Tag Archives: ghost stories

Start of Summer Sale on The Ghosts of Alice!

Just to let you know I’m holding a Start of Summer Sale on the Ghosts of Alice series!

Ghosts of Alice Start of Summer Sale!

For the first time ever, The Boy in the Burgundy Hood, the first book in the series, is absolutely FREE on Kindle! If you haven’t already read it, now’s your chance to discover the plight of Alice Deaton, a young woman with a mysterious connection to the dead, as she prepares the opening of medieval Bramley Manor for a heritage trust. What will she do when the ghosts start appearing – the boy in the burgundy hood and the woman with the wounded hand? The secrets of Bramley are darker and more grisly than she would ever have imagined…

PLUS… the other two books in The Ghosts of Alice series are in the Start of Summer Sale too – The Girl in the Ivory Dress is just 99p / 99c, and Alice and the Devil £1.99 / $1.99! That’s the whole series reduced from £7.97 / $9.97 to £2.98 / $2.98!

Click here to go to the series page on Amazon.

In other news, I’ve just finished the first draft of the next book in the series. It hasn’t got a title yet, but I can tell you it’s set far from (Alice’s) home in Nepal and India, where Alice has a very different type of mystery to solve. More soon!

Favourite books – a little self indulgence…

OK, this post is a bit indulgent, but have any of you writers out there ever thought about which of your own books you like most? I spent half an hour the other night thinking about just that. I ended up rating them for ‘Best Beginning’, ‘Best Ending’ and ‘Overall Favourite’. And here’s what came out tops:

Best books: The Girl in the Ivory Dress

Best Beginning: The Girl in the Ivory Dress – after the relatively slow build of the mystery in The Boy in the Burgundy Hood, I wanted to hit the ground running in the second book. In the opening scenes, Alice finds herself having to deal with a woman on fire, rescue a priceless heritage collection, and handle not one but two ghosts!

Best books: The Unknown Realms

Best Ending: The Unknown Realms – the conclusion to my 5-book Secret of the Tirthas series gets pretty high stakes at the end, with a final battle involving demons, Lizzie and her friends and – yep, an elephant! If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye – well, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.

Best books: Black Beacon

Overall Favourite: Black Beacon – close to my heart because of its inspiration from my family history – but still I reckon a neat plotline and taut supernatural thriller.

This was a difficult selection and even now I find I’m changing my mind – but you have to stop somewhere!

If you’ve read my books, do you agree with my selection? And if you’re a writer, which of your own books do you like most and why?

Click here to find out more about these books on Amazon.

The Ghosts of Alice series sells 5000 copies!

The Ghosts of Alice series – three of my books starting with The Boy in the Burgundy Hood – chalked up 5000 sales this week!

The Ghosts of Alice 5000 copies sold

I never thought when I began indie publishing my stories that I’d sell anything like that number. I was always happy just to know people were able to find and read (and hopefully enjoy!) what I’d written. So this has been the icing on the cake, especially during the couple of periods when The Boy in the Burgundy Hood hit bestseller status on Amazon.

If you like ghost stories, and want to read about an unusual hero with a mysterious connection to the dead, why not give the series a go?

What readers say about The Boy in the Burgundy Hood:

***** ‘The perfect modern day ghost story with a grisly twist’
***** ‘Impossible to put down’
***** ‘Creepy and satisfying’
***** ‘A compelling and spinetingling read’
***** ‘Too scared to sleep… extremely good book, I read it in one day!’
***** ‘Turn the screw it does, right up to its terrifyingly dark finale.’

Check out the books on Amazon here.

2023 – A Year in Writing

As it’s that time for reflection, I thought I’d give an overview of my year from a writing perspective. First of all, the good. As most of you will know, I’ve been concentrating on my supernatural thrillers for the past five years. I’ve written three books in The Ghosts of Alice series, but this year I wanted to publish two standalone horror books that I’ve had in the pipeline for a while  and which I’m glad to say I managed to do.

The first, The Man in the Woods, I started several years ago but was interrupted by life and never finished. I realised when I re-read it earlier this year that I really liked it, it felt very different to my other writing and I loved the final twist.

Thanks to reader Linda Oliphant for this great photo!


Why was it so different to my other supernatural books? Well, several reasons.

