We welcome back DT Griffith to DEMAIN and the Short Sharp Shocks! series of books with Number 64 – Darkness Calls. The cover is by Adrian Baldwin, the books is published on December 31st but is currently available for pre-sales – recently Dean and David sat down and talked about it…
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello David! I hope life isn’t treating you too badly right now, considering! Your time is precious, let’s get down to it – can you tell our readers a little about yourself and how / why you became a writer?
DT GRIFFITH: My personal and professional backgrounds have been based in some area of the creative world for as long as I can remember. I studied fine arts in college, originally focused on photography, but quickly branching out to other fine and commercial art mediums, including music and creative writing. As a result, inspiration comes from all sorts of directions, such as punk or classical music or surrealist paintings, which sparks the ideas that become elements of my stories or other creative outlets.
DP: Oh, I love that – I think maybe I studied the wrong subject at college ha ha…anyway, what was your first introduction to the horror genre?
DTG: This might sound ridiculous – at a pretty young age in the 1970s I loved the original Scooby Doo cartoons. I was always drawn to creative works that portrayed dark or scary elements, usually gothic or noir in nature, which the cartoon series was filled with. I loved dark atmospheric settings and creepy situations in any sort of show, song, or book. The ideas of ghosts and monsters both fascinated and scared me. This opened the door to watching horror movies like the original Halloween and Alien, as well as reading works by Emily Dickenson and Edgar Allan Poe among other classic and contemporary writers in-and-outside of the dark fiction genres.
DP: “I would have got away with it” etc etc – that’s brilliant and yeap what a great series of cartoons! Talking about series, can you tell us about your Short Sharp Shocks!
DTG: Darkness Calls weaves the real-world horrors of drug addiction and cult behavior with my own take on psychological horror. To be clear, neither is a reflection of my life. You could say I had Lovecraft on my brain while writing this story, though I’m not drawing directly from any specific stories or mythos. Rather, I used grotesque visuals to depict mental anguish and subsequent physical manifestations, though these imagined visuals are actually tethered to the underlying supernatural element.
DP: I’m not a massive fan of Lovecraft but I loved the way you weaved the imagery in…did you find the book difficult to write?
DTG: At times, yes. I strive to keep my work as original as I can, so I’m constantly backing away from tropes I often encounter in dark fiction books or movies and finding new directions that are unfamiliar to me. Whether I am successful in maintaining originality will be determined by the readers.
DP: I really enjoyed reading it so well done! Could we talk about books or authors who influence you?
DTG: I am all over the place with what I read. It’s the same with music – I’m not tied to one genre. I have been reading George Saunders regularly amidst numerous other indie and well-known authors. The reason I mention him is his fearlessness in trying new things with fiction, such as his novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which intertwines historical accounts with a ghost story told from multiple characters’ perspectives. I have come to love and appreciate how he layers humor and absurdity on top of incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes horrific situations.
DP: That’s very cool, I need to read more Saunders asap. I love doing these interviews as I’m introduced to so many new voices, my TBR pile is so high now ha ha. Okay, so what does horror mean?
DTG: To me, the horror genre is about facing subject matter that we are afraid to acknowledge or to confront, often stemming from the fear of the unknown and unexplained. It exists in everyday life on a small scale, yet it’s enough to be unsettling. I think some of the most horrific scenarios are internalized, such as facing one’s own mental decline or contending with a loved one’s battle with a disease. Whether it’s caused by panic of having no money for rent or witnessing a protest turned deadly, it’s the immediate uncertainty that follows and subsequent events that create the horror.
DP: That whole realising you are declining mentally must be very very difficult for somebody to comprehend / understand / live through – it always sends a shiver down my spine…Is the horror genre affected by world events? Do you ever put world events in your work?
DTG: Without a doubt. Just as with any other genre of fiction, real world events affect how we see, feel, and create. Obviously, some subject matters are far more polarizing than others, especially where politics and tribalism come into play, which opens the door to exploit fears and die-hard belief systems. So yes, I do incorporate real-world events, but more so as a backdrop or catalyst rather than being the actual subjects of my stories, such as the effects drug addiction have on a family used in Darkness Calls.
DP: I keep hearing the horror genre is dead (yes, even considering the year we’ve had) – would you agree?
DTG: Absolutely not, the horror genre is not dead, nor will it ever be. I see this often in music, for example, with the common proclamation that punk is dead. I find this to be the result of fans of a certain era of a genre being dismissive of the changes said genre has gone through as new creatives enter the field and others pull away. Genres constantly evolve. For anyone proclaiming horror or anything else is dead, they are welcome to live in a time capsule while the rest of us enjoy what we are doing to perpetuate it.
DP: Creatively David is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet? If so – what is it?
DTG: I would love to write the narrative for a long-form video game, or possibly, a feature film script.
DP: That’s very cool – the best of luck. So writing is definitely a long term career for you?
DTG: Writing is a long-term career coupled with the other skillsets I employ. Not everything I write is horror, or even fiction for that matter, as it plays a partial role in my current profession. I love to write and intend to keep doing it for as long as I can, whether to entertain or inform readers. If I can make some kind of money writing in my old age, all the better.
DP: Indeed, indeed. Let’s talk the lockdown…
DTG: The lockdown hasn’t truly ended as of the time I’m writing this – December 2020. We’ve hardly seen family and seen no friends because the disease infection rate has been consistently high in our region since March of this year and leading to many unfortunate outcomes. As a result, both my fiancée and I have been working from home since mid-March with no real end-date to this circumstance in sight. Since I currently don’t have my daily commute of an hour in each direction, I’m able to find productive uses for my personal time at home in this solitude, such as reading and writing far more often than I would be otherwise. I even took on a project of editing a short story anthology.
DP: It’s been a tough one hasn’t it – as a full time writer I’m often in front of the laptop working on own but boy the last couple of months have been hard…in the UK where I currently am, the national lockdown has been lifted BUT we’re in the highest tier so nothing has really changed…I can’t wait until 2021…anyway, anyway…finally David, is there something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
DTG: I love video games even as a middle-aged adult. I grew up with them in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, so I have a particular fondness for the classic arcade stuff, though I do love a well-written and well-produced immersive experience like Red Dead Redemption 2.
What a great place to finish! David thanks so much for your time. All the best with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you’d like to communicate with DT Griffith direct:
Dean M. Drinkel