Tag Archives: stories

Review: ‘Six Stories’ by Matt Wesolowski

If you haven’t already read Six Stories, I recommend that you rush to your nearest bookshop and purchase it now. And then read it. Most likely in one sitting.

Six Storiespublished by Orenda Books, is the book everyone is talking about and I, for one, would be happy to wax lyrical about it until… well, the end of this blog post but you know what I mean. In fact, I loved this book so much that if you meet me face-to-face, you will undoubtedly hear me refer to this book at least once during our conversation. I appeared at Pure Fiction on Thursday night and mentioned Six Stories during the Q&A. I did also mention other books too, obviously.

Anyway, Six Stories is a real stroke of genius. Following on from the success of podcasts like SerialSix Stories revisits a mysterious death that occurred on the fictional Scarclaw Fell in 1997. The official verdict was death by misadventure but, twenty years on, the podcast aims to reexamine the circumstances and relationships surrounding teenager Tom Jeffries’ death. The elusive presenter, Scott King, interviews the key players and encourages listeners to draw their own conclusions.

You can tell Wesolowski has taken a real interest in podcasts and he mimics the style of them with considerable aplomb. As with Serial, Six Stories builds up a picture each week and, just as you think you can conclude something, you’re given a new piece of information that confuses or confounds your theory.

This is a brilliant character study and an interesting take on the benefit and wisdom of hindsight. I also loved the sinister undertones (although it made walking around my house at night slightly terrifying).

Six Stories is utterly compelling and despite being entirely engrossed, I defy you not to be shocked by the ending.

An original concept with skilled execution – totally unputdownable!

Vic x

Getting to Know You: Tana Collins

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It’s my pleasure today to welcome Tana Collins on the penultimate stop of her blog tour. I met Tana at the first Edinburgh Noir at the Bar and I’m thrilled that she’s appearing at the Newcastle NatB tonight. 

Tana’s novel ‘Robbing the Dead‘ was released by Bloodhound Books earlier this month and is available to buy now. 

Thanks to Tana for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’re near the Town Wall tonight, pop in – it’s free entry – and promises to be a criminally good night. 

Vic x

Tana

Welcome to the blog, Tana. Tell us about your debut novel.
Robbing the Dead‘ is the first novel in the Inspector Jim Carruthers series set in the picturesque East Neuk of Fife.

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What inspired it?
Although it’s a work of fiction the inspiration for the novel comes from a true event that occurred in the early 1970s. I don’t want to say too much and give away any spoilers but it’s a tragic event that impacted on many people’s lives and still to this day continues to do so. I felt that whilst most of us have heard about the event very few know some of the details that make this story so human. I felt there was still a story to be told. 

Where do you get your ideas from?
Like most writers I have an inquisitive nature and am fascinated by people. I observe, listen and ask lots of questions. I decided my main cop, Inspector Jim Carruthers, should live in Anstruther in Fife. Early on into writing ‘Robbing the Dead‘ my partner and I went there for a long weekend so I could do some research. We walked in to the Dreel Tavern which I had reckoned might be Carruthers’ watering hole. I decided I needed to engage with the locals so I went up to the bar on my own with my drink and slapped a notebook and pen down. Within minutes a local had sidled up and asked me in a suspicious voice what I was doing. He had decided I was a tax inspector! That could end up a story in itself! I told him I was a writer and that the Dreel was going to be my main character’s favourite pub. I then asked him rather cheekily what he had to hide thinking I was a tax inspector! Within minutes half a dozen folk had come over telling me their stories of Anstruther, including the story of the resident pub ghost!

Do you have a favourite story / character / scene you’ve written?
My main character is a male police inspector, DCI Jim Carruthers. One of my female friends indignantly asked me why my inspector wasn’t a woman. I replied that I wanted Carruthers to be a man. He was always going to be a man and he’s still my favourite character, although DS Andrea Fletcher, as his assistant, is definitely starting to come in to her own. Interestingly, now I’ve written three books, I’ve noticed that more of my personality has gone in to Jim Carruthers but more of my life experiences in to Andrea Fletcher.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given and who it was from?The best piece of advice came from crime writer Peter Robinson. He was talking about writer’s block. He said that often writer’s block occurs because you are in the head of the wrong character in that particular scene. This piece of advice has served me well.

