Greig Beck is an Australian author residing in Sydney with his wife, son and oversized black German Shepherd. Beneath the Dark Ice was Greig’s first novel, now published internationally, and available soon on Audio format.
For more information visit Greig Beck Online.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
“Write what you like to read.” I can’t remember where I first heard that little piece of advice, but it couldn’t be truer. I love horror, sci-fi and action/adventure; it wouldn’t make sense for me to write anything else.
I love telling the story, and becoming excited as the scenes unfold on the page. I get fired up imagining what’s going to happen next – sometimes I lie in bed not being able to sleep as I imagine the next twist, confrontation or revelation.
My story material is everywhere – all around us, waiting to be found. The world is an amazing place. We continue to find new and strange things in caves, on mountaintops or miles below the ocean. But in addition to those new discoveries, we also find things we thought had long left us. Not just minuscule bugs in a rainforest, but giants (don’t believe me? Google the Lazarus Taxon).
There are places we haven’t been to yet; still lakes under ice, inaccessible or undiscovered caves, and thousands of miles of unexplored ocean trenches. If we can find a 100 million year old tree (Wollemi pine), or the Dryococelus – a giant lobster insect on an a tiny barren island off Australia’s coast – there is so much more out there, waiting, for us.
It’s those strange, weird and wonderful things that make me enthusiastic to tell my stories. I want to know what happens when we find those amazing creatures or places… and what would happen if things weren’t as we expected.
What is your most notable work?
The first story always makes a difference – good or bad. Beneath the Dark Ice was my first book, and though it never made it as high on the bestseller charts as This Green Hell, and now Black Mountain, it is overall my most consistently selling book globally.
Beneath the Dark Ice created a fork in my life’s road. A few years back, I came across a tiny paragraph in a newspaper – scientists had detected a large body of water under the ice – still liquid. This lake could contain lifeforms not seen for many millions of years. They could have been prehistoric remnants, or onward evolved into something amazing.
That what-if moment came when I wondered what if the things down there were not just micro flora and fauna, but larger… much larger. The idea kept me awake at night, and I had to get it down on paper.
My story starts with a plane crashing into the Antarctic ice and opens an underground cavern. The first rescue party in disappears without trace. Enter Alex Hunter and a team of scientists to both search for the missing first party, and investigate a large body of liquid that turns out to be a vast underground lake,
What they find beneath the ice is both terrifying and amazing – I combine the legend of the Kraken, Atlantis and the mass disappearance of people around the world – I liked to think of it as Clive Cussler meets Jules Verne, maybe with a touch of Lovecraft thrown in.
I have three books that are currently in motion right now – the new Alex Hunter, the second Valkeryn (The Dark Lands), and a novella for an anthology here in Australia.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
I admire two authors: Dean Koontz & Graham Masterton. Both enormously talented and prodigious writers.
Some authors do certain scenes well, or conjure great facial expressions or dialogue. Some describe scenery beautifully, express emotions perfectly – I love coming across a new way to do something (what a great way to be educated!) Both these guys are a huge influence on my work.
One of my favourite books is by Graham Masterton, it’s called Charnel House. This story has some of the most amazing and original terror scenes. This particular book has the killer first line of dialogue: “It’s my house; it’s breathing.” Many of his stories, like mine today, have as their basis an underlying myth or legend that he brings to our world… with frightening results.
I’m currently reading 77 Shadow Street by Koontz. For consistency, this guy turns out great thrills every time. I’m only a hundred pages in, but so far so good.
Do you prefer all-out gore or psychological chills?
Easy answer – both. I’ve enjoyed books that presented terrors in the mind, just as much as I’ve loved those that described the visceral horrors outside of it. I love the really scary and gory scenes, but building psychological tension can be a lot more terrifying than a bathtub full of blood and bits, if every chapter is all, just, blood and bits!
What I call, the heavy tools of horror writing – gore, violence (psychological and physical), hard language, and sex, all have an important place in thrillers. But we have to try not to devalue the currency by overusing them – give me blood, but don’t drown me in it!
Why should people read your work?
I read books for fun, thrills and to be transported to places where strange creatures really do exist. So, in turn, with my writing, I like to look down into stygian caves, travel to the deepest trenches in the ocean, and slash through to the dark hearts of impenetrable jungles – all of this to find something unique, magnificent, or terrifying, and bring it back… to you.
If you like stories that draw on myths and legends, adding in horror with action/adventure to the mix, and you also like a book that will keep you awake at night, then come visit me – I think I have something for you!
Recommend a book.
I’ve been lucky enough to read a lot of books lately – Buccaneer by David Wood (hidden treasure, ancient prophecies, mythical monsters), Pandemonium by Warren Fahy (strange creatures living beneath the earth), and 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz right now (haunted house meets The Mist). But for my recommendation, I’m going to reach back to the 1950s…. to Who Goes There? by John Campbell. A rare short story that was later turned into a movie (The Thing).
Campbell’s description of the psychological breakdown of the men when trapped in the Antarctic while encountering a hostile alien creature is still very powerful, very claustrophobic, and very frightening. The dawn of the atomic age was a great time for monster stories and movies.
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