Fearfest at Foyles in London

James Dawson and Karen Mahoney in the Green Room before Fearfest with Neil from Foyles

Yesterday I took part in Foyles Fearfest event, which brought together eight YA authors and fifty readers to talk about what scares them.


Each writer had ten minutes to talk about what influenced them to write about scary things – whether it was a ghostly experience as a child, a book we read, or a film we saw. Everyone took a different approach.

Sexy witch James Dawson reading Legacy

Ruth Warburton – author of A Witch in Winter – talked about reading the Malleus Maleficarum as research for her book. Its name means ‘Hammer of the Witches’, and it’s a guide witch hunters used long ago when looking for witches to burn.

Karen Mahoney – author of The Iron Witch – talked about seeing the TV movie of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot as a young child, and how it left her so terrified she’d make her mother stand at the foot of the stairs with a crucifix when she went upstairs at night.

James Dawson – author of Hollow Pike – talked about how our image of witches changed from evil to sexy over the years, and he wore an appropriate outfit to illustrate our current view of witches as sexy vixens.

I told the story of a murder I covered as a young reporter, in which a man was found floating at sea in a box after sailors reported seeing someone waving frantically for help. The only problem was, when they finally reached the man he was dead, and he’d been dead a long time. So how had he waved at them?


Getting snapped at the signing afterward

By the end of it we’d scared ourselves rather thoroughly, so it was a relief when writer Gareth P. Jones – author of Constable and Toop – sang a song and got us all to join in. Even if the song itself was rather spooky!

Gareth P. Jones with the YA Backing Singers (us)

Thanks so much to everyone who came. You made it all so fun – it’s an event I will remember for a long time. Even though all the lights were on and it was the middle of the day, didn’t it feel sometimes like we were sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories??


(L to R) Laura Powell, Sarah Mussi, me and Caroline Green



  1. erhm… That dubious sex witch has read the book long before me.
    That hurts… xD
    About the dead man screaming, I think they were two men (one dead and the other alive… screaming). The live drowned and sank. The body of the other was the one who stayed there. Maybe…

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