The World’s Most Haunted Island

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On the 9th August 2016, This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian, was launched on Amazon. The first in a series of books based in and around the world’s most haunted places, the venue for the first, as it’s title suggests, is Venice – regarded as the ‘world’s most haunted city’. I first visited not long ago, in November 2015 and found this ancient, crumbling city haunting in more ways than one. At that time of year, the nights close in early and, for me, that’s when Venice comes alive, dark alleyway after dark alleyway lonely and eerie, drawing you in, always in, to the beating heart of the city. You could spend all weekend immersed in it’s haunting beauty, eschewing the more familiar sights of St Mark’s Square andimages.jpeg the Bridge of Sighs for ones such as C’à Dario or “The House of No Return” as locals call it because it is believed to eventually kill or ruin all of its owners. The murder chain starts back in the 15th century when the daughter of its first owner, Giovanni Dario, committed suicide in the house after her husband went bankrupt and their son was killed in a fight, and continues well into the 21st century. Just in case you like to play with fire, the house is currently up for sale!

And then there’s Poveglia. Ah, Poveglia, in the Venetian Lagoon.  What a chequered images.jpeghistory that has! It’s known as ‘the world’s most haunted island’ and I think it’s probably fair to say it is. The Venetian is not only set in Venice, it’s set on Poveglia too. Plague and disease were huge problems in the Medieval world, and Venice was no exception. When plague threatened to wipe out the city entirely, it was to Poveglia that the ill and the suffering were banished… never to return. In 1922, a mental asylum was built on the island and dubious practices reputed to have been carried out in otherwise splendid isolation. The asylum was shut down in 1968 and today Poveglia is home to nothing more than a collection of abandoned buildings surrounded by fields, known as plague pits – where the bones of the plague-ridden lie with those from the asylum. It’s forbidden to visit the island, but people do, after all, it’s just a short boat ride away from the mainland…

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The Venetian takes the dark side of Venice, including the history of Poveglia, to bring you a story that’s horrifying but in very human terms. Mixing fact with fiction, it was a fascinating story to write but I was also aware that it was real history I was dealing with and therefore people, those who had once lived and breathed, and so I had to tread carefully and with the greatest respect. Often the subject of Poveglia is dealt with in a gratuitous manner, but in this new series of books that’s something I don’t want to do. For me the story is horrifying enough, it really doesn’t need much, if any, embellishment.

Next week I’m off to New England, stopping over at Salem for three nights, home of the notorious 17th century Witch Trials. Again, I’ll be looking for a story – one that hasn’t been told before. One that should be told. The human side of horror. Watch this space.

Reviews so far for The Venetian:

“One of the most compulsive reads for a long time.” “Full of gripping suspense.” “An absolute masterpiece.” “Haunting and unbelievably atmospheric.” “A nerve tingling, nightmare inducing novel which skilfully twists and turns.”

If you’d like to read it, it’s available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and soon in all good book stores. Here’s the link:

UK http://tinyurl.com/goardwp US http://tinyurl.com/zl6jx7c

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Ailsa flies in!

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(Hammering from inside a cupboard)

Ahem! I’m in here. Can you let me out please? Hello? Hello?

Ah, hello Shani. I thought for a change I’d teleport instead of using the magic carpet and I must have said “Tighten” instead of “Brighton” because I’m a bit cramped in here. Gissa hand up would you?

Thanks.

Oh that’s better. Bless you for inviting me over again for a chat. Anything hot will do, you know me, tea coffee etc.

So. You wanted to know how my work is going now that break in the Italian forests got me writing again, didn’t you? Weeeeeeeeeeell….my mother always used to say that if there were an easy way and a hard way to do something it was a sure-fire bet which way I’d do it. I seem to do everything back to front, like writing my series by starting with Book 2 and having to write Book 1 as a prequel.

Getting back into writing again properly I decided I needed my workspace back so I set to shifting the two tons of yarn in my stash. Mistake.

Having had scoliosis of the spine following an accident aged fifteen, that has developed into spinal arthritis so humping great boxes of stuff around is not good for me. However, my study is just about finished so I can shut myself away and at least have a “my place” to write.

As far as ideas go, I have loads. Last count I had four Works In Progress and, being me, I can’t settle on one and do them in any coherent order.

