It’s October, so we’re officially allowed to talk about Christmas. Sure, we’ve got Halloween first, and that’s a celebration we should all be enthusiastic about, but take a look at what books are being pushed by bookstores, Amazon, and even supermarkets, and you’ll find that Christmas stories are starting to creep in.

You could say that this is crass commercialisation, that Christmas gets earlier every year, or that it’s just the big businesses encouraging people to buy their presents early. And while there’s truth to this, there’s also an older truth at work: namely that when the nights lengthen, humanity turns to stories of darkness and ghosts, of mystery and magic. Why is this? What are the elements of a good midwinter tale, and would those elements work if you applied them to a story set in midsummer?

In purrsuit of answers to these questions, we chat to Lili Hayward, author of A Midwinter’s Tail. Sorry, not sorry!

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Arabian Nights
  • The Owl Service by Alan Garner
  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
  • The Lammas Field by Catherine Fisher
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Bardskull by Martin Shaw
  • Beware the Cat by William Baldwin
  • Ugetsu Monogatari by Ueda Akinari

Lili Hayward (otherwise known as bestselling historical fiction author Laura Madeleine) is a writer from the West Country with a love for folklore and magical tales. She lives in Somerset with her partner and keeps the company of an elderly and opinionated ex-stray black cat.

She is represented by Meg Davis of Ki Agency and is the author of The Cat of Yule Cottagepublished by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, Newton Compton in Italy, Piper Verlag in Germany and Bai Hua Zhou Literature and Art Publishing House in China.

You can find Lili Hayward online as @lilihaywardauthor on Instagram and @lilihayward on Twitter.