I caught up with Chris Sides after taking a look at the latest release Whispering Sands from Red Shift Press…..and got to ask him about all things whispery, sandy & Red Shifty.
- The backdrop of a natural disaster we all know about & recognize was an interesting choice – what made you choose the tsunami in particular?
That’s a hard one to answer – I think it was a mixture of things; it’s one of the worst natural disasters in recent history and has been permanently etched into our brains due to the extraordinary amount of amateur footage that was taken at the time and due to the sheer scale of the devastation it caused. 220, 000 people lost their lives and their homes and nobody knew this thing was coming. But when I was researching it, I came across a stack of ghost stories that had percolated out of the country; really bizarre occurrences like an urban legend that spread about a taxi driver picking up a couple who were on the way to the airport and he turns around half-way through the journey and they’re not there anymore, as well as hotel security guards hearing a woman crying on the beach and looking for her kid, but it turns out there’s no-one on the beach. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, it’s unsurprising that these sort of accounts would crop up after something as terrible as this – it was angle I wanted to explore. I think on a personal level as well, when you read about what so many parents had to go through where they couldn’t keep their kids from being swept away; for me, that’s more horrifying than any monster or ghost.
- The characters were amazingly well-developed in a short space of time – were they based on anyone to make that come across naturally as they did?
Thank you; no, no-one specific. I read a lot of accounts from both tourists and locals that survived the disaster, but one thing that really stuck with me was a picture of a local man, sitting on top of what remained of his house, his head in his hands having lost his wife, his kid and all his worldly possessions and you just think, Jesus, how do you deal with something like that?
- The artwork seemed quite bright to me which was in contrast to what I’d expected for a story with some scares in it but it seemed to suit the story well – was that always the intention?
It was, yes, but Freja took it up a notch and made it look better than I could have imagined when writing it. The idea was to juxtapose the horrific things that were happening with the fact that it’s happening in a veritable paradise.
- Will we see the return of Chen and his son in a future title?
Maybe in a cameo in something else? A cheeky link back to this, maybe, but I think Chen and Kai went through enough shit in this to warrant me leaving them alone!
- There was quite a change of direction for the extra story In the Forest of Scorched Trees – what made you choose to include that?
Both stories are similar in tone, I guess; quite apocalyptic in nature, but both explore, in some ways, the fallout from horrific events and how people deal with what they’ve been put through, so it made sense on that level. SCORCHED TREES was written a little more recently, too and it’s got a few things in it that I wanted to get off my chest, so that’s another reason it’s in there.
- The same team working on these 2 different stories worked well – will you work together again?
Absolutely. Travvy and I worked with Freja on a couple of stories in our first release, DARK MATTER, which prompted us to ask her about WHISPERING SANDS. Freja’s sense of story-telling is on the money and I’m a massive fan of her detailed panoramas. We’ve talked about doing something else together, so watch this space. As for Travell, he’s a massive diva – he won’t stay in hotel rooms at conventions unless the staff have spelt his name in orange Skittles across the bed – so, no. Only kidding. He likes red Skittles.
- What can we expect next from Redshift Press??
We’ve got the launch of WHISPERING SANDS at Thought Bubble on the 14th/15th November, then we’re heading to Ok, True Believers in Cheltenham in February and then we’re at London Super Comic Convention. However, by this point, we’ll no longer be Redshift Press; we’re ‘moving house’ and joining Close 2 Immortality, a collective of like-minded individuals (Phil Woodward, Jon Laight, Jay Martin and Michael Burgham) that promote and market their projects with and through the collective brand. The idea was strength in numbers, so sharing con costs, boosting each other on social media and the like, so we’re looking forward to seeing what happens next year.
- What are you all working on just now?
Freja has a number of things on the go; she’s currently working on the cover for Sliced Quarterly, a new anthology that’s been put together by 100% Biodegradable co-editor Ken Reynolds and she’s just about to start work on a new project with supremo writer Jimmy Furlong. She’s also writing and illustrating her own project, as well as planning on taking a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.
Travvy and I are working with artist Dean Sandford on DEUS VULT for Markosia, a thriller set during the First Crusade and we’re in the process of putting together DARK MATTER II for next year, as well as a 4 issue mini-series we’re starting production on soon. I wrote a horror short called FINE DINING – with art by Jim Lavery, colours by Aljosa Tomic and letters by Ken Reynolds – that was just released on Halloween in the free yearly horror anthology Hallowscream (www.hallowscream.net). I’ve also got a few other things in the pipeline with Markosia and a bunch of other stuff that I’m really excited about, so it’s all go at the moment.
You can find us at www.facebook.com/redshiftpress and Twitter @redshiftpress / @Sidesy1982 / @Travellsky.
You can also find Redshift press at this weekends Thought Bubble at table 19, New Dock Hall.