Anna Taborska – The Inquisition
Regular readers will know that in my recent review of The Eighth Black Book Of Horror I singled out Anna Taborska’s story Little Pig as among the best. It managed to be both original and old fashioned as it explored a surreal dark fairytale world. I am sure Anna is going to be a name to watch, so I was delighted when she agreed to take part in The Inquisition. Please welcome Anna Taborska.
1 – Which book has been most influential in your career?
Probably Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. The opening paragraph of that book is one of the finest opening paragraphs in horror, and the matching ending is just chilling.
I got turned onto horror by a boy at primary school, who lent me his copy of Guy N Smith’s ‘Night of the Crabs’. That was the first horror book I ever read and the first time I came across the ‘f’ word, which made a profound impression.
There was an antique shop (kind of like the one in ‘Needful Things’) not far from my primary school, and I would go there after lessons and hang out with the extremely kind and patient cockney couple who ran it. That’s where I bought a well-thumbed second hand copy of James Herbert’s ‘Lair’, and that became the book I read the most times while at school.
I subsequently spent my teenage years glued to books by the usual suspects: James Herbert and Stephen King, with a touch of Ramsey Campbell thrown in just to shake things up a bit. Later on I discovered such wonderful writers as M.R. James and Edgar Allan Poe. And later still, the horror film director Richard Stanley lent me his copy of Richard Matheson’s ‘I am Legend’, which totally blew me away. Can’t imagine why I hadn’t come across it before – maybe because once I came out of teens and entered my twenties, I got the film bug and switched drastically from reading to watching horror films 24/7.
2 – Which writer has most influenced your style?
Jane Austen – she wrote very long sentences and I have been told that my sentences are far too long. But I’ve been working on this, and am currently capable of writing sentences that consist of a phrase or even a single word.
Jane Austen was the author that was rammed down my throat most at school (not that I minded). I went to a private girls’ school, where I was pretty unhappy much of the time. There was no school uniform and I probably did myself no favours by going to school in an Ozzy Osbourne T-shirt (I was in love with Ozzy Osbourne when I was twelve). For some reason my Ozzy T-shirt seemed to inspire unadulterated hatred in some of my fellow pupils, and I remember one of them cornering me in the locker-room and telling me that Ozzy Osbourne and I should be shot (she later went on to be a pop star for a while). And all this paid for by my unsuspecting, hard-working parents.
I must just add that I did get to read some great books thanks to my school – such as ‘Catch 22’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’, and some amazing Latin texts by writers such as Virgil and Ovid, which I think also influenced me in some way.
3 – What’s the future for the horror genre?
There are a vast number of extremely talented horror writers out there – even just looking at the UK alone. And I believe that there are many discerning and open-minded horror readers too (and not infrequently the two are interchangeable). So I think that as long as there are courageous and persevering publishers and editors, such as Charles Black, who are willing to keep working hard and putting their own money into publishing horror books, and people such as yourself willing to give up vast amounts of time and energy in order to promote horror on websites such as the Black Abyss, the Vault of Evil, Horrorworld, Welcome to the Hellforge, to name but a few, the genre will do just fine. I think there is room both for print publication and for e-books – including self-published ones, as long as they’ve been well edited – and I think and hope that horror will never die!
4 – Which book do you wish you had written?
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I can’t believe I’m saying this, as I know how ridiculously pretentious it sounds. But when it comes to the written word, Will is my all time hero. Not only is his use of language and imagery amazing, he also wrote a hell of a lot of horror.
More recently (i.e. in terms of authors who haven’t been dead for a long time), I wish I’d written William Peter Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist’ or even ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak – a book written from the point of view of Death, who seems to suffer from some form of synaesthesia – what’s not to be envious of?
5 – What writing equipment could you not live without?
Wish I could say a piece of parchment and a quill dipped in blood (or at least pen and paper), but – I am ashamed to admit it – it’s my laptop.
6 – Do you plan in detail before starting a new piece of writing?
I am working on the planning thing. Normally I start by throwing random thoughts down onto a page. This usually happens at about 4 in the morning when I’ve just gone to bed and am desperate to go to sleep.
7 – Ebooks or Paper Books?
Paper books!!! Apart from loving the look and feel and smell of paper books, I am such a technophobe that anything other than paper books is simply outside my comfort zone. This is probably some kind of contradiction with regards to the fact that I can’t live without my laptop, but I’m the first to admit that I rarely manage to practise what I preach.
8 – Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror!!! Weird Fiction and Dark Fiction are good too, but Horror will always be my great love.
9 – Who should I read next?
Again, I would have to say any of the writers who’ve been in Charles Black’s very fine Black Books of Horror. I could start listing my favourites, such as Reggie Oliver (wish I could write ghost stories like he can), but the list would go on forever.
Paul Finch has just started editing, as well as of course writing great prose, and he will undoubtedly be featuring writers well worth reading.
That’s just for starters, as – like I’ve already mentioned – there are a great many talented horror writers in the UK, be they published in print or digitally, whether by publishers or by themselves.
10 – What was your last book and what is your next book?
I am just in the process of pitching my first book to publishers. It’s a collection of novelettes, called ‘Bloody Britain’. As you might guess, the stories are all set in the UK and have a lot of blood in them. The first story in the collection takes place in the near future, in the Tower of London, which has been turned into a detention and concentration camp for terror suspects. All the commotion has unleashed the Tower’s ghosts, including the ghost of a 16th century executioner who jumps at the opportunity to chop off some fresh heads.
The idea behind publishing a book of long short stories is to have something in hand that I can send out to film producers, in the hope that one of them will want to work with me to turn one of the novelettes into a film script and then a film.
If I manage to get ‘Bloody Britain’ off to a good start, I’ll start looking for a home for a collection of my short stories, which I’ll probably call ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. Fingers crossed.
You kindly said I could provide a link to my work at this point, so here’s a link to my page on the Internet Movie Database, which lists the films I’ve made and worked on. With the exception possibly of ‘Ela’, which is a ghost story, none of my films are really horror films – which is a situation I’d like to rectify at the earliest possible opportunity.