In Ainslie Hogarth’s gripping and darkly comic modern gothic novel Motherthing, Abby Lamb’s mother-in-law Laura’s endless sniping and put-downs come to an abrupt end when she slashes her wrists in the family basement. But then Laura’s ghost takes up the mantle, and begins to terrorise Abby with still greater venom, just as Abby is left to cope alone with beloved jobless husband Ralph’s plunge into paralysing depression. It all builds to a horrifying and unforgettable climax as Abby strains to loosen Laura’s unearthly grip on the family and restore some measure of tranquility.

Where are you now?

I am in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

I have two very little kids, so I write whenever I can, wherever I can. Sometimes on my phone, other times tucked into the corner of the couch with one of those padded lap desks. Currently I’m typing this up with one arm hooked around my toddler’s arm as she watches Peppa Pig.

If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?

No ritual here.

Full-time or part-time?

Part-time, for now, until my kids are old enough to go to school.

Pen or keyboard?


How do you relax when you’re writing?

Hmm, I guess I don’t get too agitated when I’m writing.

How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?

Motherthing is about a woman who must save her husband and unborn child from the vengeful ghost of her mother-in-law.

Who do you write for?

Usually I’m writing to make the funniest person I know laugh.

Who do you share your work in progress with?

My partner, who is the funniest person I know.

Which literary character do you wish you created?

Humbert Humbert.

Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.

I don’t really have a favourite, but I recently started going through the Frog and Toad books with my kids, and these lines from a story called ‘Dragons and Giants’ made me burst out laughing:

“I wonder if we are brave,” said Frog.
Frog and Toad looked into a mirror.
“We look brave,” said Frog.
“Yes, but are we?” asked Toad.

Which book do you wish you’d written?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?

Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism by Kristen R. Ghodsee.

What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?

I’m reading the books of writers I’ll be doing events with in the UK this month – so Waiting for Ted by Marieke Bigg, All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes, and Is Mother Dead? by Vigdis Hjorth.

Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?

I’m dying to read Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica.

Which book/s do you treasure the most?

The Golden Apples by Eudora Welty. My absolute fave. I’ll never stop rereading it.

What is the last work you read in translation?

A Polish children’s book called What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking by Tina Oziewicz and Aleksandra Zając, translated by Jennifer Croft.

Which story collections would you particularly recommend?

A very dear friend of mine lent me A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin, and it is fantastic.

What will you read next?

Is Mother Dead? by Vigdis Hjorth.

What are you working on next?

A mystery, sort of, about female labour.

Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Eudora Welty. Just the two of us.

If you weren’t writing you’d be…?

Honestly, I have no earthly clue what I’d be doing.

If you were the last person on Earth, what would you write?

Something to really throw off the next dominant species, like, “don’t trust the ants.”

How can we make peace with our planet?

We’ll hash it out at the reunion.


Ainslie Hogarth has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland and has published two YA horror novels in the US with Flux Books and in France with Éditions Milan. The Lonely is about a girl who is crushed by a rock and bleeds to death all day long, and The Boy Meets Girl Massacre (Annotated) is about a girl who may or may not have murdered all of her friends with a pick-axe. Her short fiction has been published in HazlittBlack Static, and elsewhere. Motherthing is published by Atlantic Books in hardback and eBook.
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Author portrait © Christina De Melo

Catch Ainslie Hogarth on her UK book tour

Wednesday 12 October
Blackwell’s Manchester
with Marieke Bigg, in conversation with Naomi Frisby
More info and book

Thursday 13 October
Waterstones Crouch End
with Ally Wilkes
More info and book

Saturday 15 October
Cheltenham Literary Festival
with Vigdis Hjorth, in conversation with Clare Clark
More info and book