CATHERINE McCARTHY weaves dark tales on an ancient loom from her 19th-century Welsh farmhouse. Her love of supernatural fiction is an ever-present ghost, and she enjoys haunting others through her words. She is the author of the collection Mists and Megaliths and the novella Immortelle, both of which are set in Wales. Her short fiction has been published in various anthologies and magazines, including those by Black Spot Books, Alienhead Press, and Dark Matter Ink. In July 2023 her Gothic novel, A Moonlit Path of Madness, was published by Nosetouch Press, and in August her novella, Mosaic, was published with Dark Hart Books. Forthcoming works include a YA novel, The Wolf and the Favour, from Brigids Gate Press (October 2023) and a weird psychological novella, The House at the End of Lacelean Street, with Dark Matter Ink (April 2024). Time away from the loom is spent hiking the Welsh coast path or huddled in an ancient graveyard reading Poe. Find her at catherine-mccarthy-author.com or at Twitter @serialsemantic.
The Fiends in the Furrows III: Final Harvest
“The Sickle and the Tithe”
What do you like most about Folk Horror?
In a nutshell, the timelessness of the genre. Yes, I know it can be set in the present, but I like mine to reek of past misdemeanours. When I read, I look for escapism, and I find it in the folklore of the past. I have always been drawn to the oral story-telling tradition and find the way in which folktales are passed down from generation to generation fascinating. I truly believe that more and more people are feeling out of touch with the demands of the modern world and that this has led to a resurgence of interest in the traditions and customs of the past. And of course, there’s always the morbid curiosity associated with
witchcraft and the dark elements of superstition. Look, I’m a Piscean, a dreamer. My survival tactic is to drown out the noise of the modern world and replace it with the safety of a past riddled with monsters, ghosts and demons. A past where supernatural entities are responsible for man’s ills, because unlike scientific causes they aren’t real, right? Right. I guess what I’m saying is that to some extent the world of horror, and folk horror in particular, provides escapism as well as quenching my thirst for how we lived in the past.
What inspired you to write your FIENDS III story?
My FIENDS III story is called The Sickle and the Tithe and was inspired not only by my love of folk horror but also my surroundings here in West Wales. I live in a rural part of Wales, dominated by farmland and wooded river valleys, but it is also within easy access of the coast. As you might imagine, the area is rife with folklore, legend and tradition. I often use the landscape as story inspiration, and The Sickle and the Tithe is no exception. The story is set in an imagined past and explores the tradition of sacrificing a member of the community to a band of reapers in reward for a guaranteed harvest. The family of those sacrificed to the reapers is gifted a corn dolly, hewn from the last sheaf, in memory of their loved one. The story is peppered with local folklore and is set around Carningli, a prehistoric hillfort, close to where I live. As I said, it is the landscape that often stimulates my story ideas.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
2023 will be busy for me as I have three books due to be published. Firstly, a Gothic novel from our very own Nosetouch Press called A Moonlit Path of Madness. Secondly, a novella called Mosaic from Dark Hart Books, and last but not least a YA crossover novel called The Wolf and the Favour from Brigids Gate Press. I guess I’ll be busy promoting this year.
As far as writing is concerned, I’m working on a novel about a clown in the midst of an existential crisis called Death of a Clown; Birth of an Artist. Sounds strange? You bet ya! As always, I’ll also be dabbling in short fiction and keeping an eye out for open calls with themes that tickle my fancy.
My thanks to Nosetouch Press for including my story in this anthology, and thanks to you, the reader…always.