When I was little I always wanted to learn to ride a unicycle but at the moment I feel as if I’m riding one backwards, blindfold; while juggling kitchen knives.

This is all pretty normal for me what with being Bipolar and having been dropped on my head too often. The stroke didn’t help but then they very seldom do, no?

All that being said I’m actually doing OK.

In the Alchemy series there are at least two more books, one mainly about Riga and Iamo, the other following Dagda’s solo adventures once Riga has left the Black Shamen’s Guild. On top of that I’m being asked to release my tales of Otter and her pals which appear on my blog and Nanny Ab my alter-ego and biographer wants to ghost write the story of my life in France over the past twenty five years, working title “Knitting With Eels”.

Busy? Well rather. Given that I only ever get 1Z hours out of 24 due to my ME and having to sleep a bit during the day, just a touch. I take advantage of that time by putting my TENS machine on and electrocuting my spine at the same time so at least I’m doing two things at once.

I’d love more coffee please. I swear I don’t have a blood stream these days, it’s pure caffeine.

Inspiration? Never a problem. Ideas keep pouring in, characters move into my house, as you discovered when you came to stay during my absence and they begin pestering me to write their stories too. My idea of writer’s block is far more physical with my damaged body not being able to get the words on the screen and yes I tried a voice recognition app but I’m as British as Princess Anne so the American machinery mangled my words into worse rubbish than I could type.

Shani, darling, it’s been lovely and thanks for the hot drinks. I needed that. Now if you could just guide me out into the garden so I can see which direction I’m going, I’ll disappear in a cloud of cobwebs. Yes, I think I’ll stick with the magic carpet in future, less hassle. You remember I can always send it over for you to come visit again.

Aisle, I’d love to come and visit very soon. Meanwhile, here are the buy links for Ailsa’s superb books – all available on Amazon worldwide.

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Link for YOUR Amazon 

Find Ailsa on Twitter  and Facebook  too!

 

Peter James, Brighton and the Paranormal!

It is with great pleasure that I have fellow Brighton author, Peter James, on my blog today, talking about his books (of course!) but more than that, the paranormal aspect to them. And yes, that does include reference to his incredibly popular Roy Grace books! Peter is the author of some of my favourite paranormal books, and also Alchemist, which is in my top ten. Here’s the questions I asked and how Peter replied…

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The very first Peter James book I read was Alchemist. A very powerful book, it changed the way I viewed not only the pharmaceutical industry but the way in which all big industries are run. It did what all good books should – it got me thinking. The second I read was Sweet Heart, a chiller of a tale that delves into aspects of the paranormal. What inspired you to write both books?

Thank you! For Alchemist – I’ve always been interested in conspiracy theories – the idea that there is a group of people who secretly control the world! I met the head of one of our biggest pharmaceutical companies who told me that his company were busy patenting human genes and that the ultimate power in the world will lie in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. For Sweet Heart – I became interested in of past life regression and underwent it myself as an experiment and it gave me the idea for this book.

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I read in a newspaper article that The House on Cold Hill, your most recent paranormal book, released in October 2015, was inspired by true life events – can you tell us more about this?

The House On Cold Hill is very much inspired by – and modelled on – an isolated historic house in Sussex that my former wife and I bought in 1989, and lived in for a decade – which turned out to be very seriously haunted. Whilst I have never actually seen a ghost, there were things that happened at that house I really couldn’t explain. I saw on many occasions, tiny pinpricks of white light floating in the air. A medium who I used a lot during my writing of Possession, visited my house and she told me I was slightly psychic, and that is why I saw these pinpricks, and that while I was not actually seeing the entire apparition, I was picking up on some of its energy.

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We both base our books in and around Brighton (our mutual hometown). How important is location to you and why?

For me there was only ever one location for Roy Grace to be based….my hometown of Brighton. To the outsider, Brighton is a hip, beautiful seaside city, but it has a long history of darkness – right back to its roots as a smugglers village! In Regency days it gained a reputation both as a fashionable bathing resort, but in 1841 when the London-Brighton railway line opened, criminals flooded down from London, finding rich pickings and a much nicer environment than their city! They brought cock-fighting, prostitution, pick-pockets, muggers, smugglers, burglars, and gangs. Simultaneously, with the railway enabling quick access from London, many wealthy Londoners brought their mistresses down here and it became known as a place for “dirty weekends”.

