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Sunday 9 August 2015

ℚ Gristle & Bone - Duncan Ralston

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Gristle & Bone  (, Forsaken, 239 pages), a collection of 7 Delectable Tales of Terror.

Trailer | Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Tour Stops

A big a welcome to Duncan Ralston, thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for Gristle & Bone?

"Gristle & Bone arose from my love of short stories, and I wanted to show as many different styles, characters, and ideas as possible in one go.  Hence, a collection of short and novella-length fiction.

My first real foray into horror was Stephen King's Night Shift, a collection of 20-something stories, when I was 12 or 13.  I saw the cover—a human hand with evil eyes peering out from the bandages—and just had to read it.  A few of those stories I enjoyed so much I copied them from memory for class assignments.  I don't plagiarize anymore, just for the record.

After reading Clive Barker’s Books of Blood at age 15, I decided to try writing for pleasure. And including about 15 years where I was trying to write scripts, I’ve been writing ever since."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I wouldn't say all of me, but there's elements of myself throughout.  "Beware of Dog" and "Viral" deal with childhood bullying, and as probably the shortest kid in grade 7, I got beat on a fair bit.  Mason's paranoia in "//END USER" reflects real fears I've had about the internet, computers, and unchecked government agencies."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Gristle & Bone - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I love this cover.  I'm not embarrassed (okay, maybe a little embarrassed) to say it’s currently the background for my phone.

The cover art is by Scott Deyett.  He's done some great work with other Booktrope authors, as well.  It was difficult to nail down, at first, as each story in the collection is very different. After struggling with initial attempts, we finally locked in the clean, dark, yet classy, cover you see here: the silverware, the black table cloth, the contrast of white on black, and the heart with garnish.  The more I look at it, the more I see how perfect it is for the stories themselves that I've given it the tagline: "The Darkest Place of All is the Human Heart…"
Why should we read Gristle & Bone and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes this book unique?
"I try to come at my stories with an eye for theme.  That's not to say they aren't also about story, or characters…  Characters are first and foremost, but they also serve the theme. It's a tenet hammered into my brain from screenwriting (Everything Must Serve the Theme), which I'd been attempting for years before coming back to novels and short stories.  Some of the themes are pretty heavy, but I try to tackle them in an entertaining way.  "Fat of the Land," for instance, is about the rich eating the poor, illegal immigrants, etc.; pretty much a literal version of what many of them are already doing metaphorically.

I try to create characters you can empathize with (whether they’re good, evil, or somewhere in between), and then throw them into terrifying situations to see what they’re made of.  I like stories that surprise me, and there are plenty of unique twists in Gristle & Bone.  I wanted to write a book I would enjoy reading myself, since I was likely to be reading it dozens of times during the editing process."
Can you tell us something quirky about Gristle & Bone, its story and characters?
"The narrator’s voice in the novella, “Scavengers,” was based on Tom Hanks’s character in The Green Mile.  I often read it aloud in his voice. I’m not sure if that’s quirky, weird or cool."
Who would you recommend Gristle & Bone to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I wouldn't say it's for an adult audience necessarily, because I enjoyed many books with more "adult" themes when I was young.  But don’t give it to your 9-year-old.  There's graphic violence and mild sexuality, so caveat lector."
If you could / wished to turn Gristle & Bone into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Frank Darabont directing “Scavengers” could be interesting.  It’s about evil hiding just under the surface in a small town, and a liberal-minded, well-respected couple who takes it upon themselves to eradicate it.  Darabont has a good grasp on emotional stories, as well as subtle horror with explosive finales.

Julianna Margulies would do well as Leanne Taymor, headstrong with a hint of vulnerability, and maybe Laurence Fishburne as Jim Taymor, just because I’ve always thought he’s awesome, and after his work in Hannibal I’m convinced he’s one of the most under-appreciated actors working today.

Maybe for their older neighbors, James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn?"
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like dark stuff, transgressive stuff.  Books that are challenging, but not necessarily on an intellectual level.  It’s just the way I’m wired.  I mostly write dark fiction, but it’s not all I read.  Some of my favorite books I’ve read over the past few years aren’t particularly dark, like Timothy Findley’s Pilgrim, Robertson Davies’s Deptford Trilogy, Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas (which is dark subject matter, but not told in a particularly “dark” way)."
What is your writing process?
"I get up, clear out all the day’s business (promotion, etc.), then get down to it.  I don’t write every day, but I do write every day I’m free, even if it’s just a few hundred words.  I don’t let word counts get me down.  I just write.  If I can only manage 500 words, so be it.  If I squeeze out a couple of thousand, great.  What matters is getting down to it.  I usually go over what I wrote the day before, then dive in."
What is in store next?
"In the fall, I’ve got a novel called Salvage coming out.  It’s a ghost story about a man who follows in his sister’s footsteps after she drowns in a lake up north.  He discovers it’s a reservoir for a hydroelectric dam, a valley that had been flooded in the ‘70s, with the ruins of a town below the water that might be haunted.  It deals with religious fanaticism, depression, and survivor’s guilt.  It’s pretty heavy at times, but it also works as chilling, entertaining ghost story.

Beyond that, I’m writing a thriller about a couple involved in unusual therapy, and another ghost story that’s ultra-top secret at the moment.  If I give anything away my girlfriend will kill me. "
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you (this could be absolutely anything!)?  Could you please provide us with a picture of you with them / it?
"Here is a picture of me imitating my miniature schnauzer, Silvio, as he looks out the window."

Aww!  That's so cute.  Thank you for sharing it with us :-)

Gristle & Bone - available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads


Ben said...

Thank you for an entertaining Q&A!

duncanralston said...

Thanks, Ben! I enjoyed it!

duncanralston said...

Thanks for having me on!