Tag Archives: ghost

In which the Author takes part in the Creative Process Blog Tour…

The Creative Process Blog Tour

My thanks to Hilary McGrath for nominating me for this round of the Creative Process Blog Tour, where writers get to answer four questions and whitter on about their innermost creative processes.

Note: every word below is the absolute unvarnished truth.

Except for the lies.

What am I working on?


I’m sending my completed iconoclastic vampire novel Palefaces out to literary agents. The tagline:

Cops – vampires – vampire cops.

There will, almost certainly, be some blood.


There will, almost certainly, be some rejections.

the vampire

2) CRIME. 

I’m half way through the writing of Sex, Lies and Croissants, a softboiled crime novel set in southwest France,

featuring a handsome but irredeemably grumpy British detective mixed up with porn stars, religious maniacs and

drunk Frenchmen with guns. First in a series, if the gods be kind.

3796019-gun-and-blood-splatter-murder-scene 5875090-fresh-croissants


I’m working through the proofs for The Bloody History of Britain, which will be published by The History Press in September. This will be my 31st non-fiction book. Expect:

Cannibals from the Dawn of Time

Anarchy in the UK (12th century style)

Pirate Monks

The Six Executions of Henry VIII

Plus Norman genocide, Nazis, Zeppelins, Jacobites, and a surfeit of lampreys.

All this and murders, torture, massacres, punishments, castrations and executions galore. You’ve got to laugh,

haven’t you?


4) SEX.

 I’m using allure, coquetry and a packet of powerful pheromones in the hope of attracting agents or publishers to a non-fiction book on some of the stranger but universal aspects of sex and sexual culture.



Notes are being made and ideas corralled for a YA fantasy involving cryptozoology, time travel and sherbert

lemons. There may also be a fantasy/high-tech film screenplay incarcerated in the oubliette.

Book Collage for Site

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My natural tendency when I am writing is to upset the apple cart of expectations.

When writing about vampires, I want to destroy the entire accepted vampiric mythology and create a completely

new take on their origins, behaviour and sexuality.

If I’m setting a crime novel in rural Gascony – beloved by Terry Wogan and other Brits – my hero has to loathe

other expats and everything they stand for.

In The Bloody History of Britain I avoid the clichés of history and tell stories from the shadows: how Scotland

invented the concentration camp, the reason the Wars of the Roses were like a football match, and why King John was marginally better than that narcissistic psychopath Richard the Lionheart.

My ghost books are sceptical about ghosts. My paranormal books interrogate the paranormal rather than just

going ‘Woooh!’ Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it is my pleasure to tamper with accepted ideas and default genre preoccupations. Punk iconoclasm, that’s what we need.

 Zombie-Geoff_MONOThe Guide to Mysterious PerthshirePoltergeist Over Scotland

Why do I write what I do?

I wrote my very first book, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire, because I was living in Perthshire and it was

something I wanted to read – but there was simply nothing like it on the market. I write non-fiction on the weird and the strange because of a longstanding conviction that the world is weirder and stranger than most people think,

and that some of the data gathered may actually lead, one day, to a paradigm change.

And I write fiction because it is a socially acceptable way to kill people.

Zombie workshop the Arches Glasgow 30 Jan 2012 18-61

How does my writing process work?

I don’t actually have any ideas myself. I pay a subscription to an ideas-generating company based in the Cayman

Islands and they send me ten creative suggestions a month.


Who I nominate next…

I now pass the baton to those fine individuals and writers Kirstie Swain and Moore & Reppion. Good luck, chaps.

In which the Author guests on the Spooky Southcoast radio show…


spooklogowpThis coming weekend I’m the invited guest on Christopher Balzano’s splendid Spooky Southcoast radio show, operating out of Massachusetts. The topic of discussion: poltergeists, with reference to my forthcoming books Poltergeist over Scotland and What is a Poltergeist? – Understanding Poltergeist Activity.


Depending on your time zone, the show will air at 10.30pm (Eastern Standard Time in the USA) on Saturday 9th February or 3.30am (GMT UK time) on Sunday 10th. It will also be available for later digital consultation. Go to www.spookysouthcoast.com to find out more.







