Here is the suitably creepy front cover for the new ghost story anthology coming out from Constable and Robinson (last I heard, the publication date was 15th November in the UK, and January in the US), edited by the lovely Marie O’Regan. I have a little contribution in this – The Fifth Bedroom is my first ever published short story. I’m not usually much of a fan of short stories in general but I love a good ghost story and I’m looking forward to reading the others when the anthology is published. Ghost stories are better enjoyed in the winter, I think. I like reading them by a fire late at night whilst it rains outside. There should probably be hot chocolate, too.
The Fifth Bedroom was inspired by the servants’ bell-board in my aunt’s house. It’s one of those old fashioned ones with a little striped flag hanging down in each window, and it refers to a couple of bedrooms that no longer exist in the building. Babysitting there, late at night, after my cousin was already in bed, it occurred to me how freaked out I would be if a bell suddenly went off and I saw the flag moving in the window of one of the rooms that no longer exists. And, believe me, once that thought takes hold late at night, it don’t let go easy. That’s the problem with being a writer, I guess – you’re always thinking: what if this happened? How would I react? Would I grab a carving knife and charge upstairs to protect my sleeping cousin from any spectral intruder? Or would I leave her there and run screaming from the house, jump in my car and drive off without looking back? We shall never know.
But I enjoyed writing this story and am very much looking forward to the anthology coming out so that I can scare myself silly by reading the others in it the next time I happen be babysitting.