The Woman In Black 2 has a “fantastic script”

Martyn Waites on writing the sequel to The Woman In Black, Angel Of Death

Daniel Radcliffe in Hammer's 2012 hit The Woman In Black
Daniel Radcliffe in Hammer’s 2012 hit The Woman In Black

When The Woman In Black became the highest grossing British horror film of the last two decades, a sequel was a sure-fire thing.

The only problem was the book’s author Susan Hill wrote it as a standalone back in 1983. She came up with an idea for Hammer to run with, though, and the task of writing the novel went to crime fiction author Martyn Waites.

This time, it will be set in World War II and the woman in black will be playing host to a group of school children and their teacher that have fled the London Blitz for the supposed safety of the countryside.Speaking exclusively to SciFiNow, author Martyn Waites explains all…

Angel Of Death was based on an original idea by Susan Hill. Did she give you any words of wisdom?

She didn’t have any direct input with me. The idea was hers and I was glad to run with it. It’s a cracking idea – a real gift to a writer – and I wish I’d thought of it myself.

The Woman In Black is regarded as classic Victorian ghost story-telling, despite being published in the ’80s. How important was it to continue that tone in the sequel, or can fans expect something quite different?

I do love the MR Jamesian style and touches to it. It manages to be firmly of that genre without ever once slipping into parody. I hope I’ve done the same. But having said that, my novel is set during the Second World War so it isn’t Victorian in tone, particularly. However it is firmly in the past, as the original was. I’ve tried to be as Gothic as I could.

Crime author Martyn Waites wrote the sequel to The Woman In Black
Crime author Martyn Waites wrote the sequel to The Woman In Black

James Watkins’ Woman In Black wasn’t a particularly faithful adaptation – events were rearranged and some things omitted entirely – did this give you some freedom when writing the sequel, or will readers find that the 2014 movie follows the book more closely?

I should think it should be following it quite closely. John Croker has written a fantastic script. However they’re only in pre-production at the moment so anything could happen. I think (and again, I don’t know) that the same people who live at the end of the novel should be alive at the end of the film. Although I couldn’t say for definite . . .

Did the knowledge that this novel would definitely become a movie affect the way you wrote it in any way?

It did, really. And I bore that in mind while I was writing the novel. I tried to imagine how things that I was writing would look. But there were things I wanted to do that seemed right for the novel in terms of characterisation and atmosphere that I’m not sure would work on the screen. It didn’t stop me putting them in, though.

What do you think fans of the first book will take away from the sequel?

Something positive, hopefully. I’m really anticipating a slagging in the press – how dare I take on one of the sacred cows of English literature – but I’ve given it my best shot. I really enjoyed writing it and it was done from a position of love and respect. It’s a different book to the first one. I’ve not tried to copy it. I just hope readers will appreciate that and knowing that, enjoy it.

The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death is out now, published by Hammer, available for £7.19 from The film adaptation is coming in 2014.