In Search of Fear……with Charlie Tyler

Hopefully you are on the other side of a wonderful Christmas day – safe and happy wherever you are and however you spent Christmas. Its Boxing Day – a day of leftovers and a turkey and stuffing breakfast that lasts all day, punctuated with the occasional chocolate. As always I’m ready to head back into the scarier side of things and continue my quest to search peoples brains for what they find scary. Today I am very glad to have author Charlie Tyler to visit – she’s a huge fan of The Cure like me so she can stay as long as she likes – she’s also the author of super creepy novel ‘The Cry of the Lake’ – a gruesome tale of murder and madness- so lets face it she fits right in here at Creepy Central. Welcome Charlie, tell us about what scares you….

I hated The Twits by Roald Dahl. Even though they were really horrible, the way they died at the end really, really upset and bothered me.
I used to have terrible nightmares involving beheading. This was down to the fact my parents had the brochure for Madame Tussauds out on their coffee table, and I looked through it and saw a picture of someone being guillotined. That marked the beginning of my night terrors and sleepless nights (for both me and my parents). I still have to go to sleep with a story playing – I’d sleep with a nightlight on if my husband would let me.
In the right mood I love a scary movie, but I’m not as bothered by horror as I am ghosts. I know it got a bad press, but The Blair Witch Project frightened me, especially the ending. However, The Woman in Black, all versions including the theatre production, absolutely terrifies me. Susan Hill is a genius.

I’ve never had a paranormal experience, but in my late teens I lived in an old vicarage and there were gravestones lining the cellar and it was a really noisy house at night, with lots of clunking and rattling window panes. I was relieved when my parents moved. Someone bought me The Collected Ghost Stories by MR James but I never got beyond ‘Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book’ – it was just too scary to read before bed. Maybe, next year (fingers crossed), I’ll take it on holiday to read on a sun lounger by a pool.
In ‘The Cry of the Lake’, one of the main characters, a teenage girl called Lily, suffers from night terrors because of something she witnessed as a child but then buried in her thoughts. She experiences nightmares, where she sees the same thing; a ghastly skeletal mermaid looking up at her from the bottom of a lake. The dread of falling asleep I had as a child is something I’ve definitely drawn upon in this novel.
I’m on my own a lot and my biggest fear is being woken in the dead of night by a noise and realising there is someone or something in the house. I’ve got quite an overactive imagination and would naturally jump to the conclusion that whatever caused the sound was out to get me. I think it only fair to bestow this gift of paranoia to at least one of my main characters!

Huge thanks for visiting Charlie – you had me at skeletal mermaid….

If you’re desperate to find out what happened at the Lake, check out Charlie’s links below.

In Search of Fear…..with Morwenna Blackwood

  “Fear," the doctor said, "is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.” 
 ― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House 

Back again for the most wonderful time of the year! Its Halloween at last, although some of us celebrate all year round, whatever you call it, Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, I know its different this year for those who would be out celebrating or Trick or Treating, but we can still celebrate at home there’s plenty to watch and read so you scare the pants off of yourself without even leaving the house. This lady knows a thing or two about dishing out scares, so lets talk to Morwenna Blackwood, author of the thriller ‘The (D)Evolution of Us’ about what it takes to scare her….

What movie/book scared you as a child?

For someone who writes dark fiction, I scare pretty easily!  As a child, I remember my mum rushing me out of a cinema when we went to see The Wizard of Oz – I was having a hysterical crying fit because of the Wheelers.  They are SO creepy!  And then when I was about 12, some friends held my eyelids open and forced me to watch Child’s Play.  They had no idea that this wasn’t funny and that I’d be traumatised by it to this day – I can’t have a doll in the house, and going up the doll aisle in toy shops…urgggg!  The blend of horror with kids’ stuff totally freaks me out.  And don’t even get me started on Watership Down!

What was your biggest fear as a child?

When I was young, I was scared of “the Baddies getting me”.  I used to run up the stairs in case “they” were coming up behind me, and I’d jump into bed from as far away as I could so that the ones under my bed couldn’t grab my ankles!  Also, Christianity scared me – the bit about going to Hell if I wasn’t good, obviously, but the implication that someone invisible was constantly watching all I did and thought was so much worse.

