person, or it might be the ten bucks I dropped the month before for a second-hand copy of Electric Wizard’s Witchcult Today album that ended up providing inspiration for a story I was planning out at the time – but most likely, it’s those things and about a thousand others.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
I have no interest in putting my name to any work that hasn’t dripped and coagulated from my own messy pudding of a brain. Sure, I’d love to achieve the giddy heights of The Shining, Swift to Chase, The Haunting of Hill House, Dark Companions, or The Damnation Game, but should I ever do so, it’ll be with something that’s uniquely mine.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
I’ve been penning stories since the age of seven, writing novel manuscripts since fifteen, and no matter what else was going on in my life, I always made time to get some words down. That’s a commitment, and that’s serious – but it took a long time before I decided I was ready to share my work with more than just a select few friends. In 2010, I took a break from working shitty jobs and did a MAPS film course instead, and attending the writing unit lent me a new discipline and focus I sorely needed. With my band Blood Red Renaissance on hiatus for most of the year, and with nothing else in my life at that point but booze and movies, I applied myself to my fiction with a vengeance and an eye to finally getting published. That happened quite quickly, and I haven’t looked back since.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
The ability to get all those teeming ideas out of my head and onto the page without life getting in the way – so, the ability to freeze time around me so I can put in more hours without missing anything? I guess people would be startled when I suddenly seem to be ageing faster than everyone else, so perhaps just the power of not needing sleep to function? Then I’d have all the powers of your common or garden meth addict, without even the benefit of dreams or psychological rest, so perhaps not. On a different tack, the power to manifest ideological constructs as physical entities, so I can punch bigotry right in the face.
Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide, South Australia, with around forty dark fiction stories and poems published thus far. Twice shortlisted for the Paul Haines Long Fiction Award (Australian Shadows Awards, 2016 and 2017), he’s judged for the Aurealis Awards two years running and occasionally performs spoken word shows with street poets Paroxysm Press. He plays bass and sings in alternative rock/metal bands Blood Red Renaissance (on hiatus) and icecocoon, whose latest album How Long is Forever…? was released in 2018 along with a video for first track “The Great Aerial Ocean” that he edited.
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