Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Meet Tristram La Roche - author of the Smash Hit 'On My Knees'


Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Tristram whose novella, ‘On My Knees’ is published by Etopia Press.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story: 

Surviving on alcohol and antidepressants, Mark staggers through his unhappy marriage and watches his London architectural business head for the rocks. When another nasty argument with his wife sends him to the gym to blow off steam, a tall, dark stranger enflames a part of him he’s denied all these years, trying to convince himself he’s not “weird.” But Mark’s not weird, he’s gay. And after a taste of Attila’s lips, nothing can put that genie back in the bottle…


Catherine:  Welcome Tris and congratulations on the success of ‘On My Knees’. I understand you’re riding high in the Amazon charts at present?
Tris: Thanks, Cat. I'm stunned at the reception to On My Knees. Amazon ratings go up and down by the hour but over the last week I've been consistently in the top 100 bestsellers of gay/lesbian fiction. At one point I hit number 5 in the romance section. We'll see if I can get higher - I'd be thrilled, and not just for the sales but for the success of the genre that it would demonstrate. And it's not only Amazon; I've been in the top ten gay bestsellers for over a week on Smashwords and continue to climb in All Romance Ebooks.


Catherine:  That’s brilliant news! Now, ‘On My Knees’ is a Gay (m/m) story but it seems a lot of women (including me) enjoy it too. Has that surprised you at all?
Tris: In fact, women seem to be the biggest fans of what is called MM romance. It was a surprise to me but I've come to appreciate it now. To me, it's just writing what I know, but I think women read it to learn a bit about a world that has been rather out of the public eye for so long. Quite a lot of the genre that I have read is a bit too gooey, too girly to be realistic. I know that is what is expected but I want to add a bit more realism to it. The reviews so far indicate I've succeeded. Phew!


Catherine: When you start to write a story, do you begin with a blank sheet of paper and just dive on in there, or are you more of a planner?
Tris: I don't really plan, I can't work that way. I think of a rough plot, sort the main characters out then let them loose at the keyboard. From time to time I have to crack the whip, but that's my job.


Catherine:  Tell us a little about your life outside of writing.
Tris: Gay men have such exciting lives, don't they? Not all! I live with my partner of fourteen years and I rarely leave the house - writing and reading from morning until it's time to cook dinner. I love travelling and have done a lot in the past but now much less. Our shared hobbies are really good food and wine, classical concerts and opera, and cars. And from time to time I will turn up the stereo and dance to all the clubland music!


Catherine:  What are you currently working on?
Tris: I just signed my second novella, Lorenzo il Magnifico, to Evernight Publishing and it will be released early August. I'm almost finished with the third, currently titled Fixed! and my head is overflowing with ideas for more. As soon as Fixed! is done I'll be right on with number 4.
 Catherine: Congratulations! Did you find you came up against any particular resistance to getting your work published because of its genre?
 Tris: Absolutely not! In fact, MM is the hot genre at the moment. Annie Melton at Etopia Press encouraged me to go ahead with it when I first mentioned it to her. Thanks Annie!


 Catherine: Now a more light-hearted question: You’re having a dinner party and can invite five other people (living or dead), who would they be and why would you choose them?
Tris: Dracula, he's got to be the sexiest monster ever. Frankie Howerd because he was a brilliant comedian. Frankie Boyle to raise the standard of the conversation. Vincent Price, the height of camp. And Margaret Thatcher because a dinner party isn't complete without someone to throw bread rolls at.


Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book
Tris: My website: http://tristramlaroche.com/
Etopia Press blog: http://etopiapressblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/meet-author-tristram-la-roche/
Book is available from:
Etopia Press: http://etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=39
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/On-My-Knees-ebook/dp/B0054S6QUG
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/On-My-Knees-ebook/dp/B0054S6QUG
Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/On-My-Knees-ebook/dp/B0054S6QUG
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66080
All Romance Ebooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-onmyknees-559995-145.html


Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘On My Knees’:

