Francine Toon’s debut novel Pine opens with a young girl and her father driving on a darkened country road in the Scottish Highlands. They’re heading to the nearest settlement – a tiny collection of houses – to go “guising”, or trick-or-treating. Among the surrounding trees, they see a lone figure in a white dressing gown. This apparition haunts the following story, coming as close as young Lauren’s own fireside – where the lady in white is a hideous night-hag, barefoot, moving oddly, incapable of eating, wiping herself from the memory of any adult that encounters her – but otherwise seen in glimpses, as the weird and supernatural hovers over every aspect of Lauren’s childhood.
Andrew Michael Hurley’s superb Starve Acre ends his folk horror trilogy of novels exploring the eeriness of the rural landscapes that Hurley has immersed his fiction in since his debut The Loney was published in 2014. In this interview, I speak to Hurley about Starve Acre, genre boundaries, 70s British folk horror, and moving from the rural to the urban in his next novel.