The anthology of gothic tales curated by Rayne Hall is being promoted via a blog tour which sees interviews with each of the authors featured on blogs around the world. I hosted one earlier this week and am honoured to be able to do the same for a second of them, R J Meldrum.
Gothic short story author R.J. Meldrum is one of the writers featured in the anthology The Haunted Train: Creepy Tales from the Railways. Today, he joins us to answer our questions about his personal fears, Gothic literature and writing.
What’s the creepiest place you’ve ever been to?
Dachau – outside Munich in Germany. Seeing the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ above the gate terrified me and, although I already knew the history of the place, seeing it and feeling the atmosphere was profoundly moving and disturbing. If anywhere on this planet is haunted, it’s these camps.
What’s the strangest kind of train you’ve travelled in?
Probably a funicular – I’ve been on two – one on the English seaside when I was a child and one at Niagara Falls – definitely an odd sensation.
For your historical Gothic story ‘The Coffin Express’ in The Haunted Train, where did you get the inspiration?
I read a history online about the London Necropolis Railway – it was fascinating – a railway just to transport the dead. As normal with most writers, I’d had an idea about the plot of a story I wanted to write in my mind for a long time and I simply combined the two. The story practically wrote itself.
What scares you?
Deep water – I don’t know where this fear came from, maybe it’s just a normal human instinct about avoiding drowning, but for me, it’s severe. Even underwater photographs give me the chills, especially the ones where a diver is sitting on the edge of a dark, underwater precipice.
What do you like about the Gothic Fiction genre?
I love the atmosphere these stories create – whether it be in huge, gas lit manor houses with servants and people dressing for dinner, or dark, dismal Victorian city streets and unheated garrets in filthy slums. I also like the understatement in these stories, how they don’t depend on extreme violence. I personally detest gore and violence in fiction, and use it only occasionally in my stories. I love the Gothic style where violence occurs, but it’s not graphically described, and the gory elements are left to the reader’s imagination.
Who is your favourite Gothic author? Why?
MR James by a mile – the balance between well-written stories, a huge intellect, a crisp writing style and creepy, compelling tales. He really is the king of ‘quiet horror’.
Describe your writing voice.
Creepy, atmospheric, restrained (as in not too much gore or violence). Sometimes redemptive and even wholesome.
For readers who are new to your fiction, which of your works would be a good start?
I write mostly short stories, and those get published in anthologies, together with tales by other authors. For readers who want to just read my work alone, then I have two novelettes that were published by Demain Press – titles are ‘The Plague’ and ‘Placid Point’. In terms of plot, they actually couldn’t be more different, which I suppose is a good thing!
ABOUT R. J. MELDRUM
R. J. Meldrum specializes in fiction that explores the world through a dark lens. His subject matter ranges from ghosts to serial killers and everything in-between. He has had over two hundred short stories and drabbles published in a variety of anthologies, e-zines and websites. He has had work published by Midnight Street Press, Culture Cult Press, Horrified Press, Infernal Clock, Trembling with Fear, Black Hare Press, Smoking Pen Press, Darkhouse Books, Breaking Rules Press, Kevin J Kennedy and James Ward Kirk Fiction. His short stories have been published in The Sirens Call e-zine, the Horror Zine and Drabblez magazine. His novellas “The Plague” and “Placid Point” were published by Demain Press in 2019 and 2021. He is a contributor to the Pen of the Damned and an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.
ABOUT THE BOOK THE HAUNTED TRAIN: CREEPY TALES FROM THE RAILWAYS
Come on board for a Gothic journey in a funicular railway in Victorian England, a freight train in the Carpathian mountains, a high tech sky train in Bangkok, an underground railway in Tokyo. Visit stations which lure with the promise of safe shelter but harbour unexpected dangers. Meet the people who work on the tracks – stationmasters, porters, signal-men – and those who travel – commuters, tourists, dead bodies, murderers and ghosts.
In this volume, editor Rayne Hall has collected twenty of the finest– and creepiest – railway tales. The book features the works of established writers, classic authors and fresh voices. Some stories are spooky, some downright scary, while others pose a puzzling mystery.
Are you prepared to come on board this train? Already, the steam engine is huffing in impatience. Listen to the chuff-chuff-chuff from the locomotive and tarattata-tarattata of the giant wheels. Press your face against the dust-streaked window, inhale the smells of coal smoke and old textiles, watch the landscape whoosh past as you leave the familiar behind and journey into the unknown.
But be careful: you can’t know the train’s real destination, nor your fellow travellers’ intentions. Once
you’ve closed that door behind you and the wheels start rolling, you may not be able to get out.
The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31
January 2023. (After that date, the price will go up.) https://mybook.to/Train .
The paperback edition will be available soon.