I have very happy memories of visiting my mother’s family in County Mayo when I was a child. My Uncle Billy was a great character, famous for his singing and playing the saxaphone. But he was also a terrific storyteller. Unfortunately, he was rather fond of telling ghost stories of an evening. As a young child, unused to country ways and the absolute darkness of a country night, whenever he told one of his eerie tales, I was absolutely terrified. I’d go to bed shaking with fear and would lie there for hours trying to convince myself there was nothing to be afraid of and jumping at the slightest noise in the old house. He probably never realised the effect his stories had on me, and, although at the time I wasn’t too happy about it all, those stories still resonate with me to this day.
One of his tales was about James Knight’s field and the mysterious light that was seen to float just above the reeds and move around, as though propelled by an evil force. Now, I don’t know if Billy made this up, or if indeed methane gas from the wet and boggy Mayo field was to blame, but the story stuck in my head. It thrilled and scared me and probably was the basis for my life-long interest in the paranormal and the Gothic (reading Jane Eyre at a young age may have contributed to this as well!).
My other (guilty) pleasure is lighthouses and I have always wanted to live in one. I just think they are fascinating from an architectural point of view, not to mention the dramatic locations they tend to have. The variety of types, shapes, and colours is astounding. The lives of the people who manned them over the centuries interests me too; I’m sure it was often a lonely and thankless job.
I have always wanted to write a story about a lighthouse. I was also very keen to write a ghost story. Somehow the two seemed to fit together beautifully and inspired me to start writing my latest short story. The Lighthouse Keeper is a contemporary ghost story which indulges my interest in both the supernatural and those beautiful buildings which have guided seafaring folk to safety for centuries.
I like to think my story would have sent a shiver down Uncle Billy’s spine.
THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER: Sally and Alex are on their first holiday together and romance is on Sally’s mind. But Alex is acting strangely. When unsettling things start to happen, Sally begins to wonder if they are truely alone in their coastal getaway …