Some readers aren’t quite prepared to jump into novel-length horror, but they can handle the
torture scares in shorter spurts. Today’s featured book of short stories checks off that box. Read on to find out which chilling book has stuck with this author since the age of twelve. Welcome Audrey Driscoll!
Would you rather sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house?
A nice new, padded coffin in a coffin showroom would be okay, as long as the lid was left open. If it had to be closed, or if the coffin had been previously occupied, I might just go for the haunted house. On the other hand, spending time in a closed coffin might be a useful experience for writing a horror story.
Has a movie or book scared you so much you couldn’t sleep? Which one?
Yes, terribly! When I was about 12, school kids could order books from a company called Scholastic. One of the books I bought was called Stories of the Supernatural, and one of the stories was “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood. It’s about two guys who take a canoe trip down the Danube River. They camp in a place where the river flows among many small islands overgrown by willow bushes. Seriously weird things happen. The terrifying thing about this story is its subtlety. It hints at the horror rather than describing it in any concrete way. It’s not a ghost or a monster, but Something Else. And there’s a lot about the experience of fear and the narrator’s awareness of it as it develops from vague unease to full-on terror. I was a nervous wreck for months after I read it.
Would you rather use a Ouija board or participate in a séance?
I’ve never wanted to participate in a séance because I just assume they’re faked, but I have used a Ouija setup, decades ago. It wasn’t a board, though, but a homemade arrangement. Each letter and number was written on a separate small piece of paper, and the paper bits were randomly arranged in a circle. They were not in order. We used a glass instead of a planchette. When everyone placed a finger on the glass, it skittered around and spelled things out. While I can’t remember what the message was, the fact that actual words were spelled out was so creepy we never tried it again.
Do you write to music?
I have done, to the point where the music found its way into the writing, and even exercised an undue influence on it. Both those things happened to my first novel, The Friendship of Mortals. There is a scene in which characters attend a performance of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. And listening to Loreena McKennitt’s album The Mask and Mirror while I was writing, especially “The Dark Night of the Soul,” nudged the plot in an unintended direction. Then there’s my not-yet-published novel about a young woman’s experience with Franz Schubert’s gloriously gloomy song cycle Winterreise. Listening to that music compelled me to write about it.
What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?
In one of the stories in Tales from the Annexe, the main character is physically immobilized. In another, mobility is limited by illness. Action has to happen in memory, imagination, or hallucination. Since I haven’t experienced situations like these, writing them strained my imagination engine to the utmost. I hope it and I succeeded, but only readers will be able to say for sure.
Which comes first for you – plot or characters?
Characters, definitely. I think that’s why my novels are slow burns; I get too involved with my characters and have a hard time pushing them along through the plot and making them suffer. Sometimes plot ideas of the “what if” type go nowhere because the inspirations don’t come with equally good characters.
Seven stories from the world of Audrey Driscoll’s Herbert West Series, followed by seven other tales of illusions, delusions, and mysteries on the edges of logic.
Discover Herbert West’s connections to Egypt, and how a dead man can help solve a mystery.
Share Charles Milburn’s ruminations as he explores another dimension of his friendship with Herbert.
Experience the horror of a long-anticipated revenge.
Sample the treats on offer from the ice cream truck from Hell.
Ride along with a dad who abandons his ten-year-old son in the woods where something howls.
Find out why a woman paints her bedroom a very special colour.
Accompany fifteen-year-old Ann as she tries to prove she belongs to the glamorous family on the other side of town.
These and seven other curious encounters may be found in this annexe to the ordinary.
Buy Links for Tales from the Annexe:
Three quarters of the way through a career as a cataloguing librarian, Audrey Driscoll discovered she was actually a writer. Since the turn of the millennium, she has written and published five novels and a short story collection. She negotiates with plants, juggles words, and communes with fictitious characters in Victoria, British Columbia. Her opinions on gardening, writing, and things that bug or delight her, along with information about her books, may be found on her blog at https://audreydriscoll.com