A ghost visited Catriona Ward When i was a child. She was 13 years old and then slept in the house that her well-traveled family kept in a remote part of Great Britain. Accustomed to living in places like Kenya, Yemen, Morocco or Madagascar following an economist father who led water scarcity projects in developing countries, no place seemed more exotic to the preteen than that green hill.
“One night, I felt a presence in my room, I didn’t see the person or smell them but I knew that there was someone there and that they were not looking for anything good. And then I felt perfectly how their hand touched me. I told my sister, but not to adults. Why? Because fear is embarrassing and adults don’t want to admit it. Those hypnagogic hallucinations, as I was later told they were called, later continued to occur to me in other places. I had the feeling very early on that it wasn’t the places that were haunted, but rather that I was the one who was haunted, that I had a demon caged inside me. And I couldn’t write about anything other than fear,” she says.
We asked Catriona Ward about the publication of her new novel, mirror bay (Alianza, 2023), what does she think when they call her the new queen of terror and she laughs and assures that she would be happy in general to be queen of anything. With only four novels published in the last eight years It has become the most original and impressive literary novelty in a genre that has as many readers as little recognition. Playing with motifs recognizable to fans – oppressive families, serial killers, ghosts – Ward ruthlessly subverts them. It is no longer just that in their stories, woven in layers and layers superimposed with strange communications between them, nothing is what it seems. There is always something even worse.
“Horror in the hierarchy of genres is very low, it seems like a despicable art,” he laments. “It seems to me to be a big mistake, we are not able to understand what a horror book can do for us. A book in general is a meeting point between the minds of two people, the only way we have to know what it means to be another . AND a horror novel reveals something very intimate to you of that other, because fear is born in the deepest and most honest thing we have, our vulnerability.
Ward is pure nerve. During the interview we have on Zoom, she moves non-stop: she messes up her blonde hair, gesticulates, laughs, raises her hands… Once she was a lonely girl, unable to keep friends in her wandering around half the world, tied to her family no longer. the books. Books like those of Stephen King that, when she recently stated on Twitter that she was terrified of the young writer’s novels, it shocked her: “I started screaming. I couldn’t believe it. In my years of loneliness, King’s books helped me a lot in difficult times. In reality, Terror has a beneficial effect on adolescents because it helps them deal with new, difficult feelings that they have no idea how to address. When I suffered those hallucinations, I thought that Stephen King’s books weren’t actually telling something stranger than what my life as a teenager was already like. Adolescence is even stranger than a horror novel and his books were a guide. For me there is no more important writer in the world and, when I think about it, I can’t believe he even knows my name. If you had told me yo 12 years old, I would scream too.