ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Exclusive Interview With Author Kaaron Warren
By James Whittington, Monday 29th June 2009
Kaaron Warren is one of horror’s hottest new talents. An Australian living in Fiji, her first published novel, Slights is a stark, scary and stunning piece of horror fiction that has helped launch one of the most exciting imprints in recent years, Angry Robot Books. So we decided that we should have a chat with this lady and discover just where her inspiration for such a dark debut came from.   ZH: Why did you choose the horror genre for your first novel?   KW: I’ve always been drawn to writing horror, simply because those are the ideas which present themselves to me. The creative part of my brain works that way. An example of this is the phrase “It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness”. My mother had this on her fridge to inspire her, but I see the words “Curse the Darkness” and think Good title for a horror story. I haven’t actually written that one yet!   ZH: Are you an avid horror reader?   KW: Not really avid, but certainly read a lot more than most of the people around me. I’ve got Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King, in my to-be-read pile. Have just finished Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors and am reading James Herbert’s The Ghosts of Sleath. Just read Gerry Jones’ The Sin Eaters, which was far less horrific than I thought it would be.   ZH: Do you have a favourite author from the genre?   KW: I love Stephen King, like most of us do. Also Lisa Tuttle, Richard Harland, Shirley Jackson, Joe R. Lansdale, Celia Fremlin, Michael Marshall Smith, Christopher Fowler. Many more!   ZH: How would you sum Slights up?   KW: It’s about the hell we create for ourselves while we’re alive, and the hell which might wait for us after death.   ZH: Slights, as I’ve said is your first novel and is incredibly powerful blend of raw terror and visceral violence. How long did it take to complete?   KW: Slights is actually the second novel I wrote, but the first to be published. Mistification is my first novel, which will be published next. Though I did write a novel when I was fourteen…I wrote Slights, the first draft, in a wild burst over three or four months. I received a grant from the ACT Government (I live in Australia’s capital) which gave me that time off work. I wrote Slights as well as a novella called Full Employment and two short stories, The Glass Woman and The Speaker of Heaven. I was exhausted at the end of it, but loved every minute.   ZH: Where did the inspiration for it come from?   KW: I had the idea that we create our own version of hell, just as we could create our own version of heaven. The Speaker of Heaven is about the heavenly side and was written as a contrast to Slights. I wrote Slights first as a short story, but once I reached about 8,000 words and knew I was nowhere near telling the story I wanted to tell, I realised I had to bite the bullet and write it as a novel.   ZH: The book never shirks from dissecting the nastier side of life and after life, but did you ever sit back and censor yourself? Did you ever think you’d gone too far with it?   KW: It was really important with this book not to censor myself. I felt I had to let it go as far as possible because if I pulled back I’d be cheating myself and the reader. And the book as well. There were a lot of times I scared myself, made myself feel ill with it. A lot of times I felt close to tears. Sometimes it was at surprising moments. Writing the character of the Shoe Salesman, one of Stephanie’s many stepfathers, was hard because I felt like his place in her life could have been a turning point. I could have made her life better from there, but I didn’t. The decisions she makes are ones I would never make myself and that was another place I had to make sure I didn’t censor myself.   ZH: Its written from the perspective of Stephanie, was it easy to write from her point of view?   KW: Stephanie actually started as male, in the short story I wrote first. But as I started the novel, by page three she was so strongly female I decided that I’d let it be. Partly that was a relief, because to write a male character over such an extended period is difficult, as a woman. In a short story you have to be constantly switching your way of thinking, just slightly, as you do when you write about anyone who isn’t exactly like you are. In a novel, and especially this novel, where I am so deep inside her thoughts and her feelings, I think in some ways I took the easy way out making her female. It was quite easy writing from her point of view because she was a very clear, strong character in my head. I did a lot of early background thinking and writing about her. A lot of family background, some of which makes it into the novel, a lot of which I wrote only for myself. So I knew who she was and where she came from. I enjoyed writing her because I think she’s funny and I had fun making her say outrageous things, make outrageous jokes. I loved building her relationship with her brother, who thinks she’s funny but also tries to disassociate from her. He’s weak, that man. I wouldn’t want him for a brother!   ZH: Is Stephanie, based on anyone close to you?   KW: No. Definitely not! However, some of the things she does and says, some of the choices she makes, are inspired by people I’ve known peripherally. There was one girl at school I always felt great pity for, but not enough to make friends with her. She was tough and slept around a lot, never earning the respect of the boys she slept with. She said she didn’t care but she did. She would cut herself (this is in the 80s) and laugh about it. Writing this, I’m thinking that partly Stephanie really did come from her and perhaps the guilt I feel that I didn’t reach out and talk to this girl in school more. Make an effort with her. I don’t even remember her name but I remember what she looks like; standing there with her short-short school uniform, arms crossed, legs scratched and bloody, cigarette in her hand, smirk on her face. That tough yet very weak girl. I’m thinking about that incredible book by John Irving, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed. One of my favourite all-time books, a devastating story of guilt. In it, Irving says that the reason he becomes a writer is because of what happened to Piggy Sneed when Irving was a child. He keeps writing and writing, hoping to make a new ending.   ZH: Have you ever had a near death experience like Stephanie?   KW: No, I haven’t. I’ve been knocked unconscious a couple of times, but that’s the closest I’ve come. There is a blankness of memory there. Deep black hole of anti-knowledge.   ZH: The room Stephanie enters after she dies for the first time seems to be some sort of hellish limbo at first, do you think such places exist?   KW: I’m a full-on agnostic about all things after-life, all things spiritual. I really don’t know. I think that to believe in these places you have to believe in God, and at a very deep level I….just don’t know. I was brought up to believe in the soul and in God, and remember that my step-grandmother, who survived some terrible things as a Jewish woman during the second world war, did not believe in life after death. I think her belief that you rot in the ground when you die (and she wasn’t backward in telling us this) is one seed which led to me being a horror writer. I found that finality so terrifying.   ZH: Talking of which do you believe in life after death and vengeful spirits?   KW: I certainly hope for life after death, and vengeful spirits make a lot of sense. So many people have so much vengefulness in them. All the things that happen, not all of them slights, that you can’t forget. Things from childhood on; things people say and do that make you feel angry or hurt years later. I can imagine these feelings keeping spirits tied to the earth.   ZH: I couldn’t imagine this on the big screen as I fear any director would water down the violence and underlying messages, do you feel the same?   KW: I’d sure love to see them try! And having just watched Dogville, by Lars von Trier, I think perhaps some directors wouldn’t water it down. It would be awful to see it weaker. One thing I’d like them to capture is the humour of Stephanie. I don’t think the book is all darkness and grey. I do think there are moments where she is happy, when she feels okay.   JW: So what’s next for you?   KW: I’ll start work on my next novel soon. Probably will veer more into Science Fiction with a story set in the future, but it will still be nasty, I’m sure. Meanwhile I’m working on a story for an Australian editor about the baggage migrants bring to a new country. Loving writing this story; it’s about a man named after a village which no longer exists and how this effects his life. I have a story upcoming in Datlow and Mamatas’ Haunted Legends. That Girl is pretty creepy, and set in the mental care facility across the road from where I live in Fiji. Also working on a horror version of the life of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war. I’m loving this one also because it takes a lot of research and a lot of creativity to build an old world on paper.   ZH: Finally, is Kaaron your real name?

