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Nina Allan Interview – The Rift

Nina AllanNina Allan is one of the finest writers operating in the field of speculative fiction. Her debut novel The Race (2014) was released to critical acclaim, and was nominated for the British Fantasy Award, the Kitschies, and the John W. Campbell award. Her second novel The Rift (2017), one of Fantasy-Faction’s top novels of last year, was nominated for both the BSFA award and the Kitschies, and between the recording of this interview and its release has won both of them. She has also written the books of linked stories The Silver Wind (2011) and Stardust: The Ruby Castle Stories (2013), as well as the novellas Spin (2013), a modern retelling of the Arachne myth, and The Harlequin (2015), winner of the 2015 Novella Award. Her novelette “The Art of Space Travel” was nominated for the Hugo.

Allan’s work brings together elements from speculative fiction, horror and literary fiction to create unique stories which dazzle the reader with both the manifold possibilities held within their fractured narratives and Allan’s luminous prose.

Nina was kind enough to meet up with Fantasy-Faction at this year’s Eastercon in Harrogate to talk about her incredible writing.

The Rift has been nominated for the BSFA award and the Kitschies. What’s that been like?

Very nice, and unexpected. It’s a lovely thing to happen, and it’s a great surprise because I’m sure that there are a sizeable number of science fiction readers, critics and fans who would say that The Rift isn’t science fiction at all. So to have it nominated for the BSFA award is a lovely surprise. I suppose it’s more in the Kitschies ballpark, in that it’s a strongly speculative novel. Although there is a particular line of argument you can go down to say that it’s not science fiction at all, I don’t think anyone would try to argue it’s not speculative, that it doesn’t contains strong speculative elements. So you could call it a Kitschies book. Although the sheer excellence of the competition in that award is such that being nominated is a real honour and privilege. To end up on that kind of shortlist is a wonderful accolade for the novel. I was delighted.

The Rift plays with ideas of subjective reality through the stories of these two sisters, one of whom disappears and comes back. When you’re constructing something like that, do you start off having the two sisters of equal importance?

That’s a really interesting question, because the novel’s genesis isn’t straightforward at all. The idea for the novel really began with Julie’s story. That is the sister who claims to have spent time on the planet of Tristane. Because the planet of Tristane, and its evolved world and the catastrophe that strikes it was the first building block in this idea. And in fact I have a large number of notes and bits of draft for a novel entirely set there, using completely indigenous characters as it were, with no mention of Earth. A complete and complex reality on that planet, based at the time that the creef first begin to undermine one of the cities.

The Rift (cover)I’ve had this idea on the boil probably for three or four years. I can’t now remember exactly what prompted that idea, but it’s just been there and characters involved with it. And I conceived of a novel that would be loosely linked to it, not a sequel as such but a linked story, which would take place on Earth with the protagonist somehow becoming aware of the existence of Tristane, of the catastrophe that struck the planet, and becoming terrified that the parasite that destroys society and civilisation on Tristane would be coming to Earth.

Then I was given a short story brief for a volume that came out from Titan called Dead Letters, about the 150th anniversary of the post office. The editor sent all of the contributors spoof dead letters with odd things inside that you had to then create a story from. And my spoof dead letter was supposedly sent from the town of Lymm in Cheshire, and contained a single, very very blurred photograph of what looked like a wide stretch of water surrounded by trees, bushes, forest. I then looked at the map, what bodies of water are in the vicinity of Lymm in Cheshire, and that was how I found Hatchmere Lake.

I lived for a brief time in the northern Midlands when I was much younger, so these places are kind of known to me but not at all familiar in my present day life, so I thought, that’s interesting. And through constructing a story around this body of water, that then became grafted onto the idea of the body of water the Shuubseet on Tristane. And so that novel eventually became the novel that I wrote first. And so it was Julie, and the idea of the one lake on our world being almost exactly analogous to a lake on Tristane. And that was the very complex route to imagining that novel. That is literally how it happened.

One thing I’d say about my fiction is that the book or the story I end up writing is very, very rarely exactly the story or book I set out to write. It mutates and evolves. Although the thread between the two is always there to be found.

It shares in common with The Race this very tense and troubling relationship between siblings.

