Me, the Supernatural and Ghost Stories – a guest post from S.M. Hardy
As part of #TheEvilWithin blog tour, we’re delighted to host author S.M. Hardy (a.k.a Sue Tingey) on the A&B blog with some back story to the creation of her first supernatural mystery The Evil Within. Check out the other stops for reviews and interviews with Sue this week.
Even from an early age I had an interest in the supernatural and occult and, I suppose, all things weird and scary. Before I could even read I used to flick through my father’s American horror magazines to look at the photos. You would have thought they would have given me nightmares, but no, I couldn’t get enough of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Werewolf and the Monster from the Black Lagoon. Then I started to read and quickly progressed to The Chronicles of Narnia, Agatha Christie and then The Devil Rides Out.
Of course there was the other thing – my mum was psychic. It was something she kept mainly to herself, but she knew things sometimes; things she shouldn’t. Of course, my sensible head told me it was all a load of old rubbish, like the monsters in the magazines, but she was my mum and over the years I saw and heard too much at home for me not to believe. Consequently I have always been interested in people who say they can connect with “the other side” and it has become a recurring theme in my writing along with other aspects of the supernatural and the occult.
When I started writing the novel that eventually became The Evil Within I was already tapping away at a completely different book altogether. I was getting on quite well, was enjoying the story I was telling and had reached about forty thousand words when I had the germ of an idea for another novel. Rather than risk forgetting what I imagined might be a good beginning to a new story, I stopped what I was doing to type out what I thought would be a few lines. Within about half an hour I’d finished the introduction of the novel, which I very inventively gave the working title of “Ghost Story. This was weird in itself as there was nothing I had written at this point to indicate the story would turn out to be about ghosts, in fact my idea was based on something as far removed from the supernatural as it could possibly be.
At the time there had been a lot in the news about small businesses being inexplicably closed down by banks and this got me to thinking about what kind of person could do such a job and manage to sleep at night. Straight away this gave me the background of my main character Jim Hawkes, a deeply troubled man with a pressurised job, which was turning him into someone he didn’t want to be.
So, file saved, I went back to my fantasy novel and I was going great guns, but I couldn’t get “Ghost Story” out of my head. It was almost as though it was calling to me and, in the end, I caved and returned to it leaving a novel I had already invested a considerable amount of time and over fifty thousand words!
Needless to say by the time I keyed the words “The End” I decided it had been worth the sacrifice and, just maybe, I had written something likeminded people might want to read. I had also inadvertently fulfilled a promise I’d made to a friend. After an evening discussing the ghost stories they used to show on the TV at Christmas during the seventies he suggested I should write try writing one and, as we parted, I’d promised him one day I would and I suppose you could say I have. The Evil Within might not be quite the same as the spooky screenplays of our teenage years, but it is a ghost story nevertheless. I hope he likes it – I suspect my mother would have been thrilled.