KW: Ha! I was born with my name spelled Karen, but there were five other Karens in my year at school and I always wanted to stand out, be famous. So I changed the spelling to Kaaron! People remember it a lot more than they would Karen, I’m sure. My Mum still isn’t happy. She does numerology and she says that the numbers for Karen are much better!   ZH: Kaaron Warren, thank you very much   KW: Thank you. Great, insightful questions.

Slights hits bookshelves on July 1st and for more information click here    
MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020

Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.

It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?

JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.

When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...

You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?

AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020

Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.

His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.

HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?

SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jackson Stewart, director of Beyond The Gates
Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020

Jack Stewart's sublime retro horror Beyond the Gates was recently shown on Horror. Jackson is one of the strongest creatives around at the moment but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about this contemporary classic and his future movie plans.

HC: Was there one film that you saw growing up which gave you the idea that you wanted to work in the film industry?

JS: There were definitely a number of them; I think the ones that stick out strongest in my memory were Temple Of Doom, Batman '89, Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Raising Arizona, Back To The Future, Marnie, Army Of Darkness, The Frighteners and Dirty Harry. All of them had a big emotional impact on me. Dirty Har...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with acclaimed author Shaun Hutson
Posted on Friday 20th December 2019

The British horror legend Shaun Hutson is back with Testament, a new novel featuring one of his fans most loved characters, Sean Doyle so we decided to catch up with this talented chap about his acclaimed work.

HC: Was there one author who inspired you to become a writer?

