Independent horror author Lou Yardley is back with her latest novel Banished, which introduces to the nightmarish pseudo-medieval world of Venari.
We got the chance to chat to Lou about the novel and her upcoming projects –
Tell us when you first started working on Banished?
I started working on the first draft in April/May 2020, but the story idea had been knocking around inside my brain for a lot longer. I had the idea for the Banishment ceremony back when I was writing “Hellhound” (published in 2018), but the main story has changed a bit since then. Back then, I thought it would be set in a modern day village (albeit one that’s distanced itself from everyone else), but I found there were elements of it that just wouldn’t work in that situation. I needed my characters to be lacking in technology and to have a certain level of innocence because of that.
What is your writing process like, do you feel compelled to write once you have the nucleus of a story?
I’m a combination of a “planner” and “pantser” (flying by the seat of your pants / making it up as you go along). I usually start with a certain scene or character and then build a loose plan from there. Over the last year or so, I’ve started using Google Keep for this as it’s a quick and easy way to store my ideas… and I can make “To Do” lists on there… I’m a huge fan of lists!
Once I have that, I generally like to get going and write the whole thing. However, over Christmas and New Year I experienced an exception to that rule. I was very naughty and didn’t start writing again until well into the first week of January!
What is the inspiration for the town of Elkbury?
After I’d decided the story was going to be set on this pseudo-medieval fantasy world, I wanted Elkbury to be the kind of place where everybody knew each other, but didn’t really know anyone or anywhere else. The idea was that the people of Elkbury existed in their own little bubble, so they’d just see the Banishment ceremony as something normal and wouldn’t really think to question it.
Were there any stories you referenced or researched for Banished?
I wouldn’t really say there were any stories I researched, but I did do a lot of research into the medieval period… and then took complete liberties with that information! Venari (the world where “Banished” is set) is what I’d describe as pseudo-medieval. Basically, I’ve just nicked the bits I like from various times in the period and then mixed it with some magic and monsters.
Is this story as much about human monsters as much as creatures?
Oh, absolutely. Humans are the worst! There are some very morally interesting characters in this one. One of my favourites is a priest called Father Arcadius. I think he had the well-being of the villages in mind to begin with, but it got twisted along the way.
Do you find some of the best stories are about the twisted humanity or do you prefer more fantastical elements?
I tend to go through stages. At the moment, I’m enjoying the more fantastical element as a form of escapism, but I think even the most fantastical things could be used to describe the human condition.
How would you describe this story to someone who had never read a Lou Yardley book?
“Banished” is a mixture of murder, lies, cults, monsters, and a hearty helping of delicious gore.
How do you feel your writing is evolving?
I think I’m really starting to discover my own voice now and I feel I’ve found a home in the dark fantasy/horror genre.
Have you found the lockdown periods as good excuses to do some writing?
Yes and no. In the first lockdown, I was ALL over it, but this most recent one has been very challenging. Without normality, it’s hard to get into a routine and it’s difficult to maintain a level of enthusiasm… and I think that’s okay. My new year’s resolution is to build my routine back up, so that I have time for the day job, writing, exercise, and recording episodes of Cryptids, Crypts and Coffee with my buddy and fellow author, Janine Pipe.
Banished by Lou Yardley is available now on Amazon.