When did you start writing?
I dabbled with writing for many years, doing the occasional course and punching out
a few chapters before giving up in disgust. But after a few surprisingly successful
attempts at Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and some pre-40 th birthday
navel gazing, I made a promise to myself to take my writing seriously, and I’ve been
obsessed ever since.
What made you chose horror, it is sometimes regarded as a particularly hard genre
to break into?
I’ve always been attracted to the dark and spooky. I’ve often wondered where this
predilection came from. Was it seeing Poltergeist too young? Or hiding behind the
couch from episodes of Dr Who? I’ve tried other genres but my writing always seems
to come back to a supernatural or occult theme. Maybe horror has chosen me.
Horror is also such a broad genre, I consider myself more of a supernatural mystery
writer, rather than a hard core splatterpunk devotee. Give me gothic tropes and
witches and ghosts any day.
Who are your writing influences?
My writing influences change all the time but some of the horror books I often re-read
include the classics – Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, Pet Semetary by Stephen King
and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Other wonderfully spooky books I’ve read
recently include The Binding Song by Elodie Harper (a grim story about prison and
avenging demons) and Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (a haunted arctic expedition).
Have you had any supernatural experiences yourself?
I once lived in an old house in Hobart with a dining room which was always cold,
uninviting and rarely used. One night I had a dream about a man with a 19 th century
style moustache standing behind the dining room door, just standing there, watching,
his face blank and pale. It still gives me shivers to this day.
What are you reading right now?
I have just finished re-reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: a gloriously gothic
dark mystery based around the Vlad Tepes myths filled with spooky librarians,
strange books and family secrets. Now I’m reading a book which is terrifying in a
different way Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry: a version of Patricia Highsmith’s
Strangers on a Train in light of the #metoo movement.
Tell me about The Flower and The Serpent. What inspired it?
The Flower and The Serpent is a supernatural story set during a high school
production of Macbeth in a school with a dark past. I based the story on my own
student theatre experiences and I vividly remember how spooky the school buildings
were during the evenings and weekends when everyone else had gone home.
Macbeth is of course a great backdrop for anything supernatural, as well as
exploring the horrors of ambition and ego.
What is next for you?
I have two projects in the pipeline – Bloodwood: a vampire novella coming out later
this year and Black Soil, White Bread: a folk horror mystery scheduled for 2021.
Who am I?
Madeleine D’Este is a writer, reviewer and podcaster from Melbourne Australia.
Growing up in Tasmania, Madeleine now lives in inner city Melbourne surrounded by books. After studying law (and never practising) and travelling the world, Madeleine now lives a double life, immersed in the corporate world by day and writing female-led science fiction by night.
When not writing, Madeleine enjoys podcasts, knitting, forteana, indie films, kettle bells and long blacks.
Follow Madeleine on Twitter here.
I hope that you enjoyed this interview with Madeleine, another wonderful Women of Horror. Thank you and, as always, sleep well …