WIHM 2023: An Interview With Thana Niveau

Thana Niveau is a British author known for her short story collections “Octoberland” and “From Hell to Eternity” as well as her novel “The House of Frozen Screams.” Her short stories have appeared in several of the Mammoth Books anthologies as well. Thana has always had a thing for the dark side. Not only in her writings but in her real life as well, being married to fellow horror author John Llewellyn Probert and living in a wonderful gothic mansion complete with a huge library and many curiosities sprinkled throughout.

Jen Griffin: First of all, thank you so much for the interview! I love your book “House of Frozen Screams.” It was hard to put down… especially after nightfall!

Thana Niveau: I am delighted to be included. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book.

JG: What do you love about horror?

TN: I love the fear and exhilaration, immersing myself in something scary and surviving. In real life, I jump at every little noise and creak in the house. Horror (in all its forms) gives me a place to put all that fear and anxiety. It’s not all about “scares,” though, and horror is a broad church. Some stories can only be told in a horror setting. One theory about why we love horror suggests that it’s a rehearsal for death. I’ve always liked that idea, and death is always there in horror, either literally or figuratively. There’s so much about the world that is terrifying, but we can channel that fear into stories that disturb us, move us, and haunt us. Horror offers so much scope for exploring the human condition.

JG: What do you hope to share with your readers?

TN: I hope to invite them into my world and share the things that scare and disturb me. I don’t really try to write something that will scare them; I write what scares ME and hope others experience that fear the way I do.

JG: What is your favorite horror story (yours or someone else’s)? Why?

TN: My all-time favourite novel is Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It’s the greatest haunted house story ever written. It’s also a sublimely disturbing psychological horror story, with a tragic ending that can be flipped and read as a happy one by those who identify with its main protagonist. And one of my favourite short stories is “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It’s another immersive experience, a descent into madness triggered by the ugly repeating pattern on the wallpaper of the room the narrator is kept in.

JG: I love Shirley Jackson! She was interesting both on and off the page. I did some research on her life, and she was a very unique individual. I enjoyed “The Yellow Wall-Paper” as well. I am excited to see how they treat it in the movie adaptation. Who or what is your favorite character? Why?

TN: I don’t know that I have a favourite, but I love Eleanor Vance in The Haunting of Hill House, partly because I see echoes of myself in her. I was a painfully shy kid, but I still yearned to belong somewhere, however dark or morbid. I can see Past Me reaching out and embracing the haunting as Eleanor does. It’s kind of a scary realisation, but beautiful too.

JG: What do you think is missing from horror?

TN: Underwater horror done right! I wish filmmakers would stop having characters dive with elaborate full-face scuba masks that allow them to talk to each other while they’re down there. They’re missing a golden opportunity for suspense. It’s truly wonderful to be deep in what Jacques Cousteau called the “silent world”, surrounded by the endless expanse of the ocean and all its creatures. Well, for me it’s wonderful. I appreciate it’s terrifying for others. A perfect setting for existential dread. You might as well be on the moon for all the significance you have in the ocean. So why not make it as terrifying as possible by having characters in basic scuba regulators, where your only form of communication is a few vague hand gestures? I’d give anything to see an entire film shot that way: no dialogue, just suspense.

JG: I really liked the movie “The Deep House.” It was well done, and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of underwater time in the movie. I agree that the silence makes it that much more scary. What is your favorite horror medium? Why?

TN: I vacillate between movies and books, but right now, it’s movies. There are some really great horror films being made now, and no shortage of talent both behind and in front of the camera. I love immersing myself in the atmosphere, with the cinematography and the FX, music, and sound design. I guess I find films scarier because they put images into my head that my own brain wouldn’t have come up with. Books still scare me plenty, but right now, I’m more a fan of movies.

JG: Who is your favorite female author? Why?

TN: Shirley Jackson. She just has a way of showing how thin the veil is between sanity and madness. When I read her works I come away feeling like I’ve “caught” some of her own madness.

JG: Who do you think the top females in your medium are? Why?

TN: I’m not sure what counts as “top” but here are a few favourites. Lisa Tuttle has written some seriously disturbing stories. A couple of them have final lines I’ve never forgotten. And Michelle Paver’s novel Dark Matter is the scariest ghost story I’ve read since Hill House. Kathe Koja’s early novel Skin is great for lovers of body horror. And I also enjoyed Alma Katsu’s supernatural take on the Donner Party disaster in The Hunger.

JG: What authors do you recommend?

TN: Too many to list! Priya Sharma, Cate Gardner, Laura Mauro, Allison Littlewood, Gemma Files, Angela Slatter… Just to name a few. And if you like graphic novels, there’s Through the Woods by Emily Carroll.

JG: What is your favorite way to unwind?

TN: If I could live in a tropical place and go diving in warm oceans every day, I would. I’d swim with dolphins and whales and octopuses until my legs fused into a mermaid’s tail, and I spontaneously evolved gills or some other means to breathe underwater. It would be a beautiful Cronenbergian transformation, not a monstrous Lovecraftian one.

But back in reality, I’ll be unwinding with horror and SF movies and books, spicy food, and the company of my best friend/husband. We’ll also be playing a lot of Magic: the Gathering.



You can reach out to Thana Niveau via Facebook. “The House of Frozen Screams” is available in
paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon, She has also had work appear in several of “The Mammoth
Book of Best New Horror” books.

You may also like...