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An Interview with Stuart Tudor

Today we're chatting to author Stuart Tudor about all things horror! We'll delve into his Eight Nightmares Collection, an anthology series of horror stories surrounding different settings and time periods — which is currently discounted, so grab yourself a new weekend read!


Even better, the first 100 people that sign up for the $1 tier on Stuart's Patreon will get all the benefits of the next two tiers. Don't miss out!


But, before you go away, let's find out more in this fun interview!

 

Hi, Stuart! Start by introducing yourself.


I am an indie writer from South Africa, born and bred in Cape Town. I have been writing on the side for a couple of years while I am working on my degree. I have always loved to read and write, having started at an early age but started taking it seriously in my late teens and early twenties. I have since published five stories. Three in the Eight Nightmares Collection and two short stories on Royal Road (The Pale-Black Maiden and The Tale of Shadow Forest).


You are currently working on Eight Nightmares, an anthology horror series. What inspired you to dive into this genre and where does your love of horror stem from?


My love of horror started growing after I entered my teens. It was about the time I started studying Gothic horror as part of my IGCSEs in literature. It also coincided with the time PT and Bloodborne were well within my consciousness. I realized something about those games and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde spoke to me. It was fascinating to me how PT explored guilt and shame through a nightmarish hallway loop. Stevenson was onto something about repression and the duality of public/private life. Bloodborne just sucked me into its scary world of forbidden knowledge and government/church corruption. The horror started to enthral me in the fear it evoked. I could confront aspects of myself explored in horror.


The inspiration to start Eight Nightmares was from a poem I wrote as part of a creative writing session I did back when I was a teenager. It told the story of a puppet becoming self-aware and trying to make sense of its predicament. It was after sharing it with friends, one of which thought it was pretty scary/accidentally inappropriate, that I decided to start rewriting it to make the POV clearer and get practice. I had at that point written the first draft of a dark fantasy novel (Emerald Baptism) which had a lot of problems. I needed more practice, so I decided to write a collection of short stories/novellas with horror being the major genre as Only My Eyes Move (or The Performance as it was called then) was going to be horror. And that is how I ended up with Eight Nightmares!



Are there any challenges that come with writing horror? How do you overcome them?


The biggest challenge to writing horror is trying to find out if something is scary or not. Horror is like comedy: it is extremely difficult to gauge what is scary as everyone has different thresholds. I have had people say my work scares the hell out of them while others simply shrug. I overcame this by writing what scares me and hoping that the fear I put in will be produced again with the reader. I have gotten reasonably reliable results with this method.



Each book features a unique setting and time period. What made you want to explore horror in different places, and how does your process/storytelling differ between each one?


Horror is a part of the human condition; fear is a universal aspect of us that we often don’t want to confront. I want to bring this across in my work by not being tired of one era or place. I am also a big believer in the theme of a story. The era should complement the theme or subgenre. This is why Where Dreams Are Lost takes place in 2008 because it relates to the terror of prosperity being lost. Black Masquerade takes place just before The Great Depression because it relates to the themes of death and the march of history.


The monster design also has to relate to the era. An example of this would be the upcoming The Fang and the Claw, which is set in Romania during Vlad the Impaler's reign. This is due in part thanks to the monster: The Varcolac, which is native to the country’s mythos. It also relates to the savagery of Vlad and certain other things that I cannot spoil.


There isn’t that much to differ in terms of process. All my stories are planned out the same. However, the storytelling might differ depending on the POV and the setting, as I have to account for character bias and societal expectations that might be present in 1929 but not in 2008.



Which of the books you’ve written is your favourite thus far and why?


It’s like trying to decide which of your kids is your favorite. I would have to go Black Masquerade at the moment because of the creeping dread that comes with knowing something is wrong but unable to change or prevent the outcome.



What can readers expect from this series going forward? Any new surprises to come?