What can readers expect from your books?
Fast paced action and plenty of it! ‘Robbing the Dead‘ has been described as an ‘edge of your seat’ crime thriller. All three books start with a murder, if not in the first scene, definitely very early on and the death count just continues to rise. I like to write interesting stories often based on historical or contemporary events with political overtones. But I also like to have strong and believable characters that my readers will be able to engage with!

Have you got any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up! I can’t tell you how close ‘Robbing the Dead‘ came to ending up in the knicker drawer. And the truth of it is that early on it just wasn’t good enough to be published. It had two massive rewrites and I’m delighted I persevered. Ten years later with three books under my belt I started to approach publishing companies and landed a three book deal with Bloodhound Books. It was officially published on 14th February and I have been thrilled by the reviews! Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre. Hang out with other writers. Critique each other’s work. Go to book festivals. Last bit of advice would be get yourself a good editor before approaching publishers.

How do you feel about appearing at Noir at the Bar?
This will be my second Noir at the Bar event and I’m very excited. Like most writers I love to talk about my book and I love to meet readers and other writers. I feel honoured to be invited to speak and share a excerpt from my debut novel. I’m also looking forward to hearing other writers, new and well established, speak.

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What do you like and dislike about writing?
There is nothing that makes me happier than being given a blank piece of paper at the start of writing a novel. I love crafting a story and developing the characters. I also enjoy the research. I don’t do much drafting as I like to watch the novel evolve organically which can be dangerous. The worst? The crippling bouts of self- doubt during the writing process! 

Are you writing anything at the moment?
I’m just about to start an edit on the second novel, ‘Care to Die’, which is being published on 25th April 2017. The third novel, ‘Mark of the Devil’, is currently with my first reader. I’m contemplating a fourth book in the series so there’s a few ideas swirling around in my head.

What’s your favourite writing-related moment?
I think it has to be meeting my all time hero, Peter Robinson, on a writing course given by him in Tallinn. It was thrilling receiving tuition from someone who was also writing his latest Inspector Banks story which needed to be set in a European city! When ‘Watching the Dark‘ was finally published we found out that, as his students, we were all named in the acknowledgements! A wonderful moment.

Review of 2016: Matt Wesolowski

Over the past twelve months, my path has crossed with Matt Wesolowski’s on a few occasions. Matt is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and he leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. 

Matt’s debut novella ‘The Black Land‘, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 by Blood Bound Books and he’s had lots of stories published in anthologies and magazines. Wesolowski was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at ‘Bloody Scotland’; Crime Writing Festival 2015, his subsequent debut crime novel ‘Six Stories‘ is available through Orenda Books.

Thanks for reviewing your year for us, Matt!

Vic x

Matt

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2016?
It has to be in May when I got the confirmation that my novel ‘Six Stories‘ was to be published by Orenda. Being published on a scale like this has been my dream ever since I can remember and even now, it still doesn’t quite feel real. I remember my legs turning to jelly…they still do if i think about it too much!

Six Stories

My favourite moment generally was seeing my son starting to learn to read. Watching him and helping him recognise words is such a privilege – he’s only five and has got a way to go but I can see the doors to a wonderful world gradually opening before him, a world that has given me such pleasure. I’m reading him Jo Nesbo’s ‘Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder‘ books at the minute. He can try Nesbo’s crime stuff when he’s a bit older!

Favourite book in 2016?
I’m in no way biased toward Orenda but they released a stunning book this year called ‘The Bird Tribunal‘ by Norwegian author Agnes Ravatn – the work is simply stunning; it reminded me of Tarjei Vesaas in its rustic poetry. I also was deeply impressed and influenced by Benjamin Myers’ ‘Turning Blue‘ – a really desolate rural thriller as well as ‘The Girls‘ by Emma Cline which is beautifully written and hold you in a vice grip until the end.

