Praise for Twisted Tales Events

'In the past few years Twisted Tales has become a major force in the promotion and appreciation of horror fiction. As well as putting on author readings and signings at bookshops it has expanded into organising larger events, bringing authors and critics together for discussions of the field. I've been involved in quite a few of both and have found them hugely enjoyable and stimulating - I believe the audiences did as well. May Twisted Tales continue to grow and prosper! If you love the field, support them! I do.' - Ramsey Campbell

‘Twisted Tales consistently produce well-organised events for writers and readers of horror. What really distinguishes Twisted Tales for me is the intelligent themes and investigations they pursue, and the high quality of the discussions they always stimulate. As an author I've been invited to three of their events and have been pleasantly startled, to near shocked, by the attendance levels - two out of three were even sold out. I salute anyone who contributes so much to the literary and cultural life of horror fiction.’- Adam Nevill

'Twisted Tales events are wonderful... a great way of promoting 21st century horror fiction. Supported by Waterstone's Liverpool One and really well organised, Twisted Tales brings together established names in the genre as well as new voices and of course readers. Looking forward to much more to come...' - Alison J. Littlewood

Monday, 1 August 2011

Marie O’Regan interviewed by David McWilliam

Marie O'Regan is a British Fantasy Award-nominated horror author and editor. She has had fiction published in the UK, USA, Canada, Italy and Germany, and her first collection, Mirror Mere, was published by Rainfall Books in 2006. Her genre journalism has appeared in such magazines as Dark Side, Rue Morgue, Total Sci-Fi Online, Fortean Times and Death Ray, among others, and she is currently editing a number of anthologies, both separately and with her husband, as well as co-Chairing FantasyCon 2011, to be held in Brighton [about which we've previously interviewed her]. Her first, co-edited, anthology, Hellbound Hearts, was released in 2009. A book of interviews with luminaries in the horror field, Voices in the Dark, was released early in 2011 by McFarland. Marie served in various roles on the British Fantasy Society Committee from 2001-08, including editing their publications and maintaining their website, and was Chairperson from 2004-08. Marie lives in Derbyshire with her husband (author Paul Kane) and children. To find out more about Marie, please visit

DM: What were your formative influences as a horror reader?
MOR: The first book of horror fiction I ever read was an anthology, Thin Air, aged nine. I kept taking it out of the school library every week until I left, at which point they gave it to me. It was a huge book, with stories such as ‘The Ash Tree’, ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’… classics. After that I was hooked, and read everything I could find in the genre, moving from classic stories like those above to books by King, Herbert… and then I found the Books of Blood, which was quite unlike anything I’d read before. Barker has remained one of my favourite authors ever since. I didn’t just read horror, though – as a child I read Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, adventure stories such as the Wilbur Smith novels, Edgar Rice Burroughs, crime novels, Westerns (I went through a big Western phase in my mid-teens: Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey etc.), fantasy and science fiction, including Heinlein, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Moorcock, Mary Gentle, Tolkien, to name just a few – but horror was, and is, my first love. In film and TV, I remember watching Saturday night adaptations of things like The Ash Tree and The Signalman and being terrified, and of watching horror movies at the weekends in the dark, so as not to disturb my parents; the old Universal movies, Hammer films – Christopher Lee was the first Dracula I saw, so that remains a favourite; Peter Cushing, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney – fantastic films.

DM: What was your first introduction to Clive's work? How did it affect you and how did it alter your perceptions of what horror is and can be?
MOR: It was the Books of Blood; I had the six-volume paperback set that came out. I still have them, and they’re very worn now, but I love them – especially since Clive Barker very kindly signed and drew in all of them for me a few years ago. The stories just had such a broad canvas – they wrote about horror in ways I hadn’t come across before, and there was a beauty and lyricism to even the most graphic tales. And subsequent books and then the films just enlarged upon that – showing a fantastical element I hadn’t come across in quite that way before.

DM: In what ways do you consider yourself to be influenced by Clive's work as a writer of horror fiction?
MOR: Oh God, where to start – I think probably in every way. I love his use of language, the breadth and scope of his work, the sheer scale – and, whether a short story or a novel, the emotion contained in his work and the way he expresses that. As with all writers, I read a lot, and very widely – Clive has always stood out, and continues to do so. And since I was lucky enough to meet him, he’s always been so kind – he continues to be an inspiration, to this day.

