We love our folk horror. The genre has been growing in popularity these past years, and it’s not hard to see why. Writers take pastoral settings such as windswept hills or rugged sea coasts and imbue them with a sense of deep isolation. Throw in a community that seems at first utterly safe and then totally bonkers to outsiders, and you’ve got the start of something that is recognisable as folk horror.

But as folk horror is becoming more widespread, it’s changing as it grows. Writers are taking elements we love and imbuing them with new ideas. Jennifer Thorne’s book, Lute, puts a female protagonist front and centre. We asked her about the power of community, isolation, and how being an expat fed into the themes underpinning her folk horror novel.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • The Wicker Man (1973)
  • Midsommar (2019)
  • The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)
  • Witchfinder General (1968)
  • Hot Fuzz (2007)
  • Andrew Michael Hurley
  • Daphne Du Maurier
  • Fearsome Faeries, ed. Elizabeth Dearnley
  • ‘The Trod’ by Algernon Blackwood
  • ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson

Jennifer Thorne is an American author of books for adults and young readers who writes from a nineteenth-century Cotswold cottage in the medieval market town of Minchinhampton alongside her husband, two sons, and various other animals. 

Born in a small town in Tennessee, Jenn grew up bouncing between her parents’ homes in various other states and countries, with books as her constant companions, before returning to New York as a teen to study drama at NYU. Though acting had been her lifelong dream, she found that she was more fulfilled by writing performance vehicles for her friends than acting in them herself. After a move to Los Angeles, she detoured into writing and never looked back.

Published as Jenn Marie Thorne, Jenn debuted in 2015 with The Wrong Side of Rightan acclaimed YA contemporary novel set in the world of presidential politics. Two YA novels followed, advocacy comedy The Inside of Out, and classical musician romance Night Music, as well as picture book Construction Zoo, inspired by playtimes with her two imaginative young sons.

In England, finding her footing as an expatriate among the rolling hills and roving cows of Minchinhampton while a pandemic closed borders around her, Jenn wrote Lute, her first horror novel and first work for adult readers.