  1. it’s the only one told in the first person
  2. it’s a novella
  3. it’s the only one of my supernatural thrillers not to feature ghosts (hope that’s not a spoiler… 😉)
  4. it’s about a teenage boy
  5. some people would even argue it’s not a supernatural thriller at all but… you’ll have to read it to decide whether it is or isn’t yourself!

I love this story. I thought it might well get mixed reviews – and possibly some negative reviews – but they’ve been (almost all!) positive so far.

The second book I published this year I actually finished as a first draft last Christmas – but decided to leave until November before I brought it out, for obvious reasons. It’s Black Beacon, a festive ghost story set on the snow-swept South Downs. I’ve loved writing this book as it’s by far the most personal of my stories, inspired by my grandparents, who met when my grandad was a German Prisoner of War and my grandma a young woman in Eastbourne. All my books tend to have a significant element or two inspired by real life incidents – but this is by far the most personal.

Black Beacon ghost story

What about the bad? Well, whilst life outside of writing has had its ups and downs this year (with a few more downs than usual, including my mum breaking her hip in the summer) the writing has been pretty steady. I miss the excellent independent bookshop we had near us in Leatherhead: Barton’s Bookshop, where I used to go for signing sessions at least once a year, usually during the festive season. I miss the owner, Peter Snell, with his penchant for dressing up as Santa Claus, and I miss the staff – I’ve done signings at other events over the years, but nothing is as satisfying as going to a local bookstore, where everyone has a passion for books and reading.

Barton's Bookshop

That’s it for me – next up for my writing is the fourth Ghosts of Alice story, which has a completely different feel and setting – but more of that later in the year!

I wish you a Happy New Year, and hope it brings you what you want – or at least what you need!

Steve

The Haunted House

haunted house

What image comes to mind for you when you think of a haunted house?

I’ve been writing ghost stories for 5 years now and I’ve realised that the houses I have haunted have become progressively more ‘everyday’ with each successive story. As if you don’t need heightened melodrama of a setting to chill – fear can come to you in the most mundane of places.

In The Boy in the Burgundy Hood, the red-hooded boy and the wounded woman haunt an old medieval manor with sprawling grounds and a creepy stumpery. Bramley Manor is a stately medieval hall with a grand fireplace and a Tudor section.

The haunting in The Girl in the Ivory Dress takes place in a Victorian guest house in a remote spot on the Welsh coast. The house is quite old, but it’s been completely renovated and has all modcons.

Alice and the Devil focuses on a rundown Victorian rectory on the moors in the Peak District, although much of the action takes place on a curious set of giant, wooded rocks nearby that are filled with caves and strange features.

My latest ghost story Black Beacon, however, is set in an ordinary 1930s house – although it is isolated from civilisation up on the Sussex Downs. And even more so, after a rare Christmas snowfall.

Do you prefer your ghost stories set in a classic, decaying country house – or do you think the spook can happen anywhere?

You can check out all my books on my Amazon page – perfect for the festive season!

Black Beacon – a reading

Time for a short reading from my latest book, BLACK BEACON, a chilling ghost story for Christmas!

Theo, short of money but determined he and his wife shall have a good Christmas, has decided to take a tree from the forest – but he’s got hopelessly lost. Then he comes across a figure in the darkness…

Here’s some of the wonderful things people have been saying about Black Beacon since its release:

***** I loved this book and read it in one sitting late at night with the aftermath of a storm whistling outside

***** What a great ghostly Christmas book

***** His best book yet 

***** A deeply haunting ghost story

***** This was such an original Christmas ghost story, I could not put it down. From the first pages I was gripped and wanting to know what happened to Nat and Theo.

You can check out Black Beacon now on Amazon:

The Ghosts of Alice: Spectacular Spooktober Sale!

Later this week I’m starting a (thinks fast) Spectacular Spooktober Sale (!!) on The Ghosts of Alice series.

The Ghosts of Alice: Spooktober sale

Running up to Halloween, each of the three titles will have a week on sale on Kindle at the discounted price of 99p/99c.

