Category Archives: paranormal

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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Friday Five: time-shift novels

P1030049I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of different time lines, or time that moves in different ways in different places. So it’s hardly a surprise that some of my favourite books share this subject:

The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe: C S Lewis

I loved this book as a kid – the adventure, the talking animals, but most of all the concept that people could grow into adults in another world, then come back home and have only aged by seconds. The later book The Magician’s Nephew examines the whole subject in more detail but this was the one I read first and it remains a favourite.

Tom’s Midnight Garden: Philippa Pearce

Another classic, this time using the device of a beautiful garden as a kind of ‘time portal’ for a young lad to go back into the grand Victorian past of the house he’s staying in. I loved it as a kid and I still love it now – the descriptions of the past are vivid and magical and the explanation comes as a complete – but satisfying – surprise.

The House on the Strand: Daphne du Maurier

Not one of du Maurier’s better known works but it should be in my opinion! This time it’s an experimental drug which appears to send the book’s narrator into the past, based around the (real) village of Tywardreath in Cornwall. The medieval landscape and characters are brought to life so strongly it’s as though we’re walking the same paths and streets as Dick. Quite possibly my favourite book of all time, with a terrific knock-out punch of a twist.

The Time Traveller’s Wife: Audrey Niffenegger

A much more recent book that plays wonderfully with the concept of time, by having it passing in different directions for two characters who meet and fall in love, at totally different stages of their lives. For me, the violent ending spoiled the poignancy of the rest of the book, but I still loved the sheer originality and the deeply unusual romance.

Roses in December: Fiona Glass

*cough* One of mine included on the list. But given how much I loved most of the above, it’s hardly surprising I’d try my hand at a similar theme myself. Like Tom’s Midnight Garden, in Roses it’s a garden which acts as a portal for characters to slip between past and present, with shocking but ultimately heart-warming results. It’s currently out of print but I’m hopeful of getting it re-published at some point.

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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.

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Where there’s a ghost…

House Halloween Haunted Horror Demon Death Ghost…there’s often a crime. After all, ghosts are people who died, and not all those deaths are natural.

To read more about this rather weird subject, head for Ellie Sisson’s blog, where she’s been kind enough to lend me a soapbox and hand me a microphone for my latest “guest ghost post”.

This time it’s about the deaths, natural or otherwise, of some of the resident spirits in ‘Got Ghosts?’, and the whole issue of crime in paranormal fiction. I hope you enjoy it!

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Best of 3 horror

Halloween-Horrors-4-768x576If you had to choose your three (and only three!) favourite horror books of all time, what would be on the list?

Thanks to fellow author and friend Lucy V Hay, I had just this opportunity, and let me tell you it’s harder than it looks.

My first thought was that I didn’t actually read any horror. I’m not keen on splatter, gore or Stephen King and I don’t like things that involve suffering. But then I realised that there’s more to the horror genre than smears of blood and clowns. There’s also vampires, ghosts, paranormal, supernatural, and Gothic horror in general. And I like some of that very much indeed.

So I managed to pick my three books without too much difficulty, and you can see the results over at Lucy’s blog today.

I hope you enjoy the list – and the reasons why I chose those books – and feel free to drop a comment if you like them too, or even if you don’t!

 

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Friday Five: ghost movies

ghost-demi-moore-patrick-swayze-today-150709-tease_bfa3bec7e169bf80c0bc49e0ef09c98b.today-inline-largeEeek, I’m a day late with this – but you can blame the fact that yesterday I spent half the morning stuck in a traffic jam and half the afternoon having lunch with my writers’ group, one of whom is moving away. So I’m only just catching up!

I’ve watched a few ghost films over the years and some have stuck in my memory better than others – sometimes for good reasons, sometimes less so! Here’s my selection of five. If you like the sound of any of them, they might be good to curl up in front of for Halloween…

Ghost

Not one of my favourites – the story line is quite sweet but it feels very dated nowadays (more so than many of its contemporaries) and it’s a bit too saccharine for my taste. Some of my friends rave over the famous pottery scene (above), but I was squirming so much I could barely watch!

Truly Madly Deeply

Another one that’s a bit overly melodramatic and emotional, but rescued by excellent performances from Juliet Stevenson, Michael Maloney, and of course, the late, much-missed Alan Rickman as her newly-dead-but-still-very-much-around husband.

Haunted

In my opinion this never gets the ratings it deserves. It’s a genuinely spooky and surprising film, with Aidan Quinn playing a professor visiting a haunted house and finding all kinds of skeletons in the closet. Nice performances too from Kate Beckinsale and Anthony Andrews as brother and sister with some very unusual preferences…

Backtrack

I watched this a week or two ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Another troubled psychologist, another bunch of ghosts, but this has a terrific performance from Adrien Brody, and a nice line in logical solutions that could so easily explain away the odd happenings in his home town, except that they never quite seem to!

Poltergeist

One of the classics, with child-eating televisions, a family in peril, and the obligatory ancient burial ground. It’s exceptionally well done, but closer to horror than supernatural, and I found the swimming pool scene so overdone I got the giggles.

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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.

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