Remember my interview with Pamela Turner, one of the authors of Among the Headstones, an anthology of Gothic horror stories? Today, I’m interviewing Tylluan Penry, another one of the anthology’s authors.
Interview with Tylluan Penry
I know where some of them are buried, but most are scattered all over the place, some in Ireland, Scotland, Northumberland, and other parts of Wales.
One of my ancestors is a well-attested ghost known as Bella, who ‘walks’ in Llandaff. Her husband kept a pub, and just a month after they were married she was seen running down to the River Taff where she drowned herself. Since then, there have been many reports from people who have seen her ghostly figure running down the same route to the river. I must admit I’ve not seen her though.
As a reader, what kind of short stories do you enjoy most?
I like stories that make me think, make me feel something for the characters. Unreliable narrators are a wonderful bonus. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, The Yellow Wallpaper, you could feel the main character’s pain and bewilderment as she falls apart. I also love W W Jacob’s The Monkey’s Paw. I often tell would-be witches to read it before trying to cast spells. It’s a great example of ‘Be careful what you wish for…’
Who are your favourite Horror authors? What do you like about them?
James Herbert was clever at mixing horror, humour, and often, sex. Daphne de Maurier is a mixture of Gothic and Horror and I love her stories too. Even with a happy (well, almost happy) ending, such as in Rebecca, there is a strong hint of sorrow and darkness, which is very realistic. I was hooked on Jamaica Inn when I was about thirteen. I like Edgar Allen Poe too, and Arthur Machen used Welsh backgrounds for some of his stories. Basically, I’ll read anything I can get my hands on!
Who is your favourite Gothic author? Why?
My favourite Gothic author is probably Mary Stewart, especially her novel Thornyhold. It’s a book that just keeps on giving, and perhaps, as a witch myself, I’m attracted to the subtle elements of witchcraft in it. I’ve re-read it loads of times. It speaks to me on some level I’ve never been able to explain.
As a writer, what are your literary influences?
I never quite recovered from reading Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre when I was about 12. I loved the way the houses became characters in their own right. My other favourite authors include Mary Stewart, M R James, Charles Dickens, and of course, Alexander Cordell. I can remember the wonderful feeling of recognition when I first read his books because the narrative voice was so beautifully Welsh. It was magic. It felt like coming home. Then I discovered Dylan Thomas and I was enchanted.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember my first ‘big’ effort was when I was about seven. It rambled on for many pages, about the adventures of a disabled girl called Audrey (who was in a wheelchair) and her friends. I took the story to school to show my teacher who never even read it, but said the handwriting was not neat enough and she couldn’t possibly show it to the headteacher. I didn’t finish it after that. My schoolfriends enjoyed the story, however, but I never risked showing my writing to any other teachers.
Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
For A Star in the Mist it began with an archaeological paper that mentioned a sixth-century Byzantine jewel that was found at a site in Mid Wales. That set me off wondering – who did it belong to? How did it get here? Why bring it to Wales? What happened to its owner? Although I didn’t use the jewel in my story, I did make the male MC a native of Byzantium, fleeing westwards with his father, both of them physicians.
Although the jewel started things off, I included things like the Dragon’s Breath (local name for mist in our valley) and the Welsh legend of the Brenin Llwyd or Old Grey King of the Mist. Gradually the pieces came together, but it all began with that Byzantine jewel, and the story wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t read about that. I keep my eyes open for inspiration. I think you need to look for it, and not just wait for it to happen.
I also listen to the conversations around me. Valleys people tell wonderful, funny stories even when talking about the weather. Sheer magic. I couldn’t make it up.
About the Author, Tylluan Penry
Tylluan Penry is a pagan solitary witch who has devoted much of her life to teaching about the Craft. She was born and brought up in a family of witches (on her mother’s side) although all they ever did was hex, i.e. cast curses, which made childhood a horror story in its own right! When she managed to leave this tradition (and her family, though it wasn’t easy) she moved on to develop her own solitary path which she called ‘Seeking the Green.’ Over the years she has developed this further and written about many topics including Ice Age spirituality, the Anglo-Saxons, Knot Magic, and Magic on the Breath.
She is married, has a large family, including grandchildren, dogs, and lives in a rather ramshackle home with an overgrown garden, together with ghosts, spirits, and the Gentle Folk. There is a huge cemetery opposite her home which ought to be scary but is actually very serene and peaceful. She has always loved writing, and wrote her first (very) short story when she was six, soon progressing to full-length stories. She has now written and published almost 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction. Most can be found here: https://shop.thewolfenhowlepress.com/ This is the indie press she set up back in 2011.
Some of her fiction is on Kindle under the name T P Penry. Her book in the anthology, ‘Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard’ is based firmly in Wales, with a smattering of golf balls, gravestones, and the Highway Code. She has always believed that creepy stories need a good pinch of humour in order to work well (at least, in her experience.)
Tylluan also has a YouTube Channel, with over two hundred videos about solitary witchcraft here.
Among The Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard
Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.
You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, the USA, Australia, South Africa, and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.
Now let’s open the gate – can you hear it creak on its hinges? – and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.
But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.
Purchase Link: https://mybook.to/Headstones
The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.)
The paperback is already published.