Kris Ashton is the author of the tale “Unreal Estate” which appears in Dark Moon Digest 20.
1. Talk about how you came up with the idea for the story that appeared in DMD 20.
A few years after I moved to my current home, I started taking back streets to the train station every morning because the more direct route got choked with peak hour traffic. It was on one of those back streets that I first noticed the mysterious vacant block that led to ‘Unreal Estate’. The property wasn’t sectioned off with temporary fencing, nor did it have piles of construction materials on it, or even rubble from a demolition. It was just a square of well-kept lawn between two other houses. Month after month I drove past this property and nothing happened to it. There had to be a story in that, I decided. It was too surreal not to use.
2. What is your favorite book?
In my case, there are two answers to this question. There are books that I read over and over again, and by that measure it would be Stephen King’s Different Seasons or They’re a Weird Mob by the Australian writer John O’Grady. Then there are books that have such a profound effect on me that I never read them again. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens are among those.
3. Do you get a lot of outside help with your writing or do you prefer to work on it alone?
I’ve always been a loner. When I was at university I workshopped stories with a couple of fellow students, but since about 2001 onwards I have acted as my own beta reader (with the odd piece of useful advice from a slush reader thrown in). Most of my writer friends tend towards literary or mainstream fiction, so they aren’t much help with the genre stuff. They did help me reshape my first mainstream novel, however, which I’ve just started shopping around to agents.
4. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I try to keep active, since both fiction and my day job, journalism, see me at a keyboard for hours on end. I go to the gym three or four days a week (I’m one of those fortunate few who enjoys pumping iron) and I often take walks. Playing with my daughter, who is now two, also figures highly. Then I read, of course, and I watch a lot of television. All the best movies are now big-budget TV series; what might have been a three-hour film in the 1970s is stretched out over years on the small screen. Deadwood changed everything in that respect–without it there would probably be no Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.