Free & Bargain Books – your reading for the next week!

Calling all readers!

This post is short and sweet. I’m currently researching my fourth novel, and ‘wandering around’ old houses, which is great fun, but I’ve taken a break to tell you about my current sale.

The Floozy in the Park by Ellie StevensonMy third novel, The Floozy in the Park is currently on sale until Thursday October 19th – a mere snip at 99p/99c: http://amzn.to/2eyjfQ6 or http://amzn.to/2gyXz8k

More about The Floozy below.

Too many people have something to lose if the truth comes out…
Journalist Jon visits an island, searching for his ex-lover, whose father was murdered. The killer is still out there. Nobody likes him asking questions.

Meanwhile, Megan, Jon’s partner, is busy building a retail empire. She discovers an Edwardian mystery, connected to her. She barely notices Jon has gone.

But when she finds the sketch he drew of his ex-lover, Megan knows Jon is in trouble. Serious trouble.

Can she uncover the truth in time?

What’s more, Shadows of the Lost Child is FREE until Monday October 16th – a bargain. Here’s what Shadows is all about.

Would children crying keep you awake?
Especially if the children were dead?

A haunted house, a man with a past and a girl called Alice who can cross time.

Then Alice meets Tom who lives in the past and the past and the present begin to collide… with fatal consequences.

This is a ghost story and a tragedy that happened over a century ago. And a mystery. Can you solve it?
Inspired by the legends of York

Get your free copy of Shadows here: http://amzn.to/2wVn8Fi or http://amzn.to/2xEuuwr

Get your next week’s reading now, and curl up with a book!

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The Forgotten

SS Atlantic disaster (Currier and Ives Lithographs)When I wrote my first novel, Ship of Haunts, the focus was on child migration, ghosts and Titanic. Titanic is well-known for being a major maritime disaster. But there have been many other tragedies, also with significant loss of life, and in Ship of Haunts, as well as Carrin, whose ghost haunts Titanic, we meet someone from the Empress of Ireland and a man called Aaron who was drowned on a ship called the SS Atlantic. Aaron gets bored staying by his ship under the sea, after it sank and wanders off and finds Titanic. Aaron and Carrin become ghost-friends, bound together by their shared tragedy and current home under the ocean.

I recently did a talk on the Atlantic and its sad history, because I felt that it’s important we remember all shipwrecks, not just the ones which are most obvious. Here, below, is a summarised version of that talk.

The Forgotten.

What makes a ship sink? When people talk about Titanic, and how she sank, they cite many things such as Captain Smith’s failure to navigate the iceberg – he wasn’t even on deck at the time, but instead eating his supper inside. There are numerous other things they cite, such as the repairs to Olympic, a sister ship, which delayed the departure of Titanic – had it not been for this, Titanic might never have hit that iceberg. And the list goes on.

But what if no-one remembered Titanic? All those people (1,500) tragically dead; it’s unimaginable, isn’t it?

The Atlantic is a ship very few remember, despite the enormous loss of life. At the time it was a terrible tragedy. It should be remembered.

‘The world’s worst single vessel maritime disaster, before Titanic in 1912.’

The wreck of the SS Atlantic – divers recovering bodies and cargo, 1873So what happened

The Atlantic sank, somewhat ironically, on 1 April 1873, near Halifax in Nova Scotia. The weather was bad, the wind was high and the sea very cold and decidedly choppy.

She left Liverpool on 20 March, heading for New York, but the Captain ran into a bout of  bad weather and also feared a shortage of fuel so he decided to head for Halifax (Canada, not Yorkshire!).

At that point the tragedy happened. She ran aground after striking a rock which left a vicious gash in her side. The ship began sinking.

Officers tried to get lifeboats out by chopping at ropes frantically with axes. But sadly the boats were washed away in what was now a terrible storm. It’s doubtful even if they’d been lowered properly whether they could have floated off. Conditions were dreadful.

People died, up on the deck as the ship began sinking, taking in water, and worse still, those below were trapped in the rush to get up and escape.  There was no way out.

The Final Death Toll

Reports vary as to the numbers. The official Canadian report of the time says more than 500 people died. This was out of 957.

Deaths included all of the women and all but one of the children on board. Many men were heroes that night, refusing to leave their wives to their fate. Others climbed the rigging to escape, as part of the rigging was still above water.