Do you like scary movies? Which one is your favourite?

As a rule, I don’t like scary movies, but I’m drawn to them because all the feel-good stuff just doesn’t ring true for me.  I know it’s a spoof, but Shaun of the Dead, is one of my all-time favourite films, and because of it, I watched Dawn of the Dead.  I seem to be okay with zombies!

I am usually scared the most by ghosts when I’m reading a book. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life? 

Have I ever had a paranormal experience?  I don’t know.  I can never be sure if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing, and I’m not entirely sure what I believe about the world.  There was an incident where a name was written in dust, which I can only explain as paranormal; I can’t decide if I am unsettled or comforted by it this.

This sounds fascinating I’d love to hear more about the words in the dust!

Has a book ever really scared you?

Many books have scared me.  I’ve written about it a million times, but whenever I read Dracula I have to have a clove of garlic on my person, because it scares me that much!  It was the primary reason I’d chosen a module in Irish Literature for my  course at uni.  However, shortly before I started reading it, I fell out of a window and broke my back.  Long story short (ha!), I was very lucky and got away with having my spine fused, but I was flat on my back in hospital unable to move more than my head and my arms for several weeks.  I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to sit my finals, but I read and revised as much as I could, just in case.  And so, lying on a hospital bed attached to goodness knows what, I picked up Dracula.  It scared the living daylights out of me, and as I wasn’t in control of my environment, my body, or even my mind at times (there was a lot of morphine and Valium!) it was probably the most scared I’ve ever been, but I couldn’t put the book down!  It is so wonderfully written and constructed and imagined; honestly I am in awe of Bram Stoker.  It’s a book that I keep coming back to, probably because it has that power over me.

Nineteen Eighty-Four frightens me, but on a deeper level.  I found it plausible when I read it as a teen, but the older I get, the more possible it seems – if we’re not living it already.  Maybe we always have been…

Can you share with us an example of fear in one of your own novels? 

Fear is central to my debut novel, The (D)Evolution of Us.  The protagonists experience it in many different ways, but the overriding fear for each of them is the perception that they have no control.  What they do with this fear, drives the story.

In real life what is your biggest fear? Do you use that when you write?

My biggest fear in real life?  That what I perceive to be happening, isn’t what is actually happening.  And, yes, I use this in my writing all the time!

Some great choices there, I admist I have an issue with zombie movies, they usually make me feel nauseous – all that brain eating, but I do love Shaun of the Dead! I too was very affected by reading Dracula, as I recall I ended up going to sleep with stuff around my neck for a while to create access issues for any vamp that might pay me a visit. And the fear of a dystopian world has long sat with me, I must admit when we went into lockdown in March it caused a fair few anxieties to arise, were we all about to lose our freedoms? Morwenna is right, we have been living in an Orwellian nightmare of sorts for some time.

Very grateful to Morwenna for sharing her fears with us, if you would like to have her scare you even more check out her book, heres a taster….

“… the water was red and translucent, like when you rinse a paint brush in a jam jar. The deeper into the water, the darker the red got. No, the thicker it got. It wasn’t water, it was human. It was Cath.

Cath is dead, but how and why isn’t clear-cut to her best friend, Kayleigh.

As Kayleigh searches for answers, she is drawn deeper into Cath’s hidden world.

The (D)Evolution of Us questions where a story really begins, and whether the world in our heads is more real than reality.

Morwenna’s book is currently in the big DarkStroke Halloween Sale over on Amazon! You can bag this book for just 99c/99c this weekend!

In Search of Fear…..with Michelle Cook

We still have a little time to go before Halloween but as any of my Instagram followers know – its 31 Days of Halloween over there (plus its Halloween every day for me) so im still digging about in peoples brains for whats scary and this week I have another guest willing to answer my probing questions! The awesome Michelle Cook – author of The Tipping Point – lets get spooky….

What movie/book scared you as a child?

When I was five, my parents took me to the cinema for the first time. Watership Down must have seemed a good option—an animated film about rabbits, what could possibly go wrong?