The Race (cover)I was asked about this in a written interview when The Rift first came out, why siblings? What is it that’s attractive about exploring that relationship? I think the answer I gave was that with a lot of people in your life, lovers, friends, spouses, you, to an extent you choose those relationships. They’re relationships you form when you’re already an adult formed person. But the relationship with your sibling or siblings is one you don’t choose. It’s a very odd, I always think how interesting it is how a sibling will know you completely and yet might know you not at all. And it’s that tension that is intriguing.

Also the fact that even if you have a sister or a brother and you become estranged from them and you don’t see them for twenty years, they are still somehow in your life. Even if you haven’t seen them, even if you can’t stand them, they are there, they are part of your life. It’s that very odd lack of choice in the relationship that intrigues me, what do you make of it. And it does affect your life, either as an absence, a negativity, or as a very positive thing. So it’s an endless source of story.

I only have to see the words “family feud” on a book blurb to want to know more about that book. It’s a profoundly intriguing set of relationships there in family life. They’re eternal, you go back to The Aeneid, go back to the Bible, it’s always family relationships, they’re there and they’re always boiling over.

And there’s also the families as a source of grief and loss, with Del’s child who disappears in The Race, or the collapse of the whole family in The Rift after Julie disappears. In “The Art of Space Travel” it’s a bit different as it’s about the loss of a parent.

The Art of Space Travel (cover)Yeah, or the completely absent parent, or the mystery around that. Again those absences are almost as important as the presences. And Emily in “The Art of Space Travel” is very, very close to her mother. But as that relationship is being taken from her by Moolie’s illness, she becomes inevitably more interested in her father. It’s almost, who have I got left, where am I in this world if Moolie goes? I am alone if I can’t find out who my dad was, at least to know even if he was blown up on the Martian mission. That absence becomes a stronger magnetic pull on her the closer she comes to losing Moolie.

I really loved writing that story. Which coincidentally and appropriately as we’re sitting here, was directly inspired by an Eastercon. It was the first Eastercon I went to at Heathrow, and that very odd kind of parallel lives of the airport and the villages surrounding the airport. I remember so clearly walking from the hotel along the airport perimeter road, and then you turn off into Sipson village, which is a big part of the world of “The Art of Space Travel”, you go suddenly off the airport perimeter road, you’re in this English village, which dates centuries, centuries. It was the king’s hunting grounds. There’s a pub there, an old coaching inn, that is unchanged and it’s right next to this kind of nowhere land of the airport. And indeed if the third runway goes ahead, that village stands in very, very immediate danger of being obliterated. It won’t be there, which is a really weird and disturbing thought. So it was that landscape of again absence and presence which directly inspired “The Art of Space Travel”. And I knew when we were there, I will write about this, it’s such an odd place and such an odd situation.

The life of an airport is continually fascinating to me. Even though I don’t like flying, I like airports because of the sense of constant movement, and people arriving and people departing. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie The Terminal (2004), where it focuses just on that, on that very odd constructed world, which both exists very tangibly to the people within it and yet they built that terminal to make the film. It appears to be a real airport terminal, it certainly has a very, very strong illusion of reality, but it takes on an even more interesting slant when you learn that no, it wasn’t actually a real terminal, it was constructed, so it’s all this labyrinthine boxes of reality and unreality unfolding within the very fabric of that film.

Fractured narratives recur throughout your writing. Where do we draw the line between a novel and a series of themed short stories? Because with The Silver Wind and Stardust, I feel you can read them as novels.

The Silver Wind (cover)Definitely and with both of those books that you’ve mentioned, The Silver Wind and Stardust were both conceived by me as, if not unitary works, as united works. The segments within those works were written to be read together, as a whole, as a sequence. I don’t actually like the term collection for either of those, I call them books, because you get into too many pointless arguments if you say no they’re novels. As you say, what is a novel?

The fractured narrative form comes very naturally to me, it’s how I write and it’s how I imagine because my writing’s very discursive, and when I’m working on somebody’s story, every little thread, every character wants to become the protagonist, wants to become the central figure in their own story. Because that’s how it is. Every figure you focus on has to be of interest to you as a writer to a certain extent or why are you writing about them.

For example the character of Willy in my novella Maggots, he was originally part of The Rift. He was originally the guy who ran the UFO interest group that Ray, Julie, and Selena’s father becomes very involved with. I tend to do a hell of a lot of rewriting and redrafting, mostly because my stories develop too many angles and threads, and at some point I have to decide, who is in this story, and narrow it down, cut it back. It’s like hacking back greenery, nettles to get to the essence of whose story this is. But Willy was a character I loved so much, I already got 15,000 words of narrative of Willy, so I just took them, put them aside on my hard drive, and thought he will have his own story. Then I got the commission for Five Stories High (2016) and I thought, that’s Willy’s story. And I wrote his novella which I’m very, very fond of.