Favourite song of the year?
I listen to so much music when I’m writing, a mixture of ambience and atmospheric black metal so in that sense, individual songs often don’t stick out.

I did get into Chelsea Wolfe a lot this year –  she’s a sort of doom-folk singer. ‘Simple Death‘ off her Abyss album is just wonderfully melancholic and bleak…are you noticing a theme in these answers yet?

Favourite film in 2016?
The Witch‘ was hands down my favourite film this year. It’s set in the 17th century with this banished family of Christians trying to tame the wilds of an unforgiving forest and hindered by their own puritanical fear of the unknown. I adored the way the dialogue was lifted from genuine witch trials and of course the character of Black Philip – a goat – stole the show. It was a difficult and tense watch, genuinely unsettling.

Any downsides for you in 2016?
I feel really strongly about animal rights, especially factory farming; it’s not common knowledge that ‘mega-dairies’ are operating in this country in 2016 – huge industrial complexes which allow the cows zero outdoor grazing. For such beautiful animals to be treated this way is just diabolical.

With so much scientific advancement from our species, it makes me sad that we still think it acceptable to treat other sentient creatures as products. For example, it baffles me when a company like McDonald’s brag about having free range eggs yet the chickens they farm for meat are still kept in inhumane and unspeakable conditions.  When someone gets on the bus with a bucket of KFC, the smell makes me want to vomit.

Under a Conservative government, for whom killing animals for fun is a pastime, it won’t be long until the pox that is fox hunting will return to our lands.

Are you making resolutions for 2017?
I don’t ever make resolutions at new year; I’m my own harshest critic all year round…that part of my brain nags me to be a better father and a more productive writer today!

What are you hoping for from 2017?
I really hope to see more reading in 2017…I’d love to see more people enjoying books rather than social media. There’s this wonderful tradition in Iceland called Jólabókaflóðið which roughly translates as ‘Christmas book flood’ and people give each other books on Christmas eve and spend the evening reading. It’d be wonderful if we could spread that tradition worldwide.

Review of 2016: Carolyn Batcheler

Today, we welcome Carolyn Batcheler to the blog. This lovely lady is here to review her 2016. Thanks for being involved, Carolyn.
Vic x 
cb
Favourite professional memory: Getting one of my favourite stories published in Number Eleven Magazine – it’s called Bright Shiny Things!
Favourite moment 2016: My son’s wedding party in August. Lovely to have my family all together and see friends. Loved embarrassing them doing my speech which was done in form of 2 poems. The one I wrote about my son had the refrain “Richard doesn’t like bananas but he does like…”
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Favourite book: My son bought me book 1 of Jim Butcher’s ‘The Dresden Files‘ for Christmas. I have now read all 15 of the series and love every one. They are sci-fi detective books about a very attractive wizard! You’ve got to love supernatural crime! Also good to read books alongside other family members.
Favourite song: Always anything Dylan… Loved him getting the Nobel prize! He has been part of my life for many years. Inspirational words…
Downsides: Too many bereavements…enough said.

Resolutions: There is no point in me making any. I would have broken them by the afternoon of January 1st. I would rather take positive moves rather than trying to stop doing something. Perhaps more travel would be the thing!
Hopes: More writing opportunities, more travel opportunities, more time with family and friends, more fun, more sunshine, more life! Always want to experience new things so I hope for things I haven’t even thought of yet!

Guest Post: David McCaffrey on Beat Sheets

I’ve already started arranging the next Noir at the Bar NE. It may not be until February but we have more than half of the performers booked. One of those readers is David McCaffrey who has been very complimentary about Noir at the Bar.

David has very kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to chat to us about beat sheets. My thanks go to David for sharing his wisdom – see you in February. 

Vic x

Guest Post: David McCaffrey on Beat Sheets

Christopher Vogler wrote a book called ‘The Writers Journey‘, a writing textbook that focuses on the theory that most stories can be boiled down to a series of narrative structures and character archetypes. Basically he says that every story told has been told before and that every fictional story consists of the same components.