In which the Author talks about sex, lies and poltergeists in a stately home…


Between 19 and 21 October the ‘Unsolved’ Crime & Mystery Festival is running at Haddo House near Ellon in Aberdeenshire, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s premier stately homes. On the Saturday (20th October) I’ll be lurking in the library and giving a talk by the name of ‘Sex, Lies and Poltergeists’, which will unveil the secrets of poltergeist cases from the seventeenth century to the present day in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

The cases are all from my forthcoming book Poltergeist Over Scotland, and feature typical polt activity such as showers of stones, destruction of property, unexplained noises, flying objects, oozings of blood and other noxious substances – not to mention their fair share of sex and lies.


The talk starts at 4pm, and tickets are £6 (£4 for concessions). Full booking details can be found at the official website, which also tells you about the other tempting events on offer, from crime-solving tours to talks by writers of both fictional and true crime.


May the polt be with you.



In which the author reflects on ghostly atmospheres…

In many ways, I distrust a place that has ‘atmosphere’ because it gets in the way of investigation. The imagination takes over and we see and feel – or think we see and feel – evidence of the supernatural. When it may just be our emotional tendency to prefer the crepuscular to the unspectacular.

I’ve been spending time in St Andrews recently, doing fieldwork and library research for Haunted St Andrews and District. Pretty much anyone who writes about this part of Fife – and the east coast of Scotland in general – eventually gets around to the weather. The wind (oh, the wind). The rain. And the haar, or sea-fog. When the haar rolls in off the ocean, the coast can be blanketed in the thick fog, while just a few miles inland the sun can be shining.

The other day I spent several hours at book research. It was sunny when I arrived. But when I quitted the library after dark, the haar was in. And a ghostly atmosphere had settled on the town.



St Andrews is a place of medieval buildings and narrow cobblestoned lanes. In the fog the streetlights glow like gaslamps. Sounds are muffled. Sharp edges become hazy. Arched ruins loom out of the edge of vision. It was like being transported back to a previous century. I almost expected a horse-drawn carriage to clatter out of the gloom. Shades of Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes and Murder by Gaslight. And, perhaps for the first time, I could see why St Andrews has always been regarded as a ‘haunted town’. Once wrapped in its mantle of luminous fog, the ancient fabric breathes an atmosphere of things half-seen and half-feared. An environment of anxiety and anticipation. A place where ghosts might indeed walk.

The next time I visited St Andrews, it was drizzly and dull. I got rain on the camera lens and everything looked flat and grey. No ghostly fingers stroked my imagination this time.

In which the author looks in on ‘Poltergeist Manor’…

The other day I attended a talk by the fine author Lorn Macintrye, who had many interesting things to say about his family background of second sight in Argyll and Mull, and his own dealings with people involved in the paranormal, such as the Scottish medium Albert Best.


My main focus of interest, however, was Lorn’s investigations into Pitmilly House, which he dubbed ‘Poltergeist Manor’. The house in East Fife was demolished decades ago, but I’ve been pursuing its supernatural history for my forthcoming book Haunted St Andrews and District, so getting hold of a copy of Lorn’s booklet on the subject was a bonus.


Now here is the key question: does anyone reading this have a family tradition of a connection with Pitmilly? Perhaps you have a relative who visited the house, or worked there? If so, I would be delighted to hear from you – especially if the memories are from the 1930s or 1940s, as this was the period when the poltergeist was reportedly active.


You can get in touch via the contact form here.

In which the author gives two talks in Perthshire in the same week…

On Tuesday 13th September I’m giving a talk to the Perth Burns Club at the Salutation Hotel, South Street, Perth. The last time I gave a talk to this organisation it was 2007 and I’d had just one book published, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire. A further 21 books later and I’m back, this time to talk about big cats, witchcraft and encounters with supernatural entities, all taken from Paranormal Perthshire, which came out earlier this year. The event kicks off at 7.30pm and the Burns Club are happy to welcome new members at the door.


The second talk of the week is on Friday 16th September, this time for the Auchterarder Local History Society in The Institute/Aytoun Hall on Auchterarder High Street.  Start time is 7.30pm and non-members can attend for £2 on the door. For this talk I’ll be concentrating on witches. There’s the Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument in Dunning – I’ll be revealing when it was built and by whom, thus dispelling a mystery that has perplexed people for generations – and the legend of Kate McNiven , the Witch of Monzie, which will include unveiling the whereabouts of the lost ‘Witch’s Stone’, a jewel she was said to have spat out during her alleged execution. So if you fancy some world-class wibbling on witchcraft, come along!


As usual, I’ll have books for sale at both talks. My thanks to both organisations for inviting me. __