MATT ELPHICK is a writer of dark fantasy and Folk Horror who draws inspiration from the countryside he grew up in, local folklore, and mythology. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and lives in the South East of England. When not parenting or reading, Matt can be found watching obscure horror films and preening his excessively styled beard. Despite wanting to be a writer since he was four, Matt has so far successfully procrastinated his way out of writing his first novel. This may (or may not) change in 2023.
The Fiends in the Furrows III: Final Harvest
What do you like most about Folk Horror?
Folk Horror is my happy place, my warming balm. I crave the dark and lingering embrace of something grounded in the landscape, that speaks of older ways of being, and our relationship with the natural world. Folk Horror gives me all of this and the vicarious thrill of experiencing terror through a protagonist who’s blundered into a situation they weren’t prepared for. For me, there is no more perfect representation of the Horror genre.
And yet, as a genre, it is so hard to define. It’s the equivalent of the shadow moving at the edge of your vision just to disappear when you give it your full attention (or as David says, trying to make a box the exact shape of mist). Many people have tried (Adam Scovell’s folk horror chain is the best working framework at the moment) but it’s still elusive. How do you define the indefinable? This is part of the allure for me.
What inspired you to write your FIENDS III story?
I grew up in rural Gloucestershire only a short car ride from the real Cooper’s Hill and, although I’ve never attended the cheese rolling myself, I have always found it an intriguing and unusual tradition. To my mind, it must have its roots in a much older ritual, but I was unable to find anything in my research. Frustrated by this I did what any good writer does and, to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, made some stuff up and wrote it down.
I’m also obsessed with the landscape of Gloucestershire and The Cotswolds more widely – the rolling hills, ancient farms, and dark forests – and will use any excuse to feature it in my writing.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
I’m currently finishing off a handful of short stories, all of which have at least a flavour of folk horror about them. In the next couple of years, I’d like to pull together all of my folk horror shorts into a collection, so that’s always at the back of my mind.
I’m also in the very early stages of planning a horror novella that mixes memories from my childhood and folklore (both real and imagined).
Like the caricature of a horror writer I am, I live in a money pit of a draughty Victorian house, which also takes up vast swathes of time that should be used for writing.