I’m sure you’ve read David Mitchell, and I’m sure you’ve read plenty of interviews with him, especially around the time The Bone Clocks (2014) came out, he talked a lot about his megatext, and the very, very natural links between stories that occur to him. So although he never planned on writing a megatext it just started to happen. I identified with that completely and utterly. I can’t remember who said it, probably loads of people have said it, but every writer has two or three major themes in their life which they keep revisiting. I certainly identify with that maxim myself, and if you’re doing that, it’s inevitable that your writing becomes recursive, you’re going over things in an attempt to understand them, in an attempt to deepen them, in an attempt to broaden your own understanding of what you’re writing about. That is the writer’s project. So if you’re returning to themes, it can seem quite natural to return to characters.

Stardust (cover)The fractured narrative, I’ve always felt, gives you a wonderful canvass for exploration and a wonderful potential for this kind of deepening and broadening of themes. Because a completely direct and linear narrative is a closed box in some ways. You’ve told that story, and that story has an ending. And I don’t like cut and dried endings all that much, equally for when I’m reading fiction as to when I’m writing it. We were talking about this last night with Matthew De Abaitua and Anne Charnock. We were all talking about the use of time in novels and how the manipulation of time can dictate the pace, direction and substance of a narrative. And we got on to talking about what has been my favourite read of the year so far, which was Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13 (2017), and what he does with time in that. And that is in some ways the ultimate fractured narrative. It has ostensibly the template of a thriller.

A teenage girl in the opening page of the novel goes missing. A particular night, particular place, and that’s the way McGregor’s novel begins. But he then charts the next thirteen years in the life of that village. And it really doesn’t have any resemblance to a thriller at all. And yet the thread of that disappearance is what binds the narrative strands together. You have to have some kind of binding agent, and that is what he uses, in a very, very beautiful and subtle way. And it’s the ultimate open ended narrative. I found it an absolutely thrilling book, conversely not being a thriller. I read that book in under three days, I just could not stop reading it. I just loved its discursiveness and its mystery in the absence of a mystery, it’s just a stunning book and it’s narrative techniques like that, completely fascinate and draw me as a writer and a reader.

Within The Rift you play a series of textual games, there are newspaper articles, and the build up to the climax has encyclopedia entries that are gradually drifting from our world to Tristane as they go along…

Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind (cover)That was great fun. I love texts that have fake books in them, fake people, fake artists, and I like if I’m reading a novel, and I have to google something to see if it really exists. I remember in Anne Charnock’s Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind (2015), the painting that she describes sort of forms the heart of one of those strands of narrative. She did that so brilliantly and even knowing as I do how I like to create similar tricks, I googled it, I just had to, just to check, I was convinced it had to exist. It’s beautiful, and I did a great thumbs up to Anne when I googled it and it didn’t exist, cause that just pleased me so much that I’d been fooled.

And similarly when the copy editors and proof readers at Titan were working on The Rift, they’re very, very good fact checkers, they literally fact check everything. And I got these increasingly desperate little notes in track changes. “I can’t find the super catfish, what’s going on?” That was again a real source of interest and to extent triumph to me that the readers had really believed in those things. And yes that interlacing of reality with the speculative elements, to me that’s the core quality of a successful speculative novel.

There’s a wonderful interview with Stephen King, he spoke about it after he’d written Bag of Bones (1998), where he talks about the seam between reality and speculative being woven so fine that the reader is not aware of when they have crossed over, until they have crossed over and are in the depths of a speculative, imaginary world. You read wonderful books that were a huge deal when I first started seriously reading in speculative fiction, like Clive Barker, Weaveworld (1987) and Imagica (1991), he was a master of that kind of wonderment, of walking along a street and suddenly you’re somewhere else. Beautiful movie by Gerald McMorrow called Franklyn (2008), a small London movie that not many people know, he does exactly that. You’re walking along a London street and suddenly the shadows change, and you’re in an imaginary alternate London, it just opens out. And I love books that do that. So I suppose it’s no surprise that I try to emulate that kind of mystification.