SH: My inspirations were always and still are cinematic if I'm honest. Even when I first started writing my influences and inspirations came from things like Hammer films, from TV series like The Avengers (with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee) and from old Universal horror films. I read the Pan Books of Horror Stories when I was a kid and I think they were probably the first "literary" influences I ever had. I also read lo...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Tyler MacIntyre, director of Patchwork
Posted on Thursday 12th December 2019
On the eve of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Patchwork on December 14th, director Tyler MacIntyre reflects on body image issues. twisting audience expectations and his admiration for current female genre directors.

HC: Patchwork finally gets its UK TV premiere on Horror Channel. Excited or what?

TM: Relieved actually. It's been a long time coming. The third screening of the film ever happened at FrightFest in Glasgow and since then I've had people asking me when it was going to come out. The UK genre fans are among the most diehard in the world, so I'm very excited to finally have it available for them.

HC: You were in attendance when Patchwork, your directorial feature debut, rece...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with James Moran, writer of Tower Block
Posted on Monday 25th November 2019

Writer James Moran is about to do what few other writers have done in the past, the Horror Channel Triple! He is one of the few creatives who has had three of his movies play on the channel; Cockneys Vs Zombies, Severance and now Tower Block which is playing on November 29th. So, we decided to chat to this talented chap about this superior thriller and the rest of his career.

HC: Your first movie, Severance is a huge favourite with Horror Channel viewers, were you ever tempted to pen a sequel?

JM: Thank you, I'm really glad that people can still discover it with every new screening. Everybody wanted to do a sequel, we actually had several meetings about it. Nothing came of it, they carried on with...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Gary Dauberman, writer and director of Annabelle Comes Home
Posted on Saturday 23rd November 2019

Gary Dauberman has been the scriptwriter for some of the most successful horror movies of the last few years including IT: Parts 1 and 2, Annabelle and The Nun. His latest movie, Annabelle Comes Home which is also his directorial debut, has just been released onto DVD and Blu-ray. We caught up with this talented chap about his career to date.

HC: What was it about the horror genre that grabbed your imagination and made you want to become a writer?

GD: The earliest movie going experience I can remember was my parents taking me to Raiders of the Lost Ark and I was 4 or 5 or something and I had to sleep with them for a week, you know the opening up of The Ark and the face melting, a rea...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Cameron Macgowan, director of Red Letter Day
Posted on Friday 1st November 2019

FrightFest 2019 exposed a lot of new talent in the movie industry and one of the stand-out pieces was Red Letter Day from Cameron Macgowan.

HC: Where did the idea for Red Letter Day come from and did it take long to write?

CM: I have long been a fan of the 'Humans Hunting Humans' subgenre of film (Battle Royale, The Running Man, Hard Target, etc.) and was inspired to set one of these films in what many people consider the 'safe' location of the suburbs. Suburban communities feel like the perfect setting for a horror film as you can walk for miles without seeing a single soul all while knowing that you are surrounded by many people. This mixed with a desire to satirise the current socio-political climate ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Carlo Mirabella-Davis, director of Swallow
Posted on Wednesday 30th October 2019

Ahead of the UK premiere of Swallow at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween, director Carlo Mirabella-Davis reflects on the personal inspiration behind his feature debut, healing psychological wounds and his empathy for the genre.

HC: Swallow is your directorial debut. How difficult was it to get the project off the ground?

CMD: Getting a film made is a fascinating process. My late, great teacher at NYU, Bill Reilly, would always say "script is coin of the realm". The early stages involved perfecting the screenplay as much as I could, writing and rewriting until I felt confident sending it out. The sacred bond between the producer and the director is the catalyst that brings a film into being. I ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2019

Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...

HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?

PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Bod...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019
CHILDS_PLAY_Universal_2D_BD_Pakcshot_UKIt was the remake everyone was against! The interweb was ablaze with negativity but director Lars Klevberg and his team managed to pull off one of the best horror movies of 2019. Here he chats about the smart shocker, Child's Play.

HC: How nervous were you taking on a re-imagining of such a beloved concept and franchise?

LK: I was in fact very nervous the minute I signed on to do the movie. Before that, I worked relentlessly for weeks to get the job, but immediately after getting it my body had a very stressful reaction. I was fully aware of the legacy I was about to re-open so, I didn't sleep one minute that night.

HC: W...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
The Row
THE ROW
Friday 28th February
10.50 PM
I Spit On Your Grave (2010)
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010)
Saturday 7th March
10.55 PM
Quarantine 2: Terminal
QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL
Sunday 1st March
10.55 PM