If you haven’t discovered The Ghosts of Alice yet, it’s a series of standalone books that feature Alice Deaton, a young woman with a mysterious connection to the dead. In the first book, the bestselling The Boy in the Burgundy Hood, Alice lands her dream job to open a medieval house to the public – only to find when the ghosts start appearing not all is as rosy as it seems…

Here’s the dates when each title will be on sale:

  • 11-17 Oct: The Boy in the Burgundy Hood
  • 18-24 Oct: The Girl in the Ivory Dress
  • 25-31 Oct: Alice and the Devil

Have a totally spooky month!

Here’s links to buy on Amazon:

Black Beacon – Cover Reveal!

Ta-dah! As promised, here’s the new cover of my forthcoming Christmas ghost story, Black Beacon – a spooky tale of love and betrayal, set in the 1970s on the South Downs of East Sussex.

Black Beacon Christmas Ghost Story cover

What do you think?

Hope to have it out early November!

What I’m writing now…

The few months since I published my latest Ghosts of Alice novel, Alice and the Devil have flown by. I’ve been very happy with the reviews (averaging 4.5 stars on Amazon!) – and wanted to let you know the things I’m excited to be working on next.

What I'm writing now

A Christmas Ghost Story

I’ve loved reading Shani Struther’s Christmas ghost stories (link below), so on the runup to Christmas I started on my own festive ghost story. It’s set on the South Downs of England and it’s a departure for me in several ways:

(1) it’s a completely standalone novel, not part of any series;

(2) it’s set in the 1970s – the heyday of the Christmas single! – and

(3) it focuses on a married couple, Theo and Nat, whose haunted, complex pasts are about to come crashing into their seasonal plans.

I did have what I thought was the perfect title for it, but unfortunately it’s been used elsewhere recently and would cause a bit of a clash – so X👻?🤔X will be out later this year. Most likely in the autumn, to tie in with the build up to Christmas.

The next Ghosts of Alice story

Whilst I’m editing this book, I’m also excited to be working on the plot of the next Alice novel. For those of you who’ve read my books, you’ll know I like to mix things up a bit and play around with expectations. So, whilst there’ll be all the essential spooky ingredients, this is going to be quite a different tale, in a very different setting. Although, for those of you who have read my young adult series, The Secret of the Tirthas, some things might be familiar…😉

The Man in the Woods

I’m also revisiting one or two pieces of older writing, short stories and novellas that I really liked but for one reason or another never completed. One of these is The Man in the Woods… who is that lonesome figure our narrator comes across whilst cycling out in the forest? What’s he doing, camping out there in all weather? It’s a creepy, psychological suspense novella with a big twist. It’s definitely one of my most sinister stories. I hope it gets to see the light of day!

Time. That’s all I need. More time…

Author redundancy alert!

I was playing around with the new AI language tool, ChatGPT, recently. I wondered how it would do if I asked it to generate an author bio for a ghost story writer. That’s all the detail I gave it and at once it produced this, which I’ve tailored with my name and books only. You can see why UK universities are currently scrambling to work out how to assess students, when it produces reasonable essays on pretty much anything ranging from the causes of WW1 to Brexit.

And, whilst a bit wonky, it sounds relatively human. I asked it to write me a poem about wrens and it was reasonable – not brilliant, probably not even good, but not doggerel either. I checked it wasn’t plagiarised on Google and of course, it wasn’t.

So, how long before it’s writing a 60,000 long ghost story full of creepy twists and turns? Not long, I suspect. Especially with a good human (at least for now) editor. This thing is learning fast, helped by useful free fodder such as myself, helping it with the nuances of language. And that really is the key – I suspect it’s rapidly learning things that take novelists years, if not decades, to discover and refine.

My hope is that human creativity will always pip AI. We know the world, we experience pain and beauty unmediated by all except our senses. And we use that to innovate. I like to believe Nick Cave’s response when a fan sent him ChatGPT mimicry of his lyrics.

But I’m no technologist. It’s possible that in a few decades, whilst ChatGPT will never know who we are, it might well be able to replicate books that we’re unable to distinguish from those written by real people. The first article I read about ChatGPT was by a seasoned journalist who was seriously discomforted by its attempt to produce something similar to her writing. 

Have you tried ChatGPT yet? What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, remember that horror helps build your resilience, always useful when we’re faced with a future straight out the Terminator – so why not grab my latest ghost story, Alice and the Devil, now?

Alice and the Devil

Click below to view on Amazon: