Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Sabitha: Kester R Park joins us to talk about his five stories in the Dread Cold anthology. Kester, how did you end up being so involved?
Kester: In 2019, Fantastic Books Publishing ran a competition to write short horror stories featuring the scene on the front cover in some way. There was no limit on the number and I had a year, so I wrote five. All were selected for publication in a blind judging process and two were selected for prizes. The book contains twenty other stories selected the same way plus some commissioned works.
Sabitha: That’s fantastic! What inspired you to write these stories?
Kester: Although horror is not my usual genre, I think it’s ideal for exploring the theme of vulnerability. When you look at the world through that lens, it’s everywhere: the vulnerability of youth, our vulnerability to love and disease. The future itself is vulnerable to the actions we take today. I found it fascinating to develop that theme through my five contributions. I don’t think I arrived at anything spine-chilling but I hope my stories will be thought provoking for most readers.
Sabitha: Which character do you relate to the most and why?
Kester: I haven’t admitted this until now, but without a doubt it’s the narrator of Return of the Hunter. In a couple of my submissions, I really enjoyed developing the voices of thoroughly malevolent protagonists and the narrator of Return of the Hunter is easily the most evil. Fear not, though! I have no wish to spread disease, desperation and despair across the world as the narrator does. The point of identification is more to do with the anger expressed by the voice in this piece. The figure is trapped and unable to pursue its ambitions. It’s hungry for influence and its desire to exercise its true power is frustrated. As a writer who is obliged to sell his services to an employer 40 hours a week, I feel that frustration very keenly.
Sabitha: That is a very relatable feeling. How did you choose the titles of your stories?
Kester: I’ve already mentioned Return of the Hunter. The other four titles are Moon and I, Sunday Lamb, The Giants, and Utopia Mine. In each case, I limited myself to a short phrase. I think that horror pieces need short titles because they can only permit the prospective reader to peek into the terrifying world you’ve created as if through a crack between the door and the jamb. Additionally, each is an encoded clue to a key location, character or event in the story. In a perfect world, such a title initially disorients or misleads the reader and then, as the story goes on, ultimately comes to crystalise the sheer horror of the tale, and that’s what I tried to do in each case.
Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your stories. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?
Kester: An electronic version is currently available for pre-order at 0.99 USD. A paperback version is also available. A proportion of the purchase price will go to Anti-Slavery International and Embrace the Middle East. You are very welcome to follow me on Twitter (I follow back!) and you can find a collection of my stories, essays and poems in English and Spanish at my website.