Well… the Black Rabbit, that’s what. I was petrified of this mythical creature, which was a sort of dark, leporine messiah. Add to that, scenes depicting violent human destruction of warrens, and the terrifying General Woundwort, and you’ve got a not-so cosy introduction to the movies. For most of my subsequent childhood, I would lie awake at night searching the shadows for two long black ears…

Years later, I read the book and not only appreciated what a feat of imagination it is, but also realised how much scarier the movie could have been. The rabbits in the book have a strong story-telling tradition, and most of the tales they tell are dark. I‘m glad on behalf of my five-year-old self that they left a lot of it out.

Honestly right there with you on that one – thoroughly traumatised by that movie, I wonder if i’d still be bothered by it now. Anyone seen it since reaching adulthood?

What was your biggest fear as a child?

Apart from mythical rabbits, I think being left behind. As a child, I once fell asleep on a drive in Norfolk and my parents left me to sleep with the car on the driveway. When I woke up, I was child-locked inside the car and became quite hysterical.  My family were only inside the house, and I think I knew that from the off, but my rational mind was swallowed by this primal fear of being left there alone.

I’m making it sound like I had a terribly traumatic early life, but it’s not actually true. Apart from being fed too many Super Noodles, I did okay.

Do you like scary movies? Which one is your favourite?

I love them, though don’t watch so many these days as my hubby isn’t a fan. The Blair Witch Project was good fun. I recently watched Hereditary on my own in the house when I was isolating. That’s terrifying! Some of the old classics you can’t beat—Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Demonic possession and spooky stuff always does it for me much more than blood and gore.

I am usually scared the most by ghosts when I’m reading a book. Have you ever had a paranormal experience in real life? 

No, and I hate to say it but I don’t really believe in that stuff in real life. I believe in the power of the mind to fill in gaps, and that we humans have sensitivities to atmosphere that we don’t understand. As for entire, enduring consciousness after death, I’m afraid not. I’m too much of a scientist, I guess. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being spooked fictionally, though.

Has a book ever really scared you?

Quite a few have got to me. I find spooky books scarier than films, because your imagination is more active and gets to play more tricks on you.

As a teenager I read everything Stephen King wrote, though looking back most of them I just enjoyed and didn’t feel frightened as such. With the possible exception of The Shining, which did well and truly scare me. Oh, and It. Clowns… that’ll do it.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters was a smart and ambiguous ghost story with some really chilling scenes. I like stories that might be one thing or the other, and in that book you’re never sure if there’s just a perfectly human explanation. Turn of the Screw by Henry James is another of my favourites for the same reason. I’ve lapped up quite a few of Susan Hill’s creepy tales—The Woman in Black and The Man in the Picture were particularly chilling.

The book that scared me the most of all was Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. It’s set at the North Pole and is just so atmospheric from the outset. When the paranormal things happen, they are so disturbing and malevolent I spend a lot of the time with goose bumps and watery eyes reading that book!

Great choices there – you cant beat Susan Hill for creepy stories. Ive never heard of the The Little Stranger though so its going straight on my TBR pile! Also Clowns can just sod off…

Can you share with us an example of fear in one of your own novels? 

My debut novel Tipping Point is full of fear! Its central theme is climate change, which is an anxiety that preoccupies me and many others these days, I think. On top of the existential threat, it’s a girls’ own adventure, and the main character Essie gets into some serious scrapes. She experiences a lot of fear throughout the novel, poor lass. The great thing about writing stories is you can do awful things to your main characters, make them scared, and give them a chance to prove what they’re made of. Essie is incredible. She stands up to way more than I ever could.

In real life what is your biggest fear? Do you use that when you write?

The things that scare me in real life are more down to earth. As a parent, the idea of anything happening to my kids is my worst nightmare. My son had some health problems a few years ago when he was four, and that was the scariest time in my life by a long way. I haven’t been able to write about that as yet, but maybe one day.

I do worry a lot about the future of the planet, and us humans too. We seem to be racing faster and faster in the wrong direction, with crazy inequality and a climate catastrophe just around the corner. My writing returns periodically to topics like this, even if I set out to tell a story about something completely different. The power of the mind, eh?

Thank you so much for stopping by Michelle!

Check out her book here –


And you can catch her on social media here:

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