Where do story ideas come from? It’s a common question, but that doesn’t make it any easier to answer. One science fiction writer glibly answered a fan with “I get them mail-order from Poughkeepsie” (or so the story goes), and that’s where Continue reading
Do you enjoy a good ghost story? They’re not usually my thing, but around this time of year they creep up on me whether I will or no. Like yesterday, when I found myself drawn into Michaeline’s excellent and satisfying re-telling of the story of Old Betty and Raw Head the razorback hog.
That set me to wondering what’s the best ghost story I ever read. Richard Adams’ The Girl in a Swing won by a mile. In case you’re wondering, yes, it is by the author of Watership Down. He wrote a number of other novels in various genres, but as far as I’m aware this is his only scary story. It may not be the most famous ghost story I’ve ever read, but it’s the one that had the most profound and lasting effect on me.
The Girl in a Swing was published in 1980 so it must be more than thirty years since I first read it, and I can still remember how it made me feel. It’s not a slam-bam horror story. There are no chainsaws or buckets of blood. It’s a story of ordinary people living normal lives in a present-day world. It’s very low-key and the pace is deliberately slow. The writing is quality, as you’d expect, and little by little, it drew me in until I was completely hooked. Richard Adams did a brilliant job of making me care about the characters, and at the end I was horrified, scared, shocked, moved and very sad.
I don’t like sad or scary fiction, and since ghosts are a consequence of death and are usually associated with violence, unhappiness, revenge, terrible secrets and unfinished business, they’re not a natural choice for me.
Despite the caveat above, every October I get caught up in the atmosphere of approaching darkness, and ubiquitous Halloween/All Souls/Samhain imagery.
Yesterday I was looking for something seasonal but not too scary to read, and thinking that unlike vampires, demons or shifters, ghosts don’t really lend themselves to romantic fiction. A furred, fanged or soulless hero is one thing, but an incorporeal one?
I asked Mr. Google, and to my surprise, I discovered that Goodreads has a 95-book list called Ghostly Romance.
I spent a happy hour or so investigating. Continue reading
So, my travels took me to The E— Hotel, and based on some observations, you could totally bring some ghosts to your next fictional hotel stay.
5. A visit to the lap pool is . . . refreshing, but a bit creepy. It’s tucked away in the basement, and as you walk around and around, you notice there’s one spot in the pool that’s a little dark in color, and the current runs a little swifter. It gets darker and deeper the longer you walk around and around, and then you realize, you are walking widdershins. Time to get out of the pool. Let’s try the one outdoors.
4. Ah, that’s better. Starlight! Beautiful summer night, with the heat lingering in the concrete. No lifeguard on duty, of course, but it’s not too deep. You Continue reading
So, it’s summer vacation, and even though my daughter’s summer vacation is only three and a half weeks, I’m already going a little crazy. She headed for camp, I cleaned the house, we hosted Girl Scouts from the US, and today she had to take a test for placement in her cram school – she’s studying for the dreaded Japanese high school entrance exams. No time for writing.
Rush, rush, rush. And the heat means I didn’t sleep very well last week either.
So, I could have sat my butt in the library and stared at the screen for four hours. But instead, I chose to take a bath.
I’ve mentioned my local hot springs before. They have a lovely outdoor bath that Goldilocks would adore – not too hot, not too cold. And no bears climbing up the mountain, either! Continue reading
Halloween goes back a long way—about 2,000 years, to the time of the Celts, who celebrated the new year on November 1, the day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead blurred, and ghosts returned to earth. The presence of otherworldly spirits helped the Druids, their priests, to predict the future. Continue reading
When I’m reading, I really appreciate a nuanced antagonist – not an evil, evil bad guy, but someone who has some depth and dimension. But when I’m writing, I tend to think of protagonists and antagonists in very simple, moralistic terms – I want a good guy and a bad guy, and I tend to enjoy writing over-the-top characters – all head and no real body. Maybe I can excuse myself because Continue reading