It’s easy to see why haunted houses are frightening – most of us live in a house and share a terror of what might happen if some unpleasant force took up residence there alongside us. Similarly, folk horror that is rooted in a particular place can challenge our sense of feeling safe within a community.

But how do you make a distant place, seen by only a minority of a population, seem scary? How do you convey the menace of such a location? How do you ensure that readers share the deep terror that the protagonist is experiencing?

These are exactly the questions we put to Michelle Paver in this episode. Join us as we shiver in the Arctic night, venture deep into the remote wilderness of a Himalayan mountain, and run from the thing hiding in the fens – because there is always something in the fens.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • M R James
  • ‘The Kit-Bag’ by Algernon Blackwood
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • The Book of Margery Kempe

Michelle Paver is best known for her fantasy series, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, set in pre-agricultural Stone Age Europe. Michelle was born in Nyasaland (now Malawi) in central Africa. Her family settled in Wimbledon, England when she was three. After reading biochemistry at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, she became a partner in a City of London law firm.

Her father’s death in 1996 prompted her to take a one-year sabbatical, in which she travelled and wrote her first book, Without Charity. Soon after her return, she resigned from legal practice to concentrate on writing. She is the author of the gothic novels, Dark Matter, Thin Air and Wakenhyrst.