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Get ready to be sickened by my praise.My guest this week is Philip Fracassi. Last year his historical horror, The Boys in the Valley got the Stephen King endorsement. He’s already following up with A Child Alone With Strangers - his second novel (or is it his first, or his third – as you’ll hear it’s complicated).This book is an all-timer. It blends the relaxed, character driven storytelling of the best 80s horror, with a contemporary cross-genre style that keeps you shocked …  and shook. I tell you now, this book will take your heart, put it in a velvet box – and then stamp on that box until it’s mush.We talk about a lot of things in this 70-minute conversation. Writing believable children, creating great villains, and conceiving original monsters and true otherness. We explore insectile horror, empathy overloads and setcking to your guns on word-length.This is my last author-interview of the year and I couldn’t have hoped for a better book to discuss.Enjoy! A Child Alone With Strangers was released on October 25th by Talos Press Other books mentioned in this episode include:The Boys in the Valley (2021), by Philip FracassiGothic (2023), by Philip FracassiThe Stand (1990), by Stephen KingThe Magus (1965/1977), by John FowlesLet it Come Down (1952), by Paul BowlesThe Delicate Prey and Other Stories (1950), by Paul BowlesSupport Talking Scared on Patreon Come talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? That’s the question at the heart of my conversation with Charlotte Northedge. Her new novel, The People Before argues that though the city may be a hassle, it’s a lot less scary than what waits out there in the fields and farmhouses of this pleasant land. Charlotte is very much a city mouse. She’s also the Head of Books for The Guardian Newspaper, which makes her superbly well-euipped to talk about fiction in general, and this is an episode that really gets into the Gothic tradition of which The People Before is part. We talk about the unique nature of the female gothic, domestic loads and mortgage terror, the economics of haunted houses, and I stand by my argument that rural axe-murders are fairly rare.Enjoy! The People Before was released on November 10th by HarperCollinsOther books mentioned in this episode include:The House Guests (2021), by Charlotte NorthedgeThe Last House on Needless Street (2021), by Catriona Ward Sundial (2022), by Catriona Ward The Fell (2021), by Sarah MossThe Haunting of Hill House (1959), by Shirley JacksonRebecca (1938), by Daphne Du MaurierThe Turn of the Screw (1898), by Henry James Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
It’s coming home, it’s coming … horror’s coming home!Alright, no one panic – this isn’t about football. We’ll avoid that particular nightmare of human corruption and talk about something much more nourishing – the delights of British Folk Horror.Our guest is Fiona Barnett, and these days it’s seems like a mini-celebration everytime I have a fellow Brit on the show. Her debut novel The Dark Between the Trees is also quintessentially British, mired in the myth and lore and landscape of these sceptic isles. Her novel follows two groups into the cursed Moresby Woods. One is a group of soldiers from the 16th Century; the other is a research group in the present day. Neither expedition goes at all well…Amongst many things, Fiona and I talk about writing female groups, about propelling the plot in the face of paralysis weirdness, we discuss the nature of folktale and truth, and we look into the abyss of Deep Time.And in case that all sounds awfully hifalutin – I make sure to talk about monsters as much as I can. Though this week, I promise, there is no Bigfoot. Enjoy! The Dark Between the Trees was released on October 11th by SolarisOther books mentioned in this episode include:Annihilation (2014), by Jeff VanderMeerMythago Wood (1984), by Robert HoldstockPicnic at Hanging Rock (1967), by Joan LindseyDeep Time: A Literary History (2023), by Noah HeringmanBegars Abbey (2022), by V.L. ValentineLolly Willowes, or the Loving Huntsman (1926), by Sylvia Townsend WarnerSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
I don’t always talk about Bigfoot … but when I do it’s with the BEST people.Our guest this week is Erika T. Wurth, author, narrative artist and creative writing guru. She is of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent and she pours all of that skill and heritage into her new novel White Horse. It’s a tale of haunting, hard-living and violence, with a certain hairy indigenous monster that pops up in your dreams.This is NOT the Bigfoot that you expect, or want to meet. As well as that brief foray into hairy hominid lore (I restrained myself; you’re welcome), Erika and I also talk about the dreaded dream sequence, the German phenomenon of Sonder, the real Overlook hotel and Jack Kerouac, of all people.Enjoy!White Horse was released on November 1st by Flatiron BooksOther books mentioned in this episode include:Buckskin Cocaine (2017), by Erika T. WurthBlack Sun (2021), by Rebecca Roanhorse Ghost Eaters (2022), by Clay McLeod ChapmanSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Halloween