Tom Fletcher is the author of the novels The Leaping, The Thing on the Shore, and The Ravenclass (all from the lovely Jo Fletcher Books), as well as a host of short stories, including “Slape” from the Mark Morris edited Spectral Book of Horror Stories. Tom has a chat with me about horror writing and reading.
1. Can you remember the first horror story you read that made an impact on you?
Yes – quite a famous one, though I didn’t know it at the time. It features a couple on a rocky beach at night, and they’re walking towards the sea, which they can’t see because of the darkness, and it’s much further away than they expect, but they keep going, and they still never reach it. The rocks are slimy and smell bad, and there’s this mounting sense of unease. I found that story in an anthology of my dad’s, that I used to climb the bookshelves to get at, and I’ve wondered what it was for about twenty years. And now I’m reading Robert Aickman’s first collection for the first time, and there it is – ‘Ringing the Changes’.
2. What inspired the story you wrote for this anthology?
This story, Slape, was inspired by one of my current jobs – I’m a milkman. And it’s about that strange pre-dawn atmosphere, and vulnerability, and job security (or lack of it) in the current economic climate.
3. How would you describe the kinds of stories you usual write and does this Spectral Book of Horror story depart from that?
I think this story is quite typical of mine in that it starts off with a real-life moment or incident, and then spirals out from that, unplanned, into something strange. But content-wise, there’s a lot of variety in my stories. This one’s at the schlockier end of the spectrum, I think, but hopefully not without cause or meaning.
4. In your heart of hearts do you prefer your horror to be of the slashy variety or of a more subtle psychological stripe?
If I had to choose, then the latter – but really I like a bit of both.
5. What are you currently reading?
Last year, some friends and I formed a small self-publishing collective (curious-tales.com) and put out a very special, limited-edition book of Christmas ghost stories, in the style of M.R. James. This year we’ll be doing the same, except we’re looking to Robert Aickman for inspiration, and so I’m reading Dark Entries, Aickman’s first collection.