It’s time for another guest post, this time from Sara Bain.
I grew up in a house haunted by spirits – or so I was told.
I was seven years old when I moved into one half of a Georgian mansion in south east London and remember one of our Great Danes would sit at the top of the basement steps and growl into the darkness below. The ghost of the basement still haunts my imagination.
My three sisters were once so spooked after hearing ghostly footsteps ascending into the attic that they armed themselves with hockey sticks and tennis rackets and jumped into the wardrobe. They hid there for a while, stuffed into the closed confines of their wooden sanctuary, until they thought it was safe to breathe again.
I, of course, saw and felt nothing during my childhood in that house – nothing, that is, but fear.
Up until very recently, I couldn’t sleep with the cupboard door open and without the soft, comforting glow of the hall light spilling into the bedroom.
Fear is a very powerful emotion. It is a state of mind that both fascinates and appals the logical thinker.
I hold a grim fascination for all things frightening. Whether this can be attributed to an addiction to the adrenaline rush or a perverse form of intellectual resistance is a moot point, but fear of those things that cannot be explained by the canons of natural, religious, logic or scientific laws, holds an ultimate terror for me.
My favourite parties are those when everyone gets together at the end of a meal and, in front of the fire, recount their own ghost stories until everyone is too terrified to leave the room on their own.
I once heard a story of a ghost that opened the door of a hotel bedroom and sat on the end of a couple’s bed before it moved to the next room where their daughter was sleeping and terrified her. There was a small fire in the reception area of the hotel that night but, in the morning, patrons were more horrified to hear that someone had experienced a visitation from the paranormal than ponder on the dangers of being burned to death in their sleep.
During my time as a journalist, I have visited many allegedly haunted houses and have reported on some of the most terrifying haunts in south west Scotland. Each place I visited – sometimes with a spiritualist medium, sometimes just with a camera, once with a minister and often solely accompanied by my own terror – the presence of the supernatural has always managed to evade me. In consequence, I am not convinced that the spirits of the dead can return to haunt the living.
It is for these reasons I wrote The Ghost Tree.
Based on an historically documented account of a poltergeist that pestered a stone mason and his family in south west Scotland at the end of the 17th century, the novel was a personal journey for me into a definitive answer as to whether or not a paranormal dimension exists in the living world as we know it.
The minister, Alexander Telfair, who performed the two-week-long exorcism and 14 other members of the clergy and community of Rerrick, certainly believed the steading was haunted by a mischievous spirit, for they all signed the statement which was published that year in a pamphlet.
That said, this was a time the church was still burning witches and when demons were abundant through the preachings of a misguided clergy that remained under the spell of the vivid imagination of a maniac Scottish king long after his reign had ended.
Whatever happened to Mr Mackie and his family in 1695, however, still baffles the experts and Rev Telfair’s “true account” has gone down in history of one of the only officially documented reports of the existence of the “noisy ghost”.
In order to write my own terrifying account of a 21st century man plagued by the Mackie poltergeist, I had to recreate my childhood fears. I wrote it at night with my back to an open door and a dark, empty hall. I decided that, if the story didn’t scare me, then it certainly wouldn’t make my readers jump. In consequence, parts of the novel are terrifying. Often I would get so frightened that my poor husband would have to accompany me to the toilet in the middle of the night.
I undertook a lot of research for the book – from ghost hunting experiments by paranormal experts, to religion, to quantum physics – in order to put my demons to rest inside some comfortable box that would give me an authoritative explanation for the phenomena of paranormal activity.
After all the reading, the experiments and the visits to allegedly haunted places, however, the jury remains in deadlock.
As well as a crime thriller and a romance, The Ghost Tree is an audacious exploration into the supernatural. All the theories are there to be discovered, yet do they come up with an answer? You’ll have to read it and decide for yourself.
Enjoyed this guest post? Well, you’re in luck because Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications is giving away 5 copies of ‘The Ghost Tree’. To enter just leave a comment telling me whether you believe in ghosts.
Terms and Conditions
This competition is open worldwide.
The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 14th November 2015.
The winners will be randomly chosen and notified within 7 days of the closing date. Their details will be given to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.
‘The Ghost Tree’ is available to buy from Amazon:-