RJ Meldrum is one of the most prolific short story writers I know over at Horror Tree where he pretty much has his own monthly slot! For Inferno, he has descended into the Eighth Circle with his story, ‘Hellfire’.
Infernal Clock: What was the inspiration behind your story?
I’ve always been intrigued by the old black and white, silent movies and that’s where the original idea came from – a collector finding a priceless movie, thought to be lost forever. After that, the story practically wrote itself!
Infernal Clock: What is your idea of hell on earth?
Maybe being caught up in a once-in-a-century pandemic? Aside from that, probably being present in continental Europe between 1939-1945 – watching the downfall of nations, the death of civilians and combatants, and perhaps having to watch loved ones die, losing your home, becoming a refugee or at worse, a statistic. To me, that would be pretty hellish.
Infernal Clock: The Inferno was created on old ideas of sin. If you had to label the nine levels how, what would you call them? Would you keep it at 9? Increase or decrease?
I’d probably stick to the same labels used by Dante – they seem to be still relevant!
Infernal Clock: They say the Devil has all the good tunes. What song would you recommend as an accompaniment to your story?
Maybe some old-timey piano music to accompany a silent movie – the sort of thing they used to play in movie theatres before the introduction of sound – nice and jangling, discordant to keep the reader on edge.
Infernal Clock: If you were able to visit the Inferno, what level would you want to go to and who would you want to see there?
I’d like to visit all of them – imagine the stories you could write after witnessing them! And no, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so I wouldn’t want to see anyone there.
Infernal Clock: What is the hottest food you’ve ever eaten. Can you share a recipe?
I tried a super-spicy ramen noodle soup last year that I actually couldn’t finish (I normally have a high tolerance, but this was ridiculous) – no recipe to share, since this was a restaurant dish.
Infernal Clock: Who is your ‘favourite’ villain in history or fiction?
Moriarty probably – not the modern version – the original written by Conan Doyle.
Infernal Clock: What is your long-term ambition for your writing?
Rich? Famous? Well, hopefully at some point, but also to leave a legacy of work that can be enjoyed by future generations.
Infernal Clock: Top-tip for other writers.
Write, get feedback, submit, find a mentorship circle to support you – all these things are valuable to both improve your writing and get noticed.
R. J. Meldrum specializes in fiction that explores the world through a dark lens. His subject matter ranges from ghosts to serial killers and everything in-between. He has had over one hundred short stories and drabbles published in a variety of anthologies, e-zines and websites. He has had his work published by Midnight Street Press, Culture Cult Press, Horrified Press, Infernal Clock, Trembling with Fear, Black Hare Press, Smoking Pen Press, Darkhouse Books, Breaking Rules Press, Kevin J Kennedy and James Ward Kirk Fiction. His short stories have also been published in The Sirens Call e-zine, the Horror Zine and Drabblez magazine. His novella The Plague was published by Demain Press in 2019. He is a contributor to the Pen of the Damned and an Affiliate Member of the Horror Writers Association.