I explored this once in my blog where I discussed the writing process, but the gist of it is this –

1.) The hero is introduced in his/her ORDINARY WORLD
2.) The CALL TO ADVENTURE.
3.) The hero is reluctant at first. (REFUSAL OF THE CALL.)
4.) The hero is encouraged by the Wise Old Man or Woman. (MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.)
5.) The hero passes the first threshold.  (CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.)
6.) The hero encounters tests and helpers. (TESTS, ALLIES, ENEMIES.)
7.)  The hero reaches the innermost cave.  (APPROACH TO THE INMOST CAVE.)
8.) The hero endures the supreme ORDEAL.
9.) The hero seizes the sword. (SEIZING THE SWORD, REWARD)
10.)  THE ROAD BACK.
11.) RESURRECTION.
12.)  RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR

Every story can be structured around the above, not always in the same order, not always every element, but they are there in one form or another.

In line with these components, it is important that you plug variables into your story before you start writing for one simple reason: so you don’t back yourself into a corner.

It’s really easy to begin writing a story off the top of your head or with the most basic of narratives and think that you can just string all the various plot points together.  And some authors can do this (the talented John Nicholson being one of them), but many need a structure, an outline of the aforementioned variables in order to understand where their story starts, begins and ends. This outline can prevent you ending up somewhere inescapable.

For me, writers block is not having the research in which to frame and support your story. I learnt right at the beginning that research is key, especially for the kinds of novels I write as they are mostly psychological thrillers that require an element of philosophy and detail to make them believable.

In line with this, you need something that is high concept, meaning it can be described in one or two words.

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” This tells you exactly what ‘Jaws 2 is about in one sentence.

“His crimes – unspeakable. His death – inevitable. His suffering – just beginning.”

My debut novel ‘Hellbound had the above tagline and in only a few words gives you an idea of what the book is about.

Once you have your idea and concept, it needs to be backed up by that most important of elements – research. You need to be steeped in your subject matter in order to sell your concept realistically. If your story outline is a skeleton, your research adds flesh to its bones. It fleshes out the whole idea so you begin to see what it will truly look like once complete.

Then we get to what I was taught is the most important element of writing, at least for me – having a beat sheet.

Once I have the above in place, I write a beat sheet that consists of bullet points with key elements of each chapter in a very simplified form acting as my map. Bestselling author Steve Alten once said that a beat sheet was like lining up dominoes, so that if you push over the first one it will travel right to the end meaning that if the beat sheet is tight then your story will have every element in place before you start putting one word on paper.

It’s better to get your beat sheet right before you start then begin writing and realise that you have a character who disappeared inexplicably halfway through the story or a massive plot hole you hadn’t considered.

Not having those dominoes lined up can result in you becoming frustrated and potentially lost in your own writing process.

Granted, a beat sheet can also be classed as an outline and many authors hate writing outlines because it requires all the underlying planning to have been done to answer all the difficult questions about your story. But with your research you would have the answers to those questions and the rest is a piece of cake.

Your beat sheet doesn’t have to be detailed. It can be one or two words – sex, Joseph dies, Maggie drives to work… as long as you know what it means, that’s enough.

The beat sheet stops you having to confront the most horrific of questions – what shall I write next?

Your research and a tight beat sheet can prevent this most awful of writing circumstances. With it, you will always know where you are in your story, what happens next, what will further the dramatic tension etc.

And because they are just bullet points, if something is moving too slow or there is too much action in a particular scene, you can simply move the bullet points around until you are happy and the beat sheet is tight again.

The beat sheet not only tells you what the scene is, it tells you why it’s there in the first place. And for me, the best thing of all is with a beat sheet you are simply going into those bullet points and just fleshing them out, adding narrative around them because the framework is already there.

