Halloween is tomorrow night, so I thought I'd help get us into the spirit of things. When the talented Julia Kavan told me that she had some chilling stories and pictures, I knew she had to be my guest. Julia is the author of "Dreaming, Not Sleeping" from Touched by Darkness.
After you read Julia's tales, be sure to leave a comment. One name will be drawn from all my blog commenters this week and receive a $5 Starbucks card or Amazon gift certificate. Let us know what scares you.
Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
Places to Get Inspiration for Writing Horror
by Julia Kavan
I love disappearing into the British countryside – mostly to walk in forests, clamber up waterfalls or explore crumbling ruins. I’m often inspired to write stories when out and about, not only using the places I visit as settings but remembering how I felt while I was there, what I could hear and so on. My short story, Dreaming, Not Sleeping was inspired by a walk in the woods, and the novel I recently completed features overgrown gardens, historical buildings, isolated houses, intimidating forests and dark city streets. I’ve tried to capture the feelings each of these places have provoked in me – and it’s not always fear, even though I write horror – it can be the sense of someone having just left a room despite no one else being around, or the feeling of being watched – perhaps the sense of feeling like an intruder...
I’d like to share some of the places I’ve visited with you – a few of them are the settings for real life ghost stories.
Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
A fully-furnished castle complete with well-equipped torture chamber, narrow winding stairs, a claustrophobic cell, and a curse for good measure – woe betide anyone who takes anything from the castle with them when they leave. There is even a collection of returned objects from people hoping to reverse the curse – including a large door handle (just the sort of thing you accidentally pick up...). As for any ghostly encounters – there was one bedroom I was very uncomfortable in, as if someone was angry that I was in their room. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chillingham_Castle#Chillingham.27s_ghosts
The paranormal activity alleged to have taken place at Borley rectory is well documented http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borley_Rectory#Hauntings . Now the rectory no longer exists, activity was reported to have moved to the church – a ghostly nun has been seen walking near the cemetery and noises have been recorded in the church itself – the sound of doors closing and odd thumps. I’ve been to Borley several times and simply find the place peaceful... with a sense of being watched. I’ve been inside the church once and my companion couldn’t wait to get out. I have found it impossible to take a good photograph there – any images inside the church have been ‘foggy’, while outside I seem to catch light flares and other anomalies, although I have never had this problem elsewhere.
A village dominated by an ancient stone circle – and the strangest place I have ever been. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury/ Avebury is far more impressive than Stonehenge to me, as the huge stones are very much a part of the village. Although I have no family/historical connections to the area it is a place where I feel ‘at home’, despite skull-crushing headaches which strike as I enter some of the buildings, then vanish when I leave, hearing someone giggle and whisper in my ear in the Red Lion pub when there was no one next to me, and being overwhelmed with a sense of grief when leaving the village. A very unsettling place – I love it.
Roads haunted by devil dogs (Black Shuck), and fields roamed by big cats (the Fen Tiger), mists that creep across the roads and a long history of witchcraft (Wicken, Coveney...). I find the area eerie – for the silence when you’ve walked along a drove to what feels like the middle of nowhere, surrounded by flat fields and a vast sky, and hoping it’s only the wind whispering in your ear... or the feeling of unease creeping up your spine like clammy fingers when walking in Wicken Fen at dusk, with just the bats for company – or at least they’re the only company you can see. The city of Ely has plenty of ghosts wandering the cathedral and its surrounding buildings - which sometimes vanish... http://www.catherinecavendish.com/2012/09/stranger-than-fiction-julia-kavan.html