Three consecutive past Chief Constables of Sussex Police have all told me that Brighton is the favoured place in the UK for first division criminals to live in. The reasons are: Firstly it has a lot of escape routes, very important to all criminals: It has the Channel ports, Eurotunnel, and Gatwick Airport just 25 minutes away. London is only 50 minutes by train. It has a major seaport on either side – Shoreham and Newhaven, perfect for importing drugs and exporting stolen cars, antiques and cash. It has the largest number of antique shops in the UK – perfect for laundering stolen goods and cash. For many recent years it held the title the Tourist Board do not like me mentioning: “Injecting Drug Death Capital of England”! It has a wealthy young population combined with the largest gay community in the UK, providing a big market for recreational drugs. It has two universities, so a big drug-taking student community. A huge number of nightclubs and a large transient population. Very importantly it has not been over-written by other writers.

One of the characters in my books, Ness Patterson, a psychic, has worked with Brighton Police in the past to solve some rather heinous crimes. How open is Roy Grace, the main protagonist of your crime novels, to using the paranormal in this way? I ask because in the very early books I remember it was suggested.

A key aspect to Roy Grace’s character is his open-minded attitude to the paranormal. This is not just in his searching for his missing wife, Sandy, but his willingness to turn to the occult when desperate on a case. I have come to realize that being open-minded to absolutely everything is a key asset for an effective homicide detective. The use of mediums by police in the USA is far more openly commonplace than it is here – but I have met many UK police officers, at all levels from Chief Constables down, who are more than prepared to talk to any sensible medium who claims to have information. As one said to me: “If I am in a desperate situation and all else has failed, I would be derelict in my duties if I failed to listen to a medium who claimed to have information.”

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I’m sure we’re all intrigued – what’s a typical writing day like for Peter James? Do you tend to do all your research before you sit down to write a book or research as you go?

My whole writing day is back to front… It is from the time when I was writing novels whilst working full time in film and television as a screen writer and producer, so I had to make my “Me time” to write. My writing day starts at 6pm in the evening, when I mix a large vodka martini, with four olives, put on some music, light up a cigar and get into a zone. I try to ensure that whatever I’m doing I leave myself time to write 1000 words 6 days a week. In terms of research – a lot I do before, but then as I progress I realise there is more I need to learn, and I’m an absolute stickler for research.

Who are your favourite authors in the paranormal genre?

Stephen King, M R James, Edgar Allan Poe.

The writing industry is a tough business and, in many ways, it is getting tougher. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The best possible advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to read, read, read, and analyse, and write, write, write.  Writing is a craft, and any craft is improved with practice.  But most importantly is to read the most successful of the kind of works you would yourself like to write:  So if you want to be, for instance, a crime thriller writer, read the blockbusters of the past fifty years.  Analyse them, literally deconstruct them and try to figure out what made them so popular.  This is what I did when I started out.  I took the books I most admired, the ones I most wished I had written, and literally read them until I knew them inside out.

And (keeping fingers crossed!) do you plan to release any more books in the paranormal genre?

I had a great time writing The House On Cold Hill, and certainly plan to write more in this field. Possibly even a sequel!

Find Peter James on Social Media

My brand new YouTube channel: www.peterjames.com/YouTube

My website www.peterjames.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peterjames.roygrace

Twitter: http://twitter.com/peterjamesuk

Instagram: https://instagram.com/peterjamesuk

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44 Gilmore Street… Dare You Enter?!

Gilmore multi.jpgToday’s the day! After writing it, having it beta read, re-writing it, sending it to the editor, tweaking it, then tweaking it again… and again… and again… it was time to call it a day and admit it’s as ready as it’ll ever be! Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is now available to buy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble (links below)! Time to sit back and take a breather? If only! I’m having an online Facebook launch party to celebrate and would love it if you could join in. There’ll be plenty of prizes on offer, including a signed paperback copy of 44 Gilmore Street and five fantastic authors of the paranormal popping in at various stages to offer e-book prizes of their books.