may be over but I trust you aren’t tired of horror? No? Good. ‘Cos this week’s guest packs a double-whammy – horror novels and horror movies all in one. Brian McAuley is a screenwriter and debut novelist. His first book, Curse of the Reaper is a behind-the-scenes look at how the horror movie sausage gets made, featuring the greatest slasher icon never to actually exist, and some of the best ‘bad’ scriptwriting you’ll ever read.Brian and I talk about Hollywood as a place of both cinematic and spiritual horror. We compare our favourite franchises and our love for Robert Englund. We discuss why the genre needs to remember to be fun, and how you can judge a lot from someone’s reaction to the latest Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  All in all, it’s the perfect book for the day after Halloween – when we just need to keep the horror train rollin’Enjoy!Curse of the Reaper was released on October 4th by Talos Press.Other books mentioned in this episode include: Rootwork (2022), by Tracy CrossHollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street With the Man of Your Dreams (2009), by Robert Englund and Alan GoldsherThe Dark Half (1989), by Stephen King Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
The last episode before Halloween and it’s suitably about my favourite book of the year: Andy Davidson’s The Hollow KindAndy is the Stoker-nominated author of In the Valley of the Sun and The Boatman’s Daughter. The Hollow Kind is his third book and it packs a lot into its 400 pages. It’s as dense and weighty as an imploding paper star. It’s a haunted house story (of sorts), a creature feature (of sorts) and a whole lot of Southern Gothic of many kinds. The prose is lush and wow, does Andy know a lot about the history of Georgia both human and natural.We talk about that, as well as the link between industry and horror, the allure of extreme violence, and the sheer delight of finding a map at the front of a book. Plus, we go a little deeper than usual into the nature and origins of the evil at the heart of the story.Enjoy and have a happy Halloween my horror-loving siblings!The Hollow Kind was released on October 11th by MCD Other books mentioned in this episode include:The Boatman’s Daughter (2020), by Andy DavidsonConvulsive (2022), by Joe KochAbsalom, Absalom! (1936), by William FaulknerPoachers (1999), by Tom FranklinKnockemstiff (2008), by Donald Ray PollockJo Koch interview with Andy at Southwest Review Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
It was Thomas Wolfe who wrote “you can never go home again.” Huh, what did he know? (yes, I understand the metaphor – move on!)This week’s guest proves that whilst you can go home, you may not want to. Erin E. Adams is an actor, playwright and now the debut author of JACKAL, a novel of homecomings horrid and awful. Each year, in the small Pennsylvania town of Johnstown, a young Black girl goes missing, taken by whatever lurks in the woods surrounding the town. Helluva premise!!Erin takes us on a tour of Johnstown, both the real and the sorta fictional version. We talk about justification and paranoia, about anger as a superpower and the notion that horror is a genre for white people. She explores the epochal moments from her town’s history and goes deep on her feelings about Black horror’s handling of trauma. Then we compare our memories of small-town adolescence – finding that some sh*t is the same all around the world. Enjoy!Jackal was released on October 4th by Bantam.Other books mentioned in this episode include:How to Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend (2011), by Linda AddisonCome With Me (2021), by Ronald Malfi – episode 49 Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Do you know anyone with hairy palms? Weird question, but as this week’s novel-in-question will convince you, it’s best to be careful around the hirsute.Our guest is Rachel Harrison, returning to Talking Scared with her brand new SUCH SHARP TEETH. It’s a tale of small-town relationships, female transformation, love and … werewolves.Anyone who has read either of Rachel’s previous novels, The Return or Cackle, will know that she has a knack for reinventing horror tropes within snarky satire. Such Sharp Teeth is no different in that regard. Rachel and I talk about messy characters, beastly metaphors, and rage filled rooms. We get into the unexpected earnestness of romance, and we wonder if      horror comedy may well be the best genre to represent contemporary existence.And stick around because Rachel also has the best ever answer to the question, what truly scares you… Enjoy!Such Sharp Teeth is released on October 4th by Berkley.Other books mentioned in this episode include: Build Your House Around My Body (2021), by Violet KupersmithThe Return (2020), by Rachel Harrison – episode 17Cackle (2021), by Rachel Harrison Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
