Ghostly science

There’s a fascinating article in the current New Scientist magazine about research on the physical and psychological phenomena that may be behind sensations of haunting.

Apparently a former member of the Most Haunted crew, parapsychologist Ciaran O’Keeffe, wants to build an immersive video game that will test people’s responses to various scary scenarios, in order to find out what scares us most, and when, and why. There’s also research being done on the effects infrasound – sound below the normal level of human hearing – and electro-magnetic fields can have on human senses, and in particular the feeling of not being alone.

Needless to say, some of the results are pretty underwhelming – sensitive people are more likely to be scared by spooky situations, as are people who already believe in ghosts. But there are new and interesting lines of enquiry springing up, such as the role of synaesthesia – the ability to use more than one sense at once – and the phenomenon of sensitisation of different areas of the body at once, which may lead to a feeling of being touched.

I found all this really interesting. It’s always good to see research putting a rational, scientific spin on previously inexplicable events. However, the one thing that saddened me was the lack of any possibility whatsoever that some of these paranormal events are just that – paranormal. In my case none of the arguments put forward in the article help to explain things I myself have experienced. Yes, that could just be because we don’t yet understand the science behind them. But it could also be because they were real. Surely we need to research this whole subject from both directions – one, that it can all be explained by science, and two, that it can’t. And wouldn’t it be exciting if we could find proof of the latter, as well as running after the former?

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Most Haunted: real, fake, or somewhere in between?

Most-Haunted-Derek-Acorah-and-Yvette-Fielding-679x382I don’t know if anyone else remembers Most Haunted, the incredibly popular ghost-hunting show that was all the rage on Cable TV a few years ago? It starred (amongst others) former Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding and a well-known medium called Derek Acorah, and each episode visited a different haunted property or location to film the ghosts.

From that write-up you’ll guess that it provided inspiration for my own book ‘Got Ghosts?’. However, where the Got Ghosts? mob are a pretty dodgy lot, I’ve never entirely made up my mind about Most Haunted. But I do still have my doubts, and now you can read about those doubts over at The Spooky Isles magazine.

While you’re there, check out some of the other articles because they have a wide range of paranormal and supernatural stuff from Britain and Ireland: ghosts, history, TV and film reviews, folklore to name but a few.

Bits and bobs

Just a quick round-up of various bits of writing news today:

The Being Me charity anthology is now fully available to buy on Amazon. With 16 stories from 15 authors (including my own time travel tale The Visitor) this is a great way of supporting a great cause. Do go and check it out!

Paragraph Planet have listed The Summons in their October archive. This ultra-short story with a creepy feel is based on a real Cumbrian legend of the church bells ringing under Thirlmere. Head for the archive page and choose 9th October from the drop-down list.

And my new book Got Ghosts? is already gathering some lovely reviews. You can find a selection over at Amazon – and why not treat yourself to a copy while you’re there? It’s the perfect size for an early Christmas stocking-filler!

Historical, not hysterical!

Friend and fellow Westmorland Writer member Deborah Swift has been kind enough to run a guest (ghost?) blog post of mine on the background to Got Ghosts?

Since Deborah writes historical novels (including The Gilded Lily and Pleasing Mr Pepys), I wanted something that would be vaguely interesting to her readers, so rather than concentrating on the ghosts, I looked back over some of the historical influences on the book. These include stately homes, artworks, priest holes, and Lord Byron – but to find out more, why not head over to Deborah’s blog and check out the details? Hopefully they’re more historical than hysterical, as the title suggests.

Got Ghosts? You have now!

got ghosts frontI’m dashing in with the fantastic news that my new book Got Ghosts? is released today, just in time for Halloween. Considering the number of ghosts in the book, that’s just about perfect! Huge thanks to Adele, Vincent, Daz and all the others at Fox Spirit Books for making this happen.

The book, which features ghosts, a TV film crew, missing paintings, happy (and unhappy) mediums, and yet more ghosts, is a fun-filled romp which is very loosely based on the real-life TV show Most Haunted, with further inspiration from some of the old and haunted country houses I’ve visited over the years and a few of Georgette Heyer’s sillier crime titles.

The end result is, I hope, a quirky, breathless dash through the haunted halls, attics and cellars of Greystones Hall in the company of its young artist owner Emily, the Got Ghosts? production company, and a swathe of resident ghosts.

You can find out much more about the book, including the full blurb, an excerpt, and those all important details on where to buy it, at my website. I’ll be adding more information soon, including a handful of guest (ghost?!) blog posts and a contest, so keep checking back.

If you buy the book (Amazon UK), thank you! And I hope you enjoy hunting the ghosts.

Got Ghosts? You will have!

got ghosts frontPopping in this morning to say that I’ve created a brand new stand-alone web page for Got Ghosts? with more information about the book.

At the moment it includes the blurb and the release date, but I’ll be adding more over the next few days – including an excerpt and those all-important details on where you can buy the thing – so do keep checking back.

You can find the page here. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Being Me available for pre order

BeingMeA few weeks back I mentioned that I’d had a story, The Visitor, accepted in a charity anthology called Being Me.

The anthology includes a total of sixteen stories about people suffering isolation or discrimination as a result of being different, and proceeds will be going to the Being Me charity.

And the good news is that the book is now available to pre order on both Amazon and Smashwords. (Delivery due on 1st November, which is when it becomes fully available to buy.)

So don’t risk missing out – head over to Amazon now to register your interest. And I’ll be back in the next few days with an excerpt from The Visitor and a few more details about both the story, and the book.

Got Ghosts? You will have!

Terrific news in the last few days – my new book ‘Got Ghosts?’ is due out from Fox Spirit in October, all set to coincide with Halloween!

The book is a complete romp, very loosely based on the hit TV show ‘Most Haunted’, and features a haunted English manor house, and all the things that go wrong when the film crew of (entirely fictional) television series ‘Got Ghosts?’ come for a weekend to make a programme there.

Greystone Hall’s owner Emily has far too much to deal with, including a plethora of ghosts, an arrogant producer, happy and unhappy mediums, a set of missing paintings, and yet more ghosts, not to mention a burgeoning romance with someone she doesn’t expect.

More details to come, but then if you’re good psychics you’ll know that already…

 

All of a twitter

I’m slowly creaking my way into the twentieth century (never mind the twenty-first!) and have just opened up my own Twitter account.

It’s much more fun than I expected, with lots of local Cumbrian and Lakeland events, venues and people to chat to, as well as all my own interests to follow such as museums, art, architecture, history, gardens, reading (of course!), ghosts, and even the odd pot of chalk paint.  And new friends made already, which is always nice.

If you’d like to track me down, I’m on as F_Glass_Author (all the better ones were taken!).  I’ll usually follow legitimate fellow-tweeters (ie, no spammers or scammers) back.

Bookshop Trail

The other day I picked up a leaflet somewhere about a bookshop trail.  Not just any bookshop trail, but specifically the ‘Dales & Lakes Bookshop Trail’, which is a collective of secondhand bookshops in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks and their surroundings.

I’d never come across this before, and was delighted to find that there are twenty-six participating stores, including several in the small “book town” of Sedbergh, which is situated roughly half way between Kendal and Yorkshire.  We visited the town for the first time last year and I was amazed at the number of book shops lining the streets.  Now, apparently, there are six – not bad for a town of around 3,000 people!

And it’s not just Sedbergh.  The shops listed cover a vast area from Hawes and Hebden Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales, to Keswick and Penrith in northern Cumbria, Whitehaven on the far west coast, and Cartmel and Grange-over-Sands in the south.

It’s an impressive cooperative project.  And I’m really looking forward to trying to visit every bookshop on the list!