Tag Archives: paranormal fiction

Adventures in Writing … things which were dragged across the floor at night!

Thought I’d put this down, seeing as it’s Halloween … And it’s true, every word.

Many years ago, when the days were so much longer and the grass greener, I used to go and visit my then girlfriend over in Kirkdale, Liverpool. She lived with her parents, brothers and sister in a new build. We’d been going out for quite some time when I finally got the invite to ‘stay over’. This didn’t mean my sleeping on the couch, oh no. I would have a bed – one of her brother’s, who was away for that particular weekend.

How excited was I!

I was young, full of wide-eyed innocence. We sat together on the sofa, watched a film on TV, said goodnight to her mum and dad, and continued to sit, talk, do a little bit of mooching … Innocent.

You get the picture?

I hope so.

Well, as the night continued and the silence grew, we sat in the dark, savouring the moment, happy to be alone.

And then it began.

At first, I thought it was her brothers playing tricks. Their bedroom was directly above us and it seemed they were dragging their beds across the floor, the sound coming through the ceiling. We laughed at first, but when it continued, we became a little peeved. Through the crack around the living room door, the light from the hallway filtered through. I said I would go up and ask them, politely, to stop. But when I stood up and pulled open the door, the light went off.

Now, at this point, I have to confess, no thoughts of the supernatural entered my mind. What did was a developing anger. Her brothers were taking this too far now, no doubt wanting to disrupt our time together, having great fun at our expense.

The light to the kitchen was on. This was their mistake, I knew it for sure. I would rush in, confront them, beat them at their own game. So I did, and what I saw caused me to revaluate all my former ideas.

The kettle was boiling.

Now, this in itself is not so very disturbing, but when you consider the plug was out of its socket, then you can begin to understand the rising sense of fear which brewed up from inside me.

Shaking, I returned to the living room. My girlfriend, herself annoyed at her brothers’ antics, said it was time to go to bed. She’d have ‘words’ with the pair of them in the morning, make their ears ring!

But after we said goodnight and went to our respective rooms, the mysteries of the night were not yet finished. I snuggled down under the duvet and closed my eyes. The brothers were asleep in their own beds, for they all shared the same room. Peace at last, I said to myself, pushing aside the curious happenings of the kitchen, the lights, the strange noises … until they started again.

Somewhere from across the room it came, a slow, relentless sound of something, not unlike a brush or coarse cloth being rubbed across the wall. I listened, hardly daring to breathe, wondering what this sound was, my imagination going into overdrive. Perhaps it was my imagination. But to conjure up something so real, so close? No, this wasn’t me, this was really happening.

I sat up, peering through the darkness, my eyes by now well accustomed to the gloom. And as I looked to where the sound emanated, it moved. Slowly at first, but gathering speed, it travelled across the far wall and made its way relentlessly around the room towards where I sat. As it drew closer, so the noise increased, until it seemed as if it filled the entire room.

In classic, horror-film style, I threw myself under the covers and lay there, quivering, the noise growing louder, ever louder.

And then it stopped.

Right next to me.

Silence.

I waited, with my heart pounding even louder than the recent noise, and as the minutes crawled by, I gradually relaxed. At some point I drifted off into sleep.

In the morning, I told my story to my girlfriend and she listened, her face pale. She told me she too had heard the noise and both of us were gripped by a confused dread. What could it be?

It didn’t take us so very long to find out.

I visited Liverpool City library. The simple fact was, the housing estate where my girlfriend lived was behind Kirkdale hospital, a huge, sprawling and vacant monstrosity of a building. Walking beside it was enough to give anybody the willies, so, acting on a hunch, I went to the reference section and discovered something, which seemed to explain everything.

The housing estate was built on the site of the hospital morgue.

Yes, that’s right. The place where they stored the bodies.

And porters moved trolleys.

The noise we heard, of beds being dragged across the floor, was this. A memory, forever imbedded in the fabric of time and space. What other explanation could there be?

And the rubbing?