SS Atlantic disaster. Officer BradyWorst of all, the SS Atlantic wasn’t far from shore. Officer Brady, an enterprising man, swam out to a rock, probably part of the one the ship hit, and with two colleagues, engineered a system of ropes, so men could swim, first to the rock, and then from the rock to a nearby island. Fifty men were saved this way, but many others died. Brady and the others did their best.

Early in the morning, around 6 am, people from the island sent out boats to rescue those on the rock and the rigging. The rescue continued until midday. Meanwhile the wild and stormy weather raged on.

So who was to blame?

At first it seemed to be only the weather but…

The ship was due to arrive in New York in early April, but made little progress due to the weather. The captain decided to head for Halifax, fearing conditions and a shortage of fuel.

When the ship had previously left Queenstown, she appeared to have left with not enough coal – so much so that there were strong reactions to her leaving the port. But the owners said there was more than enough fuel for the journey.

The report of the tragedy laid some blame on Captain Williams and suspended his certificate for two years.

The Captain himself blamed miscalculations of speed and the current – the ship was off course and going too fast.

The papers of the time blamed the officers on board: for not being on the lookout for land and the dangers of rocks in the area.

There were also discipline problems on board  –  some of the crew had previously broken into a room where the drink was kept. Later, when the rescue boats came, crew were rumoured to have pushed passengers aside so they could get on board the boats first. There was also theft from the bodies of the dead. It was all very tragic.

And perhaps we’ll never know the full story…

There is one sad but interesting tale

One of the women who died that night, possibly American and in her early 20s, had been a member of the ship’s crew. She’d been on board for three voyages. But everyone thought this woman was a man. As one of her fellow crewmates said

‘I never realised Bill was  a woman. He took his grog like the rest of us and was always begging and stealing tobacco. But all the same, he was a good fellow, and I’m sorry he turned out to be a woman.’

Remembering

With subsequent, more high-profile disasters, like the loss of Titanic and the Lusitania, the Atlantic tragedy has been Burial service for the victims of SS Atlantic, 1873forgotten. But in the 1990s something happened.

The Atlantic’s dead were buried in two locations, one of which was a small churchyard in Sandy Cove, not far from where the Atlantic sank. The ship stills rests there, even now, at the bottom of a slope less than 75 ft beneath the surface.

This area where the dead were buried, was sadly subject to coastal erosion. At that time, more than a century after the sinking, 30 feet of bank vanished, and waves crashing against the grave sites meant that the graves’ contents became exposed. Victims’ bones could now be seen.

Although the Atlantic had been forgotten, some of the victims of the ship made sure, apparently, that they and their shipmates would be remembered.

A final thought

Shipwrecks weren’t uncommon at the time, but the White Star Line suffered badly from the sinking. Passenger bookings were low for a year after the tragedy. The loss of lives and the circumstances surrounding the sinking almost spelt doom for the company that owned her. It’s rather ironic to consider the fact that if White Star had indeed gone under, RMS Titanic would never have been built…

Ghost Stories and Shadows Online

Firstly, thank you, all of you (1036 people – amazing!) who entered the recent Goodreads Giveaway for Shadows of the Lost Child, my most recent novel. Congratulations to the lucky winners, your book will be winging its way towards you soon; and commiserations to those who didn’t.

But the good news is… the ebook version is now on SALE, and for a limited time, is Aleph's house in the novel Shadows of the Lost Childavailable at a reduced price: check it out here:

http://tinyurl.com/qdolfd6 (UK) & http://tinyurl.com/ks3ksng (U. States)

OR, via http://authl.it/B00NGSSVM2 (all countries).

I hope you enjoy it. There’s a missing boot, and a mystery to solve and a girl called Alice who crosses time to meet a boy called Tom – and will there be a happy ending? You’ll just have to read it!

In the meantime, here are two ghost stories – not unfortunately, with happy endings, but of interest, especially if you’ve been to Warwickshire. Don’t go alone!

White Swan Hotel, Henley-in-Arden, 2010 by Alexander P. KappThe White Swan Hotel, Henley-in-Arden

Henley-in-Arden, not that far from Stratford-upon-Avon, is a small town, with one main High Street. On this street is the White Swan Hotel; the present building dates from around 1600, but there’s thought to have been an inn on this site since the 14th century. At one time the site was apparently a stopping point on the stage coach route between Birmingham and London.

