Sarah Perry

This early show of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival saw established writer Sarah Waters and relative newcomer Sarah Perry exploring the idea of the Gothic imagination.

Framed by readings from Water’s latest novel The Paying Guests and Perry’s first book After Me Comes The Flood and unfinished work The Essex Serpent, the two discussed the genre’s seductive nature, and the idea of the uncanny and unsettling that both disgusts and enrapts.

Fittingly accompanied by wind and rain battering the Playhouse roof, Perry explained how the style for her represents a contrast to her strict upbringing where religious texts were like “a Haynes manual for life”, unlike the inexplicable world of fiction writers from Charles Maturin to Iris Murdoch.

The discussion wandered a little at times, but this was an engaging and imaginative start to this year’s festival and its Writers’ Centre programme.