We welcome back author R.J. Meldrum to DEMAIN with his brand new Short Sharp Shocks! Placid Point (Number 70 in the series). The ebook is out on the 2nd July (though currently available for pre-sales) and has a cover by Adrian Baldwin. Prior to publication Dean and Richard sat down and talked:
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Great to speak to you again Mr Meldrum – for those that aren’t yet familiar with you or your work can you tell us a little about yourself.
R.J. MELDRUM: Hi, of course. I’m British, but currently living in Canada. I work as an academic in a university in Toronto. In terms of writing, prior to 2015 I’d been pottering for years, but never very seriously, or at least with no serious intention to get published. In 2015, I decided to self-publish a collection of short stories and that gave me the confidence to start submitting to publishers. Six years later, I’m nearing 200 stories published (both reprints and originals) and my work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. My first novelette, The Plague, was published by DEMAIN in 2019.
DP: Indeed and great fun it was too. So would you say your background has had some influence on you as a writer?
RJM: I was born and brought up in Scotland, but have lived in both England and Wales, as well as Canada for the last ten years. That experience of living in different places allows me to write with first-hand knowledge of all these places; allowing me to set my stories both in different parts of the UK and North America. I’m a scientist by training – so I do try to inject logic and science into my stores. John Lansing, one of my few recurring characters, is my ‘go to’ scientist/doctor and I suppose he is partially based on me.
DP: Oh nice one, I didn’t know that. I personally think spending time in other countries really does add something to a writer’s armory (so to speak) – what was your first introduction to the horror genre?
RJM: I think like most kids growing up in the 70s and 80s, my introduction to the genre came through TV and books. I vividly remember the television adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, which scared the hell out of me. I also remember the Hammer House of Horror television series, which was also pretty scary. I read books by both King and James Herbert and those combined with the television series, got me hooked.
DP: I don’t think I’ve seen that version of Salem’s Lot – with David Soul right? – need to check it out. Okay, so your Short Sharp Shocks!
RJM: This is my second publication in this series. It’s an eco-horror – nothing supernatural in this story. The ‘villain’ is a bio-engineered micro-organism and it wreaks havoc on a small, lakeside village. It’s a departure from my normal story, but I enjoyed writing it and I hope that readers find it fun to read.
DP: I really enjoyed it too so I’m sure your readers will as well. Did you have to do much research when writing it?
RJM: I normally don’t do research, but for this story I did. I enlisted the help of a couple of lake ecologists to make sure I got the biology and other scientific aspects correct. For this story, the scientific basis for the story had to be plausible – I hate reading stories where a fact is wrong or the actions of a character aren’t realistic or plausible – it spoils it for me.
DP: Me too. With everything going on on the planet right now do you think the genre is affected by world events?
RJM: I think horror should reflect both real life and current events – it has to. Horror should reflect humanity, especially the negative parts of society. My stories have used climate change, pandemics (including COVID) and various disasters as backdrops. Without reflecting and commenting on current society, horror is less relevant and less important (in my opinion). Horror has always taken current events or developments and reflected them in a dark way. I think that’s important.
DP: Sure and as the world is a scary place right now do you think that the horror genre is dead or at least on its last legs?
RJM: No, I don’t think so – at least I hope not! Horror as a genre is very broad and trends do come and go. I can think of a few parts of the horror genre that I don’t read or enjoy, but each to their own! Most people have read a ‘horror’ book in their lifetime, even if they didn’t realise it. I think there is a lot of potential in the genre, as long as it stays current.
DP: Final question then: is writing for you a long term or short term career?
RJM: I’ve written on and off for most of my life, but I’ve only been published in the last few years. I enjoy writing and that is the main reason for doing it, but it’s also great to see my work in print. I’d love to be able to make my living from writing, but I suspect that will never happen, but plan to always write – well, as long as I keep having ideas!
Thank you so much for your time. All the best with Placid Point.
If you would like to connect with R.J. Meldrum direct:
Dean M. Drinkel