The line up is (GMT times):

3.30pm – Sarah England (Father of Lies)
4.30pm – Rumer Haven (What the Clocks Know)
5.00pm – Rebecca Patrick-Howard (the Taryn’s Camera series)
5.30pm – John Bowen (Where the Dead Walk)
6.30 pm – Adrian Martin (The Helland Reckoning)

Here’s the link – click on it, press ‘going’ and you’re in!

Launch day is always a nerve-wracking time for authors, you wonder if people are going to enjoy your latest offering or not. This is my eighth book and I’m getting pretty good at telling myself that as long as it’s as good as you can make it at the time of producing it, then you’re on the right track. And to help me do that my thanks go to my team of beta readers (you know who you are, I tell you often enough!) and my editor, Jeff Gardiner, who is just such a pleasure to work with. And thank you Laurence Patterson at Crooked Cat also for being so patient with me when I’m STILL making edits at galley stage!

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44 Gilmore Street is the third of six books in the Psychic Surveys series (there will be spin-off novellas from the series too such as Eve) and from relatively light beginnings it’s getting darker! If you do read it, thank you, I hope you enjoy it. Now, what was I saying about taking a breather? Better get cracking on the next instalment…

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me

UK http://tinyurl.com/n9q352z US http://tinyurl.com/nzjz62x

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2 US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Psychic Surveys Prequel: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story

UK http://tinyurl.com/nmnajss US http://tinyurl.com/pe5f6db

 

 

Sleep With the Lights On!

It is with great pleasure that I have Sarah England on my blog today talking about her latest release, Tanners Dell, the sequel to Father of Lies. She is one of my favourite authors and a very nice lady too, despite her ability to write genuinely terrifying books. I’m a quarter of the way through Tanners Dell and yep, just as I did during the first one, I’ve already had a nightmare! But even so, her writing is both compelling and intelligent, Sarah England knows her stuff and there’s nothing gratuitous about it – that’s what’s scary – it could all be true… Rather than me blather on, grab a coffee and let Sarah tell you about the books and what inspires her, and, if you’re brave enough, go and buy the books from Amazon too – they’re available in e-book format and paperback.

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Sarah, I’ve read Father of Lies and found it supremely scary, so much so I had to save it for daylight hours only! Give us a bit of background to the novel and what prompted you to write it.

 Oh I’m so happy it scared you, Shani – in the nicest possible way, of course. ‘Father of Lies’ centres around an extremely disturbed and violent young woman – Ruby – who suffers from what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (now Dissociative Identity Disorder). Because she hadn’t responded to any treatment after two years, and was actually getting worse, the psychiatrist decided to hypnotise her; and after that… well let’s just say he wished he hadn’t!

 The idea originally came after meeting a lady with this condition. I had a medical background and had also been a writer for many years, but once I heard her shocking story, I was inspired to write ‘Father of Lies’. In 90% of DID cases there has been some form of trauma or abuse in formative years, and the victim’s identity can become fragmented as a coping mechanism. It’s horrific in its own right. However, I also wanted to explore the fine line between madness and possession: what is real and what is not. I liked the idea of taking a scientific, somewhat atheistic point of view, coupled with that of a mediumistic clairvoyant. After that, well I guess I just got drawn to the dark side…

 And now there’s a sequel (yikes!) – what’s it called and is it darker than the first? How long have we got to brace ourselves before we can read it?

 Yes the sequel is launched on 29th May, although the kindle may well be available a few days earlier. It’s called ‘Tanners Dell’ and will also stand alone, but it’s probably best followed on from ‘Father of Lies’ so the reader has the full story. In my opinion ‘Tanners Dell’ is much scarier, because it delves into just what really went on in the creepy, desolate mining village Ruby hails from. I had some serious night terrors whilst writing it, and although I had to do some terrifying research first time round, this was in some ways worse because…oh no… you see you almost got me giving it all away…J

 How much research goes into your writing (and, considering the type of research you must do, how do you handle it?)

 A lot! I originally trained as a nurse and then worked as a medical rep specializing in psychiatry, so I had first hand experience of both working and visiting psychiatric units. In fact one of my first nursing assignments was at an old Victorian style asylum on the outskirts of Sheffield (now knocked down). In addition to that I spent a lot of time talking to the DID sufferer and understanding what she went through, plus her clairvoyance. And I read some factual books that would make your hair stand on end – I could only read one chapter at a time and only in daylight. After I’d read them I didn’t want them on my bookshelf so I gave them to a friend and she burned them! We’re talking demonology and exorcisms….

