We are thrilled to introduce you to Sydney-based writer Patrick Taylor whose short story ‘Garden House: A Gothic Story’ is published in the 2022 Slinkies anthology. In this interview with Kathleen Kelly (publishing intern), Patrick talks about the inspiration behind the story, his preferred writing styles, favourite books and the pilot script he is working on at the moment for a series about ghost photographers. To find out more about this year’s Slinkies, join us on 29 September at 7.30 pm AEST for the online launch of this excellent publication and the lowdown about Slinkies 2022. Register here
Where did the idea behind ‘The Garden House: a Gothic Story’ originate?
‘The Garden House’ started as a free writing exercise in an attempt to beat writer’s block. I was struggling to focus on longer form projects and realised I needed to write something that was simply fun to write rather than work towards a strict goal. For some reason, the purple prose and grotesque horror of Victorian Gothic fiction is my idea of fun. What started as a self-indulgent style experiment evolved into something else; there are traces of childhood memories in there, like getting lost in the big backyard of a relative’s rural home, but I wasn’t expecting it to draw on such a distinct sense of place.
Do you write in other genres as well?
Horror will always be something of a comfort genre for me, but I don’t exclusively write in a Gothic style. I also enjoy writing drama and have wanted to explore period fiction for a while, too. I’ve also been working on screenplays, internet fiction and songwriting!
What books do you like to read?
Gothic fiction is an obvious inspiration, but despite once being one of those people who can’t stand fantasy, recently I can’t get enough of it. I ploughed through the first two books in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series last year; binge read Frank Herbert’s Dune for the first time this year; and am currently stuck into Seth Dickinson’s Baru Cormorant books. All these authors have a mind-blowing talent for creating a world that feels both real and alien. They really understand the way the present is inextricably tied up with the past.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m currently working out a pilot script for a series about ghost photographers in 1910s Sydney. It’s an ambitious idea, but I find that area of research fascinating. Reading about the popularity of hoax seances and the rise of occultism at the turn of the century is like uncovering a whole secret history.
J.K Rowling wrote most of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in a back room at the Edinburgh Hotel which overlooks Edinburgh Castle. Did you write ‘Garden House’ at a specific location, perhaps a garden house?
Surprisingly not, since I hand wrote the first draft in an old Moleskine that I took with me everywhere for a few weeks. In a way, the “garden house” was a place I could escape to on boring bus rides to and from work. However, I did take a lot of inspiration from the Blue Mountains, which I’ve visited regularly since I was young; the line between well-maintained gardens and untamed bush can be so loose there, and both sides of it are absolutely beautiful.
When writing fiction, do you ever model your characters on people you know?
For me, characters have to be voices that I can easily conjure in my brain and set loose on each other. If anything, they’re more like expressions of different parts of myself. But I do sometimes take inspiration from real people, mainly people I haven’t seen in a long time like schoolteachers. They sort of turn into characters all on their own by virtue of existing only in your memories for so long.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what music do you associate with ‘The Garden House’?
I’ve been growing a library of atmospheric, spooky instrumental and ambient music over the years, and I’m convinced it makes all the difference to my motivation to write. Svarte Greiner is one of my favourites; a Norwegian musician who makes creepy, strangely peaceful soundscapes by treating acoustic guitars like percussive instruments. Knive really captures the eerie, exploratory feeling of ‘Garden House’. I also love Anna von Hausswolff’s organ music, particularly the very gothic All Thoughts Fly.
Where can we find you on the socials?
I’m @patrickgaylor1 on Twitter and @patricklgtaylor1 on Instagram! I’m also putting together a personalised Neocities website, which I will eventually link on my socials because I love the thought of reviving old-fashioned, pre-Facebook blogging.