Pippa Bailey lives north of the wall in the Scottish Highlands. Principally a horror writer she’s known for supernatural horror with a vile sense of humor and has been published alongside Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum and more recently with her partner Myk Pilgrim. Their collections Poisoned Candy and Bloody Stockings can be found through most good book retailers.
When she’s not writing Pippa is an independent reviewer and YouTube personality at Deadflicks with Myk.
You can spot her drinking too much tea, making terrible puns, and bothering the local wildlife at www.pippabailey.co.uk.
Pippa, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I am envious that you live in the Scotland Highlands while I am stranded across the pond. Maybe it is not all that I romanticize it to be, but I think we can agree there are worse places to live than above the wall. I am curious how the landscape and culture have inspired you to write? Is the area you grew up in known for supernatural horror tales?
I hate to pour salt onto that wound, but Scotland certainly is beautiful. I’ve lived in the country on and off over the last 20 years, having most recently moved to the Highlands July last year. Although my day job working for a Criminal Court does dull some of the shine there is always something to be amazed by. I have been inspired to write based on some of the places I’ve visited up here, and particularly Edinburgh where a lived for a couple years. If you ever get a chance to visit, do, the architecture is stunning. I’m a sucker for castles and old stonework, churches and old glass find their way into most of my stories in one way or another.
The area I grew up in is a small village called Albrighton, in Shropshire, England. Now that place has some interesting history, its full title is “Albrighton, home of the English Rose” as there are world famous rose gardens tucked away inside. A few years ago, a 700-year-old Templar Knight cave was found inside a rabbit warren in a field on the outskirts and lastly, the village is over 1000 years old and features in the doomsday book of 1066.
My old village has inspired a great deal of my stories, and the rose gardens are the starting point for my “Trunk Novel” as Myk calls it. It’s hidden in a box until I know what to do with it. Until then I have far more things to work on. Most places I’ve lived have a few secrets and mysteries, Albrighton being attached to a military base always lead to much intrigue when I was a child and lived there, you spend days imagining you’re a spy or there could be spies wondering around, as you climb trees and get yourself in all sorts of trouble.
To be honest, some of the first books I read from my youth to my adolescence years were horror novels. Scared Stiff and Scared to Death by Jahnna N. Malcom, The Omen by David Seltzer, and Red Dragon by Thomas Harris to name a few. Do you have a favorite horror novel? Any others that you would credit as being must-reads in the horror community?
It’s great you’ve done some horror reading! Sometimes it can be hard going to get your teeth into. I’d have to say Cabal by Clive Barker was the first book that I considered to be a must-read. My dad handed it to me when I was 7, and I’ve never looked back. By that point I’d already been the weird kid camped out on her bedroom floor with piles of Goosebumps and Shivers books, and my dad’s Walkman blaring David Bowie. Cabal is an extreme wet dream of a book, filled to the brim with sex, death, demons, and passion. It was adapted into a movie called “Nightbreed” of which there are two cuts, the Clive Barker directors cut, and the cut that should have been burned upon creation. The story, when reduced to its concentrated meaning is exploring the concept that man is the true monster. When an adaptation gets messed with so much that the original meaning is lost it’s a damn shame. I believe they’re currently adapting it for a TV show currently, which I am very excited about.
Your latest release, Bloody Stockings, was co-written with your other half, Myk Pilgrim, who I imagine is a wellspring of happiness, love, and dark humor. This was your second publication with Myk, following Poisoned Candy. Which one of your stories is better than all the rest? What is it about?
Damn, that’s a hard question. Writing the two books was fun and working with Myk made them the easiest creations we’ve ever birthed. We manage to bounce ideas off each other. I help him trim down the excess fat, keep things streamlined and he helps me push that extra 2% to create a well-rounded fun story. I couldn’t do it without him.
My favorite story in the two books would actually be one of Myk’s but my own favorite would have to be My Uncle Nelson, I could try and explain it but it’s better to just show you.
My Uncle Nelson is never very good with gifts. I’m a big boy now, but he still always gets me socks and never toys, it makes me sad because I really like Uncle Nelson.