Your books also have these relationships to the texts that they allude to as well, there’s Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967) and David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) in The Rift, and John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids in The Race.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (cover)I love books, and it’s no surprise that my characters or some of them become very deeply attached to certain texts. Picnic at Hanging Rock has always been a huge, I wouldn’t say influence as much as inspiration. I saw the movie first, when I was about thirteen, fourteen, and I still remember very, very clearly the first time of seeing it. I didn’t know what it was, I wandered in from somewhere, and it was playing on BBC 2, early evening, you know they used to play weird movies that they’d just put them in out of the way times on the schedule, and that was one of them. I remember just standing there looking at it, and then before a minute was out I was sat on the floor, entranced, horrified by that film, which was one of the creepiest things I’d ever seen.

From the movie I discovered Joan Lindsey’s novel. One of the things that I loved most desperately about that book is the way it masquerades as a true account. From the very opening paragraph, you think you’re reading what would now be called a true crime book. And if you read interviews with Joan Lindsey, many, many people still believe that it’s true. There is an entire non-fiction book written about that phenomenon. People believing in it, the spin offs, it’s fascinating. That in itself is a really interesting and weird text.

I studied it in high school English, and our teacher taught it as a true story, and it was only years later I realised it was fiction, which completely changed the way I felt about it.

So that’s a kind of weird double take in your mind. Exactly and that’s its magic. And you’ve still got, I’m sure, that feeling of doubling in your own mind, when you first learned about it, then knowing that you were living inside a fiction for that time. It’s only such a tiny book, and yet the influence – the movie’s amazing, the book is, in its own way, even more deeply mysterious because of that uncertainty over what is real and what is not, and I had to write about Picnic at Hanging Rock for The Rift because it felt to me to be a deep subconscious inspiration for The Rift. I still love it.

You’ve also written novellas like The Harlequin, which deals with the trauma of World War I.

Harlequin (cover)Again a very odd connection, some people I’ve mentioned it to but it’s not widely known, is that The Harlequin was originally a story thread in The Race, because a sort of alternate reality for Del and an explanation for why he was so violent, broken, such an awful character, was this World War I thread. And again I realised after I’d drafted about 50,000 words, no this is not going to work, there is way too much going on here. I can’t have a past, a present and an alternate reality, you know, something’s got to give.

But I’d written so much of Beaumont’s story. I hesitate to say I loved his story because I mean, the murder scene in that is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. I really didn’t like writing that at all, I have to say, especially because it represents the utter, utter downfall of that character, Beaumont. You see the bright hope of that character in his life before the war, and the slow intellectual and moral erasure of that character by a mixture of his own weakness and what he has been through, and that culminating in that murder, which I really just had to grit my teeth to write that. But I’m very fond of that novella. I think it turned out okay. But yeah it was another sort of excised chapter of The Race. I’m not shy of reborrowing my own material.

There’s been a handful of really powerful speculative fiction novels and novellas engaging with that interwar period – If Then (2015) by Matthew De Abaitua, The Arrival of Missives (2016) by Aliya Whitely – what is it about that period that’s so resonant for us now?

Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front) (cover)I think there are two reasons actually. I think that the writers Matthew De Abaitua, Aliya, myself, they are obviously others. We would have first came into contact with the literature of World War I at a very impressionable age, in our teenage years. And it makes an indelible impression upon the mind. And I remember reading, you know you read the poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. I immediately went away and discovered the poetry of Georg Trakl and the novel All Quiet On The Western Front (1929) by Remarque, because war is vile, and the idea of hearing only one side of the story, even at that age was very disturbing to me. I wanted to read about especially the civilian experience, the people who are not fighting, the people whose lives are nonetheless completely overturned by war.

Wolfgang Borchert was another writer, he was the first writer I ever read in the German language, because his stories are ostensibly on the outside very simple, the language he uses is very paired down. So he’s the ideal starting point, along with Kafka incidentally, for learning the German language. But you read in his stories about starvation, the complete destruction of German cities, you’re seeing what is being done by British forces. Very important. And so I think that these stories have impressed themselves into your DNA as a writer, if you’ve come into contact with them.

I think also, something even more important now, why they’re coming back now, is because our current political situation is horribly reminiscent of the 20s and 30s, these forces are gathering in our society. And I think writers are horribly aware and cognisant of that, and worried about it, I know I am. And it’s because everything at this present moment is so fluid. We do not know literally from one day to the next what is going to happen, what idiocy Boris Johnson is going to perpetuate next.