Do you ever scare yourself witless with your own writing?

 Yes. I get into the head of each and every character and live it. I search for the most horrifying true events and twist them into the story. I guess different things scare different people – for example monsters and vampires don’t frighten me at all – but possession and madness scare me half to death. One example – I used to mess about with tarot cards but one time I drew the same three cards every single time. I shuffled and cut, shuffled and cut for at least 2-3 minutes each time…yup, same three cards. And when I had a light, cool breeze on my face and the feeling of a hand brushing over my hair… something else happened to me too that I can’t ever forget but it’s quite shocking…anyway it was time to quit!

 What does the future hold writing wise – more horror?

 Well next is to package up some of the hundreds of short stories and serials I’ve written over the years (I was a magazine fiction writer for 10 years before starting horror novels). And then it will either be more occult horror or it may be a psychological horror/thriller, which I will start in September. I’m definitely staying on the dark side, anyway!

 Who are your favourite authors and why?

 I still love the classics – Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen…who are just breathtakingly brilliant authors, and when you think they wrote by hand! I also greatly admire Ian McEwen – his prose is stunning. My favourite storytellers range from Susan Hill (The Woman in Black) to Sarah Waters to Alison Weir. I enjoy historical fiction and anything gothic as long as the story races and the prose flows. I like to read the best and be inspired. In addition to this, I love the supernatural genre and a good ghost story is hard to beat, so your series is right up my street…44, Gilmore Street in fact!

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Buy Links:

Father of Lies:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015NCZYKU http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NCZYKU

Tanners Dell: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FYBQZAS and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FYBQZAS

Social Media Links:  

https://www.facebook.com/sarahenglandauthor
http://www.twitter@sarahengland16
http://www.sarahenglandauthor.blogspot.com
http://www.sarahengland.yolasite.com

Happy Birthday Highdown Hall!

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The 25th April – what a day! It’s not just MY birthday, it’s the day when Crooked Cat Publishing launched Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall onto an unsuspecting world! Yep, 2 years ago today, Highdown Hall was made available on Amazon to buy in both ebook and paperback format. Getting off to a good start, it climbed all the way into the top 2,000 books on Amazon and stayed there for the best part of a year, nestled beside the likes of Stephen King, James Herbert and Peter James -a dream come true! In 2015, it got to No,70 overall in the US Amazon Kindle charts and roughly the same in the UK Amazon Kindle charts and No.1 in several genre charts across the globe. It’s also acquired a prequel (Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story), Book Two (Rise to Me) and the soon-t0-be-published (May 27th) Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street. I envisage there’ll be six books in the series in total, but you never know, I might squeak in one or two more…

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Centred round a team of psychics and the cases they investigate, it’s been a pleasure working with Ruby, Cash, Theo, Ness, Corinna and Jed, the ghost dog (everybody’s favourite). I’ve based a lot of cases around real life events (those I’ve been involved with and those that have been told to me) and have included, where I can, the work of famous Occultists such as Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and Alexandra David Neel (amongst others). A lot of research has gone into the books and I’ve surprised myself with all the things I’ve learnt – the mystical world is indeed a fascinating world!

I’ve had a ton of fantastic reviews – over 300 between the UK and US and most of them have been 5 and 4 star. There have, of course, been the odd 1 or 2 stars but hey, that’s par for the course – and some of them have made me smile, i.e. the one who said ‘she seems to make it up as she goes along’ – I love that, partly because it’s true! But it’s also been called the ‘best ghost story ever’ and many times ‘unputdownable’. To anyone who’s ever taken the time to review a huge thank you – it means (and helps) such a lot!

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If you haven’t read Highdown Hall yet, let me know in the comments below. I’ve got a few e-copies to GIVE AWAY. If you’ve got a Kindle, I can send it to your email address so you can send it to your Kindle. If you fancy it, you can also sign up to my occasional newsletter, where I’ll keep you informed of any new releases, competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

Thank you again for all your support and congratulations again to Highdown Hall, who’d have known we’d have shared a birthday too!

