"Mark Fuller Dillon is an original talent, whose precise use of language, obliquely disturbing imagery and meticulous world building single him out as a writer to watch."
-- Peter Tennant, BLACK STATIC #35.
Hello, and welcome!
Most of my stories are set in the region where I live (Gatineau, Quebec), and are based on some of the stranger moments of my life, or on my nightmares (which have kept my nights lively and loud since I was three years old).
I've had work published in Barbara and Christopher Roden's ALL HALLOWS and in John Pelan's DARKSIDE; I've also had work accepted for anthologies and magazines that faded away before my stories could appear. The best of these are collected in my second ebook, IN A SEASON OF DEAD WEATHER.
Right now, my goal is to find reviewers. Writers can focus on craftsmanship, but they cannot be certain of just how much they've been able to learn and apply, until the readers tell them. To that end, I'm inviting you to let me know exactly what you think of my stories. Honest feedback, pro or con, is one of the most valuable things a writer can use.
And please don't hesitate to visit my blog, or my Facebook page.
Mark Fuller Dillon
M R Cosby
on Feb. 17, 2014 :
In a Season of Dead Weather is a collection of seven short stories by Canadian author Mark Fuller Dillon. It consists of an authentically strange world of the author's own design, into which the reader is cast adrift; duly I found myself lost, and happily so.
This reader willingly joined the protagonist of Lamia Dance, the book's opening tale, by stepping out of the wind into the 'grimy, dark-paneled lobby of the cinema', and was captured straight away. In this powerfully poetic piece, an introverted youth attempts to socialise by viewing what turns out to be an obscure and erotic film with his fellow students, but is so disturbed by the experience that his isolation is thrown into even starker relief. As his past unravels itself on the screen before his eyes, he can take no more, and leaves before the main feature; but is his departure from the cinema too early, or too late? The tone is set.
Next is Never Noticed, Never There which deals with people's misguided perception of reality. Disappearance follows disappearance, then graphic designer Tom Lighden begins to see ghosts everywhere; his search for the missing Robert Piedmont leads him to an alternative world, partly within the very substance of things. The world reclaims him, but it keeps on turning regardless, and sure enough, no one notices.
Winter's approach looms large over Shadows in the Sunrise, which is set shortly into the future, after some kind of economic or social meltdown. Most have left the farmland for the apparent safety of walled cities, leaving our protagonist as some kind of caretaker, abandoned and alone, fearing the onset of the season's harsh weather. He visits a farmhouse full of recollections from his youth; but are those memories authentic, or do the shadows on the wall and the lights in the sky exist only in his mind? We begin to question the validity of his viewpoint as his isolation becomes ever more complete.
When the Echo Hates the Voice is the intriguing tale of Marcel Dumont, an obstetrician who makes his very first (and successful) delivery, then abruptly experiences a frightening hallucination. The resulting child, Paul Bertrand, grows up to be a popular, yet highly strung youth: convinced he is being somehow persecuted. He seems to have every advantage in life, but is there a side of him which is determined to destroy it all, through an insanely jealous rage?
In What Would Remain? Colleen is a political activist, recently released from jail, who struggles to contact her mother at her isolated home. Eventually, and with the prospect of worsening weather, she drives out to investigate; she finds a desolate landscape in the grip of a blizzard, inhabited only by ghosts. Having found her mother at last, she struggles to prevent her from joining the constant flow of people trudging past her house, to the north and to their certain doom in the snowy landscape. The question is posed: if the world was purged of humanity, what would remain?
Mikhail remembers the 'tall blind houses near the canal' in The Weight of its Awareness, perhaps my favourite story of this collection. Now middle-aged, the possibilities of youth long gone, he is determined to capture even a fleeting glance of what might have been; so he sets out on a journey one morning to find those houses once more. However, his unreliable memory is unable to prepare him either for what he finds or for what he has unwittingly become.
