So, what made me decide to write about the paranormal, vampires, ghosts, zombies and horror? Why does my writing have a dark and gothic twist? I thought that today I could share some of my real life paranormal experiences with you, so you can understand my inspiration for choosing to write in the dark fantasy genre, or how it chose me?
First of all let us consider the definition of Dark Fantasy. There are many different definitions out there, but my interpretation is that Dark Fantasy is a novel where the world seems the same as our own, but with a super natural / paranormal twist. The story will have a dark, gothic feel, and the monsters with be sympathetic, while the humans may well be worse.
How did I decide to write in this style? Well, it came naturally to me. As well as twenty years as a support worker meaning that I met many human monstrosities, and helped to heal their victims, I grew up in haunted houses.
It wasn’t actually me who noticed the ghosts in the first old Welsh mining cottage we lived in. It was my little brother who complained of the woman in white who woke him up at night. Apart from her nightly walks, she seemed peaceful enough. That house was only rented though, and we had to move quickly when we were given notice. The house my parents chose was actually a collection of three old cottages, one was habitable, one was a wreck, but recognisably a cottage, and the other had burnt down, and been rebuilt as storage. It didn’t take me long to realise it was very haunted. From my bedroom window I could look out at the raised plateau of grass where our swing set stood, and I could lie in bed and watch the swings move. First the two outer flat swings would swing, and then the middle baby seat would start, swing, brief stop in mid-air, swing, exactly like it did when I pushed my little sister, catching her on each upwards arc.
These children were friendly, and would help me find things I’d lost. If I told them what I was looking for, I’d quickly find it nearby. One night I left them a charm bracelet, telling them it was a gift, and the next day near the bracelet I found a perfectly round pebble, which I later found out was a Victorian marble. The man who bought the old wreck of a cottage to restore told us about being visited by a woman while he worked. He was not a man taken to fancy, and was very shaken up by the whole experience.
The next house we moved to though was not such a positive experience. There was a thick pine forest around the edge of our rear field, and there was a feeling of such malevolence from that woodland that I hated to go outside at night. Animals behaved skittishly near the woods, and my sister and I had the same nightmares at night of a laughing male face and the river filled with lashing eels.
The worst happened when I moved away to University. One morning as I woke up, I felt the bed sink behind me, as if someone had leant their elbow on the bed, to bend closer to my ear, and then a harsh male voice, right next to my ear said: ‘So you thought you could get away, and laughed. My sister developed Fibromyalgia while we lived in that house, and my Step-Father was diagnosed with M.E after he moved in, although he hadn’t had it before. My first boyfriend became ill soon after he started seeing me. Not long after that morning visitation I was finally diagnosed with Glandular Fever and Toxoplasmosis, which eked all the colour and joy out of my world, and plagued my right into my thirties.
It plagued me, in fact until I became friends with a Shaman, who I had approached for accountancy help. She taught me how to protect myself, state my intentions to only communicate with positive energies, as well as telling me that an energy cannot haunt you if you refuse it permission. I learnt that all I had to do with anything unpleasant that I felt approach was tell it firmly to go away, and it had to.
The very first time I meditated the blue bubble of protection around me, a furious male figure tore it open with clawed hands, and screamed at me in fury, but with my new knowledge I was able to tell it to leave, and close my bubble. Since then the Glandular Fever symptoms have gone. I’ve used the skills I was taught to help the curious child ghost in our old house move on with a feeling of love and acceptance, and whoever it was shaking my bed in the night to stop and go away.
In the hostel where I used to work, a hostel for homeless, and therefore unhappy teenagers, they often told me about a ghost. Year after year different tenants would do an Ouija board, or have bad dreams about a female who played the piano. The details were startlingly consistent. I always told them they were imagining it, because I didn’t want them to be scared, but I felt a malicious presence too. One that thrived on the discord and unhappiness of so many damaged young lives.
I hated to be left on my own there, and would hear footsteps stamp downstairs, linger in the office doorway, and then move across the room to where I worked at the computer. Then it would fiddle with papers besides me while I refused to look at it, or acknowledge it. Other times it would hurl into the room with an unhappy service-user, and swing letters pinned on the noticeboard around in semi-circles behind their heads, while I tried to smile and pretend everything was fine.
Once I had met the Shaman though, I knew how to tackle the malevolence, and so one night, when all the tenants were in bed, I stopped avoiding it, and met its energy head on. Like most bullies it cringed at confrontation. I told it sternly it had to leave, it could not be here anymore. I immediately felt the atmosphere lighten, and after that none of the subsequent service users ever complained of ghosts again.