Welcome everyone to the second Q&A session for the #redeyereadalong that myself and Michelle from Tales of Yesterday are hosting over on Twitter! Feel free to join along with us. We’re currently reading Sleepless by Lou Morgan this week. If you check out our Goodreads group you’ll find all the information on upcoming events.
Today’s Q&A is with the marvellous Lou Morgan, who I’m sure is revelling in all the Twitter/Goodreads comments about how terrified we all are right now, just two days into the reading week!
1. Let’s start with something easy. What was your biggest fear growing up?
I had plenty, but the one that really has stuck with me is to do with helicopters: I had an incredibly vivid nightmare when I was maybe 7 or 8 of a helicopter gunship circling over my town and flying straight at my house, then opening fire when I was standing at my bedroom window. I have no idea where that came from, but it really frightened me – and it’s left me with a lingering fear of being under helicopter flight paths.
Like most books, it was a combination of things. I used to live in the Barbican – which is a real place in central London – and while it’s a fantastic place to live, if you don’t know your way around it’s a nightmare to navigate. To me, the idea of taking somewhere that feels very safe, which it always did to me, and turning it into somewhere decidedly *un*-safe made sense – particularly when you bring the Barbican’s labyrinthine layout into play. It always felt like somewhere that ought to feature in a horror story.
The other idea behind Sleepless was study drugs. I remember seeing a newspaper article a few years ago about Ivy League students in the US using drugs like Ritalin to help them revise for their exams – and at about the same, unlicensed websites with absolutely no accountability selling medication directly were starting to take off. How would you know what you were getting from a site like that? If you were a student under an immense amount of pressure to succeed, to be perfect in every way, would that be enough to push you into taking such an enormous risk?
3. What is the best thing about writing in the horror genre?
Horror is a lot like comedy, I think, in that it’s incredibly subjective. Things that might frighten (or amuse) one person might have no effect whatsoever on someone else, so the challenge is always to be both universal and *incredibly* specific. The challenge is what makes it fun. It’s also a tremendous tool for looking at the world we already live in and things we all deal with (stress, grief, love, loneliness, peer pressure) in a slightly different way.
On a personal level, as a horror fan, the best thing about writing horror is that you’re part of a tradition – and that means you’re able to reference all those different tropes that all those writing before you have used, and nod to them.
4. What is (in your opinion) the scariest book available (not including your own!)?
I’ve never been able to finish The Amityville Horror, or It. And whether it’s more down to the circumstances than the actual book I couldn’t tell you, but I was reading Joe Hill’s “Heart Shaped Box” in a rented flat where the lights kept flickering for no apparent reason, and that seriously bothered me!
5. What is your favourite urban legend?
I’ve always been a fan of “The Boyfriend’s Death”, which – true to urban legend form – has a couple of variations. My preferred version goes like this: a teenage couple are driving home from a date along an isolated country road late at night. They run out of petrol, but the boyfriend assures his date that he knows there’s a petrol station a couple of miles away and he tells her to lock the doors and wait while he fetches some. He sets off and she settles down to wait. She tries to sleep, but every time she dozes off, a scratching noise nearby wakes her up. It sounds like a tree branch rubbing up against the car, and it’s distracting. She turns the radio on, hoping that music will drown it out and she’ll be able to doze.
kitchen door stood open. And someone ran across the doorway.”
Her short stories have appeared in anthologies from Solaris, PS Publishing, Jurassic and Newcon Press among others.
Her debut novel, “Blood and Feathers” was published by Solaris in August 2012. The sequel, “Blood and Feathers: Rebellion” was published in July 2013. Her first YA horror, “Sleepless” was published by Stripes in January 2015.
She drinks a lot of tea, is very mouthy about longbow archery and firmly believes that teaching cephalopods to use tools is a Very Bad Idea (but as she also has a strong sense of self-preservation, she’ll still be one of the first to welcome our new squid overlords when they rise.)
This is one that I’ve already read and boy are you guys in for a fright! Thank you, Lou, for taking the time to talk to us about your book!
Are you joining us for the #redeyereadalong? If so, what do you think of Sleepless so far?