DM: One of the distinctive features of your fiction, like Clive’s, is the way in which you invest a great deal in your characters, lending your horror stories real emotional intensity. Is this something you consciously aim for?
MOR: Yes, it is. The key element to any story, for me, is the emotion invested in the characters. Without living, breathing, feeling characters, a story will fall flat, and won’t engage the reader. I try to make my characters as human as possible, and want readers to be able to empathise with them. It’s important to feel a story, as well as just read the words, to evoke an emotional response.

DM: What do you think of the numerous adaptations of Clive's works in various different media?
MOR: I think some of the early adaptations, like Rawhead Rex, were a bit suspect – but from Hellraiser on I’m a huge fan. I think my favourite movie adaptation, even though it’s flawed and could have been a much better film, is Nightbreed. I also love Candyman, Midnight Meat Train, Dread… pretty much all the later ones, really. There’s a very distinctive tone to Clive’s work that I love.

DM: How did the idea for Hellbound Hearts come about? To what extent did you aim to remain true to the mythology of the Cenobites and Lemarchand's Configuration?
MOR: Paul [Kane] had the initial idea and chatted to Clive about it on the phone – Clive loved the idea, and was so supportive, right the way through – even to painting us the first new Cenobite in twenty years, ‘Vestimenti’. He also gave us a foreword for the book. We wanted to remain true to the original mythos as contained in Clive’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, but we also wanted to allow the authors free rein to create new Cenobites and visions within that mythos. We were lucky to get a stunning line-up of authors, including Kelley Armstrong, Christopher Golden & Mike Mignola, Peter Atkins, Conrad Williams, Sarah Pinborough, Mick Garris, Tim Lebbon, Richard Christian Matheson, Nancy Holder, Simon Clark, Steve Niles, Sarah Langan, Nicholas Vince, Yvonne Navarro, Mark Morris, Barbie Wilde, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Nancy Kilpatrick, Gary A. Braunbeck & Lucy A. Snyder and Chaz Brenchley, an introduction by Stephen Jones and afterword from Doug Bradley – and Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean kindly allowed us to reprint their Hellraiser graphic story, ‘Wordsworth’. I think Hellbound Hearts shows a very broad interpretation of that mythos, and it’s all the richer for that.

DM: As was discussed in my interview with Paul, the two of you are editing the Mammoth Book of Body Horror. What was the impetus behind putting this anthology together?
MOR: Both of us are big fans of body horror, in literary and film form. We realised there’s very little out there in this sub-genre, so set about collecting both classic and new takes on the field.

DM: What are the attractions of body horror for you as a writer?
MOR: I think body horror is such a varied subgenre, when you look at it – the options to write in that area are wide open; from straightforward stories of bodies changing or altering through horrific or even supernatural means, to the more psychological aspects – such as the lengths people go to in order to achieve the perfect body, diseases like body dysmorphia and what that could make a person do… body horror offers a valid way of writing about all these things.

DM: I believe that you are also editing an anthology of women’s ghost stories; could you tell me a little about its focus and aims?
MOR: I am, it’s called The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, and that’s about as much detail as I can give at the moment, in terms of content. It’ll be released towards the end of 2012. Ghost stories are my favourite form, and I’ve always wanted to edit an anthology of these. That tied in with the current fuss about gender bias, lack of women submitting to markets etc… I wanted to put together a book of classic and new ghost fiction by women, to show that there is (and has always been) a lot of female talent out there, regardless of arguments to the contrary, and perhaps to encourage some new talent in the process. I’ve been lucky to find some amazing stories, from some amazing women.

DM: Aside from the publications mentioned above, what are your plans for writing and editing in the near future?
MOR: Editing-wise, there are a number of other projects at varying stages – some in progress, some still at very early stages. As far as my writing goes, I have some short stories out in anthologies this year, and am currently searching for a home for a supernatural novel. I’m also working on a script, and various other fiction projects here and there. As soon as I have concrete news on any of those, I’ll put them on my website

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