Thursday, July 2, 2015

Local horrors: Terror Tales of the Scottish Highlands

Regular readers of this blog (if there is any such thing) may recall that last autumn I mentioned an upcoming anthology of scary stories, Terror Tales of the Scottish Highlands, which includes one by me. The book is the latest in the excellent regional Terror Tales series edited by Paul Finch.

Although my novels are contemporary thrillers, with occasional hints of the supernatural, I also write short ghost stories. I'm a great fan of the classic ghost story and sometimes run ghost story writing workshops - I think creating them is a great way to hone writing skills. There is a craft in making the reader's flesh creep without resorting to outright gore. It's one of the things that makes me continue writing them, when I probably ought to be concentrating on my novels. That, and the fact that I often visit places that demand their own spectral tale!

Anyway, I'm delighted to say that Terror Tales of the Scottish Highlands is now available for order, either from the publisher Gray Friar Press or from that usual suspect, amazon.

The anthology includes stories by Peter Bell, Johnny Mains, Barbara Roden and many others - you can see the full contents list here on Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews.

Mine is called The Dove, and in common with the majority of my writing, it is inspired by and set in a real location, one I've blogged about before. Perthshire, where I live, is peppered with ancient and abandoned buildings. My theory is that because some of the locations of these places are remote and unvisited, it is not worth anyone's while to pull these ruins down or fence them off. I've spent many a happy afternoon poking about in the ivy-covered remains of a mediaeval parish church. Such a one is the ruined St. Bean's in the hamlet of Kinkell Bridge, which inspired The Dove. 

It was not only the topography of Kinkell Bridge's old kirkyard and church that inspired the story, but also its tragic history. These things are the starting point for the tale, but the rest is my creation. I decided not to use the genuine local historical characters of the Rev. Richard Duncan and Catherine Stalker in the story because when I was researching them I developed a certain affection for them, and some of my own theories about what really happened. So I decided to let them rest. The protagonists of my story have other names and other characters.

If anyone's interested, here is a photo I took of the churchyard at Kinkell Bridge (below). The object to the left of the gravestones, covered with dried creepers, is the ruined church. The trees you can see are growing up through the east end of it!

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