Horror Across the Pond

via The Guardian:

Women writers turn to the horror story
Jeanette Winterson and Helen Dunmore among famous names venturing into the horror genre this year

Helen Dunmore: hoping to scare the wits out of her readers. Photograph: Christopher Jones / Rex Features

As an icy wind blows in from the east, the grip of a good horror story is tightening its hold on many of Britain’s leading literary talents. Terrifying new novels from outspoken author Jeanette Winterson and from the acclaimed novelist and children’s writer Helen Dunmore are at the head of a blast of chilling fiction heading for British bookshops.

Where once an accomplished “lady novelist” in search of a change might have attempted a neat whodunnit or perhaps a cosy “Aga saga”, suddenly the unholy desire to create a horror or ghost story has seized a range of established talents. Even the television book club presenter Judy Finnigan has been drawn to the genre for her debut novel, a ghost story that will be out this autumn.

Winterson, who had her first success with the novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, will try her hand at scaring her readers witless this summer with a story based on the infamous Pendle witch trials held at Lancaster castle in 1612. Dunmore, the writer much loved for her children’s books, poetry and award-winning novels, has followed suit. Her first horror novel, a supernatural thriller called The Greatcoat, has been published by Hammer Books, the imprint of the now revived film studios that brought British cinema audiences a succession of gory titles from the 1950s to the 1970s. Dunmore’s debut marks the publisher’s decision to commission a series of original works rather than rely on the novelisations of horror films which it also publishes.

“The interesting fiction at the moment is playing with genres, slipping between them,” said Hammer publisher Selina Walker. “So we’re approaching all the literary or established greats to see whether they would like to write something with a paranormal twist.”

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