Every Christmas Eve, once dinner has been eaten and the youngest members of the extended family have gone to bed, we gather in the snuggest room of the house. Making sure our glasses are charged, the lights dimmed and the iPad has been set up to give those who are unable to be present the best possible view, we take it in turns to read our newly written ghost stories.
The order is negotiated carefully: a dance around who thinks whose story will be the best (and hence who you definitely want to read before), and whose length of story is most likely to take us into Christmas day before they finish (put them at the end, so we can all pretend to listen whilst quietly snoring). And at the end of each, congratulations and praise, especially for those contributing for the first time in a while.
The original Edwardian influence still shows through, although the influences of modern horror and popular culture are also evident in a number of our stories. We’ve even had the odd bit of supernatural slapstick. It’s harder than it looks to write an authentic ghost story; there is a standing advent joke in the family about exactly how many pages you’ve reached without having actually found a ghost.
The topic of your next ghost story is a carefully guarded secret, to be mulled over throughout the year. I write this in September, with a rising panic that I have not yet been inspired with a storyline, let alone started writing, this year’s submission. A common sight on Christmas Eve is one of us creeping off to a quiet nook to try and force out a conclusion to a story that is not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion.
So here are a collection of our stories, curated slightly based on the author’s satisfaction with the outcome and edited to clean up the occasional grammar and error of pacing that creep in when you rush to finish after a couple of glasses of wine.
- Whispers of the Past – Matthew Preston
- Treasure – Matthew Preston
- Duty – Matthew Preston
- Petkutin and Kalina – Matthew Preston
- Cat Town – Matthew Preston
- The Bell – Matthew Preston