When I’m not listening to music, I’m listening to stories. In my day job as a theatre designer, I sometimes have to spend days and weeks on end making intricate models, drawing costume designs, making giant props, etc. so I like to get stuck into a good podcast or audiobook. Here are some of my favourites. I hope you find something you like, let me know if you do!
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Blood on Satan’s Claw
This is an excellent dramatisation of one of the folk horror holy trinity, the 1971 film, Blood on Satan’s Claw. It has a star studded cast including Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Linda Hayden who played Angel Blake in the original film. I waited months for this to come out as the launch date kept being moved but it was worth the wait. Great sound design and atmosphere. You can buy it directly from Bafflegab.
The Loney and Devil’s Day
As a huge folk horror fan (see above) I love the books by Andrew Michael Hurley. I generally prefer to read something rather than listen to it so I really take it in but the audiobooks of The Loney and Devil’s Day are worth listening to as well. The narrator, Richard Burnip, brings these books to life in an exceptionally creepy way which I love. You can find them on Audible or Kobo. Listen to the sample first as you may not agree with me!
M R James
I have been an M R James fan since my dad gave me his stories read on tape by Michael Horden when I was a child. I love the mixture of ancient relics, musty books, libraries, stained glass windows... they are just endlessly entertaining. Eric and I even went on an M R James pilgrimage to Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges in the Pyrennees and visited the church with the mummified crocodile from Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook. It was a dream come true and I was geeking out all over the place. I spend hours listening to his stories and also the excellent podcast, A Podcast to the Curious which covers every story written by James and is now covering writers who were inspired by him. I could listen to Mike and Will talk for hours on end, and I do. I also like to listen to Robert Lloyd Parry and his audio recordings. If you ever have a chance to see him perform live then please do. His DVD’s are the next best thing. Finally on James, I have listened to this Radio Four comedy homage endless times and it’s so enjoyable: A Warning to the Furious
If I have hours of making something random ahead of me then a good Agatha Christie is perfect for keeping me company. My mind usually wanders which is great as quite often I forget who did it and can listen all over again. If you are a fan of Christie then there is an excellent podcast, All About Agatha where they read and rank every story she wrote. I love this modern re-imagining which has a bit of a folk horror vibe and started life as a Radio Four play, starring the wonderful Tom Hollander: Philomel Cottage
This is a music and spoken word project from Justin Hopper and Sharron Kraus and is based on a chapter from Justin’s book, The Old Weird Albion. It’s perfect for when I can’t decide if I want to listen to music or be read to, it’s both. We also listened to it a lot in the winter by an open fire. It’s dreamlike and creepy and feels old in a 1970’s folk horror kind of way. You can listen to it for free on Soundcloud and then buy it from Ghost Box.
The Invisible by Jo Lloyd
The National Short Story Awards are always a great place to find new writers and stories. This was the winning story in 2019. I like to listen to them all and pick my own winner before it’s announced, this was my favourite by miles. The setting, tone and atmosphere are so beautifully communicated. Get completely lost in just half an hour of folk horror perfection... The Invisible.
We are totally spoilt at the moment with so many podcasts exploring folklore and weird histories. I have only recently started listening to some of these but I am loving:
Pandemic by John Dryden
One of my favourite radio plays, it’s told in three parts and if you can bear it, it’s very topical listening right now. I first heard it a couple of years ago and it really affected me. I was trying desperately to find anyone who had heard it so I could talk to someone else about it. It’s really fascinating, especially if you’re concerned about climate change, hopefully that’s everyone. You can buy this from Hive.
History of the world in 100 objects
If you haven’t already listened to this you are in for a real treat. It feels like time travel. Beautifully narrated by Neil MacGregor, just start at the beginning. It does get a bit depressing when you get to the credit card after all those beautiful objects and craftsmanship. I went to the British Museum to try and find them all when I was finished and a lot of them weren’t on display but there are great photos accompanying the series online. Easiest way to listen is if you download the podcast.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
One of the best ways to be entertained is to be transported to Middle Earth for days at a time. The full length audiobooks are wonderful and the 1981 BBC radio adaptation is hard to beat. I remember my dad pretending to be a monster and chasing me around the room to the opening music which was Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights when I was 4 years old.
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