Interview with Mark Cassell, author of ‘Hell Cat of the Holt’
We recently reviewed the wonderful supernatural horror novel, Hell Cat of the Holt, part of the Shadow Fabric mythos, from talented author Mark Cassell. The story centers around a shy accountant named Anne who returns to the village of Mabley Holt to piece together her life after a family tragedy. When her cat vanishes, and a neighbor claims to speak with his dead wife, she soon learns there’s more to the village than any resident dares admit. In search of her beloved pet, she discovers not only family secrets but also revelations of a local legend.
We found this to be a very entertaining read, and we were thrilled to speak with Mark about the novella and his love of the horror genre.
8 QUESTIONS FOR AUTHOR MARK CASSELL
A simple fascination, and I’ve always known that I’d one day write something about them. Big cat sightings have been reported across the globe, rooted in local legends for centuries. For me, having owned a black cat myself (we’re talking the domestic kind, of course) I thought I’d introduce one into the Shadow Fabric mythos. And he’s fit right in.
2. The fictional village of Mabley Holt reminded me of “Lovecraft Country,” the New England setting of many of Lovecraft’s stories. What inspired you to create Mabley Holt rather than base the novella in a real village?
Creating a fictional location opens up many possibilities, and that’s why Mabley Holt is where most of my debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is set. I’ll admit that it’s based on a small village in the English countryside where I once lived. Many of my mythos stories take place there, and so when it came to plotting Hell Cat of the Holt, it was a no-brainer. There is much more to tell about the Holt. I’ve only begun to scrape the surface, and it’s what lies beneath the surrounding countryside where more stories will unfold.
3. As a literary genre, the novella is a rarity in the publishing market. Was it a conscious decision to write Hell Cat of the Holt as a novella? If so, what are the advantages of doing so?
Not a conscious effort, although I knew the concept was beyond a short story. Perhaps I was aiming for something a little longer but by the time the plot rolled out, I knew precisely where the end should be. Certainly there are leftover ideas which could have been used for subplots, but they will at some point become short stories. Or another novella. Or novel, for that matter. Who knows?
Sadly, I’ve recently read a few novels that should have been novellas. Likewise, I’ve come across novellas that should’ve been short stories. I do not want to make that mistake by padding out my work.
4. What can readers expect within the Shadow Fabric mythos? Are there more short stories, novellas, or novels to come?
Always. Two mythos stories are set to be released in upcoming anthologies, and I’m finally plotting the sequel to The Shadow Fabric. Plus, I’m writing another (probably) a novella called The Devil’s Skull.
5. What is it about the genre that attracts you?
Dark fantasy and horror has always been like a magnet. And the darker side of science fiction and fantasy. Whether it’s alien horror or supernatural horror, it does it for me. Not mankind’s horror, you know? I don’t do gratuitous gore or graphic violence. I’m talking about the horror that exists on the other side of what we can see.
6. When did your love of the genre first develop, and what authors/books first inspired you to start writing?
Back when I was a teenager, James Herbert kicked my love for horror into overdrive with his novel, Magic Cottage. Also, Clive Barker’s early work like Weaveworld and The Damnation Game, and later Imajica truly inspired me. Alongside Brian Lumley’s incredible Necroscope series, I’d say these three British authors led me down the dark path I now tread.
7. What book(s) are you currently reading? Are there any horror novels you’ve read recently you recommend to our readers?
This carries on from your previous question: I’m currently reading Herbert’s Shrine, a tale about a deaf-mute girl who unexpectedly speaks after seeing an apparition. For a recommendation, I’m still riding the excitement of Paul Kane’s Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, a 380-page stonker that throws the classic detective into Clive Barker’s Hellraiser world.
8. If readers are just now discovering you, which of your books would you recommend they read next and why? Do you have a personal favorite?
If you’re looking for a novel, then I’d suggest The Shadow Fabric. However, when I attend conventions many people snatch up Sinister Stitches. It’s a collection of short stories in the Shadow Fabric mythos and gives a broad view across the unravelling landscape of the Shadow Fabric mythos.
HELL CAT OF THE HOLT – a novella in the Shadow Fabric mythos
ABOUT MARK CASSELL:
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.
Mark Cassell’s 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.
The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.