Louise Welsh tells us her favourite scary stories
The Glaswegian author is due to appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
This article is from 2012.
Think horror, think Stephen King, think John Ajvide Lindqvist, think books big enough to fight off the walking dead. But small can be as creepy as a Chucky doll. And sometimes you’ve got to read quickly because ‘the dead travel fast’. If you find yourself in a horror short story don’t refuse to believe in the supernatural. Learn from Dracula’s Guest, a bite-size chunk of Bram Stoker’s bloody classic. Jonathan Harker ventures to an unholy village, despite being warned that it’s Walpurgis Night, when the dead escape their graves. Wolves, lightning and beautiful corpses ensue.
You can’t fight the uncanny with book learning, as the Reverend Soulis discovers when the Deil visits the village of Ba’weary in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Thrawn Janet. And it’s best not to venture onto the moors at night, unless you have no option. In Seeking the Houdy by James Hogg, a man on a desperate search for a midwife gets a weird foretaste of the future. Perhaps horror is most frightening when it enters our homes. Shirley Jackson disrupts small town America with an ancient rite in The Lottery, a short story which resulted in a rush of cancelled subscriptions when it was published in The New Yorker. And The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman demonstrates that when madness is in the mix, the bedroom can be a dangerous place. Indeed sleeping is downright tricky, as a student discovers in HP Lovecraft’s gross-out tale The Dreams in the Witch House.
WW Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw contrasts parents’ longing for a dead son with the dreadfulness of resurrection. The knock on their door is as horrifying as the beating which filters from under the floorboards in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. When it comes to horror keep it short, keep it pacey, but most of all, keep it scary.
10-12 Aug, 7pm, £10 (£8).