Darkened Wings Flutter
Lou Yardley talks to Philip Rogers
Philip Rogers: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Lou Yardley: Hi, I’m Lou. By day, I play with spreadsheets, but at night (and in my lunch breaks), I play with monsters. I’m a big fan of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi (basically anything that’ll help me escape ‘real-life’) and I’m on a mission to create worlds to rival those I love so much.
PR: How did you get into writing originally?
LY: I finished my degree with the OU in 2015 (which had nothing to do with writing) and, even though I was still working full-time, I found myself with a bit of time on my hands. Ever since I was a child, I’ve written little stories (but I’d NEVER shared them with anyone!), so I decided to give NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a go and, after a LOT of hard work, my first novel (“The Other’s Voice”) was born. I’ve learned a lot since then, so I cringe a bit when I think of those early stories.
PR: Your latest book is the novel Darkened Wings Flutter. Can you tell me a little bit about the concept for the book and what we can expect?
LY: Sure! The walls in my home are almost paper-thin, so I can hear all kinds of noises from my neighbours. Most of the time, you can easily tell what those noises are, but sometimes they’re a bit of a mystery. So, I started to wonder… what if my neighbour isn’t everything they seem? What if they mutate into a hideous monster every other Tuesday?
“Darkened Wings Flutter” follows a set of fairly normal-seeming characters, but some of them have a very dark and deadly secret.
As for what readers can expect, I’m going to cheat and steal a few quotes from reviews. I hope that’s okay!
The following are all from Goodreads:
“A story so dark and evil it makes your insides clench and your spine stiffen. Lou Yardley has once again stepped up that benchmark of bone aching horror.” – Yvonne from The Coycaterpillar Reads (also available on her blog)
“I’m just going to come out & say it, this book scared me so much in places – one point, in particular, caused me to fall over a shoe rack in my desperate attempt to get back to bed as quickly as possible just because I thought I heard a noise outside.” – Rick Eaglestone
“I just loved this! This book had everything I love about horror and the execution was perfect. It had creepy kids, weird forest monsters, gore, a ton of twists that I wasn’t expecting. And every time I thought I knew which way the story was going, something unexpected would happen and turn the story in another direction. Lou definitely was not afraid to kill off characters, which I really appreciated.
There was a lot of guts and blood and gore described in graphic detail, so if you’re not comfortable with this, maybe skip this book.” – Jana
“Fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, Yardley’s latest book is packed full of suspense and intrigue, blending what seems like normal day-to-day life with the shocking and plain bizarre.
Something strange is going on in Crow’s Foot Hollow. A missing boy, a worried teacher, a mysterious forest, a seemingly normal family with secrets of their own, and their elderly neighbour, Chuck, all find their lives intertwined in a tale of true horror. Combining mystery and horror, and adding buckets of gore, Yardley has created a clever tale which is sure to satisfy the tastes of any horror reader.” – P.J. Blakey-Novis
“Easily the most disturbing of Lou Yardley’s books to date. If I lived with her, I’d be very scared!” – Luke Hayhurst
I’d like to point out that I didn’t bribe any of these people!
PR: What were some of your influences when writing the book?
LY: Although it’s very clearly about monsters, Darkened Wings Flutter came from a very real and very dark place. I started writing it towards the end of last year when we had just lost my nephew Max to cancer. The book is absolutely a horror story, but it also touches upon grief and loss, especially in some of the scenes with Chuck. In a way, writing this book was therapy for me.
While I’m here, I’d like to promote the charity fund that was set up in Max’s name. The Max the Brave Fund raises money to fund research into childhood cancers and aims to improve the lives of the children and families affected by them. You can find out more at http://maxthebravefund.org/
PR: The book creates a sense of entomophobia, although their fears are proven to be rationalised. Do you suffer any unusual fears, and do you incorporate it into your writing?
LY: I don’t think I’ve really incorporated it into my writing, but I’ve got a bit of a fear of the phone. Like most people, I’ve got my phone surgically attached to me, but I tend to use it as an “internet device” rather than a telephone. Most people who know me know this, so I only get calls on rare occasions… and, when I do, it’s usually bad news… or a spam call. Neither of which I enjoy.
PR: How would you describe your style of writing?
LY: It’s very ‘off the cuff’. I’ve been told by a few people that I write the way I talk, and I have no idea if that was meant as a compliment or not, but I’m taking it as one. I love books where it feels like the author is sat across from you (perhaps you’re sitting on opposite sides of a campfire) and they’re telling you this story like it’s real. I think that’s a special kind of magic.
I also LOVE to write gory scenes; they make me oddly happy and there’s usually a bit of humour sprinkled through my books as well. Humour and horror work very well together.
PR: You also have a story in the horror anthology book C is for Cannibals which is part of the A-Z of Horror series. Can you tell me a little bit about your story in the book?
LY: I’m really excited about being included in this anthology. Peter and Leanne at Red Cape Publishing do great work and I’ve been meaning to get involved in one of their books for a while. I’ve got a bit of a morbid fascination with cannibals, so this seemed like the best opportunity… and I wasn’t in the middle of writing a novel at the time, so that definitely helped!
My story is called “Sibling Rivalry” and it’s about a young woman who is so poor that she (and her family) are struggling to find food. By chance, she runs into a stranger who hires her to kill his brother. After that, it descends into my usual levels of WTF-ness. Spoiler alert: it features cannibalism!
PR: You have also recently released the new cover artwork for your next book ‘Banished’. Can you tell me a bit about the design of the front cover and what we can expect from the upcoming book?
LY: Yes, I’d love to!