My trunks ballooned with the buffeting of the whirlpool and fizzed when I squeezed them flat. Steam, heavy with the scent of menthol and eucalyptus, rose around me and cleared my head. A few minutes of this and I would be as right as rain. Might even be able to face Diana. I lay back, stretched out my legs and closed my eyes. Christ, she could have injured me—killed me. Was it even safe to go back there? Well, I had nowhere else to go. Even if I had to go down on my knees and beg.
“Room in there for another?”
My eyes sprang open. The guy had left the pool and was coming down the steps into the Jacuzzi, steadying himself on the tubular handrail. I sat up and contracted myself into as small a space as possible while he located the seat beneath the foam and settled down.
“Quiet tonight,” he said.
That accent, what was it? There was a hint of something. What did they call it? Mid-Atlantic?
“Makes a change,” I said, shifting in my seat.
He smiled. I sort of smiled back.
“I’m Attila, by the way.” He leaned forward and offered his hand.
“Mark.”
His hand was still cool from the swimming pool, his grip firm. I now noticed the tattoos on both arms, green and orange serpents entwined around swords or daggers. They reminded me of my father’s. How I used to tremble when those arms came towards me, harbingers of pain. I looked away. Time to get out.
“Well,” I said, climbing the steps. “Might see you around.”
He nodded and smiled again. I could feel his eyes on my back as I took my towel and headed towards the door.
The changing room was still deserted, still in a mess. I dumped my wet towel in the bin and took a clean one from the rack, then went into the inner sanctum where the showers, sauna and steam room were. Since everywhere was empty, I took advantage of the steam. I sucked in the hot, moist air a few times to clear my lungs. The only sound in there was the occasional rasp of the steam outlet and the steady dripping of the condensation. Through the misted door I could see that someone else had come through from the changing room.
Attila’s outline was unmistakable as it emerged through the clouds of steam that gathered and tumbled around the open door...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Meet Steve Emmett - Author of 'Diavolino'


Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Steve whose Horror/Suspense novel, ‘Diavolino’ is published by Etopia Press.
If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:


The chance to build a dream home on a private island in Italy’s most beautiful lake offers architect Tom Lupton the fresh start he’s been yearning for. But when he arrives with his family on Diavolino, he finds the terrified locals dead set against his arrival. The island, whose very existence has been shrouded in secrecy for half a millennium, has a dark history that no one cares to remember, and as their opposition to Tom grows, so grows a brooding evil that will lead them to the very doors of hell…


Catherine:  Welcome Steve and congratulations on a riveting story. I couldn’t put it down!
Steve: Thank you. I really appreciate hearing from readers and it gives me a lot of pleasure to know that I've written something that's brought enjoyment to so many people. I set out to write a page turner and it seems I succeeded.


Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Steve: I started to write because I hated the business I'd been in for over twenty years. I knew that if I didn't change course, it would soon be too late. I made the decision at the end of 2008 and signed up for a novel writing course with the London School of Journalists. I had a brilliant tutor in the writer Margaret James and it was she who taught me how to be tight with words and get the story moving.



Catherine: When you start to write a story, do you begin with a blank sheet of paper and just dive on in there, or are you more of a planner?
Steve: My stories are born in my head. My brain is a kind of womb for fiction. Once there is enough to start writing, I get straight onto the computer. I don't really plan, the whole thing grows organically. I can't jot down handwritten notes because my handwriting is illegible and ten minutes after scrawling on paper I haven't a clue what it says. I hope I never lose my memory. Maybe that's why I now write every day to get things done while I can!


Catherine:  Apart from writing, I understand you’re also an actor. Would we have seen you in anything recently?
Steve: No, it's a new venture and it takes time - like writing. The first stage is to get some training and then try to land a few roles to give you enough 'credits' to get onto Spotlight which is a web where professional actors are showcased. I've done that pretty quickly. In the autumn those of you with cable/satellite might catch me in a programme about the Northern bank robbery on the Crime Channel. I also had leading role as a priest in Manus Dei, a short dark film which will be in a number of festivals and competitions over the coming year. I love it.

Catherine:  What are you currently working on?

Steve: I have a few things on the go, but mainly a horror novel based in and around a Scottish castle on the shores of the North Sea.

Catherine: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?

Steve: First and foremost, never give up. You must be prepared to work hard. And don't let the naysayers get you down. I found there are a lot of wannabee writers who haven't been published who love to tell newbies that it's virtually impossible to get published. It isn't true. It's a slog, but if you want it then go for it. Of course, you have to be able to write! Get yourself feedback from people who know what they are talking about. I found Litopia.com a great help and recommend it to all writers whatever there level or ability. Accept criticism and digest it. And read - not just your genre, either. If you don't read, you can't improve.



Catherine:Good advice! Now for something more light-hearted: If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Steve: Clive Barker, in my opinion the greatest living horror writer. I'd want to talk about the road to creating the Cenobites. Karl Marx; I'd like to see if we could revise his thinking to find a solution to the world's ills. David Cameron; I want to know why the hell he thinks he is remotely relevant to Britain in 2011.


Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book? 
Steve:  My blog: http://chukkienator.blogspot.com/
My Publisher: http://www.etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=20&=SID
 and their blog:
 http://etopiapressblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/meet-author-steve-emmett-2/
 Diavolino is available from:
 Etopia Press: http://www.etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-  more_information.php?id=20&=
SID
 Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diavolino-ebook/dp/B004NIFIC0/
 Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NIFIC0/
 Amazon.de: http://www.amazon.de/Diavolino-ebook/dp/B004NIFIC0/
 Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/46082
 Diesel ebooks: http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000046082/Emmett-Steve-Diavolino/1.html
 Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/diavolino
 

Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘Diavolino’:

Before long, they were all back in the car with Paolo, hurtling down the serpentine road from Cortona to the main route that led back to the lake. Poggio del Lago rose in front of them; the sun glanced off the surrounding water and animated the pale stone walls of the old fortress.

A motor launch waited for them at the jetty. Paolo took the wheel and started up the engine. The diesel motor chugged away, and the vessel edged forward in a cloud of blue-gray smoke, forcing ripples across the otherwise still water.

“Are there any monsters in the lake?” asked
Alice, peering intently over the edge of the boat.

“No, darling,” said Tom, “there are no monsters. Only fish.”

“And not too many of those, I gather,” said Roger. “The water is shallow, about seven meters at the most, and centuries of overfishing have done nothing for the stocks, so they say.”

Tom stood in the stern and looked back. Poggio del Lago was the highest point for many miles, surrounded by agricultural lowland. The slopes below the old walls were thick with ancient olive trees that once must have reached almost to the shoreline. At some time, they’d been cleared to make way for the scattering of buildings that scarred a landscape otherwise unchanged for generations.

As they approached Diavolino, Roger pointed out the temporary landing. Paolo slowed the engine and brought the vessel alongside, leaping onto the pontoon with the agility of an athlete, securing the boat fore and aft.

“Where did you learn to tie knots like that?” asked Tom, climbing onto the pontoon.

“My father. He was a fisherman. When I was little, I used to help him.”

“You should have a talk with
Alice. She’s something of a knot expert,” said Elspeth. Alice ignored her and marched on, eyes fixed firmly on the ground.

“I thought you said something about temporary accommodation being nearly ready,” said Tom, his mind distracted by
Alice’s uncharacteristic temper. He reached out to her. “Alice, please don’t—”

“Everything we do here must be within the woods.” Roger was not to be diverted. “It has to make as little visual impact as possible. Follow me.”

Tom hesitated, distracted by Paolo, who was settling himself on an upturned log with a pack of Winston One and his mobile phone.

“I’ll be here if you need me,” said Paolo with a smile.

Tom ran to catch up with
Alice and took her hand. Dark veins laced the sand-rich earth. A fleshy, leafless weed formed a patchy covering over the surface. Tom had never seen such strange vegetation. The shadow of the towering canopy cast a darkness as they entered the wood, and Tom felt something astringent on the back of his neck, a creeping chill, like frozen pinpoints marching across his skin...
Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘Diavolino’:

Before long, they were all back in the car with Paolo, hurtling down the serpentine road from Cortona to the main route that led back to the lake. Poggio del Lago rose in front of them; the sun glanced off the surrounding water and animated the pale stone walls of the old fortress.

A motor launch waited for them at the jetty. Paolo took the wheel and started up the engine. The diesel motor chugged away, and the vessel edged forward in a cloud of blue-gray smoke, forcing ripples across the otherwise still water.

“Are there any monsters in the lake?” asked
Alice, peering intently over the edge of the boat.

“No, darling,” said Tom, “there are no monsters. Only fish.”

“And not too many of those, I gather,” said Roger. “The water is shallow, about seven meters at the most, and centuries of overfishing have done nothing for the stocks, so they say.”

Tom stood in the stern and looked back. Poggio del Lago was the highest point for many miles, surrounded by agricultural lowland. The slopes below the old walls were thick with ancient olive trees that once must have reached almost to the shoreline. At some time, they’d been cleared to make way for the scattering of buildings that scarred a landscape otherwise unchanged for generations.

As they approached Diavolino, Roger pointed out the temporary landing. Paolo slowed the engine and brought the vessel alongside, leaping onto the pontoon with the agility of an athlete, securing the boat fore and aft.

“Where did you learn to tie knots like that?” asked Tom, climbing onto the pontoon.

