by Karen J Mossman
I’m not a fan of horror or paranormal. I get spooked easily and have a very active imagination. As a teenager I would be plagued by nightmares for weeks. As I grew up I knew to stay away from anything that would frighten me. Recently, I watched Gogglebox, a TV programme that features people watching television. It’s their reactions and discussions about the what they are watching that make it interesting and funny. It showed them watching The Haunting of Hill House. I found it terrifying and I only saw bits of it!
There are lots of scary horror books on the market, and plenty of people who love a good horror film. Why would a perfectly sensible and normal human being enjoy being scared? If that’s you, perhaps you could comment below and tell me why you like it and why it doesn’t give you nightmares as it does me.
I once wrote a story called Embers of Webster Street and it was about a girl dealing with her mum who suffers from dementia. It’s heart-breaking seeing someone you love forgetting things, and not even recognising her family.
My Nana showed signs of it for years before we recognised what it was. We thought she was just a bit batty. Because Nana was always a little eccentric, she was forever the joker, keeping us entertained with her silly antics. I remember the turning point when we finally knew something had changed. She was getting out of the car one day, and struggled, stumbling a little. We laughed, as we normally did, and instead of making a joke about it, she asked if we were laughing at her.
My Auntie Mavis took her in when she could no longer care for herself. She looked after her for years and it became more and more difficult. Being a carer is very much in the media spotlight, but back in the eighties we didn’t understand what it really meant and all that Mavis did. Occasionally stories came back through mum after her phone calls to her sister. Nana had blurted out swear words or refused to get dressed. It was a very difficult time. Eventually Mavis had no choice but to let her go into hospital and by this time Nana had stopped talking altogether.
My sister and I went to visit. She was no longer the person we knew. She was just a shell with nothing inside. She had no idea who we were, and I don’t think she even knew where she was. It was the strangest thing because although she looked like Nana, the same face and the Nana who was funny and who never stopped talking, this person stared with blank eyes. It was heart-breaking, it really was.
In the Embers of Webster Street, dementia was the main topic. Only something happened as I was writing, my pen took on a life of its own. It was supposed to tell the story of Jen, who felt tremendous guilt at having to put her mum in a home. Instead it introduced the ghosts of all the people who had lived in the family home before they did. It brought in a twin sister with problems of her own. Their mum could never accept that Jen saw things and it was the undoing of her.
This turned out to be the first of paranormal stories I suddenly found I loved to write
It is one of the stories featured in The Magic of Stories, a collection of short stories, articles, poetry, flash fiction, and shorts.
I found my pen wandered in all sorts of directions as I wrote this book. It turned into an eclectic collection of different genres.
Like Embers of Webster Street, many of the stories were taken from real life situations.
One of the other stories in the book is They Came For Him. This was based on my Dad once telling me to keep away from Ouija boards.