Daniel’s story, Eatery, is part of the MYSTERY OF THE CELLAR DOOR Short List. You can read it here.

What is the influence / story behind the story?

I had been making my way through some horror novels because I like the idea of being able to scare a reader. For a person to be so engrossed in a book that they’re actually terrified is pretty cool. The fact that I had to sleep with every light in the house on was a small price to pay for discovering some great stories, but I noticed that the genre is full of stereotypes. There are plenty of awesome tales about zombies, werewolves, haunted houses and whatever else but it’s hard to find anything totally original. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I doubt we’ll ever tire of vampires, but it got me thinking. They say it’s all been done before, but surely that can’t be true. Can it? ‘The Mystery of the Cellar Door’ competition was the perfect place to explore a little fear.

What are some of the horror books you’ve been reading?

I just read ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson and a few of King’s most famous titles. I figured the most popular works were a good place to start.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

Cormac McCarthy is the boss (or suzerain) and Blood Meridian is the proof of his authority. But, he’s pretty heavy. I find myself constantly re-reading sections of his work because they all seem to be as complex and layered as they are magnificent. I read Stephen King when I don’t really want to think too hard (please don’t take offense to that Mr King, I simply mean your prose are more direct). King’s characters are always so cool as well; it’s a lot of fun to watch them navigate the fantasy worlds he creates… until something nasty grabs them that is. As Australians go, I can’t get enough of Michael Robotham. If anyone is looking for a great audio book, try ‘Watching You’.

What’s life like as a writer in Sydney?

Writing in Sydney is great. I’m mostly just a writer in my little room in a share-house but occasionally I venture out into the big bad city. I did my first course with the NSW Writers Center a little while ago and I attended a writer’s festival for the first time this year. Both experiences were a lot of fun as well as being extremely inspirational. It’s encouraging to interact with people as well as MS word and I think Needle in the Hay is the best kind of interaction. To have a place to bounce ideas of others with just an internet connection and a mouse click is invaluable.

What’s writing like for you at the moment, where are you, where do you want to be?

I’ve been writing for a few years and trying to slowly improve. I’m unpublished at the moment and I’ve just finished the first draft of my third novel. I find I learn the most by putting my stuff out there and really listening to the responses. Maybe in five, ten or twenty years I’ll see my words in print but I enjoy every moment of typing regardless of the outcome.

What are you doing to achieve those aims?

Anything I can think of. Got any ideas?