In the Shadows, is a House…

I’m stunned to see how long it’s been since I last wrote a post. However, I do have an excuse… my new novel is finally finished and is available NOW, to pre-order. The book comes out on the 18th!

Shadows of the Lost Child, like Ship of Haunts, is partly historical. In it, I explore the challenges of poverty in nineteenth century England, the challenges of loss in twenty-first century England and what happens when the ghosts of the past meet the people of the present. Yes, there are ghosts!

There’s also death, murder, mayhem and mystery with a touch of humour to keep us smiling. And, my favourite, an old and possibly haunted house. This is how we first meet Aleph, when he goes to view his future home.

And what a home it turns out to be!

I’ve always been interested in old houses, and have recently returned from a visit to Sark, a small but very beautiful island, with its own share of assorted houses.

Sark, in case you haven’t heard of it, is one of the smallest Channel Islands, and has no cars, just bikes and tractors. Life in Sark can be quite primitive (despite the excellent internet connection!) – what you eat can depend on whether the boat can call and deliver the food – a boat is how you get to the island, and not a very big boat at that. And the sea can be choppy! Being in Sark is like going back to a world now lost, life in the country, a long time ago.

Sark, Channel Islands

But there’s also quite a lot of wealth on Sark, and the houses on the island reflect that contrast, and Sark’s history, with impressive manors and tiny cottages and strangely, lots of abandoned dwellings.

Sark houseThe one to the right was damaged by fire, and the house lives on, an empty shell, slowly being taken over by nature. That’s rather sad.

While the one below, and yes, there’s nothing there, was once the location of the Beauregard Hotel, itself a replacement for an earlier house, gutted by fire in 1892 and later rebuilt as a hotel. This is all that’s left of it now. Follow this link to see how it was.

Site of previous Beauregard Hotel






All that’s left is Le Beauregard Cottage, (to the right), rebuilt using its own bricks. Le Beauregard Cottage

Hotels on Sark have a mixed history: on the land below, stood the Hotel Bel Air, an impressive example of a country hotel, which was occupied by the Germans in the Second World War. Sadly, it didn’t survive the war, the roof caught fire and now we have to remember its beauty.

Site of Hotel Bel Air, Sark

Follow this link to see how it was.

Also previously damaged by fire, in 1957, but still with us, is Stocks Hotel, perhaps the most tragic story of them all. A wing burnt down, and the manager, anxious to recover her dog, went back in the building and didn’t survive. Neither did the dog, but several others did.

The wing was rebuilt the following year and Stocks Hotel continues to thrive.

Whenever I go to Sark for a visit, I can’t help admiring the different buildings and want to learn more about their history. One of the two prisons on Sark was meant to be haunted by a white lady (well, what a surprise!) and this proposition was bravely tested by one visitor, who spent the night in the prison in question, and apparently, wasn’t disturbed at all. I suspect the island is too grounded in reality, the practical aspects of daily living, to have many ghosts.

My new novel, Shadows of the Lost Child, has many stories at its heart, one of which is the story of a house, and while the house and the city it stands in, are fictional places, York (UK) is the city which inspired it, and the look of the house is based on a house which once existed. From that house, and from that city, I created a story which crosses time.

One day, soon, I’ll show you the house.

In the meantime, Aleph is rootless, trying to come to terms with the past, Miranda is harassed, wanting to save her mother from trouble, then along comes Alice and changes everything. And the past and present start to collide.

Shadows of the Lost Child (ebook, out 18 September) is available for pre-order now, from Amazon. (US) (UK)

About Shadows of the Lost Child

This is a ghost story.
It’s also the story of a tragedy that happened over one hundred years ago.
And it’s a mystery. Can you solve it?

When Aleph rents a run-down house, his whole life changes, along with the lives of the people he meets. This is their story.

The Present

Aleph Jones is running away but the house he ends up in turns out to be haunted. Or is it just him? For Aleph has a dark secret that’s changed his life.

Cressida Sewell needs Aleph’s help. Her daughter, Alice refuses to speak and a team of specialists don’t know why. But Cressida has a hidden agenda and Alice knows more than she’s letting on. About Aleph.

Guinevere James is not what she seems. Disguised as Aleph’s business client, she really wants to solve a murder that happened over a century ago. And what about the children who vanished? Aleph and Alice can hear them scream.

The Past

Miranda and Thomas live in poverty. Miranda wants to protect her mother but when she seeks help from friends Ben and Tom, they set on a path to even more trouble.

Then Tom meets Alice and the past and the present begin to collide with dangerous consequences.


At Home with the Ghost

guernseyI’ve always had an interest in things mysterious from when I was young. The unsolved murder, the abandoned house, a passing ghost. Now I’ve grown up (?) I’m using my interest in things historical, spooky or surreal in my writing. There’s plenty of scope. Haunted houses are a special interest. The jury’s out on whether they’re real, but they certainly make an excellent story. This is one.

Reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in Britain, Sausmarez  Manor’s website says: ‘The Ghosts have been around almost as long as the house’s nearly 800 years, most are friendly, some are inexplicable, and the most recent one only died in the last 30 years.’

Sausmarez Manor’s Haunted Barn

A few years back I lived in Sark, a tiny place in the Channel Islands, which has recently been in the public (and TV) eye. We used to make regular trips to Guernsey on a choppy sea, for food and fun. Sausmarez Manor is in the south west, not that far from St Peter Port. I’ve never been there, but it’s had its share of ghostly noises. Behind the manor is a quaint old barn.  When the owner first moved into the manor, it wasn’t unusual to see a blue-tinted light shining at night from the gable of the barn, close to the roof. The building was unoccupied. The gable was solid and covered by a rose, but when the rose was cut down, a blocked up window was discovered behind it. Had the light somehow ‘come from inside’?

A little while later, the ground floor was converted to a tearoom, and the top floor became a doll’s house museum. Various people running the tearoom began to ask if the barn was haunted, having heard footsteps coming from upstairs when they opened the barn for business in the morning. They’d checked upstairs, but the place was empty.

‘I can only assume,’ the owner, reported, ‘that whatever was larking about with the blue light is still larking about upstairs in the barn.’ (Peter de Sausmarez)

What do you think?

Stately Ghosts: haunting tales from Britain’s historic houses, London: VisitBritain Publishing, 2007.

Further Information
Sausmarez Manor website