Monday 7 March 2016

The Refuge Collection

What is the Refuge Collection? It's a collaboratively created world, six volumes of stories by established and up and coming writers.

You can read all about it at the website here

Heaven to some, hell to others

100% of the proceeds go to charities that help refugees

Yours truly has written one of the stories - and the Bristol Book Blog is catching up with other writers in the series over the next few weeks.

The blog first caught up with Steve Dillon the man who started Refuge and asked him a few questions:

Can you tell us a bit about The Refuge Collection - how did it come about?

I could write a book by way of reply and much of the answers to all your questions will be published in 'The Refuge Companion'. But in a nutshell, I was compelled to do two things- a) Write fiction- I couldn't stop: the hornets were buzzing in my head demanding to be released and b) I was swarmed by compassion for the refugee situation, the real life horror story that's happening all around us. These two things just came together with a click, like the unlocking of a complex puzzle box, opening the doors to Refuge. 
How did you gather the writers? 

Social media and my contacts, mostly through FaceBook. I've been working to promote the horror community in Australia for the past 4 years, so I know a lot of talented writers, artists and other gifted folk. There's a lot of compassion and generosity in the world of horror. 

How has the collection grown?

There are 3 collections. The first is the people- we have over 30 talented people involved now, including Ramsey Campbell. Just knowing that Ramsey was supporting me in this project gave me a lot of courage to build Refuge. The second collection is the tales from Refuge. We've published 18 (3 books of 6 tales) and we're halfway through. I'm currently editing about 8 more, and have at least 3 more of my own which the hornets demand I tell... The third collection is money. Funds for the charities we support. They're the ones doing the hard yards, really building Refuge for people who really need it. At the moment these are: and  

Can you give us a teaser for the next collection volume?

The next 3 lots of 6 tales will continue to deliver an eclectic melting pot of tales and diverse writing styles as writers bring different moral values and cultural mythologies to the books. Just as people in Refuge bring their gods and superstitions, the tales will reflect that. We'll also reveal more of the insidious plot that weaves its way between the tales, spilling Refuge's secrets-and sewage-onto its streets. I need to conclude The Empath and The Priest's tales, as they're our narrators and story-tellers, and these two tales will have converged by Volume 6. There are hints throughout the stories about what Refuge's fate might be, but that might yet be influenced by what the other writers bring to the writing desk.

What did you learn about writing by curating this collection?

I have learnt more than I ever could have if I hadn't done this, partly through the discipline and practice itself, but mostly through the excellent guidance and feedback I've had from my editors and reviewers. May Refuge always leave its gates open for them! I have to give credit to everyone who's provided feedback, but in particular to two of the writers, Lee Murray and Noel Osualdini for their diligence, tenacity and bravery in helping me shape my tales into something half-decent. 
What's been the greatest challenge in putting this together?

I thought writing was hard, and it can be. But editing and reviewing is much harder, especially as series editor, because continuity is a huge challenge, especially when several people are writing at the same time. There's been times when I've had to delay publishing collections and individual tales while waiting for a single story to be completed, just to make sure the timelines, events and plot elements don't clash. For example, once a character has been killed off, if another writer wants to re-use that character, there has to be strict sequencing, or creative plot narrative to ensure continuity. The other challenge is having to say 'no thank you' to a couple of submissions that just didn't fit the Refuge Collection. 


What do you think makes a good short story?

A good short story has to be good. And short. Whatever that means to the reader. That probably sounds facetious, but it's the best I can come up with :P My preference, if that was the meaning of the question, is for stories that contain a supernatural or psychological element, with a degree of credibility, which reflects the horrors of humanity and which haunts me after I've finished reading it. It's no secret I'm a fan of Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Lovecraft, M.R. James and a raft of others. I'm not saying that Stephen King isn't a good story-writer, but I've only ever completed one of his novels: Needful Things. My wife has read most of his work and never reads any of the authors I read. Isn't diversity wonderful?
In one sentence what is your best piece of advice for new writers?

"Write first-passionately-and think about it later."

Many thanks to Steve - we'll also be chatting with other writers in the series and getting their takes on The Refuge Collection. Please do go and check out the website and buy copies of the books - after all it is for a VERY good cause.

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