Showing posts from March, 2021

The Beauty of Algernon Blackwood's Ghost Stories

I’ve been reading Algernon Blackwood’s ghost stories. In case you don’t already know, Blackwood (1869 to 1951) was an English journalist and author. He was one of the most prolific ghost story writers of his time. “The Willows,” considered his best work, influenced many horror writers, including H.P. Lovecraft. Blackwood was an expert at crafting an atmosphere of dread. His rich and vibrant descriptions were particularly effective at setting the scene for one of his favorite themes—Nature as a sinister force. One of the challenges I face as a writer and storyteller is balancing description and narrative. Should I fully flesh out the scene (but risk slowing the reader down), or should I drive the narrative forward by keeping my descriptions spare? Photo: Aislinn Brander at A lot depends, of course, on the story you’re trying to tell. It is worth noting that Blackwood wrote in a different time in which the pace of life admittedly was slower. I personally think most reader

My Personal Ghost Story (Or, My Brush With the Supernatural)

When people hear I write paranormal fiction, they want to know whether I’ve seen, or believe in, ghosts. To be honest, I tend to think there is a logical explanation for most things, no matter how strange or weird they appear. That said, I did have an eerie experience while backpacking in Cornwall quite a few years back. Photo: DarkmoonArt_de at  Pixabay Cornwall is a county in South West England with Celtic roots. Even if you’re not familiar with it, you may have heard of Cornish landmarks such as Penzance, a historic port town of the pirates fame.  Or how about St. Ives (“As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives.” ), Land’s End (England’s most westerly point) or Bodmin Moor (the setting for Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn )? The area has been inhabited since the early Stone Age. The ancient peoples who lived there left behind numerous monuments, including stone circles, neolithic tombs, hill forts, standing stones, and holy wells. It’s said that the Land’s End pen

The ‘Conjuring’ Universe: a Horror Franchise You Can Rely on

I’m a big fan of the movies in the Conjuring Universe, and I was reminded why after watching The Conjuring 2 recently. It was my second time watching the movie, but I was still as terrified as the Hodgson family when they discover their Enfield house is haunted. Kudos to director James Wan. He did a great job ratcheting up the tension, and used the dreary London weather and 1970s-era dim lighting to good effect. Photo: On a side note, the haunting at Enfield, a suburb in London, allegedly occurred between 1977 to 1979. The Enfield poltergeist was well covered by the media at the time. It’s been the subject of several documentaries, movies and television programs. See, for example, this British TV mini-series from 2015: The Enfield Haunting . Netflix is currently streaming The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 . So what makes the Conjuring movies so successful? Like any good franchise, you can count on the quality of the movies. The acting and scripts are good. The movi

'Fragile': Old-Fashioned Ghost Story That Delivers the Chills

Last night I watched a horror movie— Fragile (original title Fragiles )—that I’d like to have written as a book or short story. The movie has all the elements for a satisfying read: atmosphere, a great setting, good pacing and relatable characters. It also involves an old-fashioned ghost, which is increasingly rare in today’s movies. I like other types of horror movies too (as long as the gore isn’t too gratuitous), but nothing beats ghosts, in my opinion. Photo: Roku Channel Fragile is a Spanish-British production that was released in 2005. The plot features an old hospital on the Isle of Wight (the largest island in England). The hospital is about to be closed down. Unfortunately, a recent train accident has left a neighboring hospital full so the children’s ward hasn’t been able to move yet. Calista Flockhart stars as Amy, a new night nurse at the children’s ward. She comes with baggage, believing she killed a patient through negligence. As she settles into her new job, Amy find