Updated: Jun 23

In the eighth of our Q&A features, we're joined by Saoirse Ní Chiaragáin, an Irish writer living in Berlin. We discuss our feelings on landlord-tenant relationships and Catholicism in the context of Saoirse's fantastic Short Fiction submission Hypostasis, alongside insight regarding Saoirse's experiences writing for film, Irish language freelancing, and the growing pains of entering the writing community within the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saoirse hails from Ireland, and currently lives in Berlin, Germany

Saoirse Ní Chiaragáin is an Irish writer living in Berlin, Germany. Though her writing background had been primarily geared towards television and film, she took to writing short stories as a way to escape the frustrations and fears of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her co-written feature film, Consentuality, received Screen Ireland development funding in 2020, and while the coming-of-age comedy project is incredibly close to her heart, she feels her true home is in writing horror.

So, Saoirse - Hypostasis highlights what could be considered a parasitic relationship between landlord and tenant, ‘deities’ and those devout. Do you enjoy Catholicism in horror, a subgenre that rose to prominence with The Exorcist?

Sometimes, but not always. I think in recent years a lot of Christian, and especially Catholic, iconography has become well-worn horror visual shorthand and to me it can sometimes feel shallow. Oftentimes you end up with the aesthetics of Catholicism but without a story that meaningfully engages with ideas of religious institutions or the numinous. So, while I really enjoy The Exorcist, I wouldn’t be as keen on, say, The Nun.

Addressing the conditions of the central apartment, was this inspired by any of your own renting experiences, or more of a general commentary on the dangers of private and often for-profit landlords?

A bit of both! I’m a grouchy leftie with a bone to pick with landlords at the best of times, but Hypostasis was very much born from current issues in my own flat. We’ve had a persistent leak – more of a deluge, really – coming from our bathroom ceiling for months. Every time it appeared to be fixed, we’d suddenly hear dripping again and the whole ordeal would start over. It got to the point where I could hear anything that vaguely sounded like the trickling of water, and my stomach would drop. It still isn’t fixed, and I intend to keep writing mean things about landlords in my fiction.