C J Cooke Has A Haunting in the Arctic

Today we welcome C J Cooke to Ginger Nuts of Horror with an entry in our 5 Minutes series to promote their brand new chilling novel A Haunting in the Arctic. “Something has walked the floors of the Ormen for almost a century. Something that craves revenge…”

‘Rich, chilling and gorgeously gothic. A Haunting in the Arctic is the kind of enchanting, terrifying mystery I just adore’ Chris Whitaker

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m a poet, novelist, and editor from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’ve lived abroad for most of my adult life – Sydney, England, and now Glasgow, Scotland – but still haven’t lost my accent… I work full-time as an academic at the University of Glasgow teaching Creative Writing. I have four children aged 11-17,  a cocker spaniel named Ralph. I love house plants, the Arctic, Scotland, rosé wine, and all things gothic and strange.

Which one of your characters would you least like to meet in real life?

I think I’d love to meet Amy from The Lighthouse Witches.

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

Film. I wanted to be a film maker when I was younger – I still kind of do – and I ended up doing a PhD in film adaptations of Shakespeare. I’ve probably watched thousands of films. I love that mode of storytelling.

The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?

I feel that horror tends to denote gratuitous violence and/or gore, yet my favourite horror fiction uses violence and the grotesque in deeply thoughtful ways. I think the best horror is cognizant of the relationship between fictional horror and the kinds of horror that we experience in real life. Often real-life horror is profoundly ordinary, and there is no way to describe its impact. Or it is indescribable for other reasons. 

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years? 

What a great question. I think horror is going to explore the new technological developments that threaten our humanity and our privacy. And I think it’ll take great joy in exploring new discoveries in the natural world – more sporror, for instance (fungi-invested horror), which has endless potential for the grotesque.

Given the dark, violent and at times grotesque nature of the horror genre why do you think so many people enjoy reading it? 

There’s an odd comfort in reading horror that has a shape and a language.  

What, if anything, is currently missing from the horror genre?

I think horror has the potential to be more political than it is currently. Perhaps that’s another direction it will take. 

What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off? 

Maybe not up and coming, but Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is an author I’ll be reading more of, and I’m excited to read Sam Rebelein’s debut novel, Edenville.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

I tend to struggle with first drafts. I thought I was alone in this, but I’ve recently bonded with other writers who have First Draft-itis and feel comforted by the knowledge that it’s a Thing. I think I’m a better editor than a first draft writer.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

Maybe incest. Or bestiality. 

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?

I can’t even begin to say how much I’ve developed as a writer – my debut novel embarrasses me a little, and yet it was sold in 23 territories. I think I understand how to make space for my reader now. I understand the dynamics of that relationship a lot more, and how to achieve this. I remember struggling with edits for years. I had literally no clue how to edit, and how to make something better. Now I do.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. 

Which of your characters is your favourite?

I loved writing Lexi in The Nesting. She was so quirky, and I hadn’t planned to write her that way. She kind of insisted on it.

Which of your books best represents you?

The Lighthouse Witches

Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us? 

I quite like this one from The Lighthouse Witches. When I wrote it I felt like I had finally nailed the core story of the book, which had taken me over a year: “Forgiveness is a kind of time travel, only better, because it sutures the wounds of the past with the wisdom of the present in the same moment as it promises a better future.”

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

I’m editing The Book of Witching, which retells the story of a witch trial that took place in Orkney in 1594.

If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?

The heteronormative vampire trope.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I adored The Fisherman by John Langan. 

Read our review of A Haunting in the Arctic here

A Haunting in the Arctic by C J Cooke

A Haunting in the Arctic by C J Cooke

Something has walked the floors of the Ormen for almost a century.

Something that craves revenge…

1901. On board the Ormen, a whaling ship battling through the unforgiving North Sea, Nicky Duthie awakes. Attacked and dragged there against her will, it’s just her and the crew – and they’re all owed something only she can give them.

1973. Decades later, when the ship is found still drifting across the ocean, it’s deserted. Just one body is left on board, his face and feet mutilated, his cabin locked from the inside. Everyone else has vanished.

Now, as urban explorer Dominique travels into the near-permanent darkness of the northernmost tip of Iceland, to the final resting place of the Ormen’s wreck, she’s determined to uncover the ship’s secrets.

But she’s not alone. Something is here with her. And it’s seeking revenge…

‘Rich, chilling and gorgeously gothic. A Haunting in the Arctic is the kind of enchanting, terrifying mystery I just adore’ Chris Whitaker

’Cooke delivers yet another spine-chilling treat in this lushly imagined, terrifying novel. The characters will haunt you long after the final page is turned’ Emilia Hart, bestselling author of Weyward

‘Mesmerising and terrifying, this is a powerful story lovingly told . . . with characters that remain with me. Highly recommended’ Lisa Ballantyne

‘Evocative and chilling, an addictive piece of polar gothic’ Anna Bailey

A Haunting in the Arctic is a story of a woman haunted in every way. An eerie, atmospheric novel that is full of tension and suspense, this is a beautiful gothic chiller of a book’ Elizabeth Lee

C J Cooke

C J Cooke

C J Cooke (Carolyn Jess-Cooke) lives in Glasgow with her husband and four children. C J Cooke’s works have been published in 23 languages and have won many awards. She holds a PhD in Literature from the Queen’s University of Belfast and is currently Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health. Three of her books are currently optioned for film. 



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  • Jim Mcleod

    Jim "The Don" Mcleod has been reading horror for over 35 years, and reviewing horror for over 16 years. When he is not spending his time promoting the horror genre, he is either annoying his family or mucking about with his two dogs Casper and Molly.

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