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An interview with Arthur L'Strange, author of Betrayal in Entrails

Happy Friday!

It is the end of another long, hectic week , and to end it with a bang I have a new author interview! Arthur L’Strange is an author from New Zealand. He write weird, strange horror that is not for the faint of heart. (Sounds right up my alley!) He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and talk about his collection Betrayals In Entrails, so without further delay, let’s get to his replies!

Lesley Conner: Tell us a little bit about Betrayals in Entrails. What was the inspiration – the spark – that kicked off the collection in the beginning? Now that the book is completed, do you feel that inspiration still comes through?

Arthur L’Strange:  Betrayals In Entrails is my first collection of seven horror stories. The themes are built around predatory relationships. The story length is between 5,000 and 45,000 words. I’ve done my best to avoid the beaten track, so there’s nothing in here about vampires, zombies, witches, or werewolves. I recommend reading the stories in order but up to the reader of course. The spark that kicked it off was an idea I had back in 2008 where I thought “wouldn’t it be cool if someone woke up and this had happened to them?” This idea wouldn’t go away. It became a story called “Sophie” which opens the book. Another theme was idea origin. Writers often complain about being asked where their ideas come from, so I’ve got two stories about that. I don’t think I’ll be revisiting inspiration as a theme any time soon though … so if you want to know where I get my ideas from, have a read … I got inundated with ideas around late 2014, they just kept coming. There were two that I woke up and wrote with no conscious thought beforehand – they were just there, start middle end when I woke. One was about roadworks, which I had done a little in the past, another about revenge cycles.

Almost everything is an inspiration – music has been an obvious one, bands like Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, and Suffocation have wicked song names and lyrical themes, I’ve been listening to them for too long. Of course literature and movies are inspiring in some ways but not blatantly. I’m usually a slow burner – most of my stories have stuck in my head for a long time, roasting away so they’re nice and ripe and plump with perversion when I go to write them. I think in Betrayals … the inspiration still comes through, I’ve had pretty good feedback and didn’t go for a zillion redrafts so there’s still that original spontaneity. Especially when I think about the ending of the fifth story. I’m smiling now, as I think about it. Thanks for that.

LC: Let’s talk research. How much research went in to writing the stories in Betrayals in Entrails? Was there anything that you discovered during your research that you absolutely had to include?

AL’S: Not much research. A little in the first three stories, particularly “Chitin,” which is about insects. I think I discovered that cockroaches have many hearts that beat very fast, but I didn’t need to use that. The roach varieties in the story are totally fictional, if they are similar to real roaches it’s an accident. The first three stories in Betrayals … have a wee scientific bend to them. Most of the time I just take things off the top of my head. I have a pretty well defined idea of a story before I start writing it so I generally don’t need much. Also a biology degree helps with the gore and the weirdness (if you read the second story you’ll see this blatantly).

LC: Book covers are incredibly important to a book. Can you tell us a little bit about the cover and how it came about?

AL’S: I always wanted to paint, but never did, so I have always been terrible at it. When time came to do the cover I had to do something really basic. Basic appealed because modern covers are so flashy and pretty – professional artwork and lettering, nice pictures, airbrushed, graphic design etc. So I went with something very simple and rugged-looking to reflect the in-your-face descriptive nature of my writing. Also it’s my first book, so what the heck, right? I’d like to enter the party with a splatter. In horror, sometimes characters are not well expressed. I painted a family and left them faceless, the implication being that their personalities are redundant (which is not really true, but I like the way it looks). They’re victims. They’re a lovely suburban family … but there’s something bigger, more important than them. I went to the supermarket butchery and told them I wanted to use fish innards for a horror story collection, and they scooped out a dead fish and gave me the bones and organs for a dollar. I left it outside in the summer heat for a few days to get it all nice and rancid and mushy, and stuck it on my painted, faceless family. I love the way I poked into one of the eyes and let the eye-goop run down it. So yes, those are real maggots.

LC: Do you have any special rituals when you write? A special location? Music? A funny hat you wear?

AL’S: No rituals. Sometimes music but not often. Heavy metal, but it’s distracting because I end up headbanging and air guitaring. Sometimes easy listening or something mellow, but that’s not as conducive to crazy stuff (and it’s boring). Coffee. I manage the house I live so I only allow extremely nerdy quiet anti-social people in, I’m very strict with noise from others. I have an extremely comfy chair. Warmth is important. Procrastination of course. I’ll write either in the morning or evening, afternoon is siesta time.

LC: In my experience, it can be very difficult to balance editing, writing, and family. At times it feels impossible. Have you had a similar experience? Are there any stories you can share when you felt things were out of control and how you handled it? Or, in contrast, a time when you really had a handle on your schedule and things were ticking along like clockwork?

