by Karen J Mossman
I‘m not a fan of horror or paranormal. I get spooked easily and have a very active imagination. As a teenager I would be plagued by nightmares for weeks. As I grew up I knew to stay away from anything like that. Recently, I was watching Gogglebox, a TV programme that features people watching television, their reactions and discussions about the programmes. It showed them watching The Haunting of Hill House. It was terrifying and I only saw bits of it!
There are lots of scary and horror books on the market, and plenty of people who love a good horror film. Why would a perfectly sensible and normal human being enjoy being scared? If that’s you, perhaps you could comment below and tell me what it does for you. I would really like to know!
I once wrote a story called Embers of Webster Street and it was about a girl dealing with her mum who suffers from dementia. It’s heart-breaking seeing someone you love forgetting things, and not recognising you.
My Nana showed signs of it for years before we recognised what was happening. We thought she was just a bit batty. Because Nana was always a little eccentric, forever the joker, and kept us entertained with her antics. I remember the turning point when we finally knew something had changed. She was getting out of the car one day, and struggled, stumbling a little. We laughed, as we normally did, and instead of making a joke about it, she asked if we were laughing at her.
My Auntie Mavis took her in when she could no longer care for herself. She looked after her for years and it became more and more difficult. Being a carer is very much in the media spotlight now but back in the eighties, we didn’t understand what it really meant and all that Mavis did. Occasionally stories came back through mum after her phone calls to her sister. Nana had blurted out swear words or refused to get dressed. It was a very difficult time. Eventually Mavis had no choice but to let her go into hospital and by this time Nana had stopped talking altogether.
My sister and I went to visit. She was no longer the Nana we knew. She was just a shell of a person. She had no idea who we were, and I don’t think she knew where she was either. It was the strangest thing because although she looked like Nana, she had the same face and body, the Nana who was funny, who never stopped talking, and yet the woman in front of us stared at us with blank eyes. It was heart-breaking, it really was.
In Embers of Webster Street, dementia was the main topic. Only, something happened as I was writing, my pen took on a life of its own. It was supposed to tell the story of Jen, who felt tremendous guilt having to put her mum in a home. Instead it introduced the ghosts of all the people who had lived in the family home before them. It brought in a twin sister with problems of her own. Their mum could never accept that her daughter saw things and was was the undoing of her.
This turned out to be the first of paranormal stories that I suddenly found I loved writing.
It features in The Magic of Stories is a collection of short stories, articles, poetry, flash fiction, and shorts.
I found my pen wandered in all sorts of directions as I wrote, and this book turned into an eclectic collection of different genres. Like Embers of Webster Street, many of the stories were taken from real life situations.
You know the saying you shouldn’t tell a writer your secrets? Well, I used something my sister told me. When I showed it her she loved it saying she hadn’t expected me to turn a serious situation into something humorous!
One more thing, before I sign off. There is a another short story book offered for free by author Karina Kantas, should you choose to buy this book. You will find the details in the introduction. Two for the price of one!