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Spoken Word

28 Aug 2023

Spoken Word: Episode 26: This Fresh Hell; Edited by Katya de Becerra & Narrelle M. Harris

Arts, Joy Media, Joy94.9, Literature, Performing Arts, Philosophy, Podcasting, Sexuality, Spoken Word

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Spoken Word: Episode 26: This Fresh Hell; Edited by Katya de Becerra & Narrelle M. Harris

This week on Joy Spoken Word we had the great fortune to interview Katya De Becerra and Narrelle M. Harris, editors of the latest Clan Destine Press collection, this Fresh Hell.

The horror, the horror. . .

This Fresh Hell

Edited by Katya de Becerra & Narrelle M. Harris

Clan Destine Press

When the doorbell or the phone rang, the late New York writer and satirist Dorothy Parker would exclaim, “What fresh hell is this?”

“This fresh hell” now gives its name to a pathbreaking collection of 19 horror stories edited by Melbourne writers, Katya de Becerra and Narrelle M. Harris.

Harris, who has several edited collections under her belt, says she and de Becerra were on a mission to curate stories that presented a ‘fresh’ take on horror.

“The stories are not as nearly horrific as might be expected. There is some blood and gore but not a lot. The horror is often more psychological – and it generally happens to people who deserve it,” Harris said.

 

“Yes, there are ghosts, swamp fairies, vampires, witches, daemons, ritual sacrifices, monsters, a morsel of cannibalism, and quite a few deals with the devils but the usual horror tropes get a major make-over. Thirty years ago, horror was mainly the province of male writers. Stephen King was its regent. Now, scores of women have embraced the genre and the results are telling – fresh voices, different takes on gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic identity – and even some humour.”

 

Fifteen of the 20 authors featured in the collection are women. The authors themselves hail from Australia, the USA, and Canada.

 

Harris says that the contributing authors were invited to play with the tropes of the horror genre – and add a twist or two.

 

“The creativity has surprised and delighted us – and will enthral readers. In one story, a restorer develops an unusual bond with a cursed doll. In another, a heartbroken influencer’s mettle is tested aboard a luxurious cruise from hell. My story features three girls being pursued through a forest by different houses. De Becerra’s story is narrated by a haunted house that initially wants to terrify the new family occupying it but has a change of heart,” she said.

 

Harris said that over the last decade many horror writers have featured Australia’s unique landscape.

 

“The story by First Nations’ author, Raymond Gates, is set on the Nullarbor. Other stories traverse the Tasmanian forest as well as the infamous Belanglo Forest. But the action in This Fresh Hell shifts all over the world – from the deep suburbs of Sydney, the haunted beaches of West Java, the seas of the Caribbean, and to historical Scotland where mythic beasts roam in the deadly fog,” she said.

 

De Becerra said that horror seemed to be enjoying a well-deserved comeback – on film and hopefully, now the written word.

 

“In the seventies, horror in film hit new heights with Wake in FrightPicnic at Hanging Rock, and Mad Max. It is having a resurgence with the popularity of Wolf Creek and new MIFF offerings such as Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism,” she said.

 

“It’s not surprising. The world is suffused with anxiety. We’re coping with climate change, fake news, the rise of extremism, and the remnants of the pandemic.”

 

De Becerra said that, as a huge fan of the genre, she wanted to bring together a diverse group of authors to tackle old horror tropes.

 

“Working with our terrific writers and with Narrelle as co-editor has been a blast, especially since this is my first experience as an anthology editor,” said de Becerra.

 

“In this anthology we have South Slavic folklore, West Javanese legends, and Australian wilderness, each story offering a unique and completely unexpected take on the old tropes of horror, from haunted houses and monsters to ghosts and creepy dolls. I think this is a perfect ‘entre to horror’ anthology for readers who appreciate twisty plots, atmospheric settings and some great thrills!”

 

The authors are: Eugen Bacon (Australia); Elle Beaumont (USA); Jason Franks (Australia); A.J. Vrana (Canada); Raymond Gates (Australia but living in the USA); Sarah Glenn Marsh (USA); Greg Herren (USA); Katya de Becerra (Australia); Annie McCann (Australia); Narrelle M. Harris (Australia); Chuck McKenzie (Australia); Tansy Rayner Roberts (Australia); L.J.M. Owen (Australia); Sarah Robinson-Hatch (Australia); Gillian Polack (Australia); Clare E. Rhoden (Australia); Claire Low (Australia); Candace Robinson (USA); Claire L. Smith (Australia); and C. Vonzale Lewis (USA).

Bio: Narrelle M. Harris is an award-winning writer of 11 novels; including The Opposite of Life, Ravenfall, Kitty and Cadaver, and the upcoming The She-Wolf of Baker Street. She is one of Clan Destine’s star anthology editors, responsible for the Sherlock Holmes anthology, The Only One in the World; the feast of corvids that is Clamour and Mischief, and the forthcoming Sherlock is a Girl’s Name.

Katya de Becerra writes atmospheric horror about complicated families in enigmatic places; including a host of short stories; and the novels What the Woods KeepOasis; and When Ghosts Call Us Home. She has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and teaches and researches at a Melbourne university.

 

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