“My father. He was a fisherman. When I was little, I used to help him.”

“You should have a talk with
Alice. She’s something of a knot expert,” said Elspeth. Alice ignored her and marched on, eyes fixed firmly on the ground.

“I thought you said something about temporary accommodation being nearly ready,” said Tom, his mind distracted by
Alice’s uncharacteristic temper. He reached out to her. “Alice, please don’t—”

“Everything we do here must be within the woods.” Roger was not to be diverted. “It has to make as little visual impact as possible. Follow me.”

Tom hesitated, distracted by Paolo, who was settling himself on an upturned log with a pack of Winston One and his mobile phone.

“I’ll be here if you need me,” said Paolo with a smile.

Tom ran to catch up with
Alice and took her hand. Dark veins laced the sand-rich earth. A fleshy, leafless weed formed a patchy covering over the surface. Tom had never seen such strange vegetation. The shadow of the towering canopy cast a darkness as they entered the wood, and Tom felt something astringent on the back of his neck, a creeping chill, like frozen pinpoints marching across his skin...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Read All About It! (Well Me, Actually)

Today, my special thanks go to these four talented authors who have been kind enough to interview me on their blogs/websites. You can read them (and see their fantastic sites) here:

Julia Kavan (author of  the riveting Erotic Horror story 'Dreaming Not Sleeping'):http://www.juliakavan.com/catherine-cavendish.html
 Wanda Ernstberger (most recently author of the excellent YA novel 'The Next Shakespeare') :

 Tristram La Roche ( author of the bestselling 'On My Knees' and soon to be published 'Lorenzo Il Magnifico'): 
 










Steve Emmett (author of  the unputdownable Horror/Suspense novel 'Diavolino'): 
http://chukkienator.blogspot.com/



Thank you all very much. I really enjoyed the interviews!

In My Lady's Chamber - now available on Amazon!


Saturday, 25 June 2011

STOP PRESS!!! 'Cold Revenge' is being published by Etopia!

"Cold Revenge" (my new paranormal novella) is being published by Etopia Press!  I only sent off the submission this morning and I have just had an email to say that they love it.To say I'm over the moon is an understatement (as well as a cliche). In fact, as we say in some parts of the UK, I am chuffed to little mintballs!

Monday, 20 June 2011

‘The Next Shakespeare’ – An interview with Wanda Ernstberger


Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Wanda whose YA story, ‘The Next Shakespeare’ has just been published by Etopia Press.
 If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

Who thought a poem would trigger World War Three?
Tristan Gunner—skateboard fanatic, junk food junkie, award-winning poet. But you’d think he just got detention instead of the school’s grand prize for poetry. And even though Chris won five Math and Science awards, the next Einstein is crying because he’s not the next Shakespeare. Astra wants them both to cut the drama, and caught between a mortified winner and a crybaby loser, she hopes Chris can get over his attitude before World War Three erupts in her kitchen.


Catherine:  Welcome Wanda and congratulations on publication of ‘The Next Shakespeare’.
Wanda:  Thanks so much, Catherine.

Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Wanda:  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, based on an urge to rewrite my favourite stories, to explore an undeveloped plot, or to continue a story I didn’t want to end. I started as a fanfiction writer before I even knew of the phenomenon. My first serious attempt at writing came after I saw “Return of the Jedi” and I wanted to write a sequel. The story evolved, and thankfully so did my writing. 

Catherine:  I know that you are a prolific and versatile author who has written in fantasy, YA and comedy. This is quite a broad spectrum, do you find yourself working on different projects simultaneously?
Wanda:  Yes, I’m always working on more than one project, so I’m writing every day. I can write a gut-wrenching dramatic scene in my fantasy novel, and then work on a hilarious part in a comedy. Variety keeps my creativity in balance. 

Catherine: Which genre do you find the most challenging and why?
Wanda:  Fantasy is the most challenging, because it’s the most intricate, and based purely on imagination. I have to keep a log so I don’t break my own canon.

Catherine: I can empathise with that! When you start to write a story, do you begin with a blank sheet of paper and just dive on in there, or are you more of a planner?
Wanda:  I never go to the computer and say “I need to begin a story now.” Inspiration strikes me, characters are born and they demand to be written down. That’s how all my stories begin. Afterwards, I make a rough outline so I don’t forget key scenes. That’s the process for all of my stories, no matter what genre.

