Lisa Morton is an acclaimed horror writer whose story ‘Tested’ won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Fiction, and whose first novella ‘The Lucid Dreaming’ went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction. Morton has also had an extensive career in the film industry, in 1979 she worked as a modelmaker on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. She has a new novel out, Netherworld. Lisa met me at The Slaughterhouse, where we talked about fantasy and the multiverse.
NETHERWORLD is a dark historical fantasy about a British noblewoman, Lady Diana Furnaval, who travels the world in the late nineteenth century fighting evil, both human and supernatural. Along the way she searches for traces of her missing husband, William, who may have been taken to a nightmarish realm called the Netherworld.
To what extent does the idea of a parallel universe play a part in the novel?
The Netherworld is not exactly a parallel universe – the geographic locations don’t match, and time runs differently there – but it is a dimension that sits alongside our own and can be accessed via mysterious gateways scattered around the globe. The Netherworld is a
nightmarish realm where all of our supernatural entities reside, so the areas around the gateways are commonly believed to be haunted in our world.
How Manichean is the universe you have created and what do you think its appeal lies in?
It’s probably not truly Manichean, because I think I show just as much human darkness in our world as supernatural in the Netherworld. One of the things the book is about is how corrupt British imperialism was in the nineteenth century; throughout the course of the tale, my protagonist – a British noblewoman – is awakened to how her country has aggressively traded opium to the Chinese for tea. The horrors of the Netherworld are almost playful by comparison.
What else is on the cards for you this year?
In June, I’ll have ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: WASHINGTON DECEASED out from
Constable & Robinson. It’s a tie-in to the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE anthologies edited by Stephen Jones, and it charts the fall of the U.S. capitol during a zombie war. I’m currently working on a non-fiction book about the history of ghosts – this one’s for Reaktion
Books, who published my book TRICK OR TREAT: A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN.
And of course there’ll be the usual short stories popping up in various books and magazines.
Thank you Lisa for an articulate and succinct interview.