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#LoveOzYAbookclub October 2022 author Interview – POPPY NWOSU (Hometown Haunts)

An anthology is always a slightly different beast from a full length novel, and we have a great interview this month with Poppy Nwosu, who gives us some insight into the process of putting our October read HOMETOWN HAUNTS together. I’d love to see more horror fiction in Australian YA, so I’m all for it! Read on…

Hi Poppy! Can you tell us a bit about the backstory for the anthology, and how it came about?

Hi Ellie and everyone, thanks so much for choosing our anthology for your fantastic #LoveOzYA Book Club, I feel super proud!

This anthology really started as a passing thought, and one that I never expected to become reality. I thought it would be such a fun project to try to put together an anthology of amazing #LoveOzYA authors, as I was very inspired by the fantastic Begin, End, Begin (edited by Danielle Binks). But I really loved the idea of making this new anthology very horror-focused, because there wasn’t really anything like it already in Australian young adult fiction (that I knew of!). Also, I was excited for the project for the purely selfish reason (haha) that I really adore horror as a genre.

Poppy Nwosu

At first, it really felt like a pipe dream that would never happen, but the wonderful team at Wakefield Press worked hard to make it a reality. It was such a huge team effort to pull this book together and, if I’m honest, one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever worked on, purely because I felt so much responsibility toward our wonderful contributing authors and I really wanted all the writers involved to have a very positive experience. So yeah, that definitely kept me up sleepless on many nights! Though in the end, I feel so proud of how this anthology turned out and what everyone worked so hard to achieve. It’s been a real dream come true to be able to work with so many amazing people to bring this book into the world!

Is there something about writing short stories that appeals to you? Do you find writing short fiction or whole books tougher?

Okay, I feel my answer to this question will be a little unexpected, but when I initially began working on putting this anthology together, I hadn’t actually thought too deeply about how I would go about writing my own short horror story, as I was much too distracted with all the organisation and practicalities of the project. Until suddenly, I started receiving these incredible and exciting short horror stories into my inbox from heaps of amazing authors that I really admired and … it finally hit home that I had to write one of my own! And … I hadn’t really worked on many short stories at all before! So yeah, I had a small bout of imposter syndrome that hit very heavily.

So to be honest, writing a short horror story was a new challenge for me but something I was really excited to dive into. I spent a lot of time thinking about the world around me and the things I fear. In truth though, I am a long-form storyteller at heart, so it is much easier for me to write an entire book over a shorter story.

Please share something about your personal connection to the story you chose to tell in this anthology…

My story, Nature Boy, is a very personal one. I really leaned into the exact type of horror I personally love, which features quiet, strange and unsettling vibes. I was heavily inspired by the strange worlds of Shaun Tan’s Tales of the Inner City and Paul Jennings’ Grandad’s Gifts. I know not everyone would describe that type of weird atmosphere as horror exactly, but to me that is the beauty of the horror genre, within it there are so many different ways to express fear or a horrifying experience. To me, being unsettled and not quite able to put a finger on what is wrong, feels like true horror, and those quietly unsettling and strange worlds are something I’ve always been really fascinated by.

I also drew heavy inspiration from the chaotic state of the world at the time of writing, with fires and covid and the spread of misinformation on the internet, as well as my own personal experience of having multiple people, both close to me and further away, die by suicide all during a very short period of time. In my story, the unravellings were a way for me to unpack my feelings around those tragic deaths. I always work out my own thoughts through the act of writing and this particular story, Nature Boy, was a real snapshot of my mind at that time.

What TV show/movie is getting you through right now and why?

I am an enormous Star Wars fan and have been ever since I was a kid. It was really the first world that I ever became lost in, and is an enduring love that has lasted many years. I have very complicated feelings around the latest batch of Star Wars releases, however the new show Andor (still currently airing as I write this) is just everything I could have ever wanted from Star Wars. It’s so exciting to me to watch a show like this, so yeah, it is definitely an obsession at the moment!

What books have you been reading lately? Any recs?

I have been making my way through Aussie YA author Helen Scheuerer’s absolutely wonderful Curse of the Cyren Queen series. I’ve read three books so far and have one to go, and it is such a deliciously dark fantasy read, with an epic world, complex characters and such an exciting plot! This series has become a bit of a comfort read for me, as I know that whenever I pick up a new book within it, the story is always so consistently good. I highly recommend it!

Thank you so much for having me, Ellie!!! 😊


You’re very welcome Poppy! It’s always a pleasure to have you to visit, and thanks for getting your sillies on with #LoveOzYAbookclub J

Bookclubbers, stay tuned for the discussion post for HOMETOWN HAUNTS, coming on the group page very soon!


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