An Interview with the creators of the horror fiction anthology podcast Petrified
Petrified is an Irish horror fiction anthology from Peter Dunne and Liam Geraghty. Season 1 launched in late 2018 with six beautifully-crafted horror tales, gaining plenty of avid listeners (this writer included), and winning a New York Festivals Radio Award for Drama Podcast. Now the show is back with eight brand new terrifying tales. As they put it themselves, “taking in everything from the Panto to the housing crisis, lockdown to the 12 pubs of Christmas, Petrified Series 2 is deeper, darker and more thrilling than Series 1.”
I caught up with Peter (writer/director) and Liam (producer), to chat about the show, the new season, and why horror can be so comforting!
Congrats on launching the new season. Can you tell me a bit about the show and how it was all put together?
Peter: To be painfully honest, I keep putting off the writing and then, in a panic, I stay up for two nights before we are actually recording and write the episodes. That’s my process! But no, I try to think of what would scare me. I try to think of situations that, you know, would be good for audio. Because that’s the difference, I suppose, between writing for theatre, let’s say, which I do as well, and writing for audio. Audio is kind of more freeing because you can almost literally write anything that you want. When it’s theatre, you think how are you going to put – in the new series there’s a lighthouse – so you how are you going to put a lighthouse and boats on stage? But you can do that in audio. So, it’s that and working out what’s going to sound creepy and what frightens me. That’s kind of the writing process.
Liam: Yeah, well, it’s funny, because from Peter’s perspective it’s obviously so freeing to be able to write anything you like for the script. And then it’s my job to try and go: crap, how do you do this in audio!? But, you know, when we record them, it’s always great fun. And we had a really amazing cast, I think all of whom were probably in series one. It’s amazing for me to watch them because like, literally every episode is different. And you know, we’ve done a whole load of episodes and so they’re playing different characters and they just switch it up and I just think, oh my god, they are really talented, now I see how hard this is!
So it’s great fun recording with them. And then in the edit, the thing I like about it, because I’d never really done drama before until I started collaborating with Peter, I think what helped is that I came from kind of a documentary radio background. So, I was always recording the sounds, you know, the crunching of the walking to the factory, say, and then the machine sounds or whatever. So I was very conscious of all of those little things and that translated really well to audio drama, because then suddenly you’re reading the script, and you’re going, okay, so this person is doing this thing. Oh, yeah, they need to walk across the room, so I need that sound.
Peter: Or the fight scene.
Liam: Oh, yeah! So this is a perfect example. Peter wrote this episode which involves a lot of fighting and tussling and grappling. And I try not to use any sound library sounds because it’s quite hard to find the exact ones that match. So yeah, I just set up the recorder and got on the floor. I just started like tussling with myself, you know, like, timed out to the scene. I was whacking myself and rolling around the floor – the dog was terrified! I’m sure my neighbours are like, what is going on in that house!? There’s so much banging on walls and like weird, you know, scary screaming and stuff going on.
Ha, ok so I’m looking forward to that episode!
I wanted to talk a little bit about horror more generally. What draws you to it? Why make a horror podcast instead of any other genre?
Peter: It’s kind of a bit of a weird one, but when I was growing up, I would watch all the old Hammer Horror films with my granddad. And it was kind of weirdly comforting, because I was watching horror films with him, so I felt safe. And it felt like a nice thing to have between the two of us. And then when he passed away, I would watch horror films to remind me of him. So, in an odd way, actually I find horror comforting, and so that’s what drew me to it in that way. And then you know, you write what you love. So that’s what I have a tendency to do.
Liam: I love horror also, but it’s funny I don’t think it’s something I ever would have thought that I would make until I started working with Peter. I love horror films, I watch loads – I particularly love folk horror – but also I’m really easily scared. And so it’s funny to be on the other side of that trying to scare people!
So for the new season have you taken any lessons from season 1? Anything you’ve kept the same or changed entirely? What can listeners expect?
Peter: I don’t think we’ve changed it up too much. We have made it even more Irish, so we distinctly set it at certain kind of big moments in recognisable Irish history, like the recession and, you know, the start of the Covid pandemic in Ireland. But I think as a writer, you know, listening back to the other episodes and I was going, okay, what works, what doesn’t, now that I’m writing specifically with this medium in mind? How do we make it scarier to listen to?
Liam: Yeah, totally the same for me and again, because it was the first time doing an audio drama series, it’s exactly like that, just going okay, what did we not get entirely right the first time and what can we improve upon?
And so yeah, I’m really excited about it. You know, the first series was six episodes, and this new series is eight episodes. And they all vary in length; some I think up to 40 minutes. And then as it happens, we have series three, which is another eight episodes, which will be out later in the year. And so thankfully people won’t have too long to wait. But this series just feels richer, somehow
Excellent, so there’s a season 3 too, that’s great news! Fans of the show will be delighted not to have quite so long a wait between seasons!
Liam: Yeah, one thing that recently occurred to me was that on the horror front, it’s interesting because I think out of all the things I’ve done, I didn’t realise horror has such a huge fan base. So this is the one project that I’ve worked on where we’ve got people getting in touch from all over the world, and we’ll just find people going on Reddit going, when is Petrified back? And that’s just bonkers to me. Horror fans just seem to be so dedicated. Like recently someone on Instagram heard it was coming back and was like, I can’t believe it, I’ve been checking in since 2019 to see if there are new episodes! So I’ve really enjoyed that, it just makes you happy.
Well, the wait is over. Petrified, Season 2, Ep 1 has just launched and is available on all the usual podcast platforms.
If you love horror stories, then you’ll love They’re Only Stories. The podcast that celebrates storytelling and the people behind those stories. Their first season explores all things horror, with six chilling horror stories to keep you entertained.