If Heyer did horror?

got ghosts frontGeorgette Heyer never did write horror, of course, but some of her more light-hearted crime novels came surprisingly close, and they’ve always been big favourites of mine.

So when I came to write Got Ghosts?, it was to those titles that I turned for some inspiration. To find out which books those were, and how they influenced my writing, pop over to Marlena Smith’s cheerful blog today and read my guest post there.

And do have a wander about while you’re there, because Marlena blogs about all things writing and authors and you never know what snippets you might find!

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Got Ghosts contest

PhotoFunia-1510852151I’ve just set up a brand new Facebook page for ‘Got Ghosts?’ and to celebrate I’m holding a daft little contest, with one free copy of the book to give away. All you need to do is pop along to the page, have a look at the photo I’ve posted there and come up with a suitably funny caption for it. The caption that makes me laugh the most wins the book!

To keep things easier to manage, please respond in the comments on the FB page post, otherwise I might miss seeing them. The contest opens today and the end time is 4pm UK time on Friday (8th December) – and I’ll announce the winner during the weekend.

Thanks, have fun, and the very best of luck!

 

Friday Five: inspiration for Greystones

There’s no such place as Greystones Hall, of course. The house, a rambling and terrifically haunted manor which features in my latest book Got Ghosts?, is a product of my own fevered imagination. The library, the chapel, the minstrels’ gallery, the attics, even the cellar, are purely fictional.

And yet… are they? Mostly the answer is still yes, but I did draw on my love of old English homes for inspiration. In particular, a group of ancient, fascinating, and sometimes haunted houses and castles that I’ve visited over the years, which include the following:

Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire

This wonderful old Cotswolds house gave me the idea of somewhere that’s been added to, piecemeal, over many centuries. It has two distinct ‘wings’ in very different styles, and looks either Jacobean or Georgian depending on which direction you’re viewing it from. In the early 20th century its owner, the eccentric Charles Paget Wade, filled it to bursting with his own collections of antiques, models, and historical costumes including an entire army of Samurai armour! Now owned by the National Trust, and worth a visit to poke around.

Muncaster Castle, Cumbria

P1000984Based around a fourteenth century pele tower, this atmospheric castle is reputed to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain. Ghosts include the invisible Tom Fool, and a little girl heard crying, who is believed to be Margaret Pennington. The castle’s most haunted room (allegedly) is a bedroom which is rather stage-set these days: painted in cold dark colours and with noticeably less heating and lighting than the other rooms. However, during a visit a few years ago I noticed a very odd atmosphere in a downstairs room, so perhaps the rumours are true…

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

P1020492Another wonderfully romantic and atmospheric castle dating back to medieval times, this home has been continuously occupied by the same family, the Stricklands, since 1239. It provided some of the inspiration for the feeling of Greystones Hall having been lived in ‘for ever’. It also has a couple of “secret” rooms and a chapel, built into the thickness of the pele tower walls.

Harvington Hall, Worcestershire

harvington_frontHarvington is an incredible survivor of the religious turmoil of Tudor and Elizabethan times, which housed a Catholic family during the reign of Elizabeth I, and was rebuilt to include an incredible set of hiding places for their priests, known as priest holes. At the last count I believe there were about ten – two for church vessels and the rest for the priests themselves. In Got Ghosts? I simplified this quite a bit, but the idea of having one priest hole leading into another came from Harvington. It’s still owned by the Catholic church and well worth a visit.

Greystones Hall?

greystones1

Bits of all these houses, and probably others too, came together in my mind as the whole of Greystones. However, individually they’re probably all too large and grand for what I had in mind, which was a low-built, rambling family home rather than something stately. For this reason, this photo (borrowed from the internet!) is probably closer to the “real” Greystones Hall. Sadly, in spite of researching extensively, I don’t know much about it, except that it’s probably set in the Cotswolds. If anyone recognises it and can tell me more, I’ll be delighted.

Mirror, mirror…

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which is the spookiest book of all?

Well, I don’t actually know the answer to that one, but I couldn’t help thinking of it when I saw the template for this picture on the photo editing site photofunia.com recently.

I just had to try it with Got Ghosts?, and this is the result. What do you think? It certainly puts the ‘fun’ in photofunia!

PhotoFunia-1510852151

 

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.

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!

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.