Last year was different, he got me everything I’d asked for, like the new comic books and my Spiderman toy. He even got my mummy some new earrings. She liked them very much.
He didn’t come back after Christmas dinner.
Mummy put on the news, it’s not fun, but she likes to know what’s happening. A report came on saying people who lived near me had been done in, and their presents stolen.
Mummy called the police when the tv put a funny picture up of a man up, she said it looked like Uncle Nelson.
I had thought it was a bit odd when the gift tag on my Spiderman said Stuart, everyone normally calls me Kevin.
Best Christmas ever.
I think this story was the most fun to write as it’s very tongue-in-cheek and I found myself giggling as I fiddled around with its structure. Pretty much if a story makes Myk laugh I know I’m on to a winner. With the books containing a large amount of gore and literal horror, I like to step away and add a humorous spin on something a little darker. A guy robbing families at Christmas to please someone else’s kids, that fear of strange relatives having a hidden secret is always fun to play around with.
You have also published multiple stories in magazines and anthologies, including 100 Word Horrors, Dark Places, Evil Faces, and Sparks: an Electric Anthology. I have a fascination and appreciation with the short story. What do you think they have to offer readers that longer works of fiction cannot provide?
I think short stories have a way of grabbing the reader more quickly. A novel needs to build the ground work with a slow burn, small reveals to keep the reader impatient to turn the next page. A short story is designed to smack the reader in the face and make them take notice. Simple principles of writing flash fiction or short stories is to limit the number of characters, to simplify the relationship structures. Use power words throughout, although this is used in novels, in flash fiction you want things to bang, fizz and pop straight off the mark, you need your reader to be stuck in that pit of freezing water and smell the stench of the body beside them for the length of the story. Flash fiction is all about impact.
The 100 Word Horror book, featured drabbles, so, stories of only 100 words, which limits you even further. Myk and I have just had stories accepted to the second book, so you can keep an eye out for them at the end of February. My favorite short story is currently still almost two years old without a home and is currently sitting with an anthology awaiting acceptance or rejection, that story is called Abyssal Fluid.
Before I let you go, we must talk about Trumpocalypse, which was released by Horrified Press in 2017. Give us a synopsis of this collection of dystopian fantasy and your specific contribution.
This book is one of the odd ones I don’t often talk about. I’ll be rather honest with this point. I stopped really associating with the book as two of the authors involved unfortunately showed a great deal of inappropriate behavior towards women in the industry. Based on that fact I distanced myself from Trumpocalypse and Gruesome Grotesques.
Now that moment is over, I’ll tell you about the story.
The Ballad of Tiny Hands, The Day he got the Clap is a bizarro story fairytale about one man with tiny hands and how he tried to take over the world, he has a trusty label maker for sticking his name on everything, especially big walls. After his friend Putin supplies him with a magic potion which not only makes his hands bigger, it gives him the ability to make people like and support him… just not quite in the way he expects as giant boils covering his skin explode, releasing thousands of tiny brain slug-Things (thing Adam’s family Thing) which run wild and hook onto people and forcing them to vote for and support Tiny Hands. He is eventually defeated by the Democats – an arm of cats that are able to pluck the hands off their victims. Along with the Snowshalists which are able to freeze the evil hands, before the Democats head in for attack. Also, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders show up on flying horses…
Yeah… it’s a bit of an odd story.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything more you would like to add?
You can expect to see a collection from Myk Pilgrim and I, called Rancid Eggs. The two of us have stories in 100 Word Horrors 2, and a story due from each of us to an un-announced book… which I don’t think I can tell you about yet. I would like to have one of my collections and the first couple of books from an erotic comedy series out by the middle of the year.
It has been a pleasure, Pippa! Please tell us where fans can find you online or in the upcoming year at events.
I’d like to say I had something in the works but as of yet, we haven’t planned any events – you might spot us at Edge-Lit in July.
Online you can find me here
And look for www.youtube.com/theghoulguides or deadflicks for me and Myk on YouTube.