AL’S: Ha! Yes I wrote about this in the afterword of Betrayals ... I wanted it out on Halloween 2015. No chance! I had some work offers so took ‘em, and didn’t finish the damn thing until April 2016. Family’s easy, it comes first. I had to quit full time work in order to write part time, so I’m probably not the best one to ask about scheduling. But I manage. I’ll set a 2000 word/day goal, but I don’t care much if I keep it, as long as I’m doing something. When it’s bursting to be written, that’s when it’s easiest to write. I’m patient to the point of being a slobby sloth. But sometimes I’ll go nuts and do four or five thousand words a day. My record is 7400. Yes, I gotta get the words out or I go mad, but at the end of the day it’s about quality. I think editing is difficult with long stories. I won’t edit late at night or if I have any pressing business. I’m happy to write late at night but it’ll be full of mistakes, although sometimes it’s worth it in terms of idea wackiness. It’s very important to be clear-headed editing, so if there’s some emotional restlessness in my mind I’ll have to sort that out before I get stuck into the story. The hardest thing is letting the story go out into the world, warts and all. Although in this field, sometimes the wart is the beauty. Taste that wart, reader. You just get that wart in there, reader, take your time with it. Lick that wart, that’s a good reader.

LC: If the main character from the last book you read was coming to your house would they be coming to kidnap you, rescue you, or bringing a pizza and a movie so you guys can hang out?

AL’S: Probably a pizza and a movie. It was The Elephant Vanishes by Murakami. But I wouldn’t want to hang out with someone as self-centred as that man.

LC: What are 5 books that you would recommend everyone read? Why?

AL’S: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – because a hundred years on, it’s still a searing indictment of “the system.” And parts of it are very fucking scary and bleak, it almost has a futureless feel. Chronicles of Dissent and Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky – because stuff like this is scarier than the best horror. And you won’t find it anywhere else. Horror books? Richard Laymon’s Dreadful Tales is pretty cool, that’s been my most recent, after a couple of Thomas Ligotti’s collections. Roald Dahl is the mantis. And perhaps I should have shared this in response to question 4, but I use Graham Bennett’s book The List – The Art of Constructive Manifestation to organise and sort my life out for the better. It’s available at

LC: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Do you think childhood you would be disappointed with adult reality?

AL’S: Heaps of different things. I didn’t want to write horror until about 2008. I didn’t really commit to it mentally until about 2013-ish, I dunno. I think childhood me would be pretty happy, all things considered.

LC: If I were to walk into your home to check out your books (because, let’s face it, if I’m at your house the first thing I’m looking at are your books) what would I find? Do you have a neat, orderly library, shelves and stacks stuffed in every possible nook and cranny, or a clean eReader on the end table?

A’LS: You would find a couple of tidy stacks and a quadruple of untidy ones. And piles and piles of books in my storage. I have books about healing, science, religion, politics, nutrition, nature, and tonnes of fiction, from pop to arthouse to classic. I don’t have an eReader.

LC: There seems to be a lot of book to film adaptations being made lately. As a reader, what do you think of these? Is there a movie out there that you think really got it right? What about one that got it wrong?

AL’S: A movie that got it right? I’ve never read the book of The Exorcist, but the movie was sweet. One of the coolest ever. I sort of stole the device of mother caring for daughter for my story “Sophie.” King’s books have been done well occasionally, The Night Flier, Shawshank Redemption, and Stand by Me I thought were very good. The Shining was a pretty cool movie in some ways with spooky camera angles and kinda haunting but almost totally different to the book. Children of The Corn and The Running Man (except for the puns – have a nice TRIP!) were crap. The A Nightmare on Elm Street remake in 2010 was crappy too, I thought. Couldn’t believe that got made, the original was fucking perfect. Not sure if that’s a book.

LC: As a writer, what do you think of film adaptations of books? Do you have the perfect cast in mind for your book? Or does the idea of a movie make your inside voice wail “There’s no way they will get it right!”

AL’S: I wouldn’t want any of my published work made into movies! Actually … an exception is “Sophie,” which I always envisioned in the hills above Wellington airport.  Maybe the second story in Betrayals In Entrails would make a good movie though … or the third one too … the final story in my next book would make a cool movie, maybe … but there’s so many horror movies already. My work has a lot of strength in its descriptive nature which I think could easily translate to the screen but I honestly prefer it in each reader’s unique imagination. I think it comes down to good acting, production, and direction. Then again, The Exorcist apparently was horrible to make for a lot of people involved, and that’s my fave. I love watching movies but I got no clue when it comes to making them. Maybe that’ll change. I definitely identify to your statement “there’s no way they’ll get it right” … but I suppose it depends on how many briefcases of money you offer me …

LC: What are you working on now and where can people find out more about you?

AL’S: Now? My second horror collection. You’re welcome to download a trial ‘tip of the iceberg’ version of my story “The Nameless Warrior” which will appear in the next collection. I’ve only got the first 1,500 words or so up. At this time (May 2016) I have just started a Facebook thing but still don’t have my own website. No big deal. Betrayals In Entrails is on Kobo for free, stories separately or together. If it gets a few thumbs up online and people dig it, I’ll chuck the price up. Supply and demand, baby. Read the fifth and seventh stories in Betrayals … that should put you off finding out more about me.

LC: Thanks for stopping by, Arthur, and talking about Betrayals in Entrails!

AL’S: Thank you.

About the author:

Arthur L’Strange currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He publishes on Kobo. He has been a horror fan for over three decades, but only began writing it recently. He works to create phrases to savour, and believes reading a good story should feel like sipping a sumptuous, vibrant wine. With maggots in it.

About Betrayals In Entrails:

Betrayals In Entrails is Arthur L’Strange’s first collection of short horror fiction. It contains 7 original stories including “Sophie”, “Chitin”, and “Fultan Bogan.” It is available to read for free on Kobo.



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