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by | Dec 14, 2023 | Contributors, Interviews, The Fiends in the Furrows III | 0 comments

Thersa Matsuura

THERSA MATSUURA is a graduate of Clarion West (2015), a recipient of the HWA’s Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship (2015), and the author of two short story collections, A Robe of Feathers and Other Stories (Counterpoint Press LLC) and The Carp-Faced Boy and Other Tales (Independent Legions Press), the latter of which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (2017). She’s also had stories published in various magazines, anthologies, and serialized in newspapers. Her short story “Zipper Back” is coming out this year in Horror Library Vol.8 (Dark Moon Books). Thersa has lived in Japan for over thirty years and uses her fluency in the language to do research into parts of the culture— legends, folktales, and superstitions—that aren’t well known to a Western audience. A lot of what she digs up informs her stories or is fodder for her podcast Uncanny Japan. She also has a Patreon page where monthly she reads an obscure Japanese folktale that she’s translated and (sometimes) reimagined. There are also recipes, videos of temples and shrines and travels, etc. at

The Fiends in the Furrows III: Final Harvest

“Child of the Gods”

What do you like most about Folk Horror?

One of my earliest memories — I had to have been around three years old because we were living in Alaska at the time — is a recurring nightmare of some looming evil “presence” living in the shadows of our unfinished basement. It was there all the time but would call to me when I was asleep. It came all through my childhood. To this day I can remember that visceral, primal, unescapable fear that it provoked in me.

Maybe because of that, I’ve always been a little jaded by some of the things that are labeled as horror out there. Jump scares, over-the-top gore, and predictable storylines don’t really grab my attention. But give me a good folk horror story and that will stay under my skin and never leave, much like that basement monster. It seems to be the only horror that really sticks.

And the irony that I’m living in a relatively rural area in Japan where superstitions, traditions, and old wives tales prevail isn’t lost on me.

What inspired you to write your FIENDS III story?

“Child of the Gods” was the converging to two seemingly unrelated things. The first one I stumbled upon last year after doing some research about the Hitobashira or Human Pillars. Basically, back in old Japan when castle walls needed to be fortified or tunnels needed to not collapse or maybe the local gods needed to be appeased, a person (usually a young woman or girl) would be buried alive as a sacrifice. Which is absolutely horrifying.

The second is a children’s song called “Toriyanse”. It’s very old, but still sung these days and I learned it when my son was little. My Japanese wasn’t great back then, but even I could tell the lyrics were a bit off. I decided to do more research on it for an episode and found all kinds of creepy and weird theories about those strange lyrics. On the surface, the whole song is about a mother taking her child on a journey. At one point there’s a back and forth between the mother and some kind of gatekeeper. The words are vague, but there are those who believe the song is actually about a mother delivering her daughter to a shrine to be offered as some kind of sacrifice.

I’ve also always been struck by the idea of how in old Japan children until the age of seven were called “Kami no Ko” or “Children of the Gods”. The reason was that infant mortality was so high that it was thought children weren’t quite tethered to this world yet. Anything (accidents, so many diseases, or famine) could come along and take them, so until the fateful age of seven, they still belonged to the gods.

What upcoming projects are you working on?

This year I readjusted my priorities so that I’ll have more time to write. I have about a dozen stories started and I plan to get all of them finished and submitted to various markets. I’m also going to dive back into my Yokai fantasy/adventure mid-grade novel that I’ve been excited about for literal years now, but just never found the time to write.

My other big idea is that while I’ll continue the UncannyJapan podcast, I’m also going to start a new experimental show of immersive mini-audio dramas or stories I’ve written. I’m excited to fool around with different ways of telling stories in the audio format. I want to try different genres, but I have three horror pieces that I cannot wait to get out there.


THE FIENDS IN THE FURROWS III: FINAL HARVEST is a collection of nineteen stories embodying the menacing essence of Folk Horror.

Folk Horror fans will uncover in these short stories tales of rampant rural monstrosity and agrarian horror within rustic settings, where dread sinks its roots deep into the earth to bring forth a bountiful crop of unforgettable terrors.

Nosetouch Press is proud to present THE FIENDS IN THE FURROWS III: FINAL HARVEST to horror readers everywhere.