I love a good ghost story, me. It’s a genre with a fine heritage: Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw; M.R. James with his genuinely unsettling tales such as Lost Hearts and A Warning to the Curious; and, of course, E.R. James’s Fifty Shades of Wraith. [Oops, how did that one slip in?]
And then there’s Charles Dickens with The Signalman, Robert Aickman’s abstract and eerie stories, W.W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw… the spectral list goes on.
So why are people drawn to ghost stories? I think we like to feel that there’s something out there, something other than the material world. For example, ghosts can be memories of people. Among the living, this can be positive, such as a deceased loved one that you feel is still around. My lovely, beautiful mum passed away three months ago, but I still feel she’s here. Not looking down on me exactly, just… around. It’s really helping me to cope with the loss.
But fiction, of course, thrives on conflict, so ghosts on the page tend to bring negative vibes to the story’s protagonist. Feelings of guilt, perhaps, about something the character did, or didn’t do. Or the ghost can simply be a manifestation of the character’s earthly anxieties and fears.
I’ve had a crack at a ghost story myself, which features a character very much haunted by his past. It’s set in a roadside bikers’ caff and appears in an anthology, New Ghost Stories II, which has just been published by The Fiction Desk. There’s eleven haunting stories to choose from, and you can buy the paperback here. (The ebook will be available to unsettle your ereader in a couple of weeks’ time.)
You can choose not to purchase it, of course, and that’s fine too. Except that a person can sometimes be haunted by the things they don’t do. I’m not talking about your good self, of course. No, no. Other people.
Sleep tight, won’t you? See you next time… if you can survive the night. Mwahahahaha…
*PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT* If you’ve got a spare few minutes, why not read another of my short stories, too? Click on the STORIES tab, or here, and take your pick.