You might veer off as you go as different story beats come to mind or naturally develop with the story. This is the beauty of using a beat sheet: they leave you free to explore and flesh out the narrative that drives the story forward. As long as you end you where you intended at the very beginning, it isn’t as important how you get there – the story will take care of itself.

Make the beat sheet clear and simple. Remember, this is your document. You’re not trying to sell the story to anyone else, you’re just trying to get your head around the story as a whole.

Besides, it’s always nice after you’ve written a three hundred page novel to look back and see that it just started out as a forty bullet point piece of A4. You would probably struggle in reverse if asked to summarise your story in forty bullet points, but it goes to show that as Christopher Vogler believed, every story can be boiled down to key elements.

And we thought we all had original ideas!!!

Guest Post: Jennifer C. Wilson on Reluctantly Writing a Ghost Story.

Jennifer C. Wilson is a regular guest on this blog as well as a regular attendee of Elementary Writers.

Although she’s the author of ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘ (which is celebrating its first birthday), Jen’s here to tell us about how a self-confessed scaredy-cat manages to write ghost stories. 

I’m a little worried about how Jen will react when she performs at ‘The Visitation‘ this Saturday night although I actually think she’s tremendously brave for facing her fears. 

To see Jen and other members of Elementary Writers perform original ghost stories and poetry, order your tickets for ‘The Visitation‘ now!

Vic x

Jennifer C. Wilson: The Reluctant Ghost Story Writer

I’m a coward. Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I really am an absolute scaredy-cat. I don’t watch horror films, I don’t particularly like visiting ruined or quiet places in the dark (or even on my own, to be honest), and I don’t read ghost stories. Slightly ironic, then, that the biggest success I’ve ever had as a writer (i.e. the publication of my debut novel), is by having written what? Yup, a ghost story. Although in my defence, I have always categorised ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London as ‘a story about ghosts’ rather than ‘a ghost story’. To me, that’s a big difference.

Wandering around the Tower (especially during a freezing February blizzard), my mind was buzzing with the characters who have lived there down the years, either willingly (or decidedly unwillingly), and what stories they would tell. I tried so hard to set a piece of ‘true’ historical fiction there, drawing on the adventures of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and, of course, Richard III, but nothing seemed to work, no stories were crying out to be told. But that was when I was trying to channel the living – the dead, on the other hand, refused to shut up. The notion that Richard and Anne might have plenty in common to chat about really appealed, having been sparked as an idea for a poetry competition. But ghosts? For me? Lonely and creepy dungeons, rooms where people (including possibly children) were tortured and murdered – surely the ghosts of the Tower would be your classic, chain-rattling, terrifying-the-visitors type? I wasn’t sure I could handle that.

Then it struck me. If they were still hanging around, then this little community would have been stuck together, in some cases, for centuries. During that time, surely there would be politics, based either on their thoughts whilst alive, or those which developed in death? There would be arguments over virtually everything, and there would be friendships. And what comes with friendships? Humour. If I could find even the tiniest hint of the petty bickering and raucous laughter which comes with almost any tight-knit group of friends, then maybe this was my way in. Plus, it meant I could work on it after dark, without scaring myself witless!

This is not how I would categorise ‘Followed’, the piece I’m performing as part of ‘The Visitation‘ this Halloween. I was genuinely uncomfortable writing it, and decided part-way through the first draft that it would be a daytime project only. Sad, I know, but I’m already a bad sleeper – there’s no way I was working on that in the dark…

But, I believe in pushing myself, and trying new things, so I’ve made it to the end, and after a couple of rewrites, hopefully it will go down ok, if a little lighter than some of the pieces you’ll hear on the night. After all, if the coward can find success with a ghost story, surely a werewolf is a piece of cake?

About ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.

Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.

With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London‘ was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.

You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Post: Martyn Taylor on Ghosts

Today on the blog, writer Martyn Taylor is on the blog to talk about ghosts. Martyn read at the inaugural North East Noir at the Bar in Newcastle in June and since then has been a regular at Elementary Writers workshops. 

