Spooked out

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In the Christmas stocking this year was a box set of the BBC’s Ghost Stories at Christmas. On Boxing Night we sat down to watch Michael Hordern in M R James’ classic Whistle and I’ll Come to You. I’m way too much of a scaredy-cat to watch anything spooky unless all the lights are on and there are at least three other people on the sofa with me, and even so I found it terrifying. Most of it was caught in glimpses  between my fingers, much to the family amusement. And now, a fortnight later, I can still hardly walk on a shingle beach without peering over my shoulder in case something is following me.

Today the afternoon light drained away in minutes, leaving a greenish tinge in the air. The scene was made even eerier by the white bubble of Sizewell B floating above the dunes. Fear is all in the imagination and not in the description, of course. I’m thinking quite a lot about how to create a supernaturally charged atmosphere because of some scenes in the current novel. (And admiring how brilliantly Sarah Waters did it in The Little Stranger). After walking back across the marshes I came home to a quiet house, a log fire and my half-finished book, in which I am writing about a séance. I have drawn the curtains to shut out the shingle and the groynes, and the lights are blazing. How scary can I write this….?

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