I don’t scare easily. I can watch most horror films without turning a hair – apart from the completely mad To The Devil a Daughter which was on one night when I came in after a few drinks. It freaked me out for days.
I also remember being paralysed with fear reading The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters while on holiday once, but apart from that I like to think of myself as completely butch and horror-proof.
I do have a slightly insane aversion to homemade food that’s been brought to a second location (fairy cakes at a car boot sale can bring on a conniption), but strangely that doesn’t seem to feature in horror films and books that often.
So when I saw a call for horror short stories for the second volume of Twisted 50, I was unsure if I had it in me. Even when Create 50‘s Chris Jones called for writers to plumb the depths of their horror brain, I resisted. Embrace your fears and come up with the most terrifying, horrible story you can, he said. Still I thought: “Nah, not for me”.
Then I remembered how I’d got ‘in the mood’ (completely the wrong phrase, but you know what I mean) to write my contained horror screenplay The Fear Trigger. So I set about writing a short story, No Waste. I started tentatively, occasionally wondering if I’d ‘gone too far’. Then before I knew it, I’d written a story where someone makes a purse out of a scrotum.
Create 50 works in a unique way – all the authors upload their short stories to the platform, where they are read and reviewed by the other writers. There’s then an opportunity to redraft the story a couple of times before its final submission.
Spurred on by positive feedback, I chucked in another few choice horror moments of cannibalism – why not? It’s a party! Before I knew it, I had descended into horror further than even I thought possible.
I was lucky enough to be chosen from hundreds of entries to feature in the book, which was published late last year.
The experience was incredibly valuable, and I learned that even though it’s not my go-to genre, the horror is always there, below the surface, waiting to be plumbed – even while I’m pinning curtain ideas to my Pinterest board and watching Legally Blonde for the umpteenth time.
I’m not sure I’ll ever lose the image of my poor mum’s face as she read the story though.