-Why do you read scary things?
I think horror novels and horror films are important for teaching us what fear feels like, and also an opportunity to do so in a capacity that we can control. If a book gets too scary I can put it in the freezer like Joey does in Friends. Personally though, I love to be scared.
-What flavour of scary do you like reading about – paranormal creatures, serial killers, chill up your spine hauntings, or something different?
I have a weakness for ghost stories. I find slasher horror exhilarating, but malevolent ghosts really scare me. I find the best stories are those in which the characters have no control over their situations, like in MR James-style ghost stories and films like The Ring or A Nightmare on Elm Street.
-Out of everything in the world, what do you find scary?
See above. Also I have a fear of getting lost (especially abroad) and the perennial ‘dying alone’.
-If you could insert yourself into any horror novel, which would it be, who would you be, and why?
I already did with Hollow Pike! Jack is a thinly veiled version of me, albeit a much cooler, funnier version! But into someone else’s novel I’d go for one of Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror – they’re particularly grizzly!
-Classic (pre-1970s) or modern horror – which do you prefer and why?
That’s so tough! Without those Turn of the Screw/MR James stories we wouldn’t have modern horror. There is something elegant about gothic horror (look at the success of The Woman in Black), but I’m a sucker for cheerleaders and babysitters in peril. Clive Barker, Stephen King and Dean Koontz were my teenage years basically.
-What's the scariest thing you've read to this day?
It’s relatively new but I was terrified reading Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. She cranked up the tension like never before. Gloriously scary novel.
-What books scared you most as a child?
I got a reputation in nursery school for FREAKING OUT at the old ‘In a dark, dark woods, there was a dark, dark, house’ short story. When it got to the ‘and in the dark, dark cupboard…’ line in would lose my composure entirely.
-What do you do to celebrate Halloween?
Without fail every year I watch the classic film Halloween. It’s a tradition. Last year I finally saw it on the big screen at the BFI and it was glorious.
-Any fun Halloween stories you have to tell us?
I once convinced my sister that trick or treaters were coming to take her away in a bin liner. I’m nice like that.
As a homage to all those teen slasher films I loved when I was a young adult. They’re out of fashion right now, but they come around in cycles. I used to read Point Horrors back to back – it was a simpler time when you didn’t have to worry about love triangles or the plot making any sense.
-What's the scariest thing you'd write about?
I’m tinkering away at a ghost story at the moment. I’m forcing myself to write it at night, to try to create the right mood. I’ve had to sleep with the lights on a few times.
-How much inspiration do you take from other horror writers?
Oh, masses. As a writer, you’re always borrowing. Not so much words or phrases but techniques to crank up the fear. For example, I mentioned Michelle Paver earlier and she’s great at drip feeding the terror, nothing feels rushed.
-You incorporated both modern and historical aspects to witchcraft in Hollow Pike-why was that?
I think you can have both. ‘The Wicker Man’ is a great example of mixing the modern and the arcane. I felt that taking ‘The Crucible’ strands and putting them in a modern school setting hadn’t been done; it was either period witches swooning around cauldrons or candles and ribbons stuff like in The Craft.
-Hollow Pike can be shelved as lots of things-supernatural, horror, mystery, thriller etc. What do you think of novels blurring genre lines like this?
I think there’s always a mixture. In any thriller you might have a romantic subplot or in a mystery you can have scary bits. I always say Hollow Pike is a supernatural thriller, but I forget that to a lot of people it’s a black comedy!
-Any other spooky books you want to share?
Other than the ones I’ve mentioned above, I’d also say Cliff McNish, who I feel doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Check out Breathe and The Hunting Ground. He’s also one of the nicest men in the world.
James can be found on twitterand at his website.
AND LOOK! WE HAVE A TITLE AND A DATE FOR HIS SECOND BOOK! More info here
Finally, a giveaway! It's not an overnight one, so it closes on the 9th November. Three pretty purple edged copies, kindly provided by Indigo, up for grabs.
a Rafflecopter giveaway