Well, I am currently working on the fourth entry into the series: Our Broken World, which is in its fifth draft as of now. It’s a novella about two friends trying to contact the gods as reality breaks down around them. From there, we also have a WW2 Holocaust Allegory about Germanisation in Poland (but with robots and AI) called A Farewell to Humanity. We then have The Fang and the Claw, a tale set in Romania during the reign of Vlad the Impaler where a soldier arrives home to find his wife terrorized by a beast. After that, there is Divide the Zero, a sci-fi yarn about the first human consciousness transplant and a warning against utopian thinking. Then, lastly, there is Praise the Morningstar, my attempt at an Avant-garde form of horror with a lust demon pontificating on the nature of good and evil while causing a priest to commit evil.


I also have plans for a deluxe version of Eight Nightmares which includes two special stories, the apocalyptic horror tale, A Paradise for Mice, and the South African nightmare, The Laughter of Hyenas. I would like to publish the deluxe version through an indie press but I have no idea how easy that will be. That will be for the future to decide. My Patreons will be able to see the progress on a weekly basis 🙂. Also keep an eye out on Royal Road for The Cage and the Dolphin, it’s set in the same universe as The Laughter of Hyenas and it might be my scariest yet 😉.




Have any shows, movies, books, or games influenced your own work at all?


Yes, I would say Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, Junji Ito, and Silent Hill (1-3) have been major inspirations for me as a creative. I would also say Orwell, Huxley, Berserk, SOMA, Tolkien, Margret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury, Silence of the Lambs (both movie and book) by Thomas Harris, Shakespeare (of course), Alan Moore, Ordinary Men by Christoper Browning, and C.S Lewis have influenced me greatly. From soft games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, not to mention System Shock 2, also were influences on me from the gaming standpoint. There are so many to list here but let's just say I have learnt a lot from my time-consuming media lol.


Some dishonorable mentions would go to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand because I learned a very important lesson in not lecturing the reader for hours at a time at the expense of the reader, plot, and everything. Others would be Empress Theresa by Norman Boutin, who taught me how to not take criticism and how to be humble. Lastly, Onision’s work, because god damn he taught me the importance of an editor.



What made you opt for indie publishing rather than traditional?


After finishing Only My Eyes Move, I did submit to a couple of magazines, got rejected from all of them. And as I was getting a lot of rejection from most things in life at the time. I decided to not put up with that and go self-published. Now I do self-publishing for Eight Nightmares and I try my luck with submissions with other work. So far nobody has picked up my work yet. The Tale of Shadow Forest and The Pale-Black Maiden for example were intended for submissions but after getting a lot of rejection, I decided to publish them on Royal Road. Personally, I enjoy indie self-publishing in spite of its marketing difficulties. I don’t have to worry about trends or neutering my content. I would love to traditionally publish someday but for now, I am focusing on building my audience to prove to publishers that I am worthy of their time and money.



If you could give any advice to an aspiring horror author, what would it be? How would they make their book a good one?


Horror is about exploring the darkness within us and our society. Horror is what the individual or society fears the most. Do not be afraid to explore what scares you; if you are scared, your readers will be, too. Also, have characters that are at least interesting or likeable at best. If the reader is rooting for the killer, then you have failed as a horror writer.



Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, or games you’re enjoying at the moment? Any recommendations for our audience? Bonus points if it includes LGBTQ+ rep!


I watched Barbie recently with my mates as part of the BarbenHeimer meme. It was good fun for those who love a solid existential comedy drama. I also finished watching Call Me By Your Name, which is an amazing but sad gay movie. I have been reading Watchmen by Alan Moore, loving it all the more now that I am older. As for games, it has been Death Gambit: Afterlife, a tough-as-nails souls-like. I do have Baldur’s Gate 3 installed. I am keen to play that and hunt for my fictional boyfriend.


About the Author


Stuart Tudor is an indie writer from South Africa; he specializes in horror, fantasy, and science fiction, among others, under the speculative fiction umbrella. He has a short story (Only My Eyes Move), two novellas (Where Dreams are Lost), and Black Masquerade self-published on various platforms.

You can also find his work on Royal Road with The Pale-Black Maiden and The Tale of Shadow Forest . He is currently studying Economics at the University of London. All his stories and more can be found on his Website and his Patreon . He is a gay man living out and proud of the world and wants to provide better representation for characters in fiction.



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