Stephen Volk is the author of the superb novellas, Whitstable and Leytontone, as well as a screenwriter of note, having written Ghostwatch, Afterlife, and Gothic. He’s won BAFTAs and British Fantasy Awards and is generally delightful.
What inspired your story “Wrong”?
I don’t want to give too much away, because I don’t want the reader to know what’s coming, but it was directly inspired by something that happened in my home town a few years ago. The way prurient gossip surrounds this kind of thing, and the attendant moral outrage, made me think it was the core of an unusual story, but I didn’t know how to tell it until I combined it with my memories of student life. The two things seemed to gel and make it work, I hope.
What’s the first horror story you can remember making a big impact on you?
Possibly “Enoch” by Robert Bloch, because it was the first story in the paperback tie-in to the Amicus film Torture Garden. I remember the thrill of realising it took me inside the mind of somebody mad. It was the first paperback I bought with my pocket money instead of comics and it felt like forbidden fruit.
Name your three favourite horror writers.
Tomorrow it might be three different ones, but today it’s Richard Matheson, Mark Morris and (unfashionably) Dennis Wheatley.
Is your writing generally firmly in the horror arena or do you do occasional jaunts into other areas of speculative fiction?
I’ve written stories that are crime (arguably my novellas Whitstable and Leytonstone) and science fiction/fantasy screenplays such as adaptations of The Box of Delights and The Chrysalids but I’m most at home in the supernatural and psychological. But I go where the story takes me. I don’t really think when I’m writing a story that it has to be “horror” – Mark said this story, “Wrong”, for instance “wasn’t really horror but was horror”: which I take as a great compliment! My wife doesn’t think I write horror, as a matter of fact, but that’s to do with her definition. I’m happy to be called a horror writer because it is the glove that fits me best, but happy to be just called a writer too.
What’s in your to-be-read pile at the moment?
John Connolly’s Nocturnes, Mark Morris’s The Wolves of London, Marion Couts’s The Iceberg, Sarah Pinborough’s The Death House, and The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film edited by Danel Olson. What’s at the top of the pile always shifts around depending what I’ve just read and what I fancy reading next.
The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories can be pre-ordered here.