Welcome back Roomies, now I know what you’re thinking…. How many times can they traumatize me with trains!!!! But to be fair… he didn’t actually get on the train this time… he was just train adjacent following a child to his unlikely demise. Moral of the story…. Don’t trust children.
With that being said… I’d love to lead you down a new path to our next story… (It’s okay.. Take my hand.) This week as we follow the alleyways of horror we sit down with author Lachlan Watt to talk about his journey into writing as we listen to this week’s episode- “It’s Still There.”
GR: Welcome back to the rooms Lachlan, It’s nice to see you again. Last season you showed everyone the true terror of modern art with “Everyones a Critic.” But we’d love to know – how long have you been writing?
LW: I’ve been writing little stories since I was a kid. I studied journalism in my twenties and worked in the field for a few years. I’ve always been writing but I guess I only got serious about my fiction in the last decade or so.
GR: Some people would argue that’s a big change going from working on journalism pieces to writing fiction- (then again you are writing about the horrors of real life). What was it that led you down the pathway to fiction?
LW: I’ve played in bands since my teens and come from an extended family of writers and musicians. I’ve always been surrounded by creative people and it would be hard to not want to do something artistic and expressive after seeing how much others enjoy and are fulfilled by it. I think everything I’ve written has a darkness at its core, although I wouldn’t categorise it all as horror. It’s a lot of fun to make horrible things happen to nice people.
GR: Who doesn’t like making horrible things happen to nice people… I mean hell- that’s the motto we have carved over the door of The Grey Rooms headquarters. What would you say is your favorite kind of horror?
LW: I like cosmic horror. The idea that there are these vast and immeasurably powerful forces out there that just do not care about you in the slightest is one that has always scared me. Nothing like being told that your world is nothing but a wet speck of matter to be wiped off someone else’s windshield to give you a bit of perspective.
GR: I think a lot of people try to ignore the forces of the cosmos at large, there is such a wild world of experiences you can build out of that idea that your life may not really be solely under your own control. (which in itself is terrifying.) I think trying to reign that in and write about all the potential outcomes is a fun challenge in that sense- How do your story ideas come to you?
LW: Normally the voice comes first. A character starts to speak and I try to capture that. The hook comes next. You suddenly realise that the character is, say, suffering from fatal insomnia, or lying about their true age, or hiding the fact that they killed someone a year before the story began. The story is everything else that happens after I’ve got those two things sorted out.
GR: Witnessing the destruction from the path chosen, I see a lot of that idea when we look at your story ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, her choices and inaction lead her to be in that gallery that day. Inspiring the killer to create a collection after her choices. It’s an interesting path to connect the dots from A to B. Is this something you try to tell new authors as well- how to connect the story together?
LW: Yes, as well as – Write the ending first. Read everything you’ve written aloud before you submit it anywhere. There’s nothing wrong with abandoning something that just isn’t working, but try to finish most of what you start. Write in the active voice and use as few commas as possible. Learn the rules before you try to break them. Read from a wide range of genres and never, ever give up.
LW: And when it comes to The Grey Rooms as an author – Listen to the podcast and read the submission guidelines. Something different about the Grey Rooms is that we all know how every story is going to end. The way you get to that point is what is going to hook the listener. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people whose work on the podcast you’ve enjoyed. I’m always available to offer encouragement.
GR: I think that’s all really valuable advice, especially when it comes to our show- it’s like you said, we all know how it’s going to end… everybody dies. Make that death exciting and work backwards to that point. Speaking of the show, how has your experience been here as an author?
LW: It’s a real buzz. The Grey Rooms team does some amazing work at all levels and the show really has its own vibe. There’s a lot of horror podcasts, but this one is truly unique. It’s always an honour to be a part of it.
GR: Well we love having you, and I can’t wait to read what you send us for Season 4. What projects are you working on now?
LW: I’ve got a novella undergoing revisions and maybe a half-dozen short stories being written for different publications. I’ve also got a finished novel that I’ve been shopping around. I’ve been happy with the reactions to my short stories and my work with the podcast, but I really want to get some longer pieces out there.
GR: Well Lachlan, you’ve led us on some really interesting paths as readers & listeners, so I can’t wait to see what you bring us next! Thank you again for taking the time to sit down and chat with us- our listeners are going to be in for a real treat when they hear this next episode.
If you’d like to hear more stories from Lachlan Watt, you can take a peek behind the door and check out these episodes: Everyone’s a Critic