Category Archives: The Ghosts of Alice

Summer Sale this week!

Less of a blog post, more of a quick heads up that most of my back catalogue of books are on Kindle Countdown Sale this week (starting 15th July)!

That means the prices start low (99p/99c – one is even free!) and gradually increase to normal over the next few days. So if you fancy a ghost story with a shock, a zipping adventure mystery for teens, or some poems to quietly mull on the beach, head over to my Amazon page now.



Enough said, shipmates, you know the score… ⚓📚😉

Enjoy your summer!

The Best Ghost Mystery Stories

So you don’t want to sleep tonight, do you?

My final list of books that I’ve prepared for Shepherd.com is the best ghost mystery stories.

best ghost mystery books

Why I love horror stories

We try and pretend the world is not mysterious, in the vague hope of exerting some control over our lives. But that’s a doomed endeavour. Everything will always slip away from our grasp, plummeting into a chasm that we can only fill with two human responses: awe or terror. Sometimes – perhaps most often – both.

This is why I’ve always preferred the gothic and sublime to the classical and ordered. Both are necessary, but the gothic like the church spire always points to the infinite, to the profound mystery that envelops us. That’s why I’ve liked horror movies and books ever since I was a kid. You’re forever clutching at a cushion, guessing – or rather fearing – what lies ahead, just around that corner…

And that’s why I started writing ghost stories, books that major in suspense and make you realise, as Stephen King’s narrator says in Bag of Bones, that “reality is thin, you know, thin as lake ice after a thaw, and we fill our lives with noise and light and motion to hide that thinness from ourselves.”

My favourite ghost mystery stories

So if you’re hankering after a shot of terror (often with a smidgeon of awe thrown in), check out my best ghost mystery stories here. And if you think I’ve missed a treat, let me know your favourite ghost story in the comments below. (You can also check out my other book lists for Shepherd, the best books with portals for children and young adults, and the best books with nature poems to make you think and feel.)

And while you’re here, why not take a look at my own ghost mystery stories, The Boy in the Burgundy Hood and The Girl in the Ivory Dress – the two standalone novels in The Ghosts of Alice series, about a young women who has a very strange connection to the dead:

Photos that Inspired Books

Alice and the Devil photo inspiration

Alice and the Devil

Photos have a big impact on my writing. Often, they can inspire a scene that inspires a whole book. This picture of my son looking across a landscape has morphed into the opening scene of my current work in progress, Alice and the Devil, the third book in The Ghosts of Alice series.

Shortly after I took it, I set it as my wallpaper on my laptop. It was a few weeks before it began working its magic on me. Initially I had an idea for a wholly different book, a piece of speculative fiction, but then I realised it could fit with a ghost story. Who is the boy? Why is he on his own? What’s with the sheep in his backpack? And that barn to the right – doesn’t it look a bit like a pair of eyes, the dark, disembodied eyes of the farm? Just add a torrential rainstorm and the whole Alice and the Devil story came to life…

Here’s a few more photos that have worked their way deep into my imagination for other books:

#picsthatinspiredbooks – The Boy in The Burgundy Hood

This is the fabulous Ightham Mote, the fourteenth-century house that inspired Bramley Manor in the first Ghosts of Alice novel, The Boy in the Burgundy Hood.

As soon as I saw it, I knew that this medieval house was the perfect setting for my ghost story. I’d already been inspired by the strange story of a job interview that my wife had gone to at another old house (see here). It wasn’t long before I overlaid the two elements and started to evolve my plot.

The Boy in the Burgundy Hood photo inspiration
Ightham Mote #picsthatinspiredbooks

Pics that inspired The Secret of the Tirthas

Now here’s some photos of the amazing garden of hedged ‘rooms’ in Herefordshire that inspired my young adult adventure mystery series, The Secret of the Tirthas.

Many of the rooms had sculptures or statues, often from different religions. I thought it would be great if they were all secret portals to related sites across the world. Imagine just having to step outside your back door to go to all these fabulous places!

The discovery of these new places through the portals by Lizzie Jones became a ‘fantasy’ element in itself. That, plus the demonic killer also using the portals to prey on street children in the first place Lizzie discovers, Kashi, the Indian City of Light…?

The Tower, The Secret of the Tirthas
The Secret of the Tirthas garden inspiration
The Secret of the Tirthas garden of rooms

Photos that inspired The City of Light

Finally, here’s the incredible city of Varanasi, or Kashi, in India, which inspired the first novel in The Secret of the Tirthas, The City of Light. I went backpacking in my twenties and came down into India from Nepal. This was the second place I stayed and I was stunned.

I kind of knew straight away that this would inspire my writing. But it was only many years later, after discovering the hidden gem of a garden in Herefordshire, that I had the idea for The Secret of the Tirthas. And I decided on Kashi as the first place our hero Lizzie Jones would come after discovering the garden’s magical portals.