Well, that is still a mystery, perhaps never to be solved.

big cover

This happened almost forty years ago and I have never experienced anything else quite like it. What the noises really were, I cannot honestly say. Subsequent sleep-overs at my girlfriend’s house saw no repeat of what happened that night, so the mystery remains.  But the memory lingers and has helped me craft more than one horror story. Writing as Glenn Stuart, I have penned nine paranormal mysteries, amongst them my personal favourite, ‘Interlopers from Hell’, set in my home town and not so very far away from that spooky, grim edifice of a hospital, which is no longer there, but continues to conjure up the terror of that night.

So enjoy your Halloween, my friends, and always keep an open mind concerning things which go bump, or are dragged, in the night!

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Adventures in writing…a slight detour

I’m writing early this week, as this weekend I am off for a pre-Christmas visit to that most beautiful of cities – Paris! So, a few thoughts before I wing away to the City of Love…

I received an interesting email the other day, informing me of new innovations and opportunities for writers ‘in the digital age’. As technology continues to advance at frightening speed, many traditional platforms for publishing and ‘getting yourself out there’ are being forced out of the market by the online revolution. Self-publishing is a boom industry, and more people than ever before are able to get themselves into print. The number of free offers, events, newsletters, online magazines, etc, etc, are everywhere. I constantly receive all sorts of notices concerning free promotion this, opportunity that…I may be like a lot of people. Whenever I see that my inbox contains messages, I feel a little thrill of anticipation. Could it be Harper Collins signing me up? My fingers fumble for the mouse, body shaking, perspiration springing from every pore, anticipation mounting…and then the anti-climax when I discover it is yet another vague and distant marketing company desperate to sign me up and make me into the world’s number one. A far cry indeed from when I began, pounding away on my Olivetti, alone in my room, with only myself and a library full of great literature to guide me through the writing process. And life, of course. The greatest teacher of all. Self publishing in those days was too expensive to even consider. Now, with Smashwords, Kindle, Nook and a whole host of others offering free opportunities to get yourself ‘in print’ it is so much easier. And so alluring.

However, let’s just take a step back from all of this.

There is one fundamental truth that has not changed, not since the days of the Ancient Greek dramatists who put their words down on velum scrolls and had actors perform them to spellbound audiences. Not since Defoe penned Robinson Crusoe, or Dickens laboured over Hard Times, published his stories weekly, and left audiences gasping for more as each extract ended on a tight-rope – the precursor to our ‘modern’ diet of televised soaps. All of them, from Aesop to Zola and every great writer in between have one crucial thing in common.

The writing is good. Often, it is great.

That was then. Nowadays anyone can get themselves published.

The romance of seeing your name on the cover of a book, the sheer thrill of achievement that gives, is a strong lure.

But I would ask everyone to pause for a moment and read some of the reviews for many of these self-published books. Note how many times readers mention typos, bad spelling, grammatical errors, how all of this interrupts the flow of the reading experience. I’ve talked about how editors can tear you apart, try to dominate, change your direction, but a good editor is essential if the work you have produced is going to be raised above the slush. No editing at all, that has to lead to the sort of comments you see on Amazon. ‘Best-sellers’ receiving five-star reviews, is all very well, but then, every so often, a one-star from a discerning reader who knows what makes a book good, or, be it one from Thomas Hardy, even great. The story is important, but it has to be well written. Sometimes I doubt if these self-published authors have even done a second draft, let alone a third, or a fourth.

I write fast. I can get a seventy thousand word first draft down in three weeks. I am on fire when the inspiration grabs me. But it is the editing which takes the time. The rewrites. Going through every sentence, sometimes every word, working, grafting to make it the best I can. That is what takes up all of my time, and it can be mind-numbingly difficult. Three weeks becomes three or even four months. This process, however, is essential. I haven’t always been like this. Impatience to see myself in print drove me on. Now, I can take my time, determination overcoming impatience. I want to do the best I can. I am not longer satisfied.

None of us should ever be ‘satisfied’ with what we write. Never.

Given all of the above, I have considered self-publishing a book I have written. The problem is, it doesn’t fit in with any of the usual genres I write in. Therefore, I might give it a go. I’ve rewritten it four times and I believe that now, finally, it is ready. So…we shall see.

You can read about what I do by visiting my websites.

For Young Adult material, pop along to www.glennstuart.co.uk and for adult thrillers, visit www.stuartgyates.com. On both sites you will find where you can buy my books. I hope you enjoy them.

 

 

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