A Christmas Ghost Story

‘Know whit’s traditional at Christmas?’ he said. ‘Ghost stories. Everybiddy loves a Ghost story’ I swirled the beer at the bottom of my glass and smiled. ‘Load a shite, in’t it?’ ‘Naw, naw. Look at Dickens and A Christmas Carol. Classic ghost story that.’ I raised an eyebrow. ‘Name another then.’ ‘Well, they don’t need to be set at Christmas, dae they? Take that MR James bloke. He wrote hundreds a ghost stories and used to invite his work pals tae his office, get them drunk and scare the living shite oot of them. And wis there no a series of ghost stories oan the telly at Christmas? Oanyway,’ he paused to take a swig of his beer, ‘it’s a tradition. Nothing else to say aboot it.’ ‘Dae ye think they’re real? Ghosts?’ ‘Naw! Gie us a brek! See me? Man o science. If...

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A rose by any other name…

When it comes to ideas of what to write about, I am never short of ideas. One of my main problems is choosing one from among the many ideas flashing around my brain at any given moment. I can usually get a quick grasp on the most important elements of my characters; I can see the settings, hear the noises and smells the smells, but the element of writing I find the most difficult is choosing names for my characters. How do people do it? I invariably call every male character Mike or Dave and the females are usually Louise or Hannah. And if I have more than two characters of each gender, I panic. When I realise that I’ve used the same names again I then get so hung up on finding the “right” name that writing grinds to a halt. It’s a problem. I had a kid’s book...

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I Don’t Know What to Write!

I’m a terrible procrastinator. I could represent Scotland in the Avoiding What You Should Be Doing olympics, such is my talent for being busy with anything except writing. And does this proficiency make me happy? No. So why do I do it? I was chatting about my low word count to Gary Parkin yesterday evening. “I want to write,” I moaned, “I just can’t decide which project to do.” “You know what you want to write,” he said. “No, I don’t.” “Yes, you do. You know what you WANT to write but you’re getting confused by things you think you SHOULD be writing.” “But…” He’s right. It pains me to admit it, but he’s absolutely spot on. I have three main projects on the go: Close To Home (crime fiction), The Maths Man Prophecies (black comedy) and The Knife Thrower’s Assistant...

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So long 2014

This is the time of year when I usually do a humorous post about the previous twelve months, but to be honest with you, this year has been shite and I’m pleased to see the back of it. Illness played a big part in the shittiness. I’ve felt well for about….maybe six weeks in total. The rest has been devoted to various levels of pain, exhaustion and fogginess. I had my second tennis elbow operation in April and the arm is still recovering. We moved house, changed our lifestyle totally and I’ve seen my mum only three times since June which is pretty reprehensible. Being ill makes the journey up to Aberdeenshire very difficult – it’s a 600 mile round trip. I miss my daughter who I don’t see anywhere near as much as I’d...

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The Perfect Family

In the best traditions of Christmas, I’ve written a ghost story. The subject matter is very delicate so I think it only fair to issue some trigger warnings. If you have suffered from infertility, miscarriage or SIDS, you may find the following distressing.   The Perfect Family Joe had left her after the second baby. Two kids under three could be a handful, she acknowledged that. But being pregnant was so wonderful; to feel another being growing inside you, to watch your body change over the months, to experience the awe and magic when the baby arrived. Besides, being a mother was all that she knew how to do. It’s all she ever wanted. While other girls at school dreamed of their futures they’d mention pop stars and actors, but they’d also talk about...

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