The best and spookiest season starts in earnest, this year on Talking Scared. Our guest is Jamie Flanagan, actor, screenwriter, and part of the team who delivered such televisual delights as The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass and now, The Midnight Club.With The Midnight Club due to land on Netflix worldwide this Friday – I rejigged the schedule to sneak in a chat with Jamie about his work on the show, his relationship with horror-maestro director, Mike Flanagan, and some of the magic that bubbled to the surface in Midnight Mass. Jamie pulls back the veil on the mythical ‘writers room’. He talks about the difficulty of getting anything to screen. And we talk, of course, about the influence of Stephen King.It’s a pleasant detour this week, away from books, without leaving the literary entirely behind.Enjoy!The Midnight Club is released worldwide on Netflix, October 7th.  Other books mentioned in this episode include:The Midnight Club (1994), by Christopher Pike The Mist (1980), by Stephen KingHouse of Leaves (2000), by Mark Z. DanielewskiSupport Talking Scared on Patreon Come talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
It’s not only vampires that drink blood. That’s what we find out on this week’s episode. Our guest is Alexis Henderson – author of The Year of the Witching and now, her sophomore novel, House of Hunger. It’s a luscious, lurid tale of dark fantasy, blood and sex. Y’know … all the good stuff.Oh, and it’s one of my favourite books of the year.Alexis and I discuss the collision of horror and fantasy, the erotics and politics of blood, and the double standards when it comes to female perversion. We also talk a little about a certain Bloody Countess, who plays a big part in the background of House of Hunger. Enjoy!House of Hunger is released September 27th by Ace Books   Other books mentioned in this episode include:A Dowry of Blood  (2022), by S.T. Gibson The Year of the Witching (2021), by Alexis HendersonSupport Talking Scared on Patreon Come talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Wanna get haunted?That’s the delightful proposition offered by Clay McLeod Chapman’s Ghost Eaters – a novel of ghosts, grief and ghastly narcotics. Just take one pill and you can sell all the phantoms that surround you. What a premise! It’s Clay’s second time on Talking Scared and he’s always welcome. There are few more honest, open, and thoughtful writers out there. This time around we go deep, into the real emotional core of Ghost Eaters, talking about lost friends and long-ago dreams. We discuss 90s indie art, postmodernism’s pains-in-the-ass, and our drug experiences (turns out we’re lame).Oh, and there are Machine Elves. What are Machine Elves, you ask? Listen to find out. Enjoy!Ghost Eaters is released September 20th by Quirk Books  Other books mentioned in this episode include: Between Two Fires (2012), by Christopher Buehlman Whisper Down the Lane (2021), by Clay McLeod Chapman – (episode 32)The Secret History (1992), by Donna TarttInfinite Jest (19960, by David Foster WallaceSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
The time has finally come to go to the scariest place imaginable – the inside of the human mind. Thankfully, we have a friend to accompany us on this most hideous of trips. I’m joined this week by Gemma Amor, author of the brand-new techno-horror FULL IMMERSION. It’s a book that deals with trauma, psychosis and experimental treatment, and it’s the perfect springboard for an epic conversation about mental health in horror.Gemma and I cover the autobiographical elements of her novel and how it helped her recovery. I lay bare my own neurosis and explain why this genre is not necessarily a safe space. And Gemma explains the dangerous reality of being a woman in the horror game. If that all sounds a tad sombre, don’t worry – there is also chat about the Uncanny Valley, Men in Black, Creepypasta and Black Mirror. As well as the pros and cons of pushing over racist statues.It’s a long episode this one. You won’t get this level of self-indulgence every week. But it was just too good a conversation to cut short.Let’s head into my head, it’s scary there!!Enjoy!Full Immersion is released September 13th by Angry Robot Read Gemma’s essay - The Female Experience of FearSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Finally, she’s here!After months of waiting for schedules and book releases to align, Hailey Piper is on the show. She’s here to talk about both of her 2022 releases – each is a kidnapping experience. The novella Your Mind is a Terrible Thing takes us up into the void and into creepy inner space. Her forthcoming novel No Gods for Drowning transports us somewhere else entirely. Hailey lets me blather on about social commentary and metaphor before reminding me gently that sometimes it’s ok to enjoy the story. We talk about concise world-building (how!!), zombie capitalism, police brutality, anxiety and body autonomy, and why Queer characters don’t need an agenda to be worthy of inclusion.By the time this goes live Hailey has probably written another two books!! But for now, I’m just delighted to have her on the show to discuss these two.Enjoy!Your Mind is a Terrible Thing was released May 2022 by Off Limits Press; No Gods for Drowning is published September 7th, 2022 by Polis Books.Other books mentioned in the episode include: Crime Scene (forthcoming 2022), by Cynthia PelayoThe