Angela Slatter is … well, me. Here I ramble on about my Horrorology novella, “Ripper”.
What was the inspiration for your Horrorology tale “Ripper”?
Well, it had a bit of a convoluted beginning: I was writing the story under another title for another publisher and when I got to the end I thought ‘It doesn’t precisely fit.’ Steve Jones wrote to me in the meantime, with the Horrorology pitch and I thought ‘It does precisely fit there.’ So the novella was re-titled “Ripper” and went to a new home (rest assured, the other publisher has been furnished with an equally lovely novella … of course, when I say ‘lovely’, I mean ‘creepy’).
The inspiration was, fairly obviously, the Jack the Ripper murders. As a policeman’s child with deep, dark interests this was naturally the sort of historical event that caught my attention (and the Yorkshire Ripper later on). I’d read Kim Newman’s “Red Reign” as a teenager and I think there’s an element of homage in “Ripper”. There are so many theories about this serial killer, and there’ve been so many stories about him/her, it was hard to find my way to adding to the literature — or rather feeling I had an idea that would do justice to everything that’s gone before. I think I got it right.
Can you remember the first story you read that made you think “I want to write!”?
That’s really awfully hard. Maybe The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken? Or perhaps A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle? I read a lot of MR James’ ghost stories as a child in various anthologies, so perhaps something by him. I do remember reading “The Tower” by Marghanita Laski in high school and being seized by the idea that maybe it was something I could do — the desire to write and the idea that I could write were definitely two separate moments.
Is horror a sort of natural home for you or do you lean more towards another part of speculative fiction?
It does seem to be … or at least I’ve washed up here. I started out in fairy tales (actually, I started out writing chick lit, but don’t tell anyone), and I really feel that fairy and folk tales are the ancestors of horror. Think about it: your mother sends you off to starve in the forest; your father wants to marry you; you are forced to wear red hot iron shoes and dance yourself to death; you’re punished for being vain by being given a pair of dancing shoes you can’t take off so you ask someone to cut off your feet to save you … I rest my case.
The darkness has always been more interesting to me as a source of tales.
You’re offered the chance to visit the Library of the Damned — do you accept?
Is there cake? Or donuts? And coffee, good coffee … actually that would be the absolute embodiment of damned: gluten-free cake, stale donuts and cold instant coffee. And probably a very strict librarian shushing you every time you complained. I think Lisa Tuttle was right about checking TripAdvisor first.
The future of horror is … ?
Who wrote these questions?? It’s Lisa L. Hannett, Helen Marshall, Damien Angelica Walters, Gemma Files, Mercedes Murdock Yardley; it’s Robert Shearman and Rio Youers, Mark Morris and Johnny Mains, Kaaron Warren and Margo Lanagan … it’s all the folk who come out to play after dark.
Pre-order your copy of Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear here!