The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2

US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Aus http://tinyurl.com/pc73ggz

Canada http://tinyurl.com/owg9b5w

Contact Links

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: https://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

 

 

 

Rumer Haven’s New Release!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Shani!
On moving to London several years ago, I immediately stumbled upon Brompton Cemetery, and it’s been my favorite spot ever since. One of London’s “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries established in the 19th century, Brompton stretches for nearly forty acres and is my urban oasis. Much like Margot, the protagonist of What the Clocks Know, I felt quite lost when I first relocated from the States. Having moved for my husband’s job, I found myself without one of my own for a while, and without family and friends around either, my life felt rather isolated and aimless during that initial stretch.But Brompton was one place where peace and reflection came easily, so I chose to send Margot there as well in this story. The cemetery both heals and heightens her anxieties and, either way, compels her to return time and again. She isn’t certain if what she’s experiencing is paranormal or psychological, though, and Brompton becomes a key place for finding the answers.

The following excerpt originated somewhere between journal pages and coffee shop napkins, which I scribbled on during my early visits to the cemetery. The gravestones, statues, flora, and even fauna all triggered random thoughts that eventually gelled into this scene and others. And, yes, there really is a Charlotte Pidgeon.

Excerpt:
Margot edged closer to a tomb that echoed loudly with buzzing insects; when she peered into its blackness, a cool, ancient scent wafted to her face. Continuing to idle along, she scanned the moss and vines that clung to and devoured the markers sprouting all throughout this garden of marble and granite, the Gothic juxtaposed with the Romanesque, Celtic crosses with Grecian urns.

Stopping at another grave, she saw Christmas décor rotting away by her feet. A depressing sight in summer, the winter wreath made her fancy how the cemetery’s atmosphere must change with the seasons. She wouldn’t be in London long enough to see it burn in rust and gold, the falling leaves mimicking the footfall of a pursuing stranger and the plucked trees revealing more of the sky and buildings beyond. Yet she could imagine how, on one chilled day that would paint the scene gray, someone would kneel again at a name of diminishing meaning to the present world and place another wreath of scarlet ribbon and silver baubles. Only for it to waste away during another sunny spring and rainy summer as the cycle continued: lather, rinse, repeat.

The effect of time would be noticeable enough, and somehow she felt she’d already seen it all before and would again, her grandest déjà-vu yet. To preserve its enchantment, she didn’t analyze the reasons why this site had come to matter so much. She felt whole here. That was all to know.
But her bladder waited for no man, living or dead. Picking up her pace, Margot hightailed it to the cemetery’s rear exit until a shiver clenched the muscles between her shoulder blades. Despite
her urgency to get back home, she slowed to a full stop in front of a gabled gravestone. An ornate sprig of acacia crowned an inscription she hadn’t seen yet.

READER, STAY.
UNDERNEATH THIS STONE DOTH LIE
AS MUCH BEAUTY AS COULD DIE;
WHICH IN LIFE DID HARBOR GIVE
TO MORE VIRTUE THAN DOTH LIVE.
IF AT ALL SHE HAD A FAULT,
LEAVE IT BURIED IN THIS VAULT.

Rather than grab her pen and napkin to write the poem down, Margot just stood there, rereading it. Contemplating it. If there was an afterlife, could people really leave their failings behind to putrefy in the dirt, safe from anyone’s memory? She liked to think so.

Her gaze rose to the name chiseled in the stone.

CHARLOTTE PIDGEON

It so happened that Charlotte Pidgeon was born on the same day as Margot, but her year of birth was 1848 and year of death 1874. Despite all the other gravestones she’d recorded onto her napkin, copying anything down from this one somehow seemed blasphemous. So she just kept standing, with gravity fastening her in place. Gawking, until a weight on her breastbone made it more difficult to breathe.

The sensation was strange, no question. Margot had never felt anything like it. But she’d taken enough psychology courses as an advertising major to peg it for what it was: a psychosomatic response. The conditions were ideal for something like that. For one, the general creepy-factor of standing above hundreds of corpses as black birds crowed their ‘Evermores’ left and right. And now this moving inscription that kicked in her sympathies.

There was otherwise no meaning in it – even if, go figure, the given name should be Charlotte. A decent coincidence to add to her diary, but it wasn’t surprising that such a popular Victorian name would find its way on an English grave or the spine of an English book. She must have seen a dozen Charlottes in that lot alone by now, along with all the Alices, Emmas, and Janes.

