The shops are filled with garish costumes and the faces of ghouls, ghosts and witches line the aisles of most supermarkets as the children prepare the celebrate the season. It is a time for fire crackers, toffee apples and the breathless excitement that is Halloween. But there is another side, and one that will never change, and that is the sight of the candle in the window of most homes, as they light the way for their lost loved ones. As the flame cuts through the darkness, we want them to know that there is light even in the darkest place, and they are not forgotten. Names will be whispered about around roaring fires as we remember better times and better people. Many a tear will be shed, as on this night, when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, our loss is somehow more profound. There is nothing strange or sinister in these beliefs, as here in Ireland, we live happily side by side with all manner of creatures be they ghost, wraith or banshee. So, we wait, as the dark nights come creeping in to honor our dead and leave an extra log on the fire before going to bed—just in case.
This is my latest profile photo for Locating the Gothic. I’ve told you about the wonderful events we have planned for the autumn and while I know it’s hard to think about this when the sun is shining, the winter is inevitable. So don’t leave it until the wind is howling in the chimney and ghostly fingers tap at your window panes to have a look at the site.
This is a modern ghost story that happened a week ago to a friend of mine who works in a nursing home. There was one patient, an old lady in her eighties who she was particularly fond of and would spend hours chatting with her during the night shift. This went on for many years. Each night the old lady would come in to the common room and sit in her favourite chair. Anne, my friend, knew she was on her way, as her arrival was preceded by a racking cough. The old lady suffered from her chest and the cough was a distressing and painful one. One night, last week, the old lady failed to turn up, so Anne went to check on her. Sadly, she had passed away. The following night, Anne sat reading in the common room. Every now and then she glanced over at the old lady’s empty chair and felt her heart ache with sadness. Around 4 a.m., when the wards were all silent, Anne was roused from her reading by a racking cough coming from the empty chair. In that instant her nose started to bleed for no reason. You can imagine her fright, as she rushed from the room. She has never suffered from nose bleeds, her blood pressure is normal and there was no one else around with a cough. Strange, of course, and something that makes one stop and think.
Another wet and grey Sunday here in Limerick, but below is a link to put you in the mood for such a day . Click on the link to find a list of events for the coming October, and although it may seem far away, you know how the months fly by, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out. For all of you with a yearning to put pen to paper, you will see from the site that I will be teaching a Creative Writing Workshop on the Gothic novel. I know we have a wealth of people in Limerick who have so many great ghost stories to tell about our city,so go on and have a look. And keep liking the Locating the Gothic page.
After listening to yet another story about a so called medium scamming someone out of their money, I urge you to be very careful when dealing with these people. As a writer of the Gothic novel, I love the thrill of the ghost story and sharing my imagination with my readers, but there are those who do very real harm by feeding off the suffering of those who have lost someone they love. These people do not, I repeat, Do Not, speak to the dead. There are those who will take offence at this, but to them I say, go to the James Randi Foundation and prove it. They offer a million dollars to anyone that can prove they have paranormal powers. In all the years they have offered this very tasty incentive to those who believe they have such powers, they have never found anyone who could prove it. So take the challenge or get a proper job like the rest of us.
It’s going to be a busy week as I set out to find a literary agent in the U.K and America. I’m hoping to find someone who shares my passion for the Gothic novel rather than the bloody gore one associates with horror. So, fingers crossed I find someone who gets my writing and with whom I can share my vision.
Some months ago I took a break from writing my usual Gothic ghost stories and missed them terribly. I was in the middle of writing the history of a haunted house, it’s titled An Undesirable Property and am taking up where I left off with this. I’ve missed the suspense and the creeping terrors the dark nights bring with them and I know from your emails, that some of you have missed them too. So back to work I go, along dark, deserted corridors with creaking floorboards and darting shadows. The chill in the air warns that the house is a place of unrest, but there are those not sensitive enough to feel it. I’ll keep you undated as the house comes to life and bring you with me as we enter its ancient door, past peeling paint and rotting wood. Stay warm, my friends.