Catherine:  It’s interesting how we all work differently. Thank you for sharing your approach with us. What are you currently working on?
Wanda:  I’m working on several projects. One is a YA fantasy series called Infinity Blue, about a girl who discovers she is a goddess. Book One is finished, and I’m writing Book Two. In a way it’s a sequel to “The Next Shakespeare,” because the narrator, Astra, is the protagonist of the series. And I’m also working on the final edit of my fantasy novel To Catch a Ripple, about a woman who falls in love with a man bound by a family curse. 

Catherine: I’m glad I’m going to meet Astra again. I enjoyed meeting her in “The Next Shakespeare”. Now, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Wanda:  My advice is to write a story from the heart, then edit it relentlessly until it’s as perfect as it can be. When it’s ready to go out, the best resource for writers is Duotrope’s Digest http://www.duotrope.com/index.aspx. Follow each magazine’s submission guidelines. That’s how I found publishers for all my stories.

Catherine: I’ve not heard of that resource before, so thank you for that. Now, a light-hearted question.  If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Wanda:  1) Walt Disney:  Where did you get your inspiration? Did the characters keep you up at night?
2) Joan of Arc: You go, girl! Where did you get your guts and determination?
3) Adolf Hitler: What made you so twisted? Were you ever human?

Catherine:  Thank you very much for joining us today. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book?  
Wanda:  You can find out more about me and “The Next Shakespeare” here:

Etopia Press: “The Next Shakespeare”
Facebook:
Twitter:
Blog:

Here’s an excerpt to give you just a flavour of ‘The Next Shakespeare’:
    I laughed as Tristan sneaked into class. He tossed me a muffin and dove into his rib sandwich. His period one teacher, Mr. Reynolds, had a strict “no food and drink” policy. The drama teacher, Mr. Pantazopolous, was more laid back. “What’s so funny?” Tristan mumbled around a mouthful of bread and meat.
Tristan Gunner, the next Shakespeare.”
He stopped chewing, a sign that he was either thinking or upset.
“Chris is really ticked that you won the poetry contest.” I shook my head. “That guy! He wins five awards in math and science, but he’s crying because he’s not a poet.”
“I don’t care about that stupid award.”
“Why? It’s the first time you’ve ever won anything. You’re one up on me now.”
Tristan put down the sandwich. This must be serious. He wasn’t the kind of guy to talk about his feelings, so I had to take the subtle approach. “What’s your poem about, anyway?”
“Nothing.” He stuffed the sandwich in his mouth and after swallowing, he groaned. “They’re going to hand out that stupid poem to everyone on awards night. Aw, that stupid contest.”
I kept fishing. It was annoying sometimes, having to play these games, but if I asked him a direct question, he’d either shut down completely or make one of his goofy jokes. So I asked, “Mrs. Owala had your permission to enter it, right?” Mrs. Owala was Tristan’s grade eleven English teacher last year. She’d taught me grade ten the year before. She was tough, but always fair.
Tristan moaned. “Yeah, but I never thought it would win.”
I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t stress over it.”
He smiled his lopsided grin, but it faded as he mumbled, “Stupid contest.”
We’d been friends since we were four. Few things ever bothered him, but he was as wound up as Chris about this award. Offering him the top of my muffin, I tried again. “So, what’s the poem about?”
Silently, he stuffed the muffin in his mouth.
“Don’t worry. No one’s going to laugh, and if they do, you’re the one laughing, because you won, right?”
“I guess.” He shrugged but didn’t look at me. He was eyeing the rest of my muffin. I handed it to him. Tristan rarely had anything to eat. As far as I knew, he never had.


Friday, 17 June 2011

In My Lady's Chamber - Published Today!

Upstairs, downstairs and In My Lady's Chamber....


Prepare for the horror that is Goose Green Farm. It's lonely up on the Moors. Lonely and cold. The wind howls and the curlews call. In the derelict house, something stirs

http://www.etopia-press.net/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=41&=SID

Monday, 6 June 2011

Of Daisywheels, Anchovy and Claptrap..


Ah those heady days!  OK, if you were born after 1990 you won’t know what on earth I’m on about but if you were born a little (well, let’s face it, quite a while) before then and you were writing anything more than the odd shopping list, you probably remember the revolutionary Amstrad 9512.

Yes, in the days when Lord Sugar was merely Mr Alan, this incredible, labour saving PCW (that’s Wordprocessor to you and I), launched onto the market to a hail of instantly discarded manual portables and Imperial office typewriters.

