As we gear up for our Mayven Festival starting on the 16th July, long time member of Team Scary LH Trevail talks to us about writing stories for us for twenty glorious years
There is a fire. Or there is a wooden chair in a small chapel. Or there is a figure peering around a corner in an otherwise familiar street. And there is a story.
I want to creep you out. I really do.
But it feels very different to when I was younger. When I was younger it felt like I was shivering the surface to reveal stuff lurking underneath. But now? It feels as though what was lurking has poked right out. It’s poked out all over the place. And sometimes it’s gone right through people and killed them. Jagged points, sharp enough to tear, and blunt enough to hurt the very most.
Is this just what it feels like to grow older?
I don’t think so. I think there really are a lot of things that used to be tucked away from me and the people around me, that are now close and terrible.
But they were always poking someone, somewhere, already.
And so there is a story.
I have been writing for Scary Little Girls for the best part of 20 years. Short stories, mostly spooky in some way, for reading aloud. Each one a journey for an audience to somewhere uncomfortably close to some form of doom; but undertaken in a place of safety, riding on the voice of a true friend and ally.
I like to bring you close to where it is most painful. But I do not want to hurt you, not ever. I like to show you something that frightens me. But surrounded by companionship and willing adventure. Because then we may be able to make those fears not come true, together.
But what about when they are already here?
I particularly love writing stories to be told outside. The wind pawing at words, rain tent-drumming on umbrellas. Birds or the sky or the ocean pulling you into a drift for a moment as the story is told. You forget to concentrate. The words run like code as you drink your mulled wine, and your bit of the planet turns slowly away from the sun.
I believe that the words we hear and use create the reality in which we live. The current showrunners of our society know this, and use it with lethally elegant craft. Our language shudders and warps, and with it how we treat each other. Drip, drip, drip. Water cutting channels and gaps through even ancient stone we thought we could rely on. Dousing fires of change before they have a chance to thaw our rigid fears into warmth and welcome.
I want to creep you out, I really do.
I am not a showrunner. My stories flicker uneasily at the edges. My power has only ever been to step very slightly to one side of where I ought to be. It is not a strong power, but it is mine. It does not matter at all, of course. “Get to the point”, she said.
But as I sit here in the shadow of these great and jagged horrors poking up all around me, I will tell you a story. And it will be about one thing, while calling imps to dance just out of vision for the part of you that doesn’t know it is listening.
And, just for a moment, the heaving and dividing ground will still, because you are in the place of stories. Where anything is possible.
And you can carry that with you, if you choose, when you go home.