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Stories from the Shadows: Horror Author Kaaron Warren

Molly McLaughlin

Canberra author Kaaron Warren writes ghost stories for grown ups that are subtle, scary and thought provoking.

She has published three novels and recently won a Shadow Award, which recognises the best of Australian and New Zealand horror writing, for her short story Mine Intercom. She describes her work as speculative fiction.

“Speculative fiction covers horror and science fiction and fantasy, and all the variations in between,” she says. “I like it because anything’s possible; I love that freedom. I can make my ideas a reality and take allegorical concepts to the extreme to make a point.”

Kaaron has always enjoyed writing and reading horror and dark fantasy stories, and believes they can be more complex and varied than mainstream audiences might assume.

“There is this idea that genre fiction is more like pulp fiction, all about zombies and vampires, but there’s a lot more to it these days,” Kaaron explains. “I was a judge in the most recent Shirley Jackson Awards and that short list is a brilliant way for people who want to know who is writing the best of this kind of horror at the moment. Intelligent, terrifying, unsettling stuff!”

Kaaron lived in Canberra for over twenty years. Those who describe Canberra as eerily deserted might just be onto something, as she says she takes inspiration from the setting around her.

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“The people here have come from all over the place so everyone’s got a story and I love that,” she says. “I love the old buildings, I did a fellowship at Old Parliament House and I got to explore that amazing building. And we have brilliant access to cultural institutions, like the National Library.”

Kaaron works one day a week in a second-hand shop and dedicates the other four days to her writing. She believes it is possible to write even amongst the chaos of balancing family life and other responsibilities.

“I have a family so I’ve trained myself to be able to sit down whenever I’ve got a spare minute to work otherwise I’d never get anything done!” she laughs. “Especially when the children were young, I realised that if I had twenty minutes I had to make the most of it because for me, having a book in print is one of the most amazing things that can ever happen. I still get a total thrill every time I see my name.”

Access to social media and the Internet have made the job of an author both easier and more difficult but Kaaron has made it work through a combination of hard work and creativity.

“Getting your voice out there is one of the biggest challenges for a writer,” she says. “It’s really hard to stand out, so you have to make it your voice and tell your story.”

Kaaron’s latest novel, The Grief Hole, will be published in August.

Photography by Art Atelier

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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