It came with a floppy disk drive (well, it didn’t have a hard disk so until you loaded that when you switched on, all you would get is a blank screen) and it had its own printer. This printer took daisywheels and you could buy different ones. So, if you were tired of looking at boring old Courier, you could buy a more interesting looking font – even an attractive joined-up writing one!
And oh the bliss of relegating the box of carbon paper to the back of the shelf ‘just in case’ and the rapidly hardening Tipp Ex to the waste bin.

The printer made a wonderful duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh, duh sound, except when it was drawing a header or footer line whereupon a noise like a rapid machine gun would set the house shaking. Only seven hours and twelve expensive ribbon cartridges later, your six hundred page manuscript was ready. Imagine that! And, if your by now throbbing head (and rapidly dwindling finances) could stand it, you could print off another copy! Wow, the days of saving your precious original in the freezer (it's the last thing to go if your house burns down) were over.

Then, of course, there was the magical spellchecker. Here was a complete novelty. Every time the Amstrad failed to recognise a word you had typed, it would highlight it and give you an alternative – or sometimes, if you were really lucky, more than one. The problem was that its dictionary was quaint to say the least. It was wonderful with medical terms (were doctors part of their market research focus group?) but when it came to common names, it hadn’t a clue. For ‘Anthony’, it offered ‘Anchovy’ and if you didn’t refuse, it would insert it anyway. Try and type ‘Cleopatra’ and it was sure you meant ‘Claptrap’ and, when you weren't looking, would sneak up and insert it. Every single time.

Yes, folks, presenting that well known tragedy by William Shakespeare: ‘Anchovy and Claptrap’.

Still, despite its shortcomings, I loved my Amstrad, we wrote six books together and numerous articles, a play and some short stories, until one sad day, I switched it on and nothing good happened. It had finally given up and surrendered to the inexorable march of time and the fully functioning full colour, versatile PC. I now have a quiet, unobtrusive laser printer but, you know, now and again I still hanker for the deafening racket of a fast-moving daisywheel…
The Amstrad PCW9512
The noisy, but nice, printer

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

We Live With A Ghost (Or Two)

We live with a ghost. There is no getting away from it. In fact the building itself is haunted by more than one restless spirit – and one of them was caught on camera!

The building where we live for part of the week dates from around 1760 and has gone through many different configurations – as shops, dwelling places, a combination thereof and is now a club beneath with a two floor flat above. This was unoccupied for many years until we moved in following extensive renovations. Almost immediately things started to happen. And they were mostly nice, welcoming things, as if our invisible ‘visitor’ wanted to make us feel comfortable.

We have arrived to find the TV switched on, lights on and, before you say we had carelessly left them on before we left, we hadn’t. In fact, we had checked that everything was switched off just a few minutes before we left. And no, sorry, no-one else could have sneaked in and done it either!

Meanwhile, in another part of the building, used by the Club, other things were happening. In the Snooker Room, chalk was regularly moved as were beer mats, and then, at around six one morning, my husband came down to our kitchen, whereupon he heard the distinctive sound of the gents’ toilet flushing. This is next to the Snooker Room and on the other side of our wall. He logged the time precisely, thinking that maybe the cleaners had arrived unusually early. 

When, mid-morning, he heard the sound of the Barman arriving to start his shift, my husband went downstairs to the Club and asked to check the CCTV (he’s the Treasurer). Evidently the Cleaners had arrived later, at their usual time, so who had been in the Gents? Fortunately CCTV was trained on the area immediately outside. As he watched and, at precisely the same time as he had logged the flushing of the toilet, there was a distinctive, if fast-moving, waft of white smoke across the camera. He continued to watch. Nothing else happened. Other staff watched it. I watched it.
This was some months ago and no one has yet been able to explain it. There was no one there or we would have seen them. The cameras have been tried and tested to ensure there is no hiding place for anyone and they are motion activated. Yes, they were all in perfect working order.

Since then, things move from time to time in the Snooker Room and a couple of the bar staff have been so unnerved by the goings-on there that they refuse to go up there. One of the staff is certain he heard his name called one night when he was locking up after everyone had gone home. So certain in fact that he answered. There was no one there.

It seems the ghost in our flat is friendly. My husband has been aware of her moving around when he has been there alone but neither of us has ever felt threatened. The one in the Snooker Room, on the other hand, displays clear belligerent tendencies.

(Not one of ours - this is probably the most famous ghost photo ever taken - The Brown Lady. Its authenticity has never been disproved)

Do you live with a ghost? I’d love to hear about it.