Finally, The Vast Impatience of the Night introduces us to the numerous widows of a small rural community. Janet Richardson makes her way home one evening after yet another bereavement, and encounters a barricade of cloud, ghostly figures, and a bizarre light show. In her quest for safety, and to 'look after her girls', does she stumble upon all that remains of the widowers themselves? The thought of history repeating itself is almost too much for her to bear.
There are themes of love and loss, misunderstanding, and a diminishing sense of identity throughout this collection which link the stories strongly. The bleak landscape clearly inspires the author, and his descriptive prose of rural communities in the grip of a Canadian winter will have you shivering; yet despite this there is a warmth of experience here which brings the characters to life, proving the author not only writes beautifully, but also has a lot to say.
I was entranced by this book, and I read it in one sitting. These are powerful yet subtle three-dimensional tales from an original mind, and Mark Fuller Dillon deserves a greater readership; which I'm sure will come his way soon.
(review of free book)
on Sep. 04, 2013 :
Quite excellent collection. All the stories gave me a shiver and are likely to stay with me for quite some time. I agree with the reviewer below, I was also strongly reminded of Thomas Ligotti (which is rather high praise). Clean and beautifully written with not a word more than necessary.
Highly recommended for anyone.
(review of free book)
on June 26, 2013 :
This was a very good collection of weird fiction tales. The style, themes, and sense of subdued horror remind me a little of Thomas Ligotti. Though all were well-written stories, I was particularly impressed by "Lamia Dance."
(review of free book)
on March 17, 2013 :
In A Season of Dead Weather consists of seven stories, all of which might loosely be termed supernatural or weird fiction. They all skirt the ill-defined boundaries of horror, fantasy, and the thriller. They are all of a very high literary standard, too. It seems that there is a new 'Canadian wave' in the field of quiet horror, and that's a good thing.
The first story, 'Lamia Dance', offers a fairly conventional beginning - a lonely medical student escapes the pressures of intense study by going to a cinema. The short feature, however, is a bizarre and disturbingly erotic fantasy that affects the protagonist so severely that he leaves before the main feature. I can't really describe the strange power of this story, but that's true of all of them, really. Suffice to say that the concept of the lamia is used to very good effect.
'Never Noticed, Never There', has a slight hint of Richard Matheson and The Twilight Zone, with its account of an ordinary suburban male who leaves home 'on a wet Sunday afternoon in April', and vanishes without trace. In a more conventional tale this might lead to an account of abduction by aliens or vampires, but here things are much odder. The man's wife becomes convinced he is still alive, somewhere in the fabric of the house. Later, a different person finds evidence that the missing man has somehow been absorbed into a strange ur-world that exists alongside everyday reality.
'Shadows in the Sunrise' sees someone setting out to walk across country on a late autumn day. We learn, through incidental detail, that this is the near-ish future, a world struck by the Great Deflation, a world of power cuts and self-canned goods. Stranger shadows gather. A strange light dazzles. Winter comes. Has the outer world been destroyed? Has some alien force taken over? Or is the mysterious lattice work in the sky a symptom of madness brought on by chronic isolation? Perhaps one person, too much alone, makes their world afresh.
'When the Echo Hates the Voice' is different again, offering something a bit more like a conventional horror story. First we hear from an obstetrician who, when he delivers his first baby, hallucinates a bizarre entity. Then comes the account of the baby growing to be a smart, popular boy, albeit one with a penchant for drawing strange, disturbing faces. He is convinced that something is seeking to destroy or possess him. Here the author places his thumb on the balance to make clear that there is more than madness at work.
Another rural tale, 'What Would Remain?', is enlivened by Dillon's gift for descriptive writing. Too often writers let down a good idea with poorly-realised settings and a too-vague account of who goes where and how they do it. This story of a woman searching for her mother in foul weather harks back to Blackwood's pantheist/animist notions, but is much bleaker. The idea is that the earth might be cleared of human beings, but perhaps some will be left.
'The Weight of Its Awareness' is - here it comes - a slightly Aickmanesque story of a middle-aged man trying to visit a walled off residential area that aroused his interest when he was young. He finds that a fondly-recalled park is now cluttered with weird sculptures. And what lurks behind the blank windows of the strange, quiet houses? Something that knows you, and knows what you fear.