The ghost was a woman called Virginia Black, who fell down the stairs, having quarrelled with a man in 1845. She may have been a ‘lady of the night’ and he may have been a client of hers. It’s said she roams the hotel’s corridor, lingering outside room 17…

In case you should visit the inn yourself, she hasn’t been seen for some time!

The inn was once the site of the local court, in the mid-late 19th century. The courtyard was used for public hangings, and a ghost was said to have lingered there for some years, after she was hung, for murder.

Charlecote Park, 2013 by Karen.stepanyan (Wikimedia Commons)Charlecote Park

Also not far from Stratford-upon-Avon, is Charlecote Park, now a National Trust property and open to visitors. The house itself is said to be haunted, but so is the lake, by the ghost of a woman, possibly a servant, who may have drowned herself there in the past.

According to the story, her shadowy figure drifts from the house to the site of the lake, throws herself in, then disappears. Oddly enough, there’s never a splash, or ripples on the water.

Shadows of the Lost Child (novel)

 

Get your own ghosts and shadows to take home with an ebook version of Shadows of the Lost Child;  now on SALE until Saturday 28 February. Available from Amazon at:

http://tinyurl.com/qdolfd6 (UK) & http://tinyurl.com/ks3ksng (U. States)

 

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author.Ellie Stevenson, author

This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

Sources

Images

Want to share this post on Twitter? Here’s a suggested tweet for your timeline:

  wth  & SALE   – UK &  – US

Was Borley Haunted? It wasn’t just the house

Borley Rectory in an earlier timeYou’ll know I’ve talked about Borley before, probably the most famous haunting of all. I thought I’d covered most of the story.

But it seems there’s always a little bit more and I wanted to share this snippet with you. For those who don’t know much about Borley Rectory, you can read the earlier posts here:

Borley Rectory: the house and its ghosts – part one

Borley Rectory: the house and its ghosts – part two

Now for the postscript.

A London journalist, Montague Eleman, who’d heard of the case while a serving soldier, hoped to sell his story to the dailies, and once demobbed, set off for Borley to see it for himself. He was a little bit late. By the time he got there it was 1946, and the house by then had been demolished. After walking around the rubble for a while and chatting to any people he could find, he left for London, carrying a piece of wood with him – the wood was charred (because of the fire) and possibly from the roof or the floor. The next nine years were something of a nightmare.

Arriving back in London that evening, he left the wood on the mantelpiece, in the room he used at his sister’s house and then went down to supper, alone. He heard a noise and when he looked up his sister was there, claiming she’d seen a nun in his bedroom. It didn’t stop there.

In the nights that followed, Eleman and his family heard quite a few noises, ranging from screams to a clock chiming, all quite close to where the wood was. But eventually, the noise settled down.

When several weeks later, Eleman moved and took up lodgings in a seaside town, there were several more incidents, the doorbell rang when no-one was there, and a dark-clad person crossed the landing. Needless to say, he’d brought the wood with him.

Eleman finally sussed that whenever he moved to a new location and took the wood, the disturbance increased, but then eased off, as if whatever it was that had been disturbed had now settled down. In 1955, after nine long years he gave the piece of timber away. Nobody knows where that wood is now.

Or maybe they do…Borley Rectory after the fire

Borley’s story is quite exceptional, it transcends time, people and the place, as we’ve just seen. But this wasn’t the first time the haunting had extended beyond the house.

In 1928, (Guy) Eric Smith and his wife Mabel moved into Borley after being abroad. They didn’t know that other vicars had refused the living, because of the house’s reputation. Like other residents before and since, the Smiths experienced some strange incidents. A mirror on Mrs Smith’s dressing table began tapping whenever she came near it, and this continued after they left Borley.

Some years later, in 1937, the Smiths were living in a village in Kent, when they were visited by Sidney Glanville. Glanville was one of Price’s researchers. He held the mirror in his hands. A week after he’d visited the Smiths and held the mirror he received a letter asking if he’d brought a ghost with him because ‘the mirror has started tapping again.’ He never went back to the house to find out.

Ghosts aren’t always tied to a house.

Shadows of the Lost Child - a novel and ghost storyMy latest novel, a partly historical mystery, with a time travel element, also centres around a house: there are ghosts in the story, but are the ghosts connected to the house? You’ll have to read the book to find out…

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author.

