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Cate Gardner

Cate Gardner

What first attracted you to horror writing?

As a teenager, a distant cousin gave me his collection of ‘Pan Horror’ books. I thought they were sensational, especially as they freaked out wimpy teenage-me. Then, in my late teens, I wandered into reading fluffy romances. Thankfully, that phase passed and I found my way back to horror via Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Aycliffe and gothic poetry. I actually started writing poetry rather than stories. We don’t talk about the poetry. Shudder.

What is your most notable work?

My chapbook ‘Nowhere Hall’, which was published by Spectral Press last year and gathered more fantastic reviews than there were actual copies of the book. Okay, I exaggerate, but it felt like that.

Nowhere Hall by Cate GardnerWhat are you working on now?

A surreal short story for an anthology and a novel Cobweb Strings of the Rotting House, which is a dystopian fairytale about orphans, marionettes and wicked theatre people. We’re at the planning stage with the novel and should soon enter the ‘staring at the white page’ phase.

Who do you admire in the horror world?

Robert Shearman. Only he’s more of a fantastical writer than a horror writer, I suppose. Joe Hill, Alison Littlewood, Gina Ranalli, Ellen Datlow, Simon Bestwick, Jonathan Aycliffe, Aaron Polson…I’m sure I’ve missed someone important.

Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?

Psychological horror. I like hints of things glimpsed in mirrors or in the corner of a character’s eye, I like not knowing what’s going on or necessarily where I am. If the stalker is wielding a knife and carving up everything in his/her path, I tend to turn off or put the story down. Gore makes me not care who’s behind the mask. I don’t care if there is or isn’t a mask. No, I’m not a fan of gore at all. To be contradictory, I don’t mind it in silly movies like the Scream or Final Destination franchises. If I’m to watch or read blood-spattered tales (or even write them) then I need a dash of humour. Make me laugh while you’re spraying blood and gutting someone and I might stay with you.

Of course, Stephen King has a fabulous quote -“I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll try to gross you out. I’m not proud.” I suspect we’ve all been there.

Theatre of Curious Acts by Cate GardnerWhy should people read your work?

Oh my, now that’s a question. In the case of my newest book, Theatre of Curious Acts, they should read it because it might help them save the world. Honest. True instructions on how to succeed against the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse are contained within the book. Heck, there’s even a money back guarantee that if you followed all the instructions and the world still ends you get a refund.

Recommend a book.

My favourite horror book of all time is Desperation by Stephen King. But for something a little less mainstream, I’d choose, Morning is Dead by Andersen Prunty (Grindhouse Press).

Cate Gardner

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  1. Wonderful insight in the mind of one of the rising stars of horror fiction!
    I loved Cate Gardner’s works I read so far. At the moment I am in the middle of her collection, “Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits and other curious things”, and although some of those stories are quite disturbing the reading experience is more than interesting. I am looking forward to see more of her works published in the future.

  2. I think a CG poetry renaissance might be in order.

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