'The Vast Impatience of the Night' is almost cosy in its evocation of a group of young widows in rural Canada (a landscape Dillon clearly knows and finds inspiring, much as Lovecraft was inspired by rural Vermont). But what makes so many women widows? There is, again, a whiff of science fiction here, but it is reminiscent of the deliberately transgressive 'New Wave' writing of the late Sixties and early Seventies.
I enjoyed this collection, not least because I felt I was sharing the imaginative world of someone who doesn't seek easy answers or rely on obvious gimmicks. I hope you'll give Mark Fuller Dillon's stories a chance. Like many good short story writers, he is unlikely to ever receive the considerable backing of a major publisher, despite being vastly more gifted than the average bestselling hack.
(review of free book)
on March 13, 2013 :
Grab a comfy chair by the fire, a hot drink, and a book of good horror stories. Those rattling shutters outside? Just the blowing snow. Those shadows dancing in the corner? Fire light, nothing more. And the whispers behind your chair are your imagination.
That’s the feeling Mark Fuller Dillon conveys throughout his short story collection In a Season of Dead Weather. In most of the stories, it was never quite clear whether the “horror” was in the narrator’s mind or if it was real. The reader was left to interpret at the end.
And that worked for me. Each Lovecraftian tale was expertly crafted, with poetic and visceral language describing characters enduring the loneliness and isolation of a long winter in the country or the city. Dillon is a Quebec native, so he’s no stranger to maddeningly endless winters (I’m a west Michigan native, so I can sympathize).
Most of the stories were quite literary and a little confusing to me, a genre reader. But their narrative styles, descriptions, and situations were so unique that I found myself eager to read on just to hear the language rather than find out what happens to the characters.
In the first story, “Lamia Dance,” a medical student takes a break from his studies – and braves the snow – to attend a film festival where see a film that brings back haunting memories from his childhood. The film’s images of violence and anatomy seemed quite erotic to the narrator. “Lamia Dance” was either a story about being pushed into a profession that the narrator did not choose for himself...or about a budding serial killer.
In “Never Noticed, Never There,” Tom Lighden sees ghastly apparitions in terrible pain on the streets of Ottawa. He is the only one who sees them, as every one else simply walks past them without a second glance. Dillon implies that society has become good at ignoring the pain of others, as we are too busy with our own lives to notice.
If you’ve ever been stuck alone in the woods during winter, you’ll understand the characters’ bleak situations in “Shadows in the Sunrise,” “The Vast Importance of the Night,” and “Who Would Remain?” Blizzards keep the narrators from civilization, they loose time, and sees clawing shadows. Is it madness, ghosts, alien abductions? The reader is left to wonder if it’s all real or if winter has claimed the characters' sanity. While the three stories had similar themes, their unique characters and situations sufficiently differentiated them.
“The Weight of Its Awareness” had a middle-aged man revisiting a seemingly deserted, walled-off home that he originally tried to explore when he was eighteen. Grotesque sculptures now decorate the gardens, and a dark presence spies him from the home’s blackened windows and infects his mind. The story seemed like an extreme version of “curiosity killed the cat.” It was the weakest of the seven stories for me; although “weak” is a relative term since even this story kept me enthralled.
The strongest story for me was “When the Echo Hates the Voice.” Paul Bertrand is a brilliant, handsome young man who’s always the life of any social gathering and constantly seeks any excuse to be around people. The reason is that he cannot stand to be alone, for that is when the voices and faces visit him. Told by a narrator observing Paul, the story suggests a struggle between two personalities: one that seeks companionship and social reward, and one that seeks to keep us isolated from each other.
As I said at the beginning, I’m a genre reader and rarely read stories just for their styles and language. Dillon’s In a Season of Dead Weather is one of those rare works that can make even a genre reader like me want to take a second look at the literary. Highly recommended.
(review of free book)