Ghost Tree launches at local haunts

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TGT

For most authors these days, getting a place anywhere close to number one million in the Amazon rankings is cause for breaking out the champagne.

There are so very many books out there, all jostling for the attention of potential readers, that most of them never see the light of day – day, of course, meaning within the top 100 of the bestsellers rank within the genre.

It is with great delight that I find the Kindle edition of The Ghost Tree at no 156 in the Books > Fiction >Horror > Fantasy list (even though it’s not a fantasy) – a place that I never expected to be sitting in.

Now I know there will be hundreds of thousands of authors laughing into their glowing Amazon reports at my delight over a small ranking, but this is a milestone for me. I am also aware that Amazon listings are fickle and the book could drop to 999,999 in the same section within the blink of an eye. It is, however, really inspiring to see the book so close to the top 100 on any list and the paperback has not even been published yet.

I am launching The Ghost Tree at the Ewart Library, Dumfries, on Thursday night and I find that a more terrifying prospect than facing the Mackie poltergeist in the dark without a crucifix.

In the current economic climate, libraries are under a lot of pressure to look useful and busy while councillors sit at committee meetings deciding how and when they will close them. I am therefore really dedicated to helping them, even if that means facing the public in an event starring me.

I am the kind of person who loves the camera, provided I am the one looking through the viewfinder.

My second event will take place at Waterstones book shop in Dumfries on Saturday, 3 October. The local bookstores are also taking a pounding from their mighty online counterparts and I like to think that my presence, no matter how insignificant, will go a small way towards supporting them.

Thanks to everyone who has bought my book and to those very special people who have taken time to write a review. You are all wonderful.

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Ghost story takes root

Amazon, books, Cul Beag, Cul Mor, paranormal fiction, Suilven, Sutherland, The Ghost Tree

Ghost Tree sepia

Finding inspiration as a writer comes easily when you live in an inspiring place, rich in scenery, culture, heritage and lore … lots of lore.

My second novel, The Ghost Tree, is due to be published on October 1 this year by Urbane Publications.

Staying true to my unhealthy dislike of genre compartmentalisation, this is a paranormal romance, thriller, crime fiction with its roots firmly planted in a ‘true’ poltergeist account that allegedly took place in the Parish of Rerrick, Auchencairn, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, in 1695.

You can read the published account by Alexander Telfair, the minister who performed the two-week-long exorcism, here: http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/scotland/dumfriesshire/hauntings/rerrick-poltergeist-1695.html

The old gnarled tree in the picture is all that remains of the haunted plantation in Telfair’s account, then called The Ringcroft of Stocking, where stone mason and farmer Andrew MacKie contended with a violent noisy spirit that pestered his family for a few months at the turn of the 17th century.

There were three trees in living memory. The locals call them ‘The Ghost Trees’. The two beeches died some time ago. This enduring oak was more resilient to the sweeping winds of the Solway hills and has survived both the ravages of time and, if Telfair’s account is to be believed, the poltergeist.

Legend has it that, when the last of the Ghost Trees dies, the Rerrick Parish Poltergeist will return.

My work of contemporary fiction took me to surprising places, from the realms of the dead to quantum physics, and my research on the subject came up with more unanswered questions than solutions to the phenomena of the paranormal and supernatural.

I’m still unsure whether I believe that “a ghost” can be described as a visitation from the dead, a symptom of a vivid imagination or a piece of observable data from a scientific equation. What is evident from all the theories and accounts I have read and all the ‘experts’ I have spoken to, is that many people truly believe that the dead can in some way return from the grave and interact with the living. It is also worrying to note that it seems to take a ritual involving God to remove it.

The Ghost Tree follows the misfortunes of a young man, MacAoidh Armstrong, who unwittingly buys a smallholding on the former subjects of the MacKie plantation. The ghost tree has died and the poltergeist has returned, but the pragmatic and stubborn Highlander does not believe in ghosts.

As the story unfolded during its construction, I found there was far more than the paranormal to contend with when a violent spirit haunts a 21st century home.

The result was a terrifying but fascinating journey for me, especially when I was writing it in the middle of the night with my back to a draughty door.

Whether I believe in ghosts or not, I am still uncomfortable with the inexplicable and, until science proves one way or another that death is merely a transition into another form of existence, I will still need the light on at night when I face the reality of going to the loo.