WIHM: Horror’s Where My Heart’s At
I didn’t spring fully formed into the horror genre; it’s been a gradual slither in that direction.
I read voraciously as a child, R L Stine among many others. I did love Susan Cooper’s quintet ‘The Dark is Rising’– which has dark fantasy/horror elements then I graduated to the early novels of Stephen King, stayed up late to watch Hammer horror films on BBC2 and was terrified at age 13 by the 1979 TV movie ‘Salem’s Lot’ starring David Soul. The memory of the vampire boy tapping at Mark’s window to be let in still gives me nostalgic shivers. I didn’t sleep for nights afterwards, especially as I had an easily accessed garage roof below my window.
The first fiction I had published, in 1996, were two children’s books. Both rather jolly and cheery. It is in my forties- post child raising days -that I’ve turned to writing creepy flash fiction and ghost stories. I people my tales with feral children, demons, ghosts, assassins, abused women, mermaids, killer teens and the occasional vampire (often called Vinnie).
After a couple of years of sending my stories to on line magazines and building up my CV, I saw a blog post by writer Patsy Collins, mentioning that Gill James of Chapeltown Books (based in Salford) was looking for flash fiction collections. I sent in a sample batch and we went on from there. My début flash collection ‘Badlands’ is out to buy –
with the tag line ‘short tales, long shadows.’ Gives a hint there.
I write seeing the action unspooling in my head like a film. I enjoy the challenge of implying the horror through use of language rather than with outright gore, blood and violence. I find it easier as a writer to access the story through children’s eyes.
Due to a lifelong interest in history, I am drawn to writing pieces set in the Victorian era, such as the Gothic tale, ‘Mother Love’ which is published in the ‘Women In Horror annual 2’ edited by C. Rachel Katz (available on Amazon).
I have a serious cinema/film addiction and I do watch an above average amount of supernatural /horror films. One of my all time current favourite film makers is Guillermo del Toro (‘Pan’s Labyrinth’) but I enjoy the black and white films from the 1930’s onwards, like Val Lewton’s ‘Cat People’.
Curren horror authors I’ve read and enjoyed include F.G.Cottam and Tim Lebbon, especially his novel ‘The Silence.’
There are certain motifs which recur in my fiction – dolls and birds especially crows – as do derelict buildings and church yards. Not that unusual in horror but it’s what you do with them that counts!
I am currently on a writing course set in a cemetery in Bradford, West Yorkshire which is a rich literary hunting ground as it is filled with Gothic angels, vaults and obelisks.
Writing for ‘The Horror Tree’, especially in the brief format of drabbles, has been fun and a challenge. The Horror Tree site and its editors have really pushed my horror writing forward with their encouragement and advice.
I am currently working on a collection of ghost stories, (‘All the Lost Children’). I have about 5 stories written- I do tend to write slowly. They are often set in the towns of West Yorkshire where I live.