Possession of Natalie Glagow (2018), by Hailey PiperBenny Rose the Cannibal King (2020), by Hailey Piper Support Talking Scared on Patreon Come talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Time to get weird and wiggy and wondrous.Our guest this week is Zin E. Rocklyn, author of many short fictions, and her (very) recently award-winning novella Flowers for the Sea.It’s an afro-speculative blend of science fiction, horror, fantasy, myth, dystopia, pre-history and apocalypse – all confined to a single boat in a big, bad ocean, and all told within 100 pages.Phew – it’s dense!Zin and I cover a lot this week. We barrel through her the twin crises of reproductive rights and climate change – and look at how inequality is a huge component of both. We talk about writing the body, evoking smell and how pain has many uses.That sounds dark. It is. But there is also light, including an unexpected reference to an old British sitcom, the juxtaposition of Zin and Hyacinth Bouquet made me laugh!!Enjoy this one.Flowers for the Sea was released October 2021, by Tor Other books mentioned in the episode include:We Are Here to Hurt Each Other (2022), by Paula D. AsheSpectral Hue (2019), by Craig L. GidneyNo Gods for Drowning (2022), by Hailey Piper“My Genre Makes a Monster of Me”, by Zin E. Rocklyn (2018) in Uncanny Magazine, 24 Support Talking Scared on Patreon Come talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Get your bell bottoms, your peace sign, your tie dye and your … crucifix!This week’s guest is Gwendolyn Kiste and her new novel, Reluctant Immortals, transports us to San Francisco in 1968, the summer after the Summer of Love, when the sun is setting on the hippie movement. Into this chaos comes a quarter of iconic Gothic characters, ready to fight it out all over again.Like the book, the surface of this conversation belies its inner darkness. Yes we talk hippies. Yes we talk Haunted Hollywood. Yes we talk cheesy movies. But we also get into the horrific implications of vampires for sexual consent, the true hideous power of the patriarchy, and how women are weaponised against women.There is substantial conversation about domestic and sexual abuse in the second half of the conversation. Just a warning in case this is a problem for you. It’s a tough conversation, but a good one.Enjoy!Reluctant Immortals is released in North America on August 23rd by and in the UK on November 22nd by Titan.Other books discussed in this episode include:Something Borrowed, Something Blood-soaked (2018), by Christa CarmenTo Be Devoured (2019), by Sarah TantlingerThe Rust Maidens (2018), by Gwendolyn Kiste“The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)”, by Gwendolyn Kiste, Nightmare Magazine, issue 86, (2019)“The Woman Out of the Attic, by Gwendolyn Kiste, in Haunted House Short Stories (2019)Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (1998), by Peter BiskindSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
This week we’re crossing the podcast streams again – and broadening our reading at the same time.Agatha Andrews is the host of She Wore Black, a Texas-based podcast of Gothic, Mystery and Horror. She’s also my horror-podcasting buddy, the romantic yin to my dark, depraved yang. And she knows a thing or two about Gothic Romance.It turns out it’s not all virgins in nightgowns (though they do make an appearance). Agatha talks me through the complex, overlapping relationships between Romance, Gothic, horror and erotica. We talk about how love combines with fear, why happy endings are an ironclad rule and the joy of the Danger-Bang. She also helps me navigate some recent twitter beef that had me utterly confused.This is a little diversion for the show, a ramble down a different path for this week. But hey, give love a chance!(plus, we also talk about House of Leaves)Episodes of She Wore Black are released weekly and you can find Agatha at @sheworeblackpodOther books discussed in this episode include:The Haunting of Maddy Clare (2012), by Simone St. JamesMexican Gothic (2020), by Silvia Moreno GarciaThe Hacienda (2022), by Isabel CañasGoddess of Filth (2021) by V. Castro Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Are your doors and windows locked? Good. ‘Cos this one is going to scare you!This week I’m joined by Michael J. Seidlinger, author of the new home-invasion nightmare, Anybody Home. You’ve read this scenario before – invasion, torture, death and suffering – but never like this.  We talk about why home invasion is so singularly frightening, about the role of movies and lenses in our hyper-surveillant culture, we disagree on the current state of experimental fiction, and Michael gives perhaps the most startling answer yet to the question of where did the idea for this book come from… All that, plus my rantings on the morality of torture porn, some really geeky video game chat, heavy metal metaphors, and an afterword containing some important questions for the future of this show.  Enjoy! Anybody Home is published August 16th by CLASH booksOther books discussed in this episode include:The Shards (2023), by Bret Easton EllisHoarders (2021), by Kate DurbinFrank (2002), by R. M. Berry“The Death of the Author” (1967), by John Barthes – read here Support Talking Scared on Patreon Come talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