Jott (cover)

In some ways, as a writer, you’re almost flattened by that, you’re almost immobilised, paralysed by the impossibility of writing about a situation that is very disturbing, upsetting, in your own political reality. You’re kind of the rabbit in the headlights. But the internal pressure to say something is equally great. So there is a way of doing that by looking at how those events came to pass a century ago, ironically.

There’s the most incredible novel that is going to be coming out this summer. Sam Thompson who wrote the spectacular Communion Town (2012), speculative novel that was long listed for the Booker prize a couple of years ago. His new novel Jott, is set in the 1930s, and it’s very much about that time, its textures are amazing. I was lucky enough to read it in draft, and its parallel with current politics is so subtle and so brilliant, it’s just so much a book for now. I said this to Sam and he said, it wasn’t intentional, it just happened, and I think this is demonstrative of how these current realities are seeping out into everything the writer writes. It’s very important that this be so, but I do recommend Jott. It’s completely non speculative, but it has this edge of the uncanny, as everything with Sam’s writing, and it’s just the most beautiful compact perfect novel. I hope it does very well.

Your novella Spin is heavily influenced by Greek mythology, as well as being closer to horror than some of your more speculative work.

Spin (cover)I mean that’s a simple question to answer in the sense that I loved the Greek myths when I was young, I read and reread them, and certain myths left an indelible impression. The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur was like the ultimate horror story. The myth of Arachne, which plays centre stage in Spin, likewise. What attracted me about that myth then and now was the hubris, this battle between the very strong figure of the artist who, again it’s that kind of Promethean idea, snatching fire from the gods. Arachne will not concede that her gift is god given. She says no, I crafted, I grafted, I worked on this, I have become the Artist. That is what artists do. And she was turned into a spider for her daring, to spin and spin and spin.

A horrific story. But also a deeply thought provoking one about where does the artistic impulse come from, and what does it cost? Because in a sense, her being turned into a spider, you can read that literally, as in the Gustav Dore etching, the horror of her bending backwards as all the legs sprout out, but you can also read that in a metaphorical way. The artist, in their own way, becomes a monster. They are of a single purpose. That is what they do, they spin and spin. They write and write. They paint and paint. They in a sense give up normal life. And so the metaphorical punch of that story is still a very, very potent force. I loved writing that, and the absolute direct influence, genesis for it, was going to the Pelopponese, the sort of very beautiful but stark landscape. It’s not the exact location where the original historical Arachne comes from, but it was close enough to inspire that story. And to sort of get that sense of heat, light and rock that is the backdrop for it.

There’s a lot of overlap between horror and science fiction, but do you feel that there’s a difference in approach in writing something more horror inflected than speculative?

The Green Death (cover)I do, in a way. I always say I came from horror. I loved horror fiction, horror film from quite a young age. My very first brush with it, I would say, came when I was about six years old when I first saw Doctor Who, “The Green Death” (1973), which I’m sure you know is the one with the giant maggots, going down the mine shaft. I was terrified, but I also just could not wait for the next episode. And it was that push-pull, that sense of going into the unknown, that sense of confronting something, that same impulse that seems to ridiculously afflict every single character in every horror film. When the stairs down to the cellar appear and you’re saying no don’t go, they are all obviously going to go down those steps into the cellar or there’s no story.

I think horror comes from within. Douglas E. Winter said, “Horror is not a genre, it is an emotion.” And it is that, that feeling here, that tension in the chest, when you’re breathing gets shallower, when you are emotionally and physically on guard. You are watching, you are waiting, you know there is something out there, your senses are prickling. And it’s that sense of both excitement and terror that you try to tap into when you’re writing horror fiction.

The ultimate crossover of course for me is the movie Alien (1979), which is now nearly forty years old. It hasn’t aged a day. I’ve watched that film five or six times. I hasten to add, not when it came out in the cinema, cause I wasn’t old enough. But I was one of the people on the playground, desperately looking for people who’d managed to sneak their way in and say, what was it about? What was it about?

Alien (cover)And then I was old enough to see Aliens (1986) on the big screen when it came out, and I did so. But that original movie, Alien, it’s been described often as the ultimate haunted house movie. Which it is, you’ve got the Nostromo and you’ve got the ghost, the alien, the monster. It’s also a very powerful work of science fiction. You see a world in which space travel has become possible but it’s not the gleaming shiny future everyone envisaged. It’s a broken down hulk trawling stars, looking for plunder, looking to make a quick buck, and the equipment’s all breaking down, and they’re out there alone when catastrophe strikes. It’s a great crossover work. I think that what you get with horror when it bleeds into science fiction is very much that visceral attraction of horror combined with the stealth and power of sometimes transgressive ideas – the idea of a broken down future, the idea of a corrupt political regime, the idea of people dabbling in stuff that is dangerous to dabble in.