This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the Ellie Stevenson, authorarticle must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

Want to share this post on Twitter? Here’s a suggested tweet for your timeline:

Even more about #BorleyRectory: with #thehauntedhistorian. Can ghosts follow you? http://tinyurl.com/q8t4p28

Sources

Adams, P. & Brazil, E. Extreme Hauntings: Britain’s most terrifying ghosts, History Press, 2013

Glanville, S. The Strange Happenings at Borley Rectory (originally in American Fate magazine, 1951)

Images (Wikimedia Commons)

Borley Rectory before the fire

Borley Rectory as a ruin

 

 

 

Books and More: at the Indie Author Fair at the Chorleywood LitFest

Books at the Indie Author FairThe last few weeks have been so busy, this blog has taken a bit of a back seat. But at last, I can talk a bit about my book. And Chorleywood Lit Fest.

Last weekend, I visited Chorleywood, not that I saw that much of the place, I was at the Indie Author Fair at the Chorleywood LitFest. Forty or so indie authors gathered together in a very small room, to share our work, with displays and readings, talking to readers, and also to each other. The room had a definite buzz, a life. At the end of the day we’d made new friends, and got to meet fellow ALLi* members, people we’d spoken to on Facebook or Twitter but never actually met in person. And a few we already knew.

Indie Authors at the Indie Author Fair, Chorleywood Nov. 2014

It was great fun, and here I’ve shared a few photos of the day. Of people and books. Because that’s what ALLi’s all about – helping each other, sharing professional expertise, and building a platform to showcase our work. The range of titles there was amazing, as was the enthusiasm – thanks ALLi, for being such a great professional network.

Books at the Indie Author Fair

And now to the book. My latest, partly historical novel, with a supernatural edge, is now out in print as well as in ebook. Shadows of the Lost Child - a novel and ghost storyIt’s set in a fictional city called Curdizan, in the present day, and also in the past, and centres on the story of a house. Which was once a school. In the present day, Aleph Jones, a troubled man with a dark secret he’s desperate to hide, is introduced to a girl called Alice, who won’t speak. Alice has a very special gift, she can cross time, and when she steps into the nineteenth century she meets a boy from the slums called Tom, and mystery, mayhem and death follow. There might even be a ghost or two in the story…

But let Tom tell you his story himself.

I should have been helping Miranda in the pub, but instead I went up to Curdizan High, to look for Louise. The High’s the part where the abbey is, as well as my school, although nothing about the place is high. I walked past the school and finally came to Pearson’s Tenements, that’s where she lives, but Louise wasn’t there, surprise, surprise. I wasn’t surprised, the place was a dump, but all the same, I had to look. The tenement building was tall and grim, tiny spaces joined by a stairway and open landings, the black of the open night in between. I thought they were more like rooms than landings, people’s possessions scattered about, rooms on the outside. I thought of escape.

I once saw a woman jump from a landing, far too high from the ground to be safe, but almost worse, too low to be dead, and gone in a flash. They patched her up, as best as they could, and she even went back to her room for a bit, but she never walked the same after that and not long after, finally died. I didn’t know it at the time, but her name was May, and she was also Louise’s ma. I never did learn which room she came from.

I shivered, scared in the black of the stairway, I knew I ought to go back, and soon. Miranda would be wondering where I was. But I’d promised old Pike I’d find Louise.

‘He’s Mister Pike,’ my ma would say, but she didn’t know Pike the way I knew him, he didn’t deserve to be called Mister. He was cold, indifferent and sometimes cruel; he’d said if I didn’t find Louise, he’d throw her out of the school for good, and she’d end up lost, like Miranda’s ma. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I didn’t much like the way he’d said it, and I liked Louise, she wasn’t rough like most of the kids, and she lived in a flea pit, storeys high. If I had to live in Pearson’s Tenements, in amongst all the privy smells, I’m sure I’d forget to go to school. School would be just a dream or something.

I reached a landing, the fourth or fifth, I didn’t know which, so I tossed a huge stone over the edge, and counted until I heard it land. Although I’d looked, I hadn’t found her. I’d even tried a few of the doors, but nobody seemed to know her name. A shadow slunk by and I held my breath, you’re never alone in a place like this. I turned around, got ready to run, but a hand shot out and grabbed my collar, pulling me back, very sharply. Somebody’s hand against my mouth. The somebody spoke.

Shadows of the Lost Child, available on Amazon – a great present, or a treat for yourself, available in ebook, or in print.

http://tinyurl.com/ks3ksng (US) and http://tinyurl.com/nbofbnv (UK)

If you’ve read the book, or after you have, I’d love to hear your comments here. And as you may know from a previous post, the book was inspired by historic York, so if you’ve ever lived in York, or know the city, you might particularly enjoy the story.