And so what if their birthdays were the same? The ratio of 365 days to the billions of people ever born on Earth was basically nil. She had to stop pandering to what the human brain did naturally: form correlations when it noted them. Only this and nothing more.

Exhausted with her overactive imagination and fantastically bored with herself, she didn’t want to stand there anymore. But she didn’t want to walk anywhere else either. Breathing heavily through her nose as a numbness dulled her, she didn’t want to be anywhere in that moment, not even in her own skin. The effort and futility of life bore down on her as she considered all the bodies underground, all those who’d borne the burden of existence and thought it mattered until they didn’t exist or matter anymore – just rotted in boxes under her feet.

She had to go back to Rand’s. She didn’t want to; she needed to. Not for the toilet any longer, but a bath sounded nice – something that could warm her against the nip of her fears, wash away the soil she felt falling over her. Drown the thuds each shovelful made on the lid of her inner casket. That sounded purposeful enough.

Forgive my intrusion, Miss Pidgeon. I will leave you to rest in peace.

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
** Read it! **
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

 

Putting the ‘normal’ into the Paranormal

Psychic Surveys

Horror is my favourite genre – it always has been, always will be, but it can become tiresome. The reason? Horror is often dealt with by authors and filmmakers gratuitously – therefore, the gorier, the more outrageous, the more ‘in your face’ the material, the better. Well, yeah, every now and then, one of those is fun but I thought it was time for something a little more down-to-earth. And before you scream ‘but surely that defeats the object’ – I don’t think it does.

imagesFor me, the best ghost stories are the ones that deal with the spiritual world more subtly. The Haunting with Claire Bloom is a great example – all through the film the suspense is built but you don’t actually see anything frightening – it’s all left to the imagination, and mine ran riot after that one! The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, not the film but the book, was also very subtle, building suspense beautifully right up until the end. The Others with Nicole Kidman springs to mind too, which relied on a good story rather than effects.

Haunting of Highdown Hall Cover MEDIUM WEBInspired by these I wanted to write a paranormal that largely dispenses with theatrics and relies on characterisation, plot and mystery instead. Ruby Davis, who owns Psychic Surveys, a high street consultancy specialising in domestic spiritual clearance, is young, modern and accessible. She doesn’t go round in tie-dye clothes or smelling of incense, she wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. It’s only her job that’s out of the ordinary – to make contact with grounded spirits in your home (ghosts to the layman!) and encourage them towards the light – or ‘home’ as she and her team call it. Her team, too, are down-to-earth, there is the young and vibrant Corinna (a sensitive rather than a psychic) and more mature ladies, Theo and Ness, the latter who also works as a psychic for Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove Council. Throw in IT Consultant, Cash Wilks and an attachment in the shape of ghost dog, Jed, and you’ve got the dream team. Keenly aware of how people feel towards ‘psychics’ – sceptical at best, frightened at worst, they deal with ‘assignments’ in a no-nonsense and practical way – charging a sliding scale of fees depending on the client and the problem.

Their reputation is spreading, largely via word-of-mouth, and cases come flooding in. The team may want to play it cool, sometimes, however, the ghosts don’t…

HH Teaser 6

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall available on Amazon this week for the special discounted price of 99p/99c.

The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2

US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

 

“Good morning, Psychic Surveys, how can I help?”

Haunting of Highdown Hall Cover MEDIUM WEBWho You Gonna Call? Psychic Surveys – the Inspiration.
You hear it so many times; the great horror movies of our time – Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror and Texas Chainsaw Massacre for example – are inspired by true events. So many times, in fact, you begin to take it with a pinch of salt, doubt it even. After all, these are ‘horrors’, hyped up for an audience who love nothing more than to be scared witless. But since becoming a paranormal writer myself, I give that claim more credence. Hyped up they may be but truth is always stranger than fiction.

