This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
08.10.19 / Titan Books / Dark Thriller / Paperback / 320pp / 978-1785656453
About Gary Kemble
Gary Kemble’s award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad. He is a two-time winner of the ‘One Books Many Brisbanes’ short story competition, and several of his stories have been republished in ‘best of’ collections including Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. In 2011 he received an Australia Council New Work grant to write his supernatural thriller Skin Deep (Echo Publishing, 2015).
His journalistic career has included stints with local newspapers, national magazines and online publications in Australia and the UK. He is currently the Social Media Coordinator for ABC News.
Born in England, Gary emigrated to Australia when he was six, and grew up in Brisbane. He lives in Scotland with his wife, two kids, and a friendly weasel.
About Dark Ink
Investigating sordid political corruption, journalist Harry Hendrick grows uneasy when he hears rumours of a chilling figure behind it. Mistress Hel plies her dark arts from a luxurious suburban lair, motivated by a desire for revenge from a past marred by terrible wrongs.
Harry hears of demonic visions, of people under a supernatural thrall, and is slowly drawn into her web. Inside are diabolical ceremonies and visions that threaten both his sanity and his life; something black and infernal reaching out into the world…
Q&A with Gary Kemble
Thank you Gary for taking some time to answer a few questions about your new novel, Dark Ink. Could you give us your own personal overview of what readers should expect in within the book?
Thank you for having me. Readers can expect sex and violence!
Where did the initial inspiration for narrative in Dark Ink and Strange Ink come from?
When I was a kid I loved Scooby Doo, except I was always disappointed it was just a crotchety old man in a mask. Growing up, I was a big fan of Twin Peaks and The X-Files. They say write what you know, so I started thinking about Harry – a journalist who ends up drawn into paranormal investigations. It all came together when I had the idea of a ghost that manifests in the form of tattoos.
If Strange Ink is Batman Begins, then Dark Ink is The Dark Knight. And if Harry Hendrick is Batman, then Mistress Hel is his Joker.
Could you give us a few more insights into what Harry Hendrick has to face in his second journalistic outing?
After landing a big scoop in Strange Ink, Harry is beginning to realise that you’re only as good as your last exclusive, and buzz doesn’t pay the bills, when he’s blackmailed by the police into investigating a series of bizarre suicides.
Those investigations lead him into the web of Mistress Hel, who plies her dark arts from her luxurious suburban lair. With continuing challenges in his personal and professional life, can Harry resist her seductive power? Or the thrill of danger itself?
How would you describe the tone and atmosphere of Dark Ink compared to Strange Ink?
I feel like Dark Ink is darker than Strange Ink (sorry, no pun intended). I wanted to push myself as a dark fiction writer. You can think of all kinds of horrendous things but can you justify putting them down on paper? I don’t believe in writing sex and violence for the sake of it, so hopefully when people read Dark Ink they’ll feel it’s not gratuitous.
What was the most challenging part of writing about political corruption, the dark arts, the supernatural, the demonic and a story of revenge?
As with Strange Ink, pretty much everything that happens in Dark Ink has happened in some form or another in real life (except for the supernatural elements). For me the most challenging part was writing the sex scenes. It was super-awkward writing some pretty intense stuff and wondering what readers will make of it (ie will they think I’m a weirdo).
How did you come to be writing such grisly, dark and chilling novels from a journalist’s perspective?
I’ve always been drawn to horror movies and books. I love investigative stories and because I’ve worked in journalism so long, writing from a reporter’s perspective was (relatively) easy.
How long did it take you to write Dark Ink compared to Strange Ink?
I received a grant to write Strange Ink, so I was able to go part-time as work. But I think I worked more efficiently on Dark Ink, because I had a structure to follow and make every minute of writing time count.
Is there a part of Dark Ink (or Strange Ink) that you are particularly proud of? Do you have a favourite quote you can share with us?
Without any spoilers, the mirror maze scene. When I was a kid I got lost in a mirror maze (I know that’s the point) and was on the verge of panicking when my dad found me and led me out. I’m so happy I got to bring a version of that location to my readers.
Did you always have your eye set on being a writer/author and what sort of books did you grow up reading?
I’ve always been a big reader. My favourite authors as a kid were Stephen King and Tom Clancy. I started taking my writing aspirations seriously after reading King’s On Writing at the turn of the century.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
I have a wolfhound/American bulldog cross and I love taking her for walks or even just patting her. I don’t know if there’s anything as relaxing as patting a dog while she sleeps. I also do indoor climbing/bouldering (but don’t go as often as I should).
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
If you’re after a gripping, fairly brutal true-crime read, I’d recommend Sins of the Brother, by Mark Whittaker and Les Kennedy, which documents the life and crimes of convicted Australian serial killer Ivan Milat.
Thank you to Gary Kemble for taking the time to answer some questions about his new novel Dark Ink. It definitely seems to build on the successes of Strange Ink but also put Harry to some increasing unsettling situations. This series is as satisfying as it is unsettling and I can’t recommend Gary Kemble’s work enough. Thanks for supporting this post, I am always grateful. I hope you enjoyed this Q&A and come back soon for plenty more!