Oh! It’s lovely to be back on Type M. Thank you Sybil for hosting me this weekend—and congratulations on the launch of your debut series—the first, Fatal Brushstroke—that I’ve read and love.
I’ve been pretty busy these past few months—I turned in two books and I’ve settled into my bi-weekly commute from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles for my “better paying” job. Happily, this new schedule has made me far more efficient with my time with plenty of opportunities to do all of my research when I’m waiting in a departure lounge or sitting in a plane.
As a writer, research is one of my favorite things probably because I view it as a justifiable form of procrastination. My current research revolves around the paranormal past of the six-hundred-year old English country house where my new series, Murder at Honeychurch Hall is set.
Author Judy Chard—Devon Mysteries (1979)—is convinced that just as modern day technologies leave imprints on the ether, emotions—especially violence—release energies that are absorbed into the walls and floors of houses and places. I can hear a few skeptics groaning but having experienced a paranormal “episode” myself, I now believe one thousand percent, that…we are not alone.
Twenty-five years ago I lived in a sixteenth century cottage in Sussex that was adjacent to a butcher’s shop (in fact, the little store, although boarded up, still had the price list on the wall dated May 9 1947). My heartless boyfriend at the time had just dumped me for a Danish goddess. I was upset and I found that vacuuming the house at midnight directed my anger toward the carpet and not the blackguard in question. But clearly my heated feelings disturbed something—or someone.
Around four in the morning, I heard this frantic meowing coming from the spare room. Thinking a feral cat must have got in through the cat flap to scare my own kitty, I went to investigate. I’ll never forget what I felt and saw. The room was icy, icy cold. The air felt so heavy that I found it hard to breathe but what really shocked me was the state of my poor little cat. She was paralyzed with fear. Her fur stood on end, her eyes bugged out and she’d pooped everywhere (sorry, but this is true). And then I saw this shape filling the doorway to a closet that used to be the entrance to the back staircase. I could see right through it yet I could also see gazillions of molecules very much like those depicted in the transporter onboard the starship Enterprise when Captain Kirk is en route to another planet.
The shape—that was definitely male because of his dress—slowly faded away. I learned later that his name was Thomas Jeffery who tragically died well before his time. He was buried in the churchyard next door. I never “saw” Thomas again but after that there was a lot of poltergeist activity and I eventually had to have him exorcised.
Alas, there are no vampires or shape-shifters lurking behind the wainscoting in my new series, just the common-or-garden ghost—those beings that lived and loved decades ago but still want to be heard. Is anyone brave enough to share a paranormal experience? As they say, write what you know …
|From the tombstone of Thomas Jeffery at St. Peter's Church|
Hannah Dennison is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries and Murder at Honeychurch Hall—the first in a new series featuring a mother-daughter amateur sleuth set against the backdrop of a grand old country house in the wilds of the English countryside. www.hannahdennison.com