Here’s a taster from The City of Light, when Lizzie emerges from the portal:

“[She] stopped, stunned, finding herself looking at the most extraordinary sight she’d ever seen.

An ancient sun-bleached city sprawled before her, stretched along the bank of an enormous river. The city’s buildings were a bright, exotic mix of colours – red, ochre, sand, and white – and many had domes or intricate beehive towers. Some sat at the top of broad flights of steps that ran down into the water, whilst others were perched on the river’s edge. A few tilted forward precariously, appearing as if they were about to collapse into the swirling waters and be lost forever. And everywhere, on the steps and in the buildings and out in small boats, the city’s inhabitants went about their business in the soft, hazy sunlight.

Lizzie stood in awe, absorbing the view. If only all her dreams were as impressive as this…”

Kashi, inspiration for The Secret of the Tirthas
Varanasi, inspiration for The Secret of the Tirthas

My Year in Writing

So where am I at with the writing, you ask? (You didn’t? Click away now, no one will notice.)

2021 Review

2021 has been a big year for my writing. It was the first year I had a bestseller and the first year I sold over 2,000 copies of one book (nearing 2,500 now). The average book sells 250 copies according to my Gurus, Prophets and Market Analysts (Google), so I’m very happy.

The Boy in the Burgundy Hood #1 Bestseller

So what was the book? It was the first in my Ghosts of Alice series, The Boy in the Burgundy Hood. It’s been a strong seller since November 2019 when I published it. But it really took off in February 2021 after a promotion on Bookbub, which led to the #1 spot in Amazon’s Ghost Story categories in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. (If you’re a keen ebook reader and like good deals, I recommend signing up for Bookbub.) The reviews that followed were good so the sales continued. When you’ve been writing for a few years, getting that level of reader response is a real joy!

My next writing achievement in 2021 was publishing the second book in the Ghosts of Alice series, The Girl in the Ivory Dress. It follows on from the first, developing the relationship between Alice and one of her old school friends. The reviews have been almost all good so far (there’s always one…), with some saying they like it even more than the first. It reminded me of how enjoyable it was to write the second book in my young adult series, The Secret of the Tirthas. Whilst the first, The City of Life, was mostly fun, learning how to plot and integrate storylines, as well as setting up a whole new fantasy scenario, was challenging. There were many rewrites. It felt so much easier when the groundwork was done, when everything was already established. The Book of Life flew from the keyboard.

The Girl in the Ivory Dress - a year in writing

My third writing milestone just missed the end of the year. I finished a draft of the latest Ghosts of Alice book on the 3rd January. It’s working title is Alice and the Devil. It has a distinctive atmosphere and setting and I’m pleased with it. However, it’s going to need a few stiff edits because I wrote it without a plot, with only a few key scenes and characters in my head. It was my first time writing like this but it seems to have turned out well. I’ll probably find a lot of holes when I reread it, but for now I’m just pleased to have completed it.

2022 Writing Goals

My main writing goal for 2022 is to publish this third Ghosts of Alice book. I’m aiming for it to be out in the spring.

I’m also finalising a novella prequel to The Secret of the Tirthas. It focuses on the discovery of the tirthas and the creation of the magical garden of rooms at the turn of the 19th century. It’s called Swift: The Story of a Witch (I’m fairly sure that one’s going to stick). It might become a freebie to my email subscribers.

And finally, I’m going to start and – hopefully – complete another book! I’ve got a few ideas bubbling away already…

Whatever you’re reading, enjoy!

Interview by US fantasy writer Jessica Cantwell

I’ve been interviewed by talented US fantasy author Jessica Cantwell on her blog. Here’s her intro, click the link at the bottom of the page for the full interview. (And while I’m here, a quick reminder that both The Boy in the Burgundy Hood and The Girl in the Ivory Dress are on Kindle sale over Halloween – hurry!)

Boy in the Burgundy Hood Halloween sale

Halloween is days away. Now is the perfect time for a ghost story!

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Enter The Boy with the Burgundy Hood, a fantastic book by Steve Griffin. This is an entertaining read with a sprinkle of paranormal activity. If you are a fan of The Haunting of Hill House or The Haunting of Bly Manor, then this is the book for you!

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You can learn more about The Boy in the Burgundy Hood by reading an interview with the author, Steve Griffin, on my blog. Link is in the bio.

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We talk about ghosts and psychopaths. This is a fun interview you won’t want to miss!

Click here to read the full interview!

What I’m writing now… plus a Halloween Sale!

Now that we’re properly into the spooky season, read on for an update on my latest ghost story as well as for details of my Halloween sale.

The Girl in the Ivory Dress Halloween sale

What I’m writing now

I’ve started writing the third Ghosts of Alice story, with a working title of Alice and the Devil. What’s interesting about this story is that I normally start with an outline plot but this time I’m writing as a pantser, as it’s informally known in the trade. Most writers are plotters, but there are a few (including some pretty significant ones) who just start off with a premise and see where it takes them. Stephen King is possibly the most famous of these.

