The Last House on Needless Street might just be the best gothic chiller of 2021 - I had the privilege of reviewing it (or rather getting my cat Spike to review it) for the British Fantasy Society.
Here's a taste: I’m cleaning myself when my ted calls me. His name isn’t really ‘ted’; it’s ‘Matt’, but I heard on good authority from the amazing Olivia in The Last House On Needless Street that ted is a suitable descriptor for humans. I’m not a ted, I’m a feline, my ted calls me ‘Spike’.
My ted has been reading The Last House On Needless Street – gosh, it’s a mouthful to keep repeating – and so he hasn’t been very attentive to me. He keeps saying things like ‘oh my god, this is incredible’ and ‘NO WAY!’ at those points, his face screws up in shock, or his jaw falls open. That book must be quite something to provoke those reactions. Read the full review here
But I love to find out a bit more about the author too though so here Catriona answers the Darkmatters questions...
Matt: If scientists ever managed to create a giant mecha version of you – who or what would be your nemesis?
Catriona: Time. In the form of a looming skeletal figure made of rotating cogs and intricate clockwork, with a blank clock face and alarm clock hands that are constantly ringing. At its glowing ticking heart would be all the minutes I’ve ever wasted, which would gradually be subtracted from moments of joy or accomplishment throughout my life.
Matt: What is the most disturbing fictional scene you’ve ever read or watched in a book/film of any genre?
Catriona: There’s a scene in Peter Greenaway’s film The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover where a character is force-fed the pages from a book, forced down by a wooden spoon. Horrific. I get a gag reflex just thinking about it.
Matt: If you were hired to throw a parade of any scale or theme through the centre of London what type of parade would it be?
Catriona: I’d like a parade of every single one of my friends and close family, living and dead, that meanders between sunlit parks and tree-lined canals, on a hot July evening. I think we’d all be on horseback. Naturally, the roads would be closed on our route, and each stop would feature cold wine and tiny delicious things to eat, served from trays by flamingo waiters.
Matt: You’re in a strange town with £100,000 that you have to spend in a single evening – talk me through what you get up to…
Catriona: Difficult to spend all that money on oneself. Can I donate it? I’d donate it to a homeless charity.
Matt: Who inspires you most (can be living or dead)?
Catriona: My writing heroes are Shirley Jackson, whose prose I think cannot be bettered and Kelly Link. Reading their work always reminds me of that quote by Annie Dillard, ‘write as if you were dying.’ Part of the reason I love gothic and horror fiction is that it can contain such extreme feelings, such passionate intensity within its confines. These two writers exemplify its grand scope for me.
Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask?
Catriona: Myself, from the future, sent back to prevent me from making a terrible mistake.
Matt: What is the meaning of life?
Catriona: Family and friends and love. Also work. Trying to put something strange and true back into the world that will last when you’re gone.
Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given?
Catriona: My partner gave me a coat for my 40th birthday that makes me feel like a Scottish highland highwayman. It lends me all the power and gravitas I never knew I needed.
Matt: If you could have a sidekick robot – what would it be able to do for you?
Catriona: Communicate directly and immediately with a human being at HMRC and resolve all tax queries on my behalf with no involvement from me.
Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?
Catriona: ‘She never stopped trying.’ That’s all we can do, right?
SAMPLE IT, LOOP IT, EAT IT and LINK IT:
Read my review of The Last House on Needless Street over at the British Fantasy Society CLICK HERE
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