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Tag Archives: Supernatural

The Magical Tree

Finally, after many months of juggling work, writing and life in general, The Magical Tree is available. You can find it on both amazon.com and SmashWords:

The Magical Tree – Kindle Edition

The Magical Tree – SmashWords Edition

The cover was done by my cousin (a few times removed, I’m still not sure how all that works) Jackie Reid, she’s a freelance designer (mostly web stuff) and you can catch her here to see her portfolio.

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Haunted House

Whilst reading up on some things for one of my stories, I came across the story of the Winchester Mystery House. Not knowing anything about it, I decided to do a bit of research (which admittedly involved reading the article on Wikipedia) and found the results fascinating. The house, or mansion, really, was owned by one Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Winchester.

Supposedly, after falling and having her two children die, a medium suggested that the spirits of all the people killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her, and that only “continuous construction” would prevent the spirits from harming her. From 1884 – 1922, the house was under continuous construction, and the final structure has some 160 rooms, of which 40 are bedrooms. There are 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 2 basements and 2 ballrooms.

Mrs. Winchester also had an affinity for the number 13 and for spider web motifs, somehow connected to her will to protect herself from the ghosts. In her honour, every Friday the 13th the large bell on the property is rung 13 times at 1 o’clock p.m. (13:00). Fascinating! The thought of all those ghosts haunting the person responsible for their deaths…makes for an excellent story.

While looking that up, I thought about some famous haunted places in South Africa. The one I’ve been to – Pilgrim’s Rest, a town in Mpumalanga that was declared a gold field in 1873. It still has all the old style buildings left and is a national monument. Perhaps most famously, it’s graveyard houses the robber’s grave – where all the other graves are laid in one direction, the robber’s grave is placed perpendicular to them, and contains only a cross and the words “ROBBER’S GRAVE”. I never experienced any haunting when I visited, but others have, and it’s said a particular room is haunted.

Another place that I would love to visit is Matjiesfontein – supposedly the most haunted town in South Africa. One ghost in particular is said to be a wounded British soldier who appears at the turn-off to the Memorial Cemetery with his arm in a sling and a bloody bandage around his head. The Lord Milner is also reputed to be haunted by ghosts that can be heard laughing in empty rooms.

I love reading about haunted houses and towns – it’s always fascinated me, and always gives a spark of inspiration for some creative writing.

So – have you ever been to one of the places mentioned, and have you ever experienced a haunting of your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Brett

Nocturnes

As a boy of eight, I received a much-loved birthday gift from my father. Entitled “Horror stories for thirteen year olds” or something of a similar note, I distinctly recall its green cover, with a black and white sketch of a small boy running amidst spooky trees and long strands of giant hair (by that, I mean the hair of giants, which naturally is giant in itself). I read the book with glee; the kind of childish pleasure that you get not only from doing something forbidden (an eight year old reading scary thirteen year old stories, can you say forbidden!) but also from discovering a delight you have never savoured. It was this delight which would stick with me, ever-changing, but never leaving, throughout my childhood, and until now.

That delight concerns horror stories. Not your slasher type horror story, where humans can act out on their terrible desires and cause harm and terror on whomever they so please. No, the supernatural horror story: ghosts and ghouls and demons, giants and spiders and bats and the undead. Terrifying vampires, lurching zombies, spooky banshees. My fascination for this genre drove me to discover the wonder of the public library, where weekly I would shuffle in and devour any and all horror / supernatural material I could get my hands on. Naturally, this fascination has driven my taste in books, movies and tv shows, and of course my own writing. However, it has been a long time since I’ve stumbled across something that could take me back to that joyous feeling of my childhood – that pleasure in reading a book that is fascinating and terrifying at the same time, that sends shivers up your spine and makes you think twice about wandering around in the dark. I recently had the joy of reading John Connolly’s short story collection, Nocturnes:

Though not all reviewers agree (see some of the reviews left on Amazon.com), I think that this book shows a mastery of the short horror tale by Connolly. Whilst some of the longer pieces in the book are works of art (the Charlie Parker novella at the end is gloriously creepy, and actually freaked me out at one point, late into the night) the shorter pieces are of equal beauty. Tales of giant spiders, humanoid bats, ghosts, strange gods and lurking childhood fears will keep you awake late into the night, even after you’ve finished the book in one sitting. As a fan of horror, of King and Koontz and Barker (among others), I am in love with this book. It lies on my bedside table, awaiting the next read through. If you enjoy horror, do yourself a favour. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed.