‘Elsham’s End’ now in all e-book formats on Smashwords

My debut novel, Elsham’s End is now available on Smashwords.com 

Smashwords converts e-books into multiple formats, so you can download it to all devices and for reading on PCs.

You can also see a large sample of the book before you buy.

ANYTHING COULD BE HAPPENING HERE AND NO-ONE WOULD KNOW

I’ve become fascinated with a particular kind of place. The kind of place no-one goes. It’s not far from town and it’s close enough to major roads to hear the distant rush of traffic…but it might as well be on the moon.

You probably know a place like this, if, like me, you live in quite a densely populated part of the world. An ex-industrial hinterland, a long dis-used quarry, a cluster of abandoned buildings. Maybe you went there once and, even though nothing in particular happened, you came away thinking, I’m never going back there.

I’ve become fascinated with the idea of places that are remote despite being in busy, well-populated areas, and are in fact all the more isolated for that.

Let me give you an example. When I’m not a writer, I’m a conservationist. I was asked to survey an area that had been impacted upon by the building of a high speed railway line. My job was to look at how the habitats the railway had cut through might be replaced – straightforward enough. But I was more struck by the way the new line had also cut through several country lanes, which were not important enough to make a bridge or underpass economically viable. All these winding little roads had become dead ends. No-one used them anymore. So the abiding impression I took away from that place was of a whole area that, because of the new railway, had thousands of people passing through it on a daily basis, yet had been rendered isolated by its very presence.

I’ve become fascinated by the idea that anything could be happening in these abandoned corners, and no-one would know. What a beautiful twist in the story of our civilisation, that the worst things, the most terrifying things might be found not in a remote castle or a lonely wilderness, but it that forgotten place, not so far from town, that you promised yourself you would never go back to.

HJW 16/10/12

The real ‘Elsham’s End’

All fiction has its roots in real life. Even fiction that deals with the supernatural.

One of the most common questions I get asked about ‘Elsham’s End’ is whether it’s based on a real place. Well the answer is yes – so here is the story of the real ‘Elsham’s End’.

‘Elsham’s End’ is based on the house I grew up in, in the Kent countryside. I was very fortunate to live there – it was a beautiful place with a large, rambling garden. But my family’s relationship with the house was ambiguous – we all loved it and yet I think we all knew there was something not quite right about it.

It was fairly isolated and I suppose that contributed to this feeling, a vague sense of unease. It was very quiet there, particularly at night. Many of the events in the book came from dreams that I and other members of my family had. Visitors who stayed in the house often reported strange and unsettling dreams too, some refusing to sleep there again.

My mother particularly never really felt at ease in the house, and I later discovered that she hated living there. She had many dreams that centred around the boxroom, a small attic space above the garage, which features very strongly in the novel.

In looking for an explanation, she always put the peculiar atmosphere in the place down to its history. Two sisters had lived there before us. Essentially they had run a private hospice there – a place where people went to die.

My own experience of living there is hard to pin down. I really only became aware of how strange the house felt when we left. My older brother and sister had flown the nest, so we moved to a smaller place in a busy little village further up the valley. I was ten years old, yet I was acutely aware of how different the atmosphere was in the new house. And I realised I’d just stepped out of the shadow of the old place, which had been cast over me from such an early age I was not even aware of it.