Book 44 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series is Last Meal In Osaka (and other stories) by Gary Buller. It’s being published on the 30th November but is currently available for pre-sales. Prior to release Gary and Dean sat down to talk about it.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Gary, let’s get straight down to it, can you tell your readers a little about yourself and how (or why) you became a writer.
GARY BULLER: Hi. I’d always been interested in writing since I was small, putting together very short horror stories for my parents and friends, but I didn’t start writing to submit until around 2016 when I was in my mid-thirties. It was a combination of the monotony of my old job plus the flow of creative juices.
DP: And your stories which make up Last Meal In Osaka?
GB: My chapbook collection is a combination of three short stories I wrote between 2016 and 2019. Last Meal in Osaka is a nasty little tale from 2016, Swashbuckle Cove, inspired by childhood visits to theme-parks, is from 2018 and Rise of the Chiggy-Pigs, about the fear of creepy-crawlies, is my latest story from 2019.
DP: You’re dead right about Osaka being nasty but we thoroughly enjoyed it here at Demain so well done. Who are your protagonists?
GB: We have three completely different protagonists in this collection, from the innocent all the way through to unexpectedly nasty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end very well for any of them.
DP: Yes, that’s true isn’t it? Particularly in Chiggy-Pigs but I won’t say any more as I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone...I’m interested, did you have to do much research for your stories (or are you an expert in Japanese cuisine – if so, nice one!)?
GB: I had to do a little research for Last Meal in Osaka, particularly around Japanese food, but the other two stories are all about nostalgia and childhood memory. I think some of our deepest fears are rooted in childhood experiences.
DP: That’s true..so with that in mind, I suspect that some of the scenes were difficult to write?
GB: I had to dig deep with a couple of the stories, recalling how I felt when similar experiences happened to me. I wouldn’t say this is difficult, but it does bring back memories, not all of them pleasant.
DP: Creatively what would you say was your biggest success?
GB: My publication by the excellent Gallery of Curiosities (two stories) both led to my HWA membership and my first semi-pro sale. I am also very proud to have a story in Unnerving magazine (#5.) Eddie Generous runs a very tight ship, and it takes a special story to catch his eye, so I was delighted.
DP: Yes, I’ve heard that – well done on both. Which books / authors do you read and are they an influence do you think?
GB: I love the work of Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts is a personal favourite) and his World Famous father. I am also a big fan of Adam Nevill and would recommend anyone read The Ritual. I find their stories original and inspirational. I hope one day to come close to emulating their success.
DP: We at Demain believe you will! So what does the word ‘horror’ mean to you?
GB: It is the psychological stuff frightens which me the most. I don’t think gore, jump scares or big monsters cut it alone. The tension has to build steadily and the payoff has to be worthwhile without being cheap. I think Pet Sematary by Stephen King is one of the most horrific things I have read, especially as a father of small children.
DP: Oh it is, isn’t it? I can really see that Mr King is an influence...so what up-coming horror book (or film) are you looking forward to?
GB: I would really like to see Doctor Sleep as a big fan of The Shining. The reviews are positive, which is pleasing. I haven’t read Full Throttle the new collection by Joe Hill yet, I am looking forward to that one and I recently purchased Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. I read a short excerpt months ago on-line and pre-ordered straight away.
DP: Ah, cool, I’ll check that out, that sounds really interesting. Taking a step backward for a moment and the question about horror, what is Gary Buller afraid of and has it ever made its way into your work?
GB: I’m claustrophobic, so being buried alive is a biggie, as is a fear of unseen underwater creatures. I touch upon these in my story Amabie’s Pond (Gallows Hill Magazine) and also Swashbuckle Cove in this Demain collection. It likely comes from a time when I swam in a Florida lake only to be told there were alligators in there too.
DP: Ah, that reminds me of something that happened to me in Kenya...hang on, I need a lie down a moment ha ha...okay, I’m back. So, creatively, what would you like to achieve...
GB: I always said I would write a novella, should I receive an acceptance from a pro or semi-pro publication. This has come to pass, but I have yet to start.
DP: Ah – I know that pain my friend...so many commissions, so little time. Need to kick my own backside...so a couple of fun questions. Marvel or DC?
GB: Dark Horse all the way. This will be an unpopular opinion, but superheroes have never really done it for me. I think the whole idea of men and women running around with their pants on the outside of their clothing has been done to death.
DP: I hear you, I hear you. And finally then, please tell us something surprising about you.
GB: I like to participate in runs for charity and raise money for Manchester Children’s Hospital when I can. Recently I was lucky enough to run a half-marathon in South Korea. I am also an expert in 3D print.
Thank you so much Gary for your time. Best of luck with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you would like to connect with Gary direct:
Dean M. Drinkel