Meet author Laura Purcell @spookypurcell #HorrorLounge
Tell us about your latest book
The Silent Companions is a classic Victorian ghost story set in a dilapidated country mansion. Pregnant and recently widowed, our heroine Elsie is dismayed to be marooned with no one but her late husband’s drab cousin for company. But then she discovers an old diary, and an unsettling wooden figure locked in the garret. As objects begin to move and things go bump in the night, Elsie begins to believe she is not alone after all …
First memory of reading horror
The Goosebumps and Point Horror series in my local library! I was eventually given my own copy of R L Stein’s One Day at HorrorLand and I read it so many times.
Which 3 horror books do you keep returning to?
Daphne Du Maurier’s short stories, such as Don't Look Now, The Birds and The Doll. They are just so masterful in building a sense of panic. Dracula by Bram Stoker is obviously iconic and just such a brilliant read. I also love The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland for its mixture of human and supernatural monsters.
For readers new to horror which 3 books would you recommend?
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a must. One of the first books I really found scary. Then The Shining by Stephen King. Most people have only seen the movie which, in my opinion, really doesn’t do justice to the creeping terror of the novel. Lastly, Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. A different kind of horror from the other two, but no less frightening.
Greatest horror film (adapted from a book) & why?
It’s so difficult with film adaptions, because I always prefer the book! I loved the film adaption of The Woman in Black, somehow they made it even scarier than the novel, and I enjoyed the slight change they made to the ending.
Horror book that you’d like to see adapted to film & why? It would be great to see either of Michelle Paver’s books (Dark Matter and Thin Air) on screen. They are both absolutely chilling.
Best horror TV?
I’ve only seen the first series of American Horror Story, but I thought that was great. I really enjoyed The Living and The Dead when it was on TV last year, but I think it has sadly been cancelled now.
Did you write in other genres or straight to horror?
As a teenager I wrote romances and fantasy. I moved into historical fiction, and this has carried over into my horror because all of my scary stories are set in the past.
Tell us briefly about your route to being published
I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. In my ignorance, I sent loads of things out to agents from the very beginning, which were just terrible. I didn’t have any progress until my late twenties. My first two historical fiction books were published by Myrmidon in 2014 and 2015. I am now lucky enough to be writing for Bloomsbury.
Horror doesn’t seem to be as well respected as other genres of fiction. Why do you think that is?
There seems to be a stigma attached to horror – that there’s something deeply wrong with you if you enjoy being scared. Which, of course, is nonsense. I think there is also the idea that horror writing contains gratuitous violence, but I have rarely found that to be the case.
Tips for new writers of horror fiction.
Try to have a clear plotline planned from the beginning. It’s fine to deviate from it a bit, but my problem was I started throwing too many scary things into the mix and swamped myself. Sometimes, simpler is better.