Immortalis, a new name and brand in horror, is making its mark across literary, fandom and movie circles. The brand is the brainchild of best-selling author and academic Valkyrie Kerry, and her husband Horror Author’s Guild writer Brett Dyer. Theirs is an unusual story as they started writing together whilst living on two different continents: Kerry in Ireland, and Brett in South Africa. Brett moved to Ireland in October, 2020, and the couple married in August 2021.
Their contribution to the horror world came to fruition in October 2022 following the releases of their anthologies; best-seller Ultimate Horrotica, and the artistically framed tale, The Thorn and His Rose. October also marked the acceptance of the authors as regular contributors to the Tigershark ezine, an online magazine by author and Atlantean Publishing contributor D.S. Davidson. The Immortalis horror tale Demize was also accepted for publication in Don Smith’s Blood from a Tombstone anthologies, and other works have appeared in Grotesque and Horror Nation.
On an academic level, the couple are heavily involved in horror fandom research, with Kerry expected to be awarded her second PhD in 2024. To celebrate their successes, they crafted an intricate series of tales for their Twitter fandom for Halloween, a mishmash of roleplay, original fiction, fanfiction and multimedia, with guest spots from horror actors; Malcolm McDowell, Tony Todd, Nick Castle, and others.
Today we catch up with Brett and Kerry as they prepare for their next project.
Brett, tell us a little bit about yourselves. Your background, education etc. ??
I was born in Zimbabwe and moved to South Africa during my primary school years. After school I studied the culinary arts at the University of Johannesburg and went on to work as an executive chef at some of the most prestigious hotels and game parks in the country. I also enjoyed writing and horror, so I joined a fandom that allowed me to gain some practice.
In the spring of 2020, I noticed Kerry. She was sharing some horror collages on Twitter and talking about her books. I responded to her post with a cheeky Ash Williams (Evil Dead) gif, and we started talking. Then we started writing together. We did not speak privately for several weeks, but when we did, I knew she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and would sacrifice everything to be with her.
Kerry, we have been hearing a lot about you, and we noticed that you are starting to gain a lot of attention, how does it feel?
I originally appeared in the papers in 2002 for graduating from several universities at once and achieving a gold medal for swimming. Subsequently, I went into post-graduate training and returned to writing after a break (Kerry was first published at 13 in For Blood is the Life, The British Vampire Society Journal). I soon realised that a drawbridge had to be put into place between my private life and my professional life. Brett was always a very private person, so we had to find a middle ground, and I think we continue to maintain that middle ground. Professionally we focus on the horror industry, and do not allow ourselves to get drawn into social or domestic issues.
Brett, what has been one of the most exciting achievements of your career so far?
My first five official acceptances for publication were exciting. It was something new, something different, and it endorsed my capabilities, gave me confidence. Kerry helped a lot during our first year in terms of grammar, structure, and ideas. Our partnership is, however, lovingly symbiotic. Our overall original horror narrative:Immortalis, consists of original characters that we are developing into a series of novels. Ultimate Horrotica, The Thorn and His Rose, and the Immortalis fandoms are there to introduce these characters and ideas. Kerry was stuck with the character Nicholas, one that was originally a narrative tool, and asked me to develop him further. Turning Nic from a plot point to a rounded character has been an adventure, and one that I have enjoyed. Writing The Thorn and His Rose, and perfecting it, turning a book into dynamic art, that was a massive expedition, but quite possibly one of the most exciting achievements of our mutual career so far.
Kerry, what do you want to achieve next?
We have many irons in the fire at present. Our two biggest projects are our academic research, which examines the structures and future of horror fandom, and our Immortalis novels. We have a clear 150k word draft that is very much a work in progress, and we continually outline new ideas and focus heavily on character development. The projects are not mutually exclusive, all aspects of our work meet at an intersection, whether that is in published research, accepted submissions, fandom or the novels. I guess we are just continually broadening and weaving the web.
Brett, what motivates you to do your best work?
We have two processes that enable mass creation; the first is what Kerry calls, ‘procrastination.’ Before we do any work, we have half hour of mandatory down time. It sounds strange, but it works. The second is we have fun, we put humour in our stories, we put humour in our fandom, and we don’t take it too seriously. That helps blow off steam. Invariably, those downtimes enable the seed of a new idea to grow, and the motivation comes of its own volition. We also have each other, and we are each other’s muse, that kind of chemistry is a rare treasure.
Kerry, did you choose this industryas a career, or as a hobby?
It chose me, just as it chose Brett. Our late fathers were very similar in their love of movies, especially horror movies, and there were many parallels in our upbringings that perhaps led us on the path to finding each other. I have always been involved in media and writing. My English teacher, when I was 13, rejected a short story I wrote called, Armageddon, and believed that it was too advanced for my age. My mum, who had watched me write it informed her that she was wrong. The primary character in that short story has evolved into Allyra, the lead character in Immortalis.
Brett, what is your biggest regret of your life?
That we didn’t meet sooner, but perhaps it was necessary to wait until the time is right and that we both had the experiences to be who we are today.
Kerry, what is your favourite quote?
At the moment we are doing a John Carpenter’s The Thing fandom, so our favourite quote at present is anything with the suffix, ‘tied to this f***ing couch!’ It has given us a great deal of amusement.
Brett, everybody needs time out. What do you do in your free time?
We live in Ireland between the lake district and the coast, so we like to go boating or on other trips, we write, we create art, or we just spend time together. We also have a large family around us, but we like to afford them their privacy. As Kerry said, we keep our professional and personal lives separate, this is partially to extend that privacy to our family.
We also watch horror movies of course.
How can people find you and follow you online?