BOOKENDS HALLOWEEN – Alison Littlewood

BOOKENDS HALLOWEEN – Alison Littlewood

Happy Halloween everyone! To celebrate Halloween, we’ve been asking some of our authors some ghoulish questions! This week, we’re talking to Alison Littlewood, author of the atmospheric ghost story, Mistletoe.

What are your favourite spooky reads?

So many books! It’s hard to name just a few, but some recent favourites include The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, Little Eve by Catriona Ward and historical gothic The Corset by Laura Purcell. I just rattled through The Fisherman by John Langan and that became an instant favourite. I love a good ghost story and Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box certainly fits that bill. Sarah Lotz’s novella Body in the Woods is brilliant. I also enjoy short stories: Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters is an amazing collection, as is Priya Sharma’s All the Fabulous Beasts.

What book-to-film adaptations do you watch to get yourself in the Halloween mood?

I’m hoping that La Influencia, the Netflix movie based on a Ramsey Campbell novel, will be out in time for this Halloween. It certainly looks appropriate! And it’s been far too long since I watched Misery, based on the Stephen King novel, though I might just reprise The Shining too. Just don’t make me go in that room (shudders). Some newer movies I might revisit this year include The Silence, based on Tim Lebbon’s book – I couldn’t put it down – and The Ritual, developed from Adam Nevill’s incredibly haunting novel.

Of the characters in your book, who would you choose to trick, and who deserves a treat?

My poor main character in Mistletoe, Leah, has probably been through enough, so she would get the treat. At the outset she’s lost her husband and son and is trying to start anew by renovating a farmhouse in one of the more dismal corners of Yorkshire. She deserves to be jetted off somewhere fancy, though she’d probably settle for a good hot bath. As for the trick . . . ah, there is certainly a character who deserves it, though that might be telling! They’re pretty wily, though. When I was writing the ending they seemed to take over somewhat, upping the stakes from my original plan, so I’d be worried they might turn the tables on me!

What would the main character in your book dress up as for Halloween?

Well, Leah has run off to her farmhouse to make a new life for herself, but she’s also running away from all the festivities of Christmas, so she might well do the same for Halloween. I’m afraid she’d probably be unprepared. A dustsheet over the head might be the best she could manage, though when she begins to uncover her family’s history she is drawn into past events, so who knows, she might find a beautiful Victorian mourning gown all ready for her. 

What will you be reading on 31st October?

I rather enjoy books that remind me of childhood around Halloween. It’s such an evocative time of year. So I might re-read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, about a young boy, Nobody Owens, who is raised by the ghosts in a graveyard after his family is murdered. I’ve always loved fairy tales too, so for a short fiction fix I’ll read the Fearie Tales anthology, edited by Stephen Jones. It has retellings of some childhood favourites, though it’s aimed at an adult readership and has a scary twist. There are some fabulous writers in there, including Neil Gaiman (again), John Ajvide Lindqvist, Angela Slatter, Robert Shearman and Tanith Lee, and there’s a delightfully impactful tale by Joanne Harris.

Mistletoe by Alison Littlewood

Mistletoe by Alison Littlewood is out now.

Bookends Halloween | A Spooky Q&A with Angela Clarke!

Bookends Halloween | A Spooky Q&A with Angela Clarke!

Next up in our Bookends Halloween series, we ask Angela Clarke – author of the brilliantly gripping On My Life – about her go-to Halloween films, her favourite spooky reads and more!

What are your favourite spooky reads?

I’m quite a wuss – and if I read anything too scary (especially just before bed), I will wake up screaming. Which Mr Ange doesn’t really appreciate. So, my favourite spooky reads tend to be toward the tame side – the hint of the paranormal, a mystery at the heart, and a satisfying resolution (so I can go to the bathroom on my own once again). I love Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer, The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and, if I decide I didn’t need to sleep anyway, the genuinely terrifying The Lingering by SJI Holliday.

What book-to-film adaptations do you watch to get yourself in the Halloween mood?

I can deal with the psychological scares better than the paranormal ones (I am a crime writer after all), so I treat myself to a fortifying glass/bottle of wine, grip a cushion tight, and settle in for a serial killer session at Halloween. And the film adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs goes particularly well with that Chianti…

Of the characters in your book, who would you choose to trick, and who deserves a treat?

I would hand out a trick to David, the arrogant, bullying soon to be father-in-law of the unfortunate heroine Jenna in On My Life. He’s one of those entitled wealthy men of a certain age, far too used to getting his own way, and deserves a nasty fright! And I would give a treat to Jenna’s troubled but kind-hearted and heavily pregnant young cellmate Kelly (yes, they are in prison!). She really does deserve a bit of TLC – and she’d be delighted with a comfy chair, a gossip magazine and a Mars bar.

What would the main character in your book dress up as for Halloween?

Jenna is a happily engaged recruitment consultant, whose perfect life is shattered when she finds herself framed for the murder of her step daughter, sent to prison, and discovers she’s alone inside… and pregnant. She has to work out who is the real killer, as well as protect herself and her unborn child from violent inmates, all the while fearing she will be made to give her new baby to the very person she thinks framed her. Her green prison regulation tracksuit is probably the most horror-full costume she could wear. It’s the embodiment of her living nightmare.

What will you be reading on 31st October?

As I will be boarding the Orient Express to Venice on 31st October, I fear I’ve got to break with tradition and read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. But I will do it wearing a mask – ha!

On My Life is out now in paperback, eBook and audiobook!

Bookends Halloween | Jenny Blackhurst

Bookends Halloween | Jenny Blackhurst

To celebrate Halloween 2019, we will be asking some of our authors some spooky questions! First up is Jenny Blackhurst, author of The Night She Died and Someone is Lying

What are your favourite spooky reads? 

Am I allowed to say The Foster Child? No? Okay, in that case when I was younger I was a big Masterton fan, Walkers, in particular was horrifying as a teen. The Withered Arm by Thomas Hardy freaked me out.

What book-to-film adaptations do you watch to get yourself in the Halloween mood?

You can’t go wrong with Stephen King, and with the second part of IT out in time for Halloween I’ve recently watched the first part to get myself ready. Silence of the Lambs is another favourite. I love horror, Halloween is my favourite time of year and I’ve started watching scary movies already. I don’t even care that it’s not a book-to-film adaptation I’m going to say it. Hocus Pocus is the best.

Of the characters in your book, who would you choose to trick, and who deserves a treat?

I feel like Susan Webster from How I Lost You deserves a treat, I really put that poor woman through an emotional wringer. As for a trick, that’s harder to choose because I actually like the majority of my characters! I rarely have a true bad guy so I guess it would have to be Jack, also from How I Lost You because he was a genuinely bad person for no apparent reason.

What would the main character in your book dress up as for Halloween?

There is actually a Halloween party in Someone is Lying! Karla and Marcus are ring masters, Miranda is a witch, Peter and Mary-Beth King go as Beetlejuice and the Grim Reaper and Felicity is Harley Quinn. Alex is completely inappropriate, as always, and doesn’t deserve a mention.

What will you be reading on 31st October?

This Halloween I’ll be reading The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor because it sounds deliciously creepy.

Someone is Lying is out now in ebook and will be out in paperback on 14th November. Get your copy here.