One evening at home, my fiancé began to lament about how awful Twitter was—how often threads could quickly become cruel and spiteful with people responding in bad faith to relatively innocuous questions. At the time, I was scrolling through Twitter on my phone and offered up a sincere, "You're so right!" The irony, of course, wasn't lost on me. Trite and well-worn a topic as it is, I can recognize the harm that social media can do, and I began to think about why I continue to engage with it. What keeps bringing me back? What am I actually getting out of this? Is it mere boredom, or something more? Furthermore, what is the nature of this precise boredom? I started thinking about loneliness and the desire to connect with others—about seeking some kind of purpose and how attractive it can be to martyr oneself for some perceived sense of good in service of a found community. I wondered if—with diminishing physical communities available to us and the alienation of labor under capitalism—we put ourselves through psychologically taxing situations online (or elsewhere in our lives) in the pursuit of some nebulous kind of fulfillment. I drew a lot of influence from Kathe Koja's novel The Cipher, which uses a mysterious hole as a point of self-exploration and mutilation for its characters. I was also greatly influenced by the simultaneously self-destructive and redemptive drive of many of Nathan Ballingrud's characters.
Why do you write horror?
When writing, I tend to gravitate towards either horror or comedy for pretty much the same reasons. With both, timing is essential and you're working backwards from a desired outcome, which is a very basic human reaction. The audience is either expecting to laugh or be frightened. Everything you do between the set up and the payoff is fertile land for exploration, permitting you to delve into whatever topics you see fit, provided the audience eventually gets what they want. As a fan of horror, the space between the setting and the scare is what interests me the most, and what inspires me the most creatively.
SAOIRSE NÍ CHIARAGÁIN is an Irish writer living in Berlin, Germany. Her feature film script, Consentuality, which was co-written with filmmaker Natasha Waugh is currently in development with Screen Ireland. When not writing, she can be found in a variety of dive bars, worrying.