Author vs. Author: Dave de Burgh

meSomething awesome happened in March 2016. Not only did I find out that my story ‘Hush’ would be appearing in Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from the Lake Vol. 3, but I also discovered that fellow author and friend Dave de Burgh will be appearing in the anthology as well. As the release date looms, Dave and I decided it’d be fun to prod each other about all things writing.

Sergio: How does it feel to be one of two authors representing South Africa in Tales from the Lake Vol. 3?

Dave: Absolutely incredible. To have my work published with an outfit as professional and passionate as Crystal Lake is an absolute dream come true. Since I’m primarily a fantasy and SF author, having my story accepted has also given me the confidence to continue writing horror, and I’m very glad to be part of a small, yet continuously growing, group of South African horror writers. We’re showing the world that we aren’t only capable of writing literary explorations of apartheid and racism, or cookbooks, or sports-memoirs.

S: Tell me a little bit about your story – obviously no spoilers – but what’s it about?

D: My story, ‘A Hand from the Depths’, follows the too-short life of a boy destined for greatness – no, I’m lying! It’s a tragedy, and it’s brutal, and it’s an exploration of a couple of things: how identity can be subverted and eclipsed, how sometimes something truly terrible is hiding right under our noses, and, I suppose, what happens when you don’t feed that terrible, dreaded thing enough.

S: You do realise we’re following CLP’s recent release, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, which features stories by Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker. How do you think they feel opening the show for us (smiles)?

D: Hehe! I have to admit that being published by a publisher who has published work by Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman is absolutely incredible – feels like a dream I haven’t woken from yet, as if it’s happening on a parallel Earth. And it is, because on that parallel Earth, Neil and Clive are cheering us on (smiles).

Tales from the Lake Vol 3S: Or maybe we’re just the closing pub band that entertains all the drunkards who don’t want to go home after the headliner performs! Jokes aside, have you read Gutted yet? Personally, I was in awe of Brian Kirk’s story, ‘Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave’.

D: I haven’t, yet, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s been wonderful to see how the project has grown, all the artwork being created, and the positive reception the project has enjoyed.

S: While authors bemoan the lack of publishers in South Africa, Crystal Lake Publishing is doing good things for both local and international authors. What should authors be doing more of for themselves?

D: I think there are two big things authors should be doing all the time, especially South African writers: 1) keep on writing, submitting, and learning; 2) reach out and befriend people in the industry, on both sides – the writers as well as the editors, publishers, agents, etc. Here in South Africa, we’re stuck doing things a certain way because we think we should use our publishers as an example and because we think publishing is publishing is publishing. Not only is South Africa’s industry a drop in the massive ocean of publishing, but it’s teaching our writers the wrong things; publishers like Crystal Lake, who follow the international standard, are the publishers doing memorable things. Learn from the people who know what they’re doing.

S: Exactly. I’d even expand on that notion and say we need to build a sense of community. I mean, look at Andy Warhol and the whole community of artists who dominated that era; they were all involved and supporting each other. Anyway, let’s end this chat on a fun note: since we’re talking about horror, who’s your favourite horror villain and why?

D: Very good question and not one I’ve thought of a lot, to be honest. Why? Well, it’s incredibly difficult to create a villain in horror with motivations which the average reader or writer can understand and sympathise with. Usually happens in genres outside of horror, i.e. genres which most readers don’t consider to be horror. One of the most interesting villains I’ve encountered in horror would have to be Walter (or Martyn) from The Dark Tower (specifically, from The Gunslinger), because he’s more curious than most villains. He’s got incredible, terrible power and not even he knows what he can do with it. He likes games, and playing with expectation, and I can’t help wondering if the Randall Flagg we’ll meet in The Dark Tower movie will be an agglomeration of Flagg and Martyn, and whether or not Matthew will be taking some queues from The Stand‘s Randall Flagg.

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