Father Darkness: Interview with Dark Fiction Author Dan Weatherer
If you haven’t heard of author Dan Weatherer yet, the chances are you soon will, because he is sure to become a household name through his award winning work in literature and script-writing.
First discovered through his published writing for Haunted Magazine in 2013, Dan went on to publish two short story collections, as well as one of his frightening tales (The Legend of the Chained Oak) being made into a short film, which won awards for Best Horror (Portobello Film Festival) and Best Short (at the Bram Stocker International Film Festival).
I invited Dan for an interview. Willing to discuss his work and future plans, I was pleased to uncover more about his art and creative process…
Pease tell us about your work and what readers can expect from your writing
Hi Fiona, firstly thanks for including me on your site. It’s always good to connect with a fellow author! Well, in a nutshell you could describe my work as horror though I prefer to refer to it as dark fiction. For me, the term horror is a little too narrow as my stories (though sometimes unpleasant) are not so easy to categorise. I’ve had my work compared to the likes of James Herbert, Clive Barker, Poe and Lovecraft (which I take as a huge compliment every time,) but I feel better describing my work as dark fiction. It allows me the freedom to write what’s inside without having to worry “Is this strictly horror?”
You’ve had two short story collections published. What inspired these works?
That is a tough question to answer because each story was inspired by something totally different! For example, “Gyll’s Whel” (which is a tale involving the cursed burial site of an alleged Witch) was inspired by a visit to a local garden centre! I saw a water ornament which consisted of a huge, slapb of rock from which water flowed. I watched the patterns the water made across the surface of the stone and it reminded me of blood being spilt. Read the story and you will see where I took that idea. It can be something as simple as that which sparks an idea. Agnes, the ant-hero from “The Butchers Wife” series was inspired by a lady that I worked alongside. That might sound cruel but it was her day to day gentleness that prompted me to think “well what if all old people were not so nice and harmless?” Long story short – ideas can strike me from anywhere at any time! I am constantly making notes on my phone for possible new stories!
What, if any, is the challenge of the short story?
I think that the beauty of a short story is that it has the ability to pack an immediate punch. The challenge is to make the reader care about your characters and get a good feel for the story using a limited amount of words. You still need the three act structure and you have to grab the reader by the throat and not let go until your tale is done. I aim to leave a reader breathless.
Often, other writers will say to me that writing short stories is about as difficult as it gets but I have to be honest and say that I find the opposite is true. The idea of writing a novel seems beyond me! 80,000 words plus on one story baffles me. I have no idea how I would approach it, how I would pace it – it seems to me to be the most difficult task in the world! I shall attempt it one day (as I am always pushing myself with regards to my writing) but not until I feel that I am truly able to deliver the same quality in a novel as I can with my short stories.
Can you tell readers about Father Darkness and why you live in this character as an artist?
Father Darkness is a persona that allows me to express my darkest desires and commit them to page. That’s the romantic side of his creation. He represents my horror brand, and I believe that having a brand is key to my future success. Father Darkness helps the reader instantly identify with .my product and my work. It will set me apart from the pack of horror writers that are on the cusp of breaking through. I own the right to the Father Darkness name and logo. Though he represents a brand, he is a part of me and I am a part of him. He shall be persona in which I present myself to the world. Dan Weatherer will play second fiddle to him and will largely be a mystery.
You’ve seen your work performed on stage. Can you tell us more about this experience, and whether it’s an avenue you wish to pursue in the future?
It was amongst the most nerve wracking experiences of my career thus far! My piece “Beige” (which discusses the mind-set of a man who has just murdered his wife,) was the last piece of the night. The audience had sat through some pretty heavy hitting material (written by Masters students and established, London playwrights) and I sat thinking to myself “is mine going to miss the mark?”
Luckily it was a smash! The director and the actors were an absolute credit and they delivered a strong and engaging performance. The audience laughed and jumped in all of the right places, I watched as the entire room played into the hands of the characters on stage. It was an amazingly rewarding experience, one which I hope to replicate in future.
What do you think of recent cut backs and library closures?
It saddens me greatly. Not only are citizens going to miss out on easy access to reading material but to a degree some will lose an element of social contact. Many senior citizens use the mobile library services and will see few other people during their day to day living. It annoys me that book services are seen as unpopular or an easy money saver. We should be promoting reading to our young, not cutting corners and taking away resources. As a writer I can never say “yes, it is a good idea to limit peoples access to books.” The area in which I live has a notoriously poor literacy rate and a very small arts scene, moves like this weaken both areas still.
Who is your favorite author and why?
This is a tough one so I am going to name three – Thomas Harris for introducing me to the brilliant world of Psychopath Hannibal Lecter, Brett Easton Ellis for writing the most brilliantly disturbing book that I have ever read in “American Psycho” and Clive Barker. His “Books of Blood” gave me the confidence to try my hand at penning short stories.
What are you working on next?
I have almost finished writing my third collection which will be my second collection under the Father Darkness Brand. It has a title but that remains a secret…for now. I have a very talented local artist working on the cover and I am hugely excited to see what she comes up with.
I am writing more material for the stage in the hope that I can pull together enough material for a showcase performance…time will tell! I have some of my stage work out under consideration as well as a possible book which will contain all of my screen/stage works to date.
I am writing a book about local medium Helen Lawson, who is one of the most positive people I have ever had the fortune to meet. The book will be about her life and gifts and will hold a real feel good factor, something that my usual work does not!
Jayne Harris and I have a book out very soon titled “What Dwells Within.” Jayne is a leading paranormal expert and the book discusses her work and presents some of her favourite cases. Interest in this particular work is already high and she has led a truly fascinating life!
I shall also be appearing In a horror film this summer. “The Slayers” is written and directed by local film maker John Williams and filming begins in August. I can’t reveal too much about my part but I’m getting in shape for it and cannot wait to sink my teeth into the role! There may be a collaboration following that film as he has expressed an interest in the script that I wrote for “Behind Every Door”…we shall see.
Where can we find out more about your work?
You can visit my website at www.fatherdarkness.co.uk
Or like me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OurFatherDarkness
Thanks for your time Fiona.