Talbingo would seem to be an unlikely setting for a horror story, but author Shirley Barrett’s latest novel, The Bus on Thursday, is indeed a horror story set in the Snowy Valleys village.
Shirley originally wrote the work as a film script, but it has now morphed into a novel.
The Bus on Thursday is narrated by a teacher who takes a job at the Talbingo school, replacing a teacher who mysteriously disappeared.
Shirley is very familiar with Talbingo and explains why she chose it for the setting.
“Well, I know Talbingo pretty well as my husband’s late grandmother lived there, and every Easter for many years there’d be a family gathering there,” she said.
“And of course, like everybody, I was struck by how incredibly, eerily beautiful it is. I’m a filmmaker as well, and I’ve always wanted to make a horror film, so I thought perhaps I could set a horror movie there. So I wrote the script, and then that evolved into the novel.
Talbingo has always made a great impression on her.
“There’s something about those brooding mountains, the Pondage, the kangaroos, the autumnal colours that combines to make something pretty spectacular,” she said. “Also, I like the fact that it has a very small population and a kind of empty feeling when it’s not peak season – all very helpful elements for horror.”
The novel is not greatly different from the previous movie script.
“It has a slightly different ending but is pretty similar otherwise,” Shirley said.
She is sincerely hoping the Talbingo community aren’t insulted by the choice of their town for the setting.
“I really hope that Talbingo people won’t be offended by the book, because of course, everyone in the book is totally fictional and not based at all on the real people of Talbingo,” she said.
“I’ve really just taken this beautiful setting and placed this mad story there, so I hope that Talbingo will forgive me! I don’t have any relatives in the area any more.”
She is hopeful the story may make it to the screen, perhaps filmed in Talbingo.
“I am very hopeful that the book will be made into a television series, and there does seem to be a lot of interest, so fingers crossed,” she said.
“And if that happens, I hope we get to shoot in Talbingo, if Snowy 2.0 doesn’t get in the way!”