What scared you as a kid? Monsters? Ghosts? The thing in your closet? The perilous state of the environment and the terrible carbon footprint of children’s toys?If it’s any of the former then you’re in good company. (If it’s the latter then boy did we need you in 1987!) This week’s guests understand the fear that makes the childlike mind tick and tock, they know how to get under young skin, and they know how to inject a little hope into the horror. Ally Malinenko, Dan Poblocki and Lora Senf are three of the finest middle-grade authors around. Their books, This Appearing House, Tales to Keep You Up at Night and The Clackity present three very different kinds of nightmares to challenge, inspire and slightly terrify readers age 8-12.In this middle-grade special we dive deep into each of their book, to examine how horror works for younger readers. When does a lot become too much? And what can we say to the gatekeepers and politicians who would rather these precious children not read such awful things. It’s an important question, cos, after all, kids are the ones who are going to have to both survive and save this world – so let’s at least prepare them with some horrors they can conquer in the here and now.This is a longer episode, and a slightly left-turn. But it’s also a lot of fun and surprisingly dark. Enjoy!The Clackity is published June 28th by AtheneumThis Appearing House is published August 16th by Katherine Tegen BooksTales to Keep You Up at Night is published August 16th by Penguin WorkshopOther books discussed in this episode include:Hoodoo (2015), by Ronald L. SmithHide and Don’t Seek, and Other Very Scary Stories (20212), by Anica Mrose RissiGhost Love (2020), by Dennis MahoneyThe Nest (2015), by Kenneth OppellIt Looks Like Us (2022), by Alison AmesLiars Room (2021), by Dan PoblockiThe House With a Clock in Its Walls (1973), by John BellairsWait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story (1986), by Mary Downing Hahn“The Raft”, in Skeleton Crew (1985), by Stephen King The Haunted Book (2012), by Jeremy DysonTo find out more about my friend Amy Sarthou and her Portable Magic project to increase inclusive school reading – you can follow her on instagram at PortableMagic_reads_booksSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
Do you like scary movies? Yes, course you do – you’re listening to a horror podcast.Okay, cliched horror quote asides – this week is something a little different for the show. It’s been a minute since we’ve had some non-fiction, and how better to scratch that itch-for-facts than with a discussion of BRAINZZZZZ?Our guest is Nina Nesseth: scientist, researcher and author of Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films. It does what it says on the cover. Nina guides us through a century of horror cinema, looking at how we, as a species, react neurologically and physiologically to scenes of blood, violence and carnage. Think of it, perhaps, as a tour of the most haunted house of all, the human mind. We dissect everything ­– movies, culture, eyeballs (prepare yourself!), and the trailer for Rob Zombie’s The Munsters. We also talk about communicating science in the new age of anti-rationality, how our brains can tell screens and real life apart, the best ever decade for horror, and we mock the phrase elevated horror in all the ways that stupid term deserves. Enjoy!Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films was published on July 19th by Tor NightfireOther books discussed in this episode include:Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003), by Mary RoachFound Footage and The Appearance of Reality (2014), by Alexandra Heller-Nicholls Support Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
We’re heading into largely uncharted horror waters this week with our guest Nat Cassidy. Nat’s debut horror novel, Mary: An Awakening of Terror dares to confront one of the last true taboos of horror fiction. No, it’s not cannibalism, or necrophilia, or the bowel movements of Tucker Carlson … no… it’s the menopause. That’s right. Female physiology. The horror, the terror, think of the children!!!Nat and I talk about why horror shies away from the topic of middle age and menopause, and why he was inspired to tell this story when he was just thirteen years old. We talk about Stephen King and Carrie and their lasting influence. And we look back at the worse year of Nat’s life, and how it helped fuel the writing of Mary.We also promise (and fail) to talk about Bruce Springsteen, our shared north star. Watch this space for more on that in the future.Enjoy!Mary: An Awakening of Terror is published on July 19thth by Tor NightfireOther books discussed in this episode include:We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (1998), by Philip GourevitchCarrie (1974), by Stephen KingParasite (1980), by Ramsey CampbellSupport Talking Scared on PatreonCome talk books on Twitter @talkscaredpod, on Instagram, or email direct to Support the show
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