The design actually came about due to a very happy accident. Neil Fraser (the artist) is a member of my Patreon page (he really is an awesome human being!) and I like to share lots of “behind the scenes” stuff on there. In “Banished” there are some monsters that live in a lake in a creepy forest and I wanted them to be quite unique. I’d thrown together some rough sketches and put them on the page. The doodles showed how the monster had evolved from something that looked like Cthulu to something with horns and tusks. The next morning, I opened my inbox to find a piece of digital art from Neil that was very similar to what we ended up using for the cover. It was a total surprise and I was completely blown away by it. I loved it and asked him to be the artist for this one. I’m hoping that his schedule is pretty clear as there will be several books set on Venari and I’d like him to do the art for all of them!
As I mentioned, “Banished” is a book set on my new world of Venari. This is a place full of monsters where pretty much anything will try to either eat you or just kill you for shits and giggles. The stories will all be connected in some way and I have plans to start working on an actual trilogy very soon (the monster/villain in that one is GNARLY!). But, back to “Banished”. It’s set in this pseudo-medieval village called Elkbury where they have this strange ceremony called the “Banishment”. Now, I probably should add that nobody dies of old age or illness in Elkbury. As soon as they start showing signs that they’re on their way out, their Banishment is prepared, and they go off to this mysterious ceremony by the lake. It’s forbidden to watch someone else’s Banishment, so the villagers have no idea what they’re letting themselves in for.
One evening, a few of the villagers decide they need to find out what’s going on (one has a grandmother who is preparing for her own ceremony) and then… hilarity ensues… No, wait, not hilarity… a bloodbath ensues. I always get those words muddled up.
There’s also a dodgy religious Order, daemons (the critter on the cover), a mysterious stranger, and an interesting take on the living dead. I’m having an amazing time writing it – it’s so much fun!
If all that wasn’t enough, the book features loads of characters who were named by the kind members of my Patreon page.
KR: You can sign up to Lou’s Patreon HERE
PR: What do you hope people will take away after reading the book?
LY: The idea for “Banished” has been bouncing around in my head for a few years now and initially stemmed from the thought that we (as a society) seem to throw away people when they reach a certain age. It’s like they no longer matter. I mean, just look at the way the deaths from Covid-19 were reported. In the beginning, it was always “… and they were 90 with underlying health conditions” like that was an okay thing. I started thinking about a situation where a community cast out their elders when they reached a certain age and what could happen in that scenario. So, initially, it was coming from quite a serious place… but then it went through the B-Movie story generator in my brain and ended up being super fun.
I guess what I’d like people to take away is the knowledge that no matter what age we are, we still have the ability to be badass. There are several main characters in “Banished” and four of them are getting on in years. They all do major things, and they’re spread in all directions on the morality compass.
Other than that, I want folks to think “holy shit, that was fun! I can’t wait to get back to Venari for another monstrous tale!”. I can dream, right?
PR: Who are some of your favourite writers at the moment?
LY: Oooh! There are so many!
The Usual Suspects:
Shaun Hutson (he will always have a spot on my list)
Authors You May Not Know Yet (but you soon will!)
James Brogden (The Plague Stones was awesome – and probably not the best thing to read at the start of a pandemic, but hey!)
Toneye Eyenot (this man knows his werewolves)
Caroline Angel (“Madman Across the Water” is definitely worth a read!)
Wile E. Young
I’ve also got to give a special mention to Janine Pipe. I’ve only read a few short stories from her so far, but she is definitely a name to keep an eye on.
I’m sure I’m missing loads, but that list is a good start.
PR: Do you have any other projects you are working on?
LY: At the moment, my main focus is on “Banished”, but once I’ve finished the first draft of that, I’ll be working on a short story. This one is going by the working title of “Creep”.
After that, I’ve got a few more stories up my sleeve, all of which will be set on Venari. So, settle in, folks – it’s gonna be awesome!
PR: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get into writing themselves?
LY: The best thing I can say is to just write the story you want to write. Don’t worry about trends or stuff like that. The world is a big place, so there’s bound to be someone (or many someone’s!) out there who will dig what you do. Most of all, have fun. If it’s not fun, try writing something else.
Planted on this planet by a rogue team of aliens, Lou Yardley has largely been left to her own devices. This has resulted in a coffee addiction, an obsession with hats, and an ever-growing collection of horror stories. These tales are steeped in gore as much as possible, as Lou loves when things get messy. We really don’t want to think about what her home planet is like. We suspect it’s very sticky… and it’s best not to think about what those stains are. I wouldn’t touch anything if I were you.
Until the mothership comes to collect her, Lou is doing her indie horror thing somewhere just outside of London in the UK. She lives with her other half, Mark, and their feline overlords.
You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or you can get more involved through her mailing list or by becoming a patron. Links are included below.
Lou would like you to know that there should be more horror films with puppets. Puppets are cool.
Darkened Wings Flutter
“The end is nigh when darkened wings flutter…”
The small town of Crow’s Foot Hollow is thrown into turmoil when a local boy called Dwayne goes missing. For teacher Beth Harwood, it soon becomes clear that the nearby forest is connected to his disappearance. Clouded in mystery, scary stories and haunting nursery rhymes, that forest seems like just the kind of place to swallow a young boy whole.
But the forest isn’t the only thing you have to worry about in Crow’s Foot Hollow. Sometimes the dangers are much closer to home. Chuck Graves lives next door to a family with their share of problems – a couple that always argues, a little girl called Imogen who creeps the hell out of everyone – but they appear to be held together by little Ryan who keeps on smiling regardless of what’s going on. Everything appears normal, but Chuck can’t help but wonder what’s going on behind closed doors.
Crawling with monsters big and small, “Darkened Wings Flutter” wants to get under your skin.
Philip Rogers is a horror journalist who is known for his reviews, interviews and media coverage of anything horror. An avid supporter of independent projects including; films, books, theatre, live events and aways on the lookout for something different to cover.