13 Questions with Shaunessy Ashdown

“I’m about to climb that mountain behind me and I’m scared out of my mind.” –Shaunessy Ashdown





Hello all you Horror Addicts out there! This week we have brought back the original Master of Macabre, Shaunessy Ashdown!

Shaunessy had a few words for all you readers out there, “I’m so grateful to have been given another opportunity to produce a story for you adrenaline junkies! And I can’t believe a whole year has passed and we already have a new Master of Macabre.”

The story that he has recorded for us is titled, Commencing Slaughter; which is about “the not-so-distant future, when food is scarce, a young bio-engineer starts his first day of work at a powerful gene tech corporation. With guarantees of a monthly salary and plenty of calories to feed on, he believes he’s found his dream job. Little does he know what perverse surprises his new employer has in store for him! It’s a story about food production and the evils that plague it.”

The inspiration for the story actually came Ashdown’s own frustrations with the food industry. “The more I learn about food, the more I realize how crappy our options are. It’s almost impossible to eat ethically and healthily. And if you try, you come up against all kinds of resistance -– just wait and see what happens to the protagonist in my story, haha!”

Now some of you may or may not be familiar with Shaunessy’s published works, German school books. I was curious if his educational work affected his fiction projects in anyway and Ashdown was kind enough to explain that, “It’s been very good training for me. Most of these books have to be understandable to young learners who have a relatively low level of English, yet we have to present texts that interest them. As a writer, this forces you to convey your message using simple vocabulary and sentence structures, really get down to basics, you know?”

Not only is Shaunessy an author but he is an editor for a German school book publisher. So I had to ask if Ashdown had any tips out there for all us writers out there. “In a publishing house, the highest-level decisions editors have to make pertain to the house’s program, i.e. what books and other products they will produce. My recommendation to writers submitting an idea to a publisher is to pitch it in such a way that it obviously compliments the house’s program. Also show readiness to work with an editor to develop your story further. New authors who are too rigid to divorce themselves from their original ideas are generally regarded as both arrogant and incapable.”

Ashdown has been writing on and off through out his entire life, he even mentioned that “in fourth grade I won my school district’s young authors’ contest with a sort of feminist Christmas story called “Rachel the Female Reindeer.” But I can’t claim to have lived the writer’s life the entire time since then.”

As many of our guest authors here on HA, Shaunessy prefers the “monsters” that are “closest to reality.” “Serial killers, jilted lovers that fly off the handle, the sort of badies you find in thrillers like “Psycho” or “Fatal Attraction.” It’s fascinating to explore what turns a person evil…though in the supernatural realm, witches and ghosts really capture my imagination, maybe because they are the most real to me.”

Shaunessy’s goals for the future mainly revolve around his editing career. “My goal for the next few years pertain mostly to my job in educational publishing. I’ve only been an editor for a year, you see, and it will take me another year or so before I really know what I’m doing. But it’s a really intriguing and multi-faceted job and I feel I have wonderful opportunities to positively affect how languages are taught here in Europe.”

Sadly, he does not have any projects currently on the burners but Shaunessy said “he would love to write and record another story for you guys someday, though. Feel free to ask!”

For more information on Shaunessy Ashdown, be sure to check out these websites!




HorrorAddictsCon: Master of Macabre 2011 – Shaunessy Ashdown

A chat with Master of Macabre, Shaunessy Ashdown.

HA: What inspired you to enter the Masters of the Macabre contest?

Shaunessy: The Wicked Women Writers Challenge, of course! I became a fan when Kimberly Steele, an author I admire very much (check out her cool vampire novel Forever Fifteen), participated in 2010. Each writer had to write a story about one of The Seven Deadly Sins and thought that would be so much fun to do. You can imagine how elated I was when a year later I saw that there was going to be a challenge for the lads.

HA: What did you think of the items you were given? 

Shaunessy: I thought, “Score!!!”

HA: When you listened to the other stories, who did you think would win?

Shaunessy: As soon as I heard Michael Burns speak his first words, with that fun-loving voice of his, I thought, “Oh, this is gonna be good.” and I was not disappointed. I have to also mention Colin Barnes’s very intelligent story. Both of these authors did an excellent job of putting the phobic protagonist in a situation where her/his phobia is cranked up to maximum volume, so to say. I didn’t quite manage that in my story and so I was honestly quite jealous.

HA: How did you feel when you were told you won?

Shaunessy: Like I’d been kissed by Elvira!

HA: What will this contest mean to the future of your writing?

Shaunessy: Who can say? I feel very encouraged to write more fiction and to record it, and to do more challenges. Does anyone out there have any for me?

HA: Where can listeners find out more about you and your writing? 

Shaunessy: Well, if you Google my name, all you will find is a lot of schoolbooks I’ve written for English lessons in Germany/Austria—not exactly what horror addicts are looking for!

I wrote a couple pieces here that are quite personal in nature. They might be of interest to someone who is dealing with addiction or just struggling through their 30’s. I published them anonymously in 2007-8 but I think now it’s safe for me to reveal myself as the author.

Any schoolteachers out there should please watch my video which gives suggestions for helping queer victims of bullying.