Your new book Letters from a Dead World - in a few words,
what is it about?
from a Dead World is my collection of six horror and
dark fantasy stories. In one of them, as a zombie apocalypse unfolds,
you'll find a telepathic teenager communicating mind-to-mind with the
living dead. Another delves into the life of a man deep
in sorrow, plagued by horrifying visions from his recently departed wife. There's even a story about a phony psychic
who gets a major reality check from the spirits he once pretended to
channel. And there's more where that came from.
I hope my stories take readers on an
emotional journey, blurring the lines between the mysteries of life and
were your sources of inspiration when writing Letters from a Dead
cosmic horrors, Poe's haunting atmospheres, and the enchantment of Grimm's
tales served as my guiding stars. In Rebecca
Raven, you'll glimpse shades of Little
Red Riding Hood, but with my own modern spin. Feather Canyon is my personal take on Poe's haunting Annabel
Lee, and Confidence Man carries a Dickensian influence with a dash of
knitting these tales together, I aimed to tip my hat to these brilliant
authors. And, if my efforts were successful, then readers will have fresh,
contemporary stories to enjoy. So come on in, pull up a chair. I’m so
thrilled to share them with you.
all of the individual stories specifically written for Letters from a Dead
World, or did the anthology come merely as an afterthought?
stories had quite the journey. They all started off in small press
anthologies, and I thought that's where they'd stay. But to my surprise,
folks from all around the world started reaching out online, saying how
much they enjoyed the stories and asking where to find more. So,
when all the rights finally reverted back to me, I thought, "Why not
bring them all together in one book?" It just felt like the right
thing to do, a little gift for all those wonderful readers out there who
showed me their love.
talk about Letters from a Dead World's approach to horror?
from a Dead World
is my way of showing some love for classic horror. I'm inviting readers to
dive back into those timeless tales that paved the way for today's spooky
stories. As a writer, I'm not just spinning yarns, I'm all about linking
the old and the new. I hope longtime horror fans will get a kick out of
spotting nods to the classics in my tales, and newcomers might just find a
cool path to explore the roots of this awesome genre.
Allan Poe once mused, “the death
of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the
world.” Poe's sentiment informs my work. While some of my tales deal
with the melancholic theme of a man grieving the loss of his special lady
(Feather Canyon, Rebecca Raven), I've also flipped the script in stories like Chelsea
Mourning, where a woman is grieving the loss of the man she loves. However,
Letters from a Dead World isn't
confined to the literal meaning of Poe's words. The "beautiful
woman" transcends mere physicality and can serve as a metaphor of
whatever we value and love. For example, in Chelsea
Mourning, Chelsea is a victim of child abuse, and she is mourning the
loss of her innocence and her ability to trust. Also, this sentiment
shines through in the titular story, where a young boy grapples with the
overwhelming loss of his parents at the onset of an apocalypse.
say that you have added a "uniquely Canadian flavor" to your
stories - care to elaborate on that?
I've got a real soft spot for my home province, British Columbia. I'm in
love with its mountains, forests,
and lakes. They're just breathtaking. And let's not forget the coastline.
Also, the rich First Nation's history here—that's something special. And
the people, they're pretty amazing too. I've always wanted to showcase my love for this province in my stories. Even
though British Columbia is a province of Canada, in a way, I think of BC
almost as its own little nation. So, you can expect that most of my future
stories will be set right here, in this incredible place. But I might
throw in a tale or two from another province just to keep things fresh and
can you tell us about the actual writing process when working on Letters
from a Dead World?
my cue from the filmmaking world, I write out a treatment before writing
my manuscript. A treatment is usually a 20 to 30-page summary for my
story, all happening in present tense. For short stories, my treatments
will be about 5 or 6 pages long. It's where the organized chaos lives –
that spontaneous, gut-feel kind of writing that some authors might call
the “pantser” route.
about what a pro's treatment looks like? Do yourself a favor: pull up a
chair with Kubrick's treatment of The
Shining or Cameron's scriptment of Strange
Days. They're both masterclasses in a few pages:
Days scriptment - https://tinyurl.com/49ev45vy
I've got something that feels close to right, I pass it to my trusty
beta-readers and my editor. They've got a knack for spotting the stuff
that doesn't gel. Armed with their feedback, I reshape, rework, and
finesse the treatment until the story's machinery purrs. Then,
with most of the creative heavy lifting behind me, I begin drafting out
the actual manuscript. The
magic of the treatment? In a concise 30 pages or less, you can gauge the
strength of your story, rather than discovering major problems after
writing two or three hundred pages.
