Scary stimulus

Horror is at the heart of everything David Annandale writes

David Annandale is a literary force to be reckoned with. This year alone he’s published three books. Although he’s been writing science-fiction as of late, it’s Annandale’s absolute love of horror that started it all.

“I got my first horror movie magazine when I was in Grade 3,” Annandale says from his office at the University of Manitoba where he teaches English and Film. 

“That was the gateway drug, essentially. I’ve always been fascinated.”

Like many fans of horror, Annandale was introduced to Stephen King early on, but not in the way you’d expect.

“The biggest impact he had on me was through his non-fiction. I had read Danse Macabre before I had read any of his novels. It opened up a whole universe for me.”

The book – which is about horror fiction – introduced Annandale to numerous new influences that would help to shape his writing. One such influence was English horror writer Ramsey Campbell.

“He taught me a lot about style. He has a gift with language, whether it’s his use of a strange image, an unusual metaphor or creating a disconcerting atmosphere,” says Annandale. “Campbell showed me how to become conscious of the prose. That it’s not just about what the story was about but how it was written. It was a real lesson.”

Unfortunately, Annandale was writing horror novels at a time when they weren’t as appreciated as in years past.

“The ‘90s was the era of the near extinction level event for horror. It was a terrible time,” says Annandale. “You couldn’t get yourself arrested as a horror novelist.”

Having finished writing his third horror novel (all of which are still unpublished), Annandale realized that it too would be gathering dust, so he shifted gears.

“I started reading a lot of thrillers and really enjoying them and I wanted to try my hand at it. I thought it would be a lot of fun to write. It became my first novel,” he says.

Since then, Annandale has gone on to publish thriller, science fiction and horror novels. For him, it’s the genres that speak to him the most.

“I gravitate towards the operatic. I go for the big impact… the grandiose. I revel in excess,” he says.

With that, it’s no surprise to discover that Annandale has been writing books for the Warhammer 40,000 series that are set in a dystopian science-fantasy future. The books are an extension of the Games Workshop’s tabletop game which was initially released in 1987 and published by its division Black Library.

“I love writing Warhammer 40,000 fiction,” says Annandale. “It’s a universe that is very specifically designed to be insanely and gloriously over the top.”

It’s a universe that will be keeping him busy for quite a while.

“A novel I did called Yarrick: Imperial Creed is having its pre-release the first weekend in November at the Black Library’s big event in Nottingham, so I’ll be flying out to England to take part in that. I’m really excited about it. It’s been a rewarding experience writing for them.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 9 of The Uniter (October 30, 2013)

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