Shirley Jackson

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I went to a talk last night at the Liverpool Playhouse, way up in the studio at the top of the theatre, which was lovely. It was a discussion about ‘Quiet Terror’ between Jeremy Dyson, writer of a favourite of mine, ‘The Haunted Book’ and much more, (Yes!The League of Gentlemen, but he must get sick of fans like myself mentioning the radio/TV series.) and local horror/science fiction/fantasy writer Ramsey Campbell.

There is a theatre production of ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ in production at the Playhouse until the 16th January, so the talk was in conjunction with that. Each spoke about how she had inspired them, when they had seen the film of ‘The Haunting’ (the good one, not ‘the other one’)  which for most people is how they come to appreciate Shirley Jackson, and how she had influenced horror since. I did feel a hackle rise when she was described as ‘delicate horror’! Don’t think ‘The Lottery’ can be described as ‘delicate’ can you ? But the phrase was quickly  and thankfully reversed to ‘Quiet Terror’.

There were readings by both authors, and the Q&A at the end which I always look forward to. Those few seconds of silence before a hand is raised really can be a ‘quiet terror’ for an author. They were asked if they had ever put themselves in any danger to write, supernaturally or otherwise; a cracking question. Ramsey Campbell explained about the house he lives in being haunted (‘scares off the burglars’) and it helping with his stories. Jeremy Dyson spoke more about ‘dangerous situations’ he had been in influencing him, which chimed with me. Real life is much more scary I think!!

Also, a member of the audience mentioned ‘The Loney’ by Andrew Michael Hurley, with its ‘Quiet Terror’, winning debut novel of the year at the Costa Book Awards recently, which made me very happy indeed, being a fan.

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The time went quickly, the conversation came to an end. I bought myself another copy of ‘The Haunted Book’ (This won’t be getting borrowed by a friend and never seen again!!)  and had it signed by the author. A good evening had, but any would be discussing Shirley Jackson.