4th August

A long time since my last post – have been preoccupied with the completion and production of Detective Fiction and The Ghost Story which has now been published by Palgrave Macmillan.  It represents the first extended work to examine the symbiosis between the two genres – it includes, for instance, a new look at The Hound of the Baskervilles which, the more I read it and analysed it seemed to stand just as well as a ghost story as it does a detective tale.  This chapter seems to be a paradigm for the rest of the book which gives a number of examples of how texts hitherto seen as classic detective fiction lend themselves remarkably well to supernatural readings.  My hope is that people will comment on what I have written and start a debate on this key relationship within popular fiction.  The details will be uploaded elsewhere on this site within the next week or so.

I am now turning my attention to the future, which is going to be something of a journey into the unknown for me.  I am going to become a critic turned novelist (well short stories to be precise; to begin with anyway) !  I have embarked on a group of short ghost stories which have an ecological theme – a series of warnings for the future, if you like.  This undertaking manages to encompass two things very dear to me, my former life in conservation as a Director of the National Trust and a passion for writing.  I will post more on this subject as time goes by.  Meanwhile, on the subject of writing ghost stories in the 21c, I have been struck particularly by Joanna Briscoe’s essay entitled ‘How to Write a Modern Ghost Story’ published in the Guardian, 4th July 2014.  It is especially interesting in reflecting on how the ghost story writer may overcome modern scepticism about the supernatural; something which M. R. James, his contemporaries and certainly his predecessors did not have to worry so much about.  Here is the link to Joanna Briscoe’s article:


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