You can join Martyn and other members of Elementary Writers for original ghost stories and poetry on Saturday, 5th November at Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade’s Watch House for ‘After Dark’. Email Sam.Levy@tvlb.org to book your seats. 

Thanks to Martyn for this very interesting post. 

Vic x

after-dark

Martyn Taylor on Ghosts.

I make no bones about it.  I am a Shakespeare fan.  As far as I am concerned, anything that needs to be said about the human condition has already been said, by him, and better than we can ever hope to do (not that it will ever stop us trying). The English language is packed with aphorisms taken from his writing.  The one that concerns me here is ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy’ (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5). Hamlet is, of course, talking about the ghost of his father, but to me this simple statement applies to everything, our lives, our society, our planet, our universe.  The more we discover, the more we realise there is yet to discover.  In an effectively infinite universe, as we understand it today, we humans have hardly scratched the surface much less dug down to deep and meaningful levels.

Hamlet spoke of a ghost.  Ghosts, so far as I can tell, are universal in human societies, at least until recently.  Let me say that I do not believe in ghosts.  In scientific terms they are like a faster than light drive, something devoutly to be wished but beyond our comprehension now.  That statement may not apply next week.  But I do not believe in ghosts, which is not to say there may not be echoes of individual human spirits that persist after physical death, possibly even the spirits of societies.  I have not been presented with any evidence that convinces me about this the way evidence about gravity and quarks does.

Yet I have ‘met’ two ‘ghosts’.

One was at our local church on Easter Sunday several years ago.  When the time came to offer a sign of peace, a young girl in the pew in front turned around and smiled at me.  I knew instantly she was our daughter, Lucy, who was stillborn.  I heard her say ‘Be at peace, I am’.  My heart hasn’t broken over her death since then.  Now I know there are all sorts of psychological explanations.  I may well have imagined her just to fulfil the wish that had tormented me for fourteen years and more.  Nobody else in our party saw her.  I suspect most ghostly encounters have their genesis in such need, and I have not sought any further contact – I talk to myself more than enough anyway – unlike my mother and her sister, both of whom frequented spiritualist churches, somewhere you will need wild horses to get me.

The other encounter was completely different.  It was the day of my elder brother’s wedding, which was being held from our house rather than Amanda’s parents’ (I had no idea of the reasons then and am not going to rehearse them here).  It was just before tea time and while the grown-ups were doing whatever it was grown-ups did, I was kicking a ball against the garage door.  A middle-aged man came in through the front gate.  Even I could tell that the suit he wore under the tightly belted gabardine raincoat was old-fashioned (what I later came to know was a Demob Suit).  This was late summer, and nobody needed to wear a raincoat.  He was tallish with thinning fair hair and an almost invisible Clark Gable moustache.  I had no idea who he was and had never seen him before.

‘Do the Taylors live here?’ he asked.  I nodded.  Just then the ball rolled off the garage roof and began to bounce towards some flowers.  I turned to catch it, not wanting to risk Mam’s displeasure. When I turned back, he was gone.  The only sign he had ever been there was that the front gate was open.  Mam was most particular about the front gate being kept closed at all times.  Eventually I got bored and hungry, and went inside.  After a while, I had to tell my story.  As I described the man all the colour left Auntie Lilian’s face.  When I was finished she produced a cracked and crazed black and white photo from her handbag.  Was that the man?  Yes, it was.  The man was her husband, Bert, who had been dead a good decade and whom I had never met, or if I had met him I had no memory of it because I would have been about three at the time of his death.  Tea was rapidly served after that and nobody made any mention of the encounter to me ever again.

As I say, I have a ready explanation for my encounter with Lucy.  I’m too imaginative for my own good.  As for my encounter with Uncle Bert… well, there may have been subconscious triggers but I have not found them yet.  I cannot explain it.  The rationalist in me would like a rational explanation for it while the writer in me wants it to be what it seemed to be.

Which brings me back to Shakespeare, and there being more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in any of our philosophies never mind a courtier called Horatio in Denmark’s medieval royal palace.  And we do so like our ghost stories, don’t we?