From the author Phil Rickman :
The publishers wanted a stand-alone ghost story. Which it is. It totally stands alone, just like the earliest novels.
Except they didn’t, quite, did they? Characters from previous novels floated in, although it didn’t really matter if you hadn’t read those previous novels. I became a bit superstitious about this. There always had to be someone from an earlier novel, even if it was little more than a walk-on.
Anyway… Night After Night… I had the idea of a ghost story that would also be a crime story and also a novel about reality television.
Essentially, I wondered what Celebrity Big Brother would be like in a supposedly haunted house. Celebrity Big Brother compressed into a week and with celebs who had either an interest in the paranormal or a profound disdain for anything unscientific. Conflict is at the core of CBB, although this would have to be slightly more cerebral, looking to take psychic research a bit further… or maybe kick it into history.
So I started wondering which of those earlier characters might finish up in this house, and it wasn’t long before Cindy shimmered into a view, a memorable character from a couple of books I wrote under the name Will Kingdom. If you know about Cindy already, enough said. If you don’t… never mind. Although it isn’t that important. This novel really does stand alone.)
My own TV experience is limited to news, so I had a lot of help from Gavin Henderson, who’s devised and produced some Big Brother. Hadn’t realised how many working people would be around that haunted house… like over a hundred? Or how much the celebs could get paid for this (a lot) or how they were chosen… or how you made sure you didn’t wind up with serious chaos and a police raid.
It was big and complicated, and so it needed to be seen mainly through one pair of eyes. It looked like a job for Cindy’s friend, Grayle Underhill, American-born New Age journalist. Someone who knew how to handle slightly strange people.
For some reason, I felt it needed to be told in the present tense. I’d never done this before, not for a whole book. It was interesting. It puts you right there, in the house. It makes you examine things in a more intense way. Where am I? What can I see? What do I feel? What do some people feel that others don’t? Grayle’s never entirely sure.
If you’ve met Grayle before, you should know that she’s a few years older and she’s changed quite a lot. Become more British, more cynical, more objective. More interesting, I think.
Right, then… a ghost story and also a crime novel, both of which kind of creep up on you.
It’s about how people react to ghosts and how some people try to use them. The ghosts out there and the ghosts in your mind. How not everyone has the same experience – bit like my old website. It’s not a horror novel. Yeah, yeah, I know Amazon’s going to keep telling you it’s horror; Amazon computers don’t deal in subtleties, don’t easily handle – here comes one of my favourite words – periphery.
I’ll leave you with Marcus Bacton’s view. Marcus is a grumpy old sod and no friend of Richard Dawkins.
‘Ghosts,’ Marcus says, ‘exist as momentary reminders. Accept them. Don’t challenge them, never try to befriend them. Don’t run towards them waving your crucifix… back away. I’ve heard sceptics and atheists say “I don’t believe in ghosts but I’m afraid of them.” Well exactly. Trust terror… little else is safe.’
Is he right? Dunno, really.
Knap Hall is a Tudor House with a history. Connected to nearby Winchcome and Sudeley Castle by the tragic tale of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last and surviving Queen, and striken by centuries of evil, charlatan landlords, it has no welcome for the living. It is, though, a natural home for the dead. When Hollywood actress Trinity Ansell and her husband Harry bought the house, Trinity became obsessed by it, hosting Tudor weekends for the rich, dressing in the stunning red dresses of Katherine Parr. But Trinity’s destiny soon becomes tragically tied to this house and it’s not long before it is back on the market, snapped up this time by Leo Deffard, the head of an independent TV company, who is after the perfect haunted house in which to set his paranormal, psychological TV experiment, which will, he trusts, make a killing in the TV ratings.
It was my own stupid fault to listen to this audiobook last night. Needless to say, I had little sleep. And it shows through my befuddledment *wry grin*
Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived. Kate Parr was the SURVIVOR :o)