Article written by Ellie Stevenson, author. Ellie Stevenson, author

This article is copyrighted material. Brief extracts including a link to this site can be quoted but the article must not be reproduced in full anywhere without the author’s written permission.

Want to share this post on Twitter? Here’s a suggested tweet for your timeline:

‘A hand shot out & grabbed my collar, pulling me back, very sharply. Then somebody spoke.’ #ShadowsoftheLostChild http://authl.it/B00NGSSVM2

 

Going Public – book sale now on! (and more about the new book)

Sale of Watching Charlotte Brontë Die: and other surreal stories NOW ON!

Sale of Watching Charlotte Brontë Die: and other surreal stories NOW ON!

First of all, I’d like to thank the 925 people who entered the Goodreads competition to win a copy of Watching Charlotte Bronte Die: and other surreal stories. Congratulations to the three winners – your signed copy will be on its way to you soon.

For those of you who missed out (sigh), the e-book version of Watching Charlotte will be on SALE from 4-10 July at just £0.99/$1.69 – a great reduction (79%). Follow the links below for your copy!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Watching-Charlotte-Brontë-Die-surreal-ebook/dp/B00AZYXASU

http://www.amazon.com/Watching-Charlotte-Bront%C3%AB-Die-surreal-ebook/dp/B00AZYXASU/

***

In my last post I promised I’d talk a bit more about the characters in my new (forthcoming) novel, Shadows of the Lost Child. You can read the first chapters on Wattpad here.

Miranda is one of the main characters, and lives at the turn of the century (1900). Tom describes her perfectly here:

‘She looked as wild as she always did, her eyes glowing bright from the moon up above. She tossed her hair and I stared right back…Neighbours and mates, that’s what we were, even though she was all grown up. Miranda Collenge was eighteen.’

Miranda’s ma runs a backstreet pub in Curdizan Low, a poverty-stricken working class area. Life in Curdizan Low was hard.

There were lots of pubs in Curdizan Low, and many of these were actually houses, with a bar and parlour, the parlour being kept for the ‘best’ customers.

More about the pubs in Curdizan (and other real pubs around that time)

  • People who stood at the bar to drink, rather than sat down, were known as perpendicular drinkers
  • Some pubs organised a day’s outing, usually in the summer, for regular customers. Miranda’s da ran such events before he died
  • Music and singing were common in pubs – but few of these pubs had a music licence. The singers said they were paid as waitresses, and only sang to please the punters. Miranda hated the music nights. She thought it made the pub like a brothel
  • Girls might go into pubs in groups, but a woman entering a pub on her own was considered inappropriate. Serious prostitution was rare in the Low, but some women would supplement an uncertain family income this way. Such women risked their health as well as their reputation, being vulnerable to pregnancy and STDs. There were also very few places to go, as working class life was naturally communal and houses and rooms were often crowded
  • Opening hours were different to now. Pubs might be open early in the morning, and it wasn’t just adults who went into pubs. Kids would hover on the pavements outside, and sometimes go in, to get a jug of ale for their da
  • If your family, like Miranda’s, ran a pub, you could be helping out at the bar, standing on a chair or a box if necessary, well before you were eighteen
  • In Miranda’s pub, the Keepsake Arms, her mother displayed a boot on a shelf – in past times, a shoe was meant to ward off evil spirits when a building was constructed. The story of the boot in Shadows of the Lost Child is complex – you’ll have to read the book to learn more, but my original idea of the boot came from reading about a real pub called The Golden Slipper. It was previously called The Slipper, and before that The Shoe; and in the 1980s a mediaeval leather shoe was discovered during building renovations. Strangely enough, the pub’s name is believed to have come, not from a shoe, but from the name of a greyhound!

The Golden Slippper, YorkThe Golden Slipper is a pub in York, and although the fictional city, Curdizan, draws on aspects of York for its history, the Keepsake Arms was NOT based on the Golden Slipper or any other actual pub. I’ve haven’t yet been in the Golden Slipper, which is not that surprising given that York has over 300 pubs!

The Golden Slipper website also tells us this interesting fact. In the front lounge, visitors can see where a ‘Coffin Drop’ was located, the ceiling being lower here. In past times, this was to allow bodies to leave the building via a side passage, as it was thought unlucky for a body to be taken through the front door.

Sources