Caitlin R. Kiernan does this better than anybody. Some of her science fiction, “Riding the White Bull” (2004) I’m thinking of particularly. Her fantastic novella from last year Agents of Dreamland (2017). She is the absolute master of horror SF crossover. And it’s seamless, you can’t say, what is it, is it horror, is it SF, is it a police procedural? Because again you get a lot of police procedural crossover into horror which is often absolutely brilliant. And I love her work, Kiernan’s work in particular, for the liberty she takes with genre. She doesn’t care, she’s telling a story, and her stories are without parallel in speculative fiction. So I guess there’s some of that, again not so much influence because she’s inimitable, but inspiration certainly.

You are involved in critical writing as well. How does the act of approaching texts critically influence your own writing?

I hope only in so much as being able to view my work, to an extent as text so I can see where something is going wrong. As an actual writer it doesn’t because they are completely different, and they are mutually exclusive in a way. The critical practice, you have to set that aside, it’s a different part of the brain.

I love criticism. I love the art of that. I love reading it. I would like to write more of it. Mainly because I just love talking about books. I love reading other people’s works, I love discussing, arguing about other people’s work. I love trying to work out why something is great. And that is something that I’ve done for many, many, many years. But I had to completely really unlearn my academic process in order to liberate myself as a fiction writer.

That is something that I struggled with last year when I was doing the Shadow Clarke jury. It was an incredible experience, an experience that marked the year, changed the year, changed me as a writer in some ways, and certainly changed my attitudes to science fiction. However it took vast amounts of my creative energy. And because I was constantly reading, thinking about other people’s books. Thinking about what other people were thinking about other people’s books. Trying to get a good flow through of work for the readers out there who were following the Shadow Clarke, and writing my own extended essays. It was virtually impossible to work on new work of my own, because my entire intellectual energy was taken up with critical practice.

And although I do not regret for a single microsecond having initiated and participated in that project, it’s still something I would not take on lightly again. It was seven months of my life. And there’s no way of doing such a project properly unless you give that. I had to be totally immersed in it. I was totally into it and I loved it. But I came out of the Shadow Clarke thinking, I would like my future criticism to be, in a way, more personal, more like a discursive essay, so that I can bring the two practices closer together. Because I don’t really like that separation between my critical writing and my fiction writing.

Also, there is a difficulty around the fact that many new writers of speculative fiction are now my friends. And I know there are critics out there who are able to, and have stated on the record, they just separate, and if something needs hammering they’re going to do it. I’m not that person. Even though some people might say yes you are! I don’t go as far, now there are friends whose books I wouldn’t write about because my criticism is in a sense valueless. We’re friends, what am I going to say? It’s not going to be as objective as it should be in either direction. So I would like to write more about older texts. Or just write about books differently, such that you’re not reviewing in the strict sense of the word. You are meditating, thinking about, drawing. The essay I wrote on folk horror for the Los Angeles Review of Books, I would like to do more work like that, which draws parallels and connections between groups of texts. I find that really interesting. So, I really want to keep doing it, but I sort of need to find a way of doing it that isn’t so disruptive to my own work, to put it bluntly.

What’s next for Nina Allan?

What’s next is a novel that will be coming out next year. I’m not going to say vast amounts about it because it hasn’t been officially announced by the publisher yet. Although I hope it will be within the next month to six weeks, I hope we will have the official announcement. I would say it’s Weird influenced. There is a very small science fiction element, in part of it, but it is Weird.

It’s influenced by European fairy tales, it’s a contemporary narrative, intertwined with older narratives. I love this book, I’m very excited about sharing it. I haven’t been able to share much of it yet. And its protagonist is one of my favourite characters of all time. A character that I actually first began thinking about as much as a decade ago, and it’s only now that I have been able to get his story fully as I wanted it. It revealed itself and I worked on it again all through last year and it went through several drafts. That will be out in February 2019.

Thank you Nina Allan for speaking with us! If you’d like to learn more about Nina’s work you can visit her website.


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