Some of you already know that I came runner up in a short story competition to be included in the anthology of Among the Headstones (Editor Rayne Hall).  Well today’s blog contains an interview with another author in this book: Kayla Lee Ward together with some more information about the anthology which will be published on Kindle at the end of January.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest – and creepiest – graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.

Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.

You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.

Now let’s open the gate – can you hear it creak on its hinges? – and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.

But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.

Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones

(Or go to your local Amazon Kindle page and you can search for it from there.)

The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.)  A paperback will follow.

And now for the interview! It’s always fascinating to hear from other authors, and the following interview is with another author in this anthology, Kayla Lee Ward.

Firstly, a little about the author:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kyla Lee Ward is a Sydney-based creative who works in many modes, that have garnered her Australian Shadows and Aurealis awards. She has placed in the Rhyslings and received Stoker and Ditmar nominations.Reviewers have accused her of being “gothic and esoteric”, “weird and exhilarating” and of “giving me a nightmare.” Her latest release is The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities, her second collection of dark and fantastic poetry after 2011’s The Land of Bad Dreams.  Her novel Prismatic (co-authored with her partner as “Edwina Grey”) won an Aurealis Award for Best Horror.

Her short fiction has appeared in the likes of WeirdbookShadowed RealmsGothic.net and in the anthologies Oz Is Burning and Gods, Memes and Monsters: a 21st century Bestiary. Her work on RPGs including Demon: the Fallen saw her appear as a guest at the inaugural Gencon Australia. An artist and actor as well as an author, her short film, ‘Bad Reception’, screened at the Third International Vampire Film Festival and she is a member of both the Deadhouse immersive theatre company and the Theatre of Blood, which have also produced her work. In addition, she programmed the horror stream for the 2010 Worldcon. A practicing occultist, she likes raptors, swordplay and the Hellfire Club. To see some very strange things, try http://www.kylaward.com

 

What’s the creepiest place you’ve ever been to?

 I am presently working as a guide with the world-famous Rocks Ghost Tours. The Rocks district in Sydney is the old dockside that contains its oldest surviving buildings, nestled against and in some cases carved out of a great sandstone cliff. Some of the alleys and stairways are lit by gas lamps (a conscious gesture on the part of NSW Heritage). It’s all incredibly atmospheric but let me tell you – some of those places are very strange. There is one that we can’t even take the tours into anymore, because people kept freaking out. Now, I’m not supposed to share the stories I tell on the tour, but I can tell you that stepping into that place was like suddenly walking on sand in a shallow river. The ground beneath me felt like it was slipping away as the current tried to pull me off my feet. And it was hot.

I’m prone to such impressions. As a teenager on holiday with my parents, I joined a tour of the fortress which looms above Salzburg in Austria. Stepping into a completely empty room, I jumped back out again and didn’t stop running till I was back in the courtyard – this was before the guide said anything. I just couldn’t stand being in that room. When Mum found me, she said that the room was the old dungeon and I had stepped onto one of the oubliettes.

 For your story in Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard, where did you get the inspiration?

In the 1990s I had moved out of home and was living in Newtown, at that time an inner-city suburb full of students, elderly immigrants, and crumbling terrace houses. There were all kinds of weird shops and cafes, and the live music scene was fantastic. I, however, was in a pretty bad way. I had health problems with no diagnosis, was unemployed and going to job interviews where people actually mocked my degree. I took solace in the cemetery of Saint Stephens. Now, as this was the nineties, and the inner city, I guarantee you that what really haunted this place by night were Goths. I made friends and emerged from my slump wearing high boots and taking the Sisters of Mercy really, really seriously. But in my imagination, it all went differently or perhaps just more symbolically. The tomb that forms the centre of my story? That was real and it is still there.

Who are your favourite short story authors, and why?

From Anne Rice, I recommend The Witching Hour and Lasher (they are really one book) and the Vampire Trilogy. From Tanith Lee, the Blood Opera sequence and The Secret Books of Paradys, from which I will single out The Book of the Dead. It is the third of the tetralogy, a series of tales linked by the city cemetery. The novellas “The Glass Knife” and “The Moon is a Mask” are among my all-time favourites. Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black is spectacular and the recent movie resembles it little if at all. A new author who impresses me is Sarah Read, with The Bone Weaver’s Orchard.

But horror is also very much about short fiction, to be found in splendid anthologies such as this as well as single author story collections. I enjoy spooky short stories that follow Poe’s dictum – “A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” As you might deduce from this, I am fond of ghost stories such as those by M. R. James and Vernon Lee – try “An Incident in Cathedral History” and “Amor Dure”. I am also a devotee of R. W. Chamber’s The King in Yellow tale cycle – the original, that is. Accept no substitute!

For readers who are new to your fiction, which of your books would be a good start?

I have released two poetry collections through the specialist publisher Prea Press as paperback and hardbacks. By the time you are reading this, both should also be available as ebooks through mine and the publisher’s websites, including all the illustrations (yes, I draw and paint as well as writing and hosting ghost tours). The Land of Bad Dreams is very much a tour of my subconscious, including dark faerie tales and a set of outrageously Gothic fables. The Macabre Modern and Other Morbidities is the result of my lengthy obsession with the Danse Macabre of medieval Europe and includes a contemporary version and well as a historical essay.

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed this really interesting insight into Kayla Lee Ward and her work. Don’t forget to buy a copy of Among the Headstones which is on special offer until the end of January 2022!