$64-question of course, where can Letters from a Dead World be obtained
from a Dead World
is available through several distributors: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes
& Noble (US only), Google Books, Kobo, and Scribd. Here
is a universal link page: https://books2read.com/u/bOeOvo
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Letters from a
audience reception is positive. On Amazon and on Goodreads, readers have
been generous with their kind reviews and 4 to 5 star ratings. As
far as critical reception goes, award-winning author Nancy Kilpatrick
wrote my book’s introduction, and she had very glowing things to say
about my writing, which I’m grateful to her for.
future projects you'd like to share?
tuned for Stephen King – Dollar
Baby: The Sequel by Anthony Northrup, brought to you by Bear Manor
Media. It contains my perspective piece, He
is the Doorway: Stephen King’s Fiction as a Gateway to Classic
keep an eye out for the anthology About
That Snowy Evening, curated by Stephen Spignesi, Andy Rausch, and
Keith Lansdale. You'll find my short tale, Shadow
in the Gully, nestled among works from renowned authors such as Bev
Vincent, Robin Furth, Billy Chizmar, and George Beahm.
did you get into writing in the first place, and did you receive any
formal training on the subject?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a child. Books and language seemed to just
call out to me my entire life. I’ve had some formal training in college
and university, which proved invaluable. The best decision I made as a
writer was to study World Literature and English Literature.
can you tell us about your writings prior to Letters from a Dead World?
Most of the stories in this collection started out in small-press anthologies,
except for Ekphrasis, which is new. I've got a soft spot for how they first came out, but as I grew as a
writer, I couldn't resist giving each of them a little makeover. Take
Confidence Man for instance. If
you stack its first version from the anthology Dark
Light (edited by Carl Hose) next to the one in Letters from a Dead World, you'll see it's still the same story at
its core. But now, it has some extra layers, smoother writing, and a few
new characters to enrich the narrative.
what I know, you've also occasionally dabbled into film production - and
since this is a movie site first and foremost, you just have to talk about
your filmwork for a bit!
had the honour of being credited as an associate producer in a handful of
independent films, mostly within the horror genre. It's been quite the
thrilling journey, though my contributions have been modest. While
I deeply admire the enthusiasm of the countless talented filmmakers out
there, I tend to stick to projects initiated by people I know personally.
now, I'm really looking forward to Justin Romine's upcoming film It
Came Out of the Sky, which is set to start shooting in October of 2023
[Justin R. Romine interview
- click here]. I had the chance to read his screenplay, and it's absolutely
fantastic! I've been friends with Justin for a few years now. We're bonded
by our love for baseball, Bob Dylan, Stephen King, and our shared passion
project worth mentioning is Dawn Fields' The
Edge of Her Mind, an anthology of short films by and about women,
released in 2022. It's a beautiful exploration of women's stories, with a
compassionate focus on mental health. Plus, it features the legendary
Lance Henriksen (you might remember him from Aliens
and Near Dark). The anthology
spans various genres, so there's something in it for everyone.
would you describe yourself as a writer?
see myself as a competent, hardworking writer. I love my craft and I work
at it. Smokers smoke and writers fill up pages with words.
who inspire you, and some of your favourite books?
In the classics corner, I'm all about Beowulf,
especially Seamus Heaney's awesome translation. Then there's Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer's The
Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare's A
Midsummer Night's Dream, and Dante Alighieri's The
Divine Comedy (with a soft spot for Mark Musa's translation). Edgar
Allan Poe's short stories and poems also have a special spot on my
to more recent reads, I'm a big fan of Stephen King's The Stand and Rose Madder.
Then there’s H.P. Lovecraft's The
Shadow Over Innsmouth and Richard Matheson's I
and don't forget Rebecca by
Daphne Du Maurier. These
authors and their creations have been delightful companions throughout the
(again) since this is a movie site first, your favourite movies?
off, there's Jaws – a classic
that's as close to a perfect movie as it gets! And then, who can forget Psycho?
Almost flawless. Same goes for The
when we talk about the world of Dario Argento, Suspiria,
Phenomena and The
Stendhal Syndrome are my personal top picks. And let's not forget the
master of Italian horror, Lucio Fulci [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here], whose Aenigma, Zombie and
of the Living Dead are absolute favourites of mine. And
when I'm in the mood for some good ol' Westerns, The Magnificent Seven, the original
High Noon and The
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are the ones that really hit the spot.
These movies are like old friends, always there to bring a smile to my
and of course, films you really deplore?
entertainment industry is already tough, so I believe in maintaining a
positive outlook on the creative efforts of others. When I stumble upon a
film that doesn't quite hit the bullseye, I tend to give it an “E for effort” and wish the filmmaker well. But
let's talk about that one exception, shall we? The
Twilight saga. It's a bit like that dish you politely decline
seconds of at a dinner party, isn't it?
book's website, social media, whatever else?
from a Dead World: https://nextchapter.pub/books/letters-from-a-dead-world
Author page: https://nextchapter.pub/authors/david-tocher
My Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/DTocherWrites
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else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
of movies, there's a new film that caught my attention recently — Juliet
Landau's A Place Among the Dead.
If her name sounds familiar, it's because she portrayed Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She skillfully uses the vampire motif to
shed light on narcissistic abuse, offering her viewers a path toward
healing. It's a unique twist on the genre, and I believe many will find it
both engaging and enlightening.
Thanks for the interview!
And thank you!