Normally, I work out a clear path from start to finish involving some major ‘set’ scenes. My plot it usually fairly skeletal and I do regularly change things as I progress – but I always have that overarching sense of direction. But this time I’ve got the premise and the scenes but couldn’t fully grasp the ending, so I’ve started writing and am seeing where it leads me. The worry is that I end up in a dead end that takes a huge amount of rewriting. But I have to say it’s going well so far and I’m almost halfway through (I think!). Let’s see what happens…

Ghost of Alice Halloween sale

Both The Boy in the Burgundy Hood and The Girl in the Ivory Dress are reduced from £3.99 / $4.99 to 99p / 99c on Kindle from now until Halloween – over a 75% reduction! Scroll to the end of this post for the link straight to the Amazon page.

The Boy in the Burgundy Hood Halloween sale

Plus… advance warning of The Secret of the Tirthas promo campaign

And another heads up – I’m running a major Kindle promotion of The Secret of the Tirthas around November 11th. The first book in the series, The City of Light, will be free and there will be discounts on one or two of the next books!

I wish you a suitably creepy Halloween – and as ever, thank you for reading!

Vote for The Girl in the Ivory Dress #CoveroftheMonth

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you like the cover of my book, The Girl in the Ivory Dress, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

I’ve just been nominated for this contest and need as much support as I can get.

Please take a short moment to vote by clicking the image – thank you!

Click to Vote!

The Real Fire that Inspired The Girl in the Ivory Dress

The fire that Alice finds herself having to deal with at the start of my new ghost novel, The Girl in the Ivory Dress, was inspired by a real life tragedy, the near-destruction of a heritage gem just a few miles away from where I live – and where I had at one stage been planning to get married.

The Girl in the Ivory Dress fire damage



Clandon Park House is an eighteenth century Palladian mansion near Guildford, run by the National Trust. On April 29th 2015 a fault in a distribution board led to an inferno that shot flames high into the night sky and gutted every room bar one. The house was swiftly evacuated and fortunately no one was hurt. An emergency plan to salvage the precious artefacts of the house was enacted, and 80 firefighters, Trust staff and volunteers did their best, sliding paintings down ladders and passing items out through windows. Much of the collection was lost however, including such iconic items as a football kicked into the enemy trenches to start the charge at the Battle of the Somme.

A couple of years after the fire the public was allowed to visit again, enabling me to take these photos. It was one of the main places that we used to visit as a family, and my wife and I had shortlisted it for our wedding. It was a real loss to the nation. But there is hope, with the Trust restoring the main rooms on the ground floor and planning to open the upper floors for exhibitions and events in the near future…

The Girl in the Ivory Dress fire damage house

The Girl in the Ivory Dress is out now!

Big news – my latest novel, The Girl in the Ivory Dress, is out now!

The Girl in the Ivory Dress is out now

I’m so excited about this book. It’s a ghost story for adults and continues the story of Alice Deaton, who we last saw damaged but not destroyed at the end of The Boy in the Burgundy Hood.

Here’s what it’s about:

After a fire tears through the country house where she works, Alice Deaton accepts a desperate invitation from an old friend whose guest house on the Welsh coast is being haunted by a horrifying apparition.

But Alice, with her mysterious ability to connect with ghosts, senses something even stranger going on at the isolated Peacehaven. Who is the spectral man roaming the house? Why is he terrifying the guests? And why does Alice keep dreaming about the ghosts of her past, the burning man and girl in the ivory dress?

As she digs deeper Alice will uncover an insidious evil that might just overwhelm her…

How the book came about:

When I wrote The Boy in the Burgundy Hood I wasn’t planning on any kind of sequel. However, almost as soon as I published it some savvy readers were querying the ending, and dropping hints about how it leant itself to another book. Within days of publication, I was planning a follow on story. The girl in the ivory dress began to play with my head. A few months later, when The Boy in the Burgundy Hood became a bestseller on Amazon, I was sure I was doing the right thing.

However, whilst I wanted the books to be connected, I didn’t want to write another series that you had to read in order. Hence The Ghosts of Alice was born – stand alone ghost stories, linked by our feisty heroine with her mysterious ability to connect with ghosts.

So if you’re interested in a spooky mystery please get yourself (or a friend / family member / ghost story enthusiast you know) a copy from Amazon. And please please if you enjoy it, leave a rating or a review – it really does help the book get noticed.

Thank you and happy reading!

The Girl in the Ivory Dress – cover reveal!

The Girl in the Ivory Dress

I’m very excited to share for the first time the cover of my forthcoming ghost story, The Girl in the Ivory Dress!

It’s the second story featuring Alice Deaton, in a series of standalone novels called The Ghosts of Alice. The book will be released in the next 2-3 weeks.

What do you think?