Hello and welcome to all new followers and subscribers. This is just a quickie to let you know the short story anthology Hauntings is now available for pre-order at £1.99. The paperback will also be on sale soon. The stories are written by Paula Lofting, S.J.A. Turney , K.S. Barton , Stephanie Churchill , Jennifer C. Wilson, Judith Arnopp, Kate Jewell , Samantha Wilcoxson, D. Apple, with a foreword by Sharon Bennett-connolly.
My own contribution is a mash-up of police drama, Stephen King style horror, and historical fiction and of course, you will bump into Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn along the way.
The Haunting of Edenbridge starts with a cold case, an unsolved disappearance of a police officer just before the outbreak of WWII. The story line moves backwards, through the witchcraft trials of the 17th century, and further back to the time of Henry VIII and the childhood of Anne and George Boleyn. And it all takes part in an abandoned castle that rings with the echoes of past inhabitants.
I don’t believe in ghosts but, of course, I’ve never seen one. I expect I’d change my mind if I did. When I was asked to contribute a story to Hauntings, I was in two minds as to how to tackle it. In the end, I just sat down and just started typing to see what would happen and Edenbridge was born. A castle teeming with past tragedies, grief and human frailty.
As the astute will have noticed, I originally set the story at Hever Castle, but I changed the name because the history of Hever is so well known, I didn’t want to blur the edges between fact and fiction even further.
I may not be convinced of the existence of ghosts but I have a keen interest in perspective and human perception so the question of how a spirit might view itself was very appealing. Would a ghost know they were dead, or would they just live in a constant spiral of events, reliving their reality, or would they somehow become fused in the life of the person they haunted. Several of the characters in the story question who is the ‘haunt’ and who the ‘haunted.’ To Anne and George, the 'girl' is the spirit but she is certain the people she ‘sees’ are shades of the past. But can she be sure?
The girl sees what others can’t. She knows she is different, even her mother fears her, and they are both all too aware of the events taking place in her own time, the 1640s. Is she perhaps a witch?
The girl’s reality takes place during the witch hunts, a period in which women are persecuted, tortured and hanged. The girl is unsure whether it is worse to be a ghost or a witch and is very much afraid that she may be both.
In the mid-1600s, John Stearne and Matthew Hopkins from Manningtree in the Stour Valley initiated a hatred for witches, which inflated into mass hysteria that spread across the country. Hopkins later rose to fame as The Witchfinder General. Villages around Huntingdon, Keyston, Molesworth and Little Catworth were at the centre and the trials have become as famous as the executions. Even without ghosts, the injustices and horror of those times are horrific, even centuries later.
The knowledge that, They are burning witches at Huntingdon echoes in the girl’s mind. In 1646 nine women and men from the vicinity of Huntingdon were tried for witchcraft; at least four were hanged on Mill Common. The stories spread across East Anglia and beyond and suspicion of witchcraft was infectious. Witchcraft became an explanation for anything vaguely outside the norm and after a farcical trial, the punishment was usually death. Imagine, in that scenario, fearing someone close to you might be tainted; even worse, imagine fearing you may be a witch yourself .
Although there are fun elements to my story, it isn’t a jolly tale; ultimately, it is a consideration of the bleak hopelessness of a restless spirit. Anne and Henry’s story becomes more tragic if we imagine them caught in a endless circle of life, with the same unchangeable future forever looming. But what could be worse than a young girl, caught amid the thundering echoes of other people’s tragedies, knowing their fate yet powerless to change it.
FEAR IS AS OLD AS TIME ITSELF
A collection of chilling tales lead you through a labyrinth of historical horror.
You will encounter a tormented Roman general, a Norse woman confronted with her terrifying destiny, and a troubled Saxon searching for his twin brother's murderer.
A young nurse is trapped in an asylum for the insane and
down the passages of time, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn wander through a haunted garden.
These are just a few of the eerie tales which ensure that Hauntings is not for the faint-hearted.
Out on October 1st 2021