Horror writing: Spring Haunts


22 April 2024
Discover what's in store at the unmissable Spring Haunts in-person writing weekend in York

With the Spring Haunts event on the horizon, we took some time to chat with event facilitator and Writing Magazine regular contributor Alex Davis to discuss what’s coming up at the event and horror at large!

Spring Haunts - book your place today!

Where? The Guildhall, York
When? 11 and 12 May (10am - 4pm)
Who? Four expert authors, facilitator Alex Davies, you… and perhaps a few uninvited guests?
Why? You'll be inspired in a remarkable setting in a historic city

WM: Tell us a little about how the Spring Haunts event came about

In many ways it’s the next step on what has been a trajectory of expanding the horror work we’ve been doing over the better part of a decade now! It started of course with the regular articles exploring genre fiction, and given how popular those seemed to be it was natural for us to move that into webinars, which have all been well received so far! When we went even bigger online with Winter Haunts (which will be back later this year by the way…) it seemed the next logical step was to go for an in-person writing weekend – and as such Spring Haunts was born!

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WM: What are you looking forward to over the weekend?

I’ve always gotta great buzz out of running events at large, as well as teaching and workshopping, so this role effectively combines those two things for me! I was lucky enough to set my own workshop topics too, so that has enabled me to select areas I think are particularly interesting and also really relevant to writers. And of course I’m very much looking forward to the four guest sessions, and meeting everyone who’s coming along for the weekend with us!

WM: Why run the event in York?

We spent some time throwing around places that would work really well for this sort of weekend, and we wanted a place with something of a spooky reputation and that would also be a really interesting place for people to visit – when we’re not workshopping of course! York has some wonderful and intriguing local ghost stories – not to mention the York Ghost Merchants, which anyone coming should try and get along to! – as well as being a good place to stay with good transport links. Throw in the Guildhall as a gorgeous building and it simply ticked every box we were looking for.

WM: How do you think the horror genre is doing right now?

There was a newspaper piece just a week ago stating that sales of horror were up 54% year on year from 2022-2023, so it certainly seems as though the sector is positively booming! There’s a lot of reasons for that, and one of those is a great wave of new writers – where the 70s and 80s had Stephen King, James Herbert, Brian Lumley etc. we have authors like Paul Tremblay, Josh Malerman, Grady Hendrix, Eric LaRocca… there’s just so much great talent out there at the top of their game.

And as strange as it might sound, I think the times we are living in have helped – while we might think people would turn to cheerier or more escapist literature when times are tough, it can often go the opposite way. Horror is a great way to reflect on real-world issues in an indirect way, enabling us to process the state of the world more easily. And perhaps there’s a little bit of ‘well, it could be worse’ when we read horror…

That’s without even discussing the equivalent rise in horror movies, TV shows, video games… I know it’s an old cliché, but it does really feel like we are living in a golden age for the genre right now. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s great to see.

WM: What got you into horror in the first place?

I think I was always drawn to darker things – my favourite shows even as a small child were things like Count Duckula and Trapdoor – and I distinctly remember reading a copy of James Herbert’s The Rats I picked up at a boot sale as my horror initiation! I used to go to the boot sales every Sunday with my Nan and Grandad and that was where I picked up so many of the books that shaped me – I would go with a couple of quid and could easily come back with four or five books for that!

I was always (and still am!) a big lover of horror films and another fond memory of mine was watching Alien for the first time with my Mum – and funnily enough I just showed that movie to my daughter the other week, and the apple doesn’t seem to have fallen far from the tree there…

WM: What are you reading/watching right now?

I’ve literally just finished reading Rachel Harrison’s short story collection Bad Dolls – which I thought was great  - and next on the slate is Paul Tremblay’s short story collection The Beast You Are. I’ve loved all his other work so no doubt this one will follow suit!

I’ve also just finished watching The Curse on Paramount, which I thought was a great series – very subtle on the horror side but there was something off-kilter all the way through, and that’s a quality I love. It said something about the darkness that can lie beneath someone’s exterior for sure. I must admit I’m also buzzing for the second series of Them to land on Amazon Prime – the first was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever watched, which is meant as a compliment!

WM: Where can people find out more about Spring Haunts?

You can check out the Eventbrite page at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/spring-haunts-2024-tickets-780669642917, where you can check out the full schedule, venue details and of course pick up your tickets for the weekend! We’re going to have loads going in, so I can’t wait to welcome everyone to the event!


Intrigued about the Haunts programme and what it has to offer horror writers? You can find out some of the takeaways from Winter Haunts here.