Vicious Rumer is a dark thriller about a teenage girl who believes she's cursed because her mother was a mob assassin in the '90s. It's a little bit Dragon Tattoo, a little bit Jessica Jones, and a whole lot of crazy.
Most terrifying book you’ve ever read.
The first book that really scared me was Grinny by Nicholas Fisk. It's not strictly a horror novel, probably more of a sci-fi about a creepy great aunt, but the final chapters are truly horrifying. So much so that I've never read it again!
Your favourite Stephen King book.
Dolores Claiborne, because she's one of the best characters in modern literature, regardless of genre. Her relationship with Vera is brilliantly complex, and I just love an old battleaxe who doesn't give a shit what people think. Also, because of the line: “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to.”
New horror authors you’d recommend.
I'm not sure if he really counts as 'new' any more but Grady Hendrix is my new fave – My Best Friend's Exorcism was laugh-out-loud funny, frightening and took a poignant look at friendship, and I'm reading/loving his new book (We Sold Our Souls) now. Also, Sam Haysom and Baylea Hart are my stablemates at Unbound, and they've written two very cool horror books (The Moor and The Log House) that are worth checking out.
Your favourite horror film (adapted from a book) & why?
I Know What You Did Last Summer (verrrry loosely adapted from a book by Lois Duncan) was my absolute favourite as a teenager. It's not seen as particularly cool now, but I was obsessed – I just loved the concept of a creepy fisherman hunting down teenagers, and the film has such a spooky atmosphere.
Horror book that you’d like to see adapted to film & why?
Well, mine of course! I wrote Vicious Rumer very much imagining it as a film and it'd be so cool to see it on the big (or small) screen.
Best horror TV?
The second season of American Horror Story (Asylum) is a masterpiece, and the show has never been able to top it. It's such a great example of a series that did disturbing horror really well without skimping on the emotion. The final episode had me in tears (Jessica Lange kills me every time).
Did you write in other genres or straight to horror?
I've always paddled in numerous genres, but horror will forever be my number one. If I can use a terrible food analogy, horror is the best kind of literary seasoning because it goes with anything and it only adds flavour. My YA series The Sentinel Trilogy deals in horror, fantasy, the apocalypse and coming-of-age, while Vicious Rumer is sort of a horror, noir, thriller mash. Why stick to one genre when you can have five?!
Do you think horror is ready for a renaissance?
YES! I was talking to CJ Tudor about this the other day. She's the author of The Chalk Man and The Taking Of Annie Thorne, and her (bestselling) books have been sold as 'supernatural thrillers' – but if you ask her, she writes horror. She says she's sensed a turning of the horror tide in the UK, with publishers and agents more interested in it, but the US market is still a little snooty. Which seems insane because Stephen King is currently their number 4 bestselling author! #Justice4Horror.
Tips for new writers of horror fiction.
Write what scares you and it'll probably scare other people. Also, the best horror always comes from character, so find your characters first, if you can.They'll lead you to the scary places.
What scares you?
People. Nothing scarier than people. I'll never understand my friends who get freaked out by films about ghosts, but are perfectly happy to listen to true crime podcasts. Ghosts don't exist! People do, and they do terrible things all the time.
Do you celebrate Halloween?
Yep! My favourite year was 2016 when I made an entire mummy costume using ripped-up t-shirts from Primark. I dyed them in tea and then cut them into ropes that I wound around myself. Then I got a taxi to a party – the taxi driver didn't know where to look! But it's Halloween, so everybody's entitled to one good scare.