a950ef28f5965f1463ffe2356bca771eThe Haunting of Highdown Hall has its roots firmly in truth. Not only with regard to the main case where movie star, Cynthia Hart, still resides within her hallowed four walls, despite having died in 1958, but in all the ‘mini’ cases scattered around it. Cynthia’s story is based on a tale I heard years ago. I can’t say who the movie star is but she was one of the cinematic greats. Some years after her death, her house was inherited by a friend of a friend, only for him to discover she was still very much ‘in’ it. As for her bedroom, still kept as a shrine to her – he couldn’t even enter it. It was as though invisible hands were pushing him out and he got the sensation of a voice ‘screaming’ at him. He called in a team of psychics and they dealt with it (or should I say ‘her’) and he lived there happily for many years afterwards. Hearing this story, I couldn’t help but wonder: what was holding her there, fear, despair or something darker, much darker? Transfer that story to fiction and that’s what the Psychic Surveys team have to find out.

The ‘mini’ cases too are drawn from real life, for example, the little boy that ‘haunts’ his bedroom, taking an active dislike to the new child that has moved in there and the tormented young man in Paul Ashworth’s flat that is hell bent on driving him out. Both were based on psychic cleansings I took part in (I rung the bells in dark corners to break down negative energy!). Although the owners were terrified, when you find out the history of the spirit, when you can ‘communicate’ with them, you realise that tormented is exactly what they are and often just need some understanding, validation even and gentle encouragement to ‘move on’. Happily, both cleansings were successful and the owners reported no more paranormal activity occurring afterwards.

Aside from the cases, the ‘business’ of Psychic Surveys is rooted in truth. Imagine if you didn’t have to hunt around for this service, if domestic spiritual clearance was widely available – we’re talking high street presence here, alongside estate agents, solicitors and travel agents. An idea considered in reality, we decided the business was better off in fiction – the aim of it to put the normal in paranormal, to remove the taboo. Young psychic, Ruby Davis, heads up the team and, suffice to say, business is booming!

The Haunting of Highdown Hall is available on Amazon and all good bookshops. It’s sequel, Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me is also available. Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street due early 2016. 

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2

US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Feel the Fear…

Feel the fear and do it anyway… a phrase coined by Susan Jeffers in her book of the same name, it’s one that pops into my head on a regular basis. And just as well! When I started out on this whole business of writing books, around two years ago, I had visions of me in my lonely garret, creating fabulous worlds of fiction that would be effiortlessly published and with even less effort sold around the world. And then came the reality check. Yes, my books got published (I currently have two available and a further two coming out in December) but what I wasn’t prepared for was all the writerly trimmings!

First up there’s the publicising. You’ve written a book, it’s available on Amazon and in certain book shops up and down the country – but then again, so are zillions of others. So, what do you have to do? You have to shout about it! To friends, to family, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, the list is endless. And you have to continue to shout, despite being terrified everyone is hating the sound of your shouty voice, because that’s what writers have to do nowadays, they have to double up as sales gurus. There’s no point in creating something if you’re not prepared to advertise it, everyone with a ‘product’ has to advertise. The mantra – feel the fear and do it anyway – is proving very useful so far.

Second up is being invited to book clubs, to book signings, on the radio and you have to speak. I like speaking as much as the next person but I’m talking public speaking here – getting up in front of a crowd, being the centre of attention, trying to appear confident and bubbly when really you’re a quivering wreck inside. The mantra goes on overdrive.

Last but not least – the reviews!!! Oh God, the reviews. Every time I see there’s another one I scroll down the Amazon page in fear and trembling – what the heck have they said now? To be honest, I’ve been lucky, really lucky, the vast majority of reviews for both The Runaway Year and The Haunting of Highdown Hall have been brilliant. I’m always humbled by how people take time out of their busy lives to write such lovely things. However… there’s always one – the one star that is, or the two star, someone who’s ripped into the book, torn it apart. When it first happened I felt like hanging up my hat, despite the fact they were far outweighed by the good ‘uns. Now, I tend to take it on the chin. After all, even the best amongst us gets an occasional one star sometimes and when you put your book in the hands of the public – to be savaged or adored, savaged or adored it will be. In this instance, it’s a case of feel the fear and read it anyway!

I know I’m not the only author to feel this way but onwards we trudge, keeping not only the mantra in mind but also that writing is a journey, there’ll be ups along the way, there’ll be downs. Sometimes you’ll need to fasten your seat belts, other times you can cruise quite happily. And ultimately, if you enjoy the ride, keep on driving.

 

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