Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Now for something completely different ... - Karen Bush

As well as being a fan of Monty Python in my youth, I was also an avid reader of horror and ghost stories. Grubby, increasingly battered copies of the Pan series of horror stories passed from hand to hand around the classroom ... and then I discovered Dennis Wheatley and H.P Lovecraft nestling up against Dickens in my Dad's bookcase, and had a few more sleepless nights ...

As I got older I became a bit more squeamish and my love of horror lessened - but not so the good old ghost story, which provides all of the chills but without the buckets of blood and gore. The highlight of Christmas TV viewing was the BBC ghost story: a friend introduced me to MR James amongst other authors - and there are some very fine ghost story writers amongst the Authors Electric members too, including Susan Price, Mari Biella and Ann Evans ...

But although I read lots of ghost stories, I don't write them. Well, not normally. I did at one time pen a few, for the Damian Darke comic strip in a girls comic ... but that was a long, long time ago and as it was a comic strip, doesn't really count. And yes, alright, I have written a book called Haunting Hounds too, but I don't count that either as it isn't original fiction, but retold folk legends and tales of ghostly dogs. 
And then Sue Price came up with the idea of putting together a seasonal thriller for Halloween ... and I thought 'Why not?'

I did think it might prove to be a bit difficult and daunting, but it turned out to be really good fun, and actually spawned several more stories, rather than just the one. It turns out that writing outside your usual genre is a bit like taking a holiday. It's refreshing and rather liberating trying something different - and in my case also helped to unlock the creative gates which had gone a bit rusty at the hinges. Certainly it was a whole lot more productive than sitting at the keyboard gazing mindlessly out of the window, or worse still playing endless games of Solitaire or Candy Crush Saga.

So go on, give it a go.
Try something different!

My office assistants are taking a break this month,
so have sent a friend along in their stead.
Thanks Claire Colvin for letting him out to play!
PS More about our Halloween spooktacular next month ... watch this space!

6 comments:

Wendy Jones said...

There's nothing like a good Ghost story to get the blood pumping

Susan Price said...

Oh and some of M R James'... I re-read 'The Story of an Appearance and a Disappearance,' the other day. In it there's an account of a dream about a Punch and Judy show which is so chilling and disturbing. How did the man do it? I read through the dream a couple of times and couldn't work it out. He uses plain, simple English, just as the rest of us do, and yet produces this strong effect.

Dennis Hamley said...

Yes, ghost stories are marvellous. Of all the thousands I have read I think there are two which stand out for me and which told me, 'This is a proper genre and not just the febrile entertainment you thought it was.' The first is 'The Man Who Understood Cats'by Adrian Alington, which delighted me because I thought it was so beautifully done and depressed me because I wished I'd written it and now I never could. It took some time to realise that the strength of the genre meant that I COULD Write it - and have, many times! The second was Saki's 'The Open Window', almost the perfect story because it conjures up real terror and then lets us down suddenly - a marvellous practical joke on us. I've never managed that and it's so perfect that I don't think anybody could. Yet it's so simple.

Katherine Roberts said...

Trying something different is good. I think it's all too easy to get squashed into a creative box, and before you know it someone has slammed the lid on you, locked it and thrown away the key. But there's always a creative way out, such as digging an escape tunnel underneath... looking forward to the ghost collection.

Umberto Tosi said...

I stepped outside that box for AE's October ghost story collection as well and found the haunting most stimulating, and a wee bit daunting to be among such fine writers, in and out of the genre. I'm looking forward to the forthcoming collection!

Ann Evans said...

Thank you for the mention, Karen! And Umberto, your profile photo is very scary - not you, but the spider behind you! :) Looking forward to seeing the anthology too. Thanks for all the hard work, Karen.