Irish Horror Writers Month – Interview with Iseult Murphy
Tell us a bit about yourself? Name, State or country? What is your connection to Irish Heritage? Do you know what part of Ireland your ancestors came from? Do you live close to where they lived? Have you visited there?
Hello! My name is Iseult Murphy. I live in County Louth on the East Coast of Ireland, about 40 minutes from the capital city of Dublin.
How and when did you start writing?
I am fortunate to be the youngest of a large family, and I have a lot of siblings who are interested in reading and writing. I started writing my first novel when I was 7. In my teens, I won several short story competitions, and in my twenties I began to take writing more seriously and started submitting my work to publications.
Why write Horror?
I have always been drawn to horror. The world is a scary place, and I think the horror genre gives us the most freedom to explore our fears. They can be surface fears, or societal fears or deep seated existential fears. Horror is a safe place to shine a light on the struggles of life, revealing the best of us in the worst situations. It is also great fun.
What inspires you to write?
I get inspiration from everywhere. Sometimes my dreams inspire my stories, other times it is an overheard conversation or a headline in the news. I am very inspired by the natural world. I love animals and finding out about their behaviors and life cycles. There are some creepy things happening out there in nature! I also am very interested in myths, legends and folklore. Most of those tales are pretty dark, which is why I like them. One of my stories, ‘The Village Shop’, was inspired by a speech and drama festival I attended. One of the trophies was sponsored by ‘The Village Shop’, but village was spelled wrong, and it made me wonder what kind of things were sold in a vile-age shop.
Does being Irish inspire any part of your writing?
I think so. I love the myths and legends of Ireland. I’ve written several stories that deal with elements from Irish mythology. My short story ‘Heart of Gold’ has leprechauns, Irish gods and the amadan – a creature from Irish folktales who is said to wander the roads in August, and if you see him you will go insane.
What scares you?
Zombies. They are everywhere now, so most people have a plan on how to survive the ZA, but I’ve been planning my strategy since childhood. Body horror always gets me. Scott Sigler’s Infected made my skin crawl in all the best ways. I am very interested in transformation, both physical and psychological, and anything that explores having your identity being destroyed, or being trapped in a way that stops you from being able to communicate, really scares me. I read Kafka’s Metamorphosis when I was in my early teens, and the idea of being trapped as a giant bug without being able to communicate, and being forced to accept the changes to your life because of your physicality, really got to me. I know it has a deeper message, but the actual surface level story really made my skin crawl and stayed with me. Jeff Vandermere’s Southern Reach Trilogy gets to me for those reasons as well.
Who is your favorite author?
I have so many! My top 5 are Bram Stoker, Richard Matheson, Garth Nix, Peter S Beagle and J.R.R Tolkien.
What is your creative process like? What happens before you sit down to write?
I like to plan everything out in meticulous detail. I love world building, drawing maps and character sketches and filling notebooks on theme and mood. I have an atmosphere, or color palette, that I want to come across with each piece I write, so the story is percolating in my head for a while to work out the best way to bring that across. I like to shut off the internal editor, which is hard to do, and write the first draft as quickly as possible. The second draft is for bringing the story closer to my original vision.
Tell us about your current projects.
I have recently finished a novella about a woman who sets out to discover what she is, after surviving being burned at the stake. I am also working on two dark fantasy novels, and I’ve just started planning a horror novel, as I’m in the mood to write something gritty and dark.
What have you written and where can our readers find it?
My collection of 9 horror short stories, 6 previously published and 3 new, is called Zoo of the Dead and Other Horrific Tales and is widely available wherever eBooks are sold. Subscribers to my newsletter at http://www.iseultmurphy.com get a free short story every month. This month’s story, ‘Return to Hades’, is the story of a space mutant who journeys into the past to be reunited with a loved one.
Iseult Murphy lives on the east coast of Ireland with two cats, five dogs, a kakariki and a couple of humans. She writes horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. Her work has appeared in over a dozen venues, including The Drabblecast and Alban Lake’s Drabble Harvest. A collection of her horror short stories, Zoo of the Dead and Other Horrific Tales’ is available on Amazon and other eBook retailers.