Horror Out Loud with Lucie McKnight Hardy

In advance of our FrightFest@TheLeedsLibrary Horror Out Loud event on Saturday 26th October, we asked Lucie McKnight Hardy, whose stories also appear in Best of British Short Fiction and have also been published by Nightjar Press, a few horror related questions.

What makes good horror? 

She told us, “I’m more a fan of the slow burn that the jump scare when it comes to horror. That deep, insidious feeling when you know something’s not right, when you’re waiting for something to reveal itself, when you’re aware of the uncanniness of a situation, but can’t quite put your finger on it. I think this applies to novels and short stories as much as it does to films—give me the creeping unease over the gore and the blood. Those are the stories that stay with you and haunt you.”

What are her favourite horror stories, and what is it that she loves about them?

“Alison Moore writes brilliant short stories, most of which would fit into the horror genre. When the Door Closed, it was Dark (originally published as a chapbook by Nightjar Press and since included in her collection The Post-War House), is beautifully done in terms of turning up the tension and unnerving the reader. Her story Small Animals is also a prime example of how to write a horror story, and is different in that it relies instead on a perfect twist which hits the reader like a punch in the stomach.”

“Also, anything by Andrew Michael Hurley gets my vote. His novel The Loney proved that folk horror doesn’t have to be a twee repetition of the usual memes of the sub-genre, and was very influential when I was writing my own book. I’m really enjoying his forthcoming novel Starve Acre at the moment and am happy to report that it’s just as unsettling and horrifying as his other books.”

She adds: “A bit of a cliché, probably, but Shirley Jackson is one of the best writers of horror in my opinion, and The Lottery is an all-time classic of the genre. The way it builds, gradually, into a story of undeniable terror, and the way in which the villagers accept their—to us—horrific ritual without question, is brilliantly done. It’s the perfect story of horror appearing in the mundane, the everyday, and these sorts of story are always the more effective.”

Your own book, Water Shall Refuse Them, features witches, Wales, and the legendarily hot summer of 1976. If you were a witch, what sort of witch would you be and what spells would you cast?

“I’m generally a fairly cheerful person, despite what my writing may say about me, so I would choose to cast spells that would act for the common good. For that reason, I would thwart Brexit and throw out Trump, Boris Johnson and the other authoritarian right-wing figures emerging over the globe. I would also reverse the climate crisis and make sure there was a library in every town. On a smaller scale, and purely personal, I would cast a spell to make people who don’t indicate at roundabouts spontaneously combust.”

You can hear more from Lucie McKnight Hardy at our Horror Out Loud! event on Saturday 26th October, at The Leeds Library. Halloween fancy dress is encouraged, but not compulsory. Also appearing will be Alison Littlewood. Tickets available here.

Fiona Gell

Fiona is a lifelong reading enthusiast and book lover. Her career started as a bookseller and has never really veered away from the written and spoken word. It was a dream for her to be a founder member of The Leeds Big Bookend. Fiona is its Coordinator and Marketing Director of the Northern Short Story Festival.

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