Why do we need monsters in our fiction? Why do we want to be frightened? When they pick up a book, do readers enter into a pact with a writer, as Catriona Ward describes: a pact that says I share your fear, let’s face it together? We asked Catriona about the nature of fear, whether monsters are gendered, and why we find murder (and those who commit it) so fascinating.

Are people – seemingly ‘ordinary’ monsters – the scariest of all?

Mentioned in this episode:

  • The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
  • Hannibal by Thomas Harris
  • The Five by Hallie Rubenhold
  • Murderers and Their Mothers podcast with Donal MacIntyre 

Catriona Ward was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. Her debut Rawblood (W&N, 2015) won Best Horror Novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, was shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and a WHSmith Fresh Talent title.

Her second novel, Little Eve (W&N, 2018) won the Shirley Jackson Award 2018, was a Guardian best book of 2018 and won the August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel 2019. Catriona is the only woman to have won the August Derleth Award twice. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Catriona’s third novel, The Last House on Needless Street, will be published in the UK by Viper, the new crime and thriller imprint at Profile Books/Serpent’s Tail.  She lives in London and Devon.