Matthew R. Davis has appeared in Mad Scientist Journal and Selfies from the End of the World, and we’re pleased to have him back with a story in I Didn’t Break the Lamp!
DV: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Matthew R. Davis: I’m based in Adelaide, South Australia, where the wild kangaroos roam and only Mad Max and Crocodile Dundee stand between us and hordes of deranged psychopaths and murderous wildlife. (I’ll warn you right up front to not believe everything you read.) I recently moved into a house where I have a lot of history: I’ve rehearsed and recorded with bands here, began accruing professional fiction acceptances during a previous stay, and have thrown up in at least three of the rooms. I’d direct you to my blog if you’re still curious: matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com.
DV: What inspired you to write “A Lost and Lonely Fire” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?
MRD: I don’t recall any particular inspiration other than wanting to set a story in a second-hand bookstore. I wrote the story for an anthology call five years ago, but it was full of plot holes that I couldn’t fill to my satisfaction, so I put it aside. When I came back to it, I realised I could magnify the problematic aspects and make them a part of the narrative, at which point it took a turn toward the metafictional.
DV: The setting for your story in a bookshop is so evocative of many bookshops I’ve been in. Is your bookshop based on a real one or several, or is it just based on the collective imaginings of a traditional “bookshop”?
MRD: Brought to Book was inspired by a lovely shop in the Adelaide Hills called Blackwood Books. I used to drive through the area for work, and sometimes dropped in for a browse. I struck up a rapport with the owner, David Christophel, and started putting up posters there for a while. Sadly, David passed away last year, but thankfully the shop continues under new ownership. I came up with the perfect bookstore name in the first draft, only to find that there was already a shop called More Than Words. Great minds think alike! I’m sure I’ll return to the well at some point, because I’ve been to countless second-hand bookshops and I love them so.
DV: Did you have the various authors for different sections of the bookstore decided on in advance, or were there sections that required research to get a good list of author names? Did you learn anything interesting researching the prominent authors in these genres?
I just threw in a bunch of authors I dug, and also a number of names I often saw on second-hand shelves. The most research I did was for a list of crime writers, though I could’ve just walked into the next room and perused my own collection! I entertained the idea of riffing on the fact that these days you’ll often find dozens of copies of the same titles from Stephenie Meyer, Dan Brown, etc., but I didn’t have enough room to explore the store’s stock in more detail. Some of the books were chosen for pertinent reasons: the copy of Jonathan Carroll’s The Land of Laughs that Jasmine is reading in the staff room, and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes in the basement.
DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?
MRD: I don’t recall ever having imaginary friends as a child, unless you count characters in the stories I was writing even back then. I’m still making up imaginary people, though I don’t tend to talk to them. Just myself. But am I even real? Who can say for sure?
DV: What’s on the horizon for you?
Other than my third story for Mad Scientist Journal, I have a couple of other shorts coming out in the near future. “Supermassive Black Mass,” a novelette of odd science, occult nightmares, and stoner metal, was recently released by Demain Publishing as #21 in their Short Sharp Shocks! series. I also have my first collection of horror stories, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, coming out through Things in the Well later this year. I’m currently preparing to write a new novel manuscript about derelict, abandoned places and the strange worlds of loss and desolation that open up when a writer/photographer couple explores them. Onwards and upwards!
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