Have you ever been really afraid? I’m not talking nervy or panicked – I’m talking full-blown, heart-racing, chest tightening frightened. Most people have experienced this, which is why most find it difficult to believe that fear could ever be funny.
One afternoon, a few years back, my mother and I were discussing bones. Not randomly, I should add – we were actually chatting about some mysterious bones she’d found in her under-stairs cupboard; mostly small bones that looked as though they belonged to birds or rodents.
I thought I’d head further up the country for today’s ghostly exploration – to Dorchester, in Dorset. I’ve got big fondness for Dorchester; not least because my youngest son was born there, and we lived in the town for two years. By day, it’s a pretty market town, surrounded by lush, rolling fields and beautiful coastlines. By night, however… it’s a different story.
It’s easy to become blindsided when you’re writing. There’s the pressure of well-meaning family and friends, telling you that you should ‘write crime, because you’re so good at it’ or ‘you should stick to poetry, because prose isn’t really your thing’. There are the endless articles, explaining why literary agents hate prologues, why telling not showing is a terrible thing, and that adverbs are essentially the Antichrist.
I’m lucky enough to live within a half-hour drive of the edge of Dartmoor – so as you might imagine, I head over there fairly often.
We found ourselves there yesterday, actually – doing a lovely little walk around Hay Tor. For those of you unacquainted with this part of the world, Hay Tor is one of those classic strange stone ‘piles’ you get on the moor; though standing at roughly the same height as a two-storey house, it’s a little bigger than most.