Catriona Ward


"The bond between author and reader has always fascinated me. Without the reader's imagination, an author's words are dead in the dark. Only when you open their book do you make them come alive. It's like a spell. And you spread that magic because you talk about the book, post about it, or give it away to someone." - Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex & Echo.

Our next author featured in our series is Catriona Ward. I thought I'd leave it to a writer to explain why I am doing this series of author interviews and I couldn't have said it better than Thomas Olde Heuvelt above. 

I've read The House on Needless Street and Sundial, still haunted by both in completely different ways, and I can't wait to read her next book out this October called Little Eve. On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth. The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction. A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong. And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered.

You can order and preorder upcoming titles by Catriona Ward on our website HERE (support indies). I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did.  I am always pleasantly surprised by the Lightning Round.  


Stephanie Rose: You've lived in a number of different places around the world. How do you feel this has influenced your writing?

Catriona Ward: I think the protagonists in all my books have a sense of loneliness and isolation, of being slightly out of step with a 'normal' upbringing. It was an amazing childhood, but quite solitary. And I was intensely reliant on my family, growing up - it was before the internet, so you can't really take friendships from say, Kenya to Madagascar. 

SR: In other interviews you've referenced The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacob as being the first story to lead you into horror. What was the first novel?

CW: IT - like many people of my generation, Stephen King was everything to me as a teenager. He's a great solace to lonely children. 

SR: You've described your most frightening experience as being the hypnagogic hallucinations you suffer from. Do you think you'll explore a novel fully dedicated to it? With your firsthand experience I'm sure it'd be truly terrifying.

CW: I feel like I've put a lot of the feelings about that experience into all my books. The fear, anyway. I would love to do another proper ghost story, though. 


SR: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so what kind?

CW: I can't listen to music of any kind when I'm writing - otherwise I start to write the music. In a perfect world I'd write everything in the middle of the woods, far from human habitation (I have actually taken my laptop into the woods on occasion, but battery life is a constraint!). Or in a hermetically sealed soundless chamber. I'm too easily distracted for music while I write.

SR: If you could only choose one of your books to recommend to a reader which would it be?

CW: Ohhhh. I'm tempted to say The Last House on Needless Street, but I'll go for Sundial. I love all my books, but Sundial has a special place in my heart. It feels the most personal to me... And you always hope you feel best about the thing you finished last. 


SR: What is the best piece of life advice that you've received?

CW: Turn down the noise. I find if I pause and breathe, things come into focus. 


SR: Can you tell us about your upcoming horror projects? Any other adaptations in the works?

CW: I'm finishing a new book called Looking Glass Sound, which I'm very excited about. In a lonely cottage overlooking the windswept Maine coast, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood summer companions and the killer that stalked the small New England town. Of the body they found, and the horror of that discovery echoing down the decades. And of Sky, Wilder’s one-time best friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, Looking Glass Sound. But as Wilder writes, the lines between memory and fiction blur. He fears he’s losing his grip on reality when he finds notes around the cottage, written in Sky’s signature green ink.

There's a very exciting adaptation of my first novel, The Girl from Rawblood in the works, I wish I could say more! But soon, I hope. And things are moving for Sundial, too... it's frustrating to have to keep quiet about such amazing developments, but I hope I can talk about them soon...

SR: Any recent books, films, shows, or podcasts you want to recommend to our readers?

CW: I loved Mrs March, by Virginia Feito. It's marketed as literary, but to me it's pure horror. Also Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt is fantastic. 

Lighting Round:

SR: What is your favorite word?
CW: Darkling.

SR: What is your least favorite word?
CW: I don't think I have one! 

SR: What is your favorite scary movie?
CW: Hereditary.

SR: What is your favorite horror book?
CW: We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

SR: What sound or noise do you love?
CW: Horse's hooves.

SR: What sound or noise do you hate?
CW: Any kind of automated beep that suggests technical failure. 

SR: What is your favorite curse word?
CW: I like, and use them all regularly.

SR: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
CW: I wanted to be an actor when I was younger - it broke my heart when I realized I probably couldn't do it. 

SR: What profession would you not like to do?
CW: Accounting. I fear numbers. 

SR: What is your favorite fall/spooky activity to do?
CW: I bloody love a pumpkin carving. Aided by hot cider. 

SR: If you knew you were going to die and only had a chance to read one more book what would it be?
CW: The Sea, the Sea, by Iris Murdoch

SR: You plan a movie night and can watch one movie with any one writer. What writer and what movie do you choose?
CW: The most realistic answer is - any movie - with my partner Ed McDonald, who's a fantastic fantasy author. But to keep it interesting, I'll watch The Wicker Man with Caroline Kepnes, because it would be SO much fun. 

SR: What author, dead or alive, would you want to spend a night in a haunted house with?
CW: Most horror writers I know would probably manage quite well. I'll go for Shirley Jackson again, because I think she'd relish every minute of it. 



About Catriona Ward
CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She studied English at the University of Oxford, and later, completed a Creative Writing Masters at the University of East Anglia. Ward won the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel for her debut, The Girl from Rawblood, and again for Little Eve, making her the first woman to win the prize twice. Ward is the internationally bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street.

Photo Credit: Robert Hollingworth