As part of my Seriously Spooky Month I asked some of my favourite spooky authors to write a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books. Today I’m joined by R.L. Stedman, award-winning author of A Necklace of Souls, A Skillful Warrior, and her new book, The Prankster and the Ghost. She joins me talk about the inspiration for her great new book.
Perhaps places have memories. Like an old camera, or a computer. They fill up with fragments of the things that have taken place inside them. I don’t know if that is right or not, but I used that idea when I was writing The Prankster and the Ghost.
Most of the spooky things in Prankster are totally made up: the ghost school is not real, nor the Inspector. And the secret government agency she works for (BUMP) is, as far as I know, total fiction. But there is actually a real ghost story in Prankster.
I based this story on something that happened to a lady I worked with. Let’s call her Belinda. This is what really happened:
Belinda was on holiday in Scotland, and like lots of visitors, she went on a tour of Edinburgh Castle. She was enjoying herself, looking at the old rooms and the armour and so on. Until she reached the Great Hall. Then, quite suddenly, she felt weird. It was a hot day, and the room was crowded, and something was just not right. Beside a piano stood a woman in a long woolen dress. She looked at Belinda out of dark eyes. Belinda felt sick.
‘What is it?’ asked her husband.
Belinda pointed. ‘That woman, over there. By the piano.’
Her husband looked around. ‘What woman?’
‘In the black dress. We have to get out of here.’
Once they were outside the sickness faded and her husband laughed. ‘You’re imagining things! There was no one there.’
The tour guide came over. ‘Are you okay? You looked really pale.’
When Belinda told her what she’d seen, the tour guide nodded. ‘Plenty of people see that lady. I’ve never seen her myself. But yes, usually they don’t like it.’
‘Who is she?’ Belinda asked.
‘Oh, just one of the ghosts. There’s lots of them here.’ The tour guide made it sound like Belinda had seen something quite ordinary, like a chair or a table.
But Belinda had never met a ghost before – and she never wants to again.
Stories like the one Belinda told made me think that ghosts are maybe just part of a place: like a memory. So who knows – perhaps, one day in the future, people living in my house might see me typing on a computer keyboard. They might think I’m a ghost! I’ll have to try not to scare them.