PS: Welcome Alison.
AL: Thanks Priya! It’s good to be here.
PS: What’s in your room at The Hyde Hotel?
AL: Mine is the dull, lifeless room of a budget flophouse, so pretty much lost dreams and faded loves and mean little bars of soap still cracked and hairy from someone else’s use. It has the basic things that are required for life but none that are needed for the soul; in short, it really isn’t all that a hotel room could be.
PS: Where did Leslie, your protagonist, come from?
AL: I really don’t know. I think he might have been wandering around the corridors for some time, looking for the place he truly belongs and never quite finding it. He certainly seemed to start talking to me as if he’d been there all along. He’s pretty used to hotel rooms, since he’s a travelling salesman, though the Hyde might be a little outside his comfort zone. He recognises the motivational posters on the walls though, the kind with aspirational words printed over pictures of sunsets, though something about them makes him a little uneasy . . .
PS: Your story made me think about the room/building as a metaphor for the mind. Were you conscious of that when you were writing this piece?
AL: I wasn’t really conscious of it, no. That seems to happen sometimes – I discover there’s more going on as I write. I was pretty much exploring the place along with Leslie, though on reflection the hotel definitely takes what’s inside him and brings it into the light, as murky and shifting a light as that is in the Hyde.
PS: Do you have a favourite story in Hyde Hotel collection?
AL: I really enjoyed ‘Something Like Blood’ by Alex Davis. It was especially nice to read because I’d met Alex before but never read his fiction. It establishes a delicious note of unease very quickly and doesn’t let go. ‘The Sealed Window’ by Mark West is a cracker too.
PS: What’s the appeal of the hotel as a setting?
AL: I loved the concept of this anthology. The idea of all the stories happening in its different rooms and the characters perhaps bumping into each other in the foyer or sitting next to one another at dinner seemed like a lot of fun. The hotel is naturally a place where disparate people, who would never normally interact, can come together, so the possibilities were endless.
PS: What’s your favourite hotel story/film?
AL: That would have to be the short story ‘1408’ by Stephen King. It’s one of his most frightening, but then, he does have something of a reputation when it comes to haunted hotels (I’m sure everyone is thinking of The Shining right now, so I won’t harp on about it!). The movie Vacancy is rather good fun, suspenseful and scary. The Grand Budapest Hotel is just beautiful – I loved how each image on the screen was seen through a frame or split into thirds or halves, so that the visual style becomes almost like a game.
PS: Do you have any new projects you can talk about?
AL: I’ve just finished final edits on The Hidden People. It’s the first novel I’ve set entirely in the past, in the mid nineteenth century. Essentially, a young man discovers that his cousin has been murdered, accused of being a fairy changeling. So he travels to her home of Halfoak, a village steeped in superstition and myth, where the hidden people are said to dwell in the hollow hills. It’s due for release in hardback later this year. I loved writing it, but it’s time now to start on something new. I’m staying immersed in Victorian times though – there are too many wonders and possibilities in that era not to stick around for a while. I just need to get over the terrors of the blank page, which never seem to get any easier! I’m also working on a collaboration with a talented artist friend, Daniele Serra, which will be across between a mini short story collection and an art book called Five Feathered Tales.
Alison Littlewood is the author of A Cold Season, published by Jo Fletcher Books. The novel was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as “perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.” Her sequel, A Cold Silence, has just been published, along with a Zombie Apocalypse! novel, Acapulcalypse Now.
Alison’s short stories have been picked for Best British Horror 2015, The Best Horror of the Year and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. She also won the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction with her story The Dog’s Home, published in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories.
Alison lives with her partner Fergus in Yorkshire, England, in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls. You can talk to her on twitter @Ali__L, see her on Facebook and visit her at www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk.