Thank you for the invite to take tea with you today, Tea :-)
It's an absolute pleasure to see you here especially if we are going to go ghost hunting! I love a good ghost story.
Apart from our love of history we both have a fascination with ghost stories and mine, I suspect, began with my mother’s tale of a ghostly encounter in a Youth Hostel in Wales when she woke during the night to the sensation of a woman’s fingers brushing her cheek. She could clearly see a woman bending over her and as she watched the figure dissolved into the wall.
Oh yes - you have set the mood...queue goose bumps.. it reminds me of the portrait with the moving eyes over the stairs at my boarding school!
My own paranormal experiences have been far less impressive and really take the form of an emotional response to a place rather than ghostly figures. The dungeons at Warwick Castle overwhelmed me with such a sensation of misery I have never been able to set foot in them again. Other “close encounters” include an unexplained object that appeared in a photograph at the Roman fort of Housesteads on Hadrians Wall.
I have, to the best of my knowledge, worked in two haunted buildings and while I have plenty of evidence of the buildings’ ghostly residents they decided to leave me alone. Both buildings were owned by the Army and the witnesses to the paranormal activity were not the sort of people given to flights of fancy. Soldiers are not known for their overactive imaginations. I have posted blogs about “Albert” and “Esmerelda” and you are welcome to visit my blog and read their stories.
Over the years, wherever an opportunity has presented, I have gone on ghost tours - some hokey and some downright spooky. You will have found me trailing lantern bearing guides all over the world from York in England to New Orleans, Edinburgh to Port Arthur in Tasmania (now there is a spooky place!) to name a few. Just recently I caught up with the ghost tour that runs in my own home town which was great fun. I live in one of the earliest settlements in Victoria and in its hey day it was a rough and ready port town so there are plenty of ghostly encounters to be had.
Books about ghosts and haunted places abound on my bookshelves because behind every good ghost there is a potential fodder for a writer and in my 2012 release...GATHER THE BONES, I pulled together a few of these stories and created my own ghostly characters.
I loved Gather the Bones. I couldn't put it down - in fact I was annoyed when it ended. Is there more to come?
Sadly there are no more ghost stories in the foreseeable future but I had so much fun writing GATHER THE BONES that I am sure there will be a few more ghostly visitors in books to come!
Thank goodness for that. I'm off very soon to Maitland Gaol to see what ghostly visitors they have there. I'd love to capture a blob on camera! Thanks so much for stopping by. You have been a delightful, if slightly chilling, Téa Time Treat!
GATHER THE BONES
The horrors of the Great War are not the only ghosts that haunt Helen Morrow and her late husband's reclusive cousin, Paul. Unquiet spirits from another time and another conflict touch them.
A coded diary gives them clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul's great-grandmother in 1812, and the desperate voice of a young woman reaches out to them from the pages. Together Helen and Paul must search for answers, not only for the old mystery, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen's husband at Passchandaele in 1917.
As the mysteries entwine, their relationship is bound by the search for truth, in the present and the past.
About Alison Stuart
Alison Stuart is an award winning Australian writer of historicals with heart. Whether duelling with dashing cavaliers or waywards ghosts, her books provide a reader with a meaty plot and characters who have to strive against adversity, always with the promise of happiness together. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. She lives with her own personal hero and two needy cats and likes nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of her home town. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at her website, facebook, twitter and Goodreads. Her ghost story, GATHER THE BONES, is a “Downton Abbeyesque” haunting love story set in 1923.
Excerpt from GATHER THE BONES
When the turn of the handle still did not shift the ancient door, Helen leaned her shoulder against the wood and pushed. The door creaked reluctantly and opened on to a large room dominated by two massive bookshelves taking up the spaces on either side of an old fireplace. A long, low window looked out over the moat to the driveway. Ancient framed maps and paintings of Holdston Hall crowded the remaining wall space. Several smaller family portraits were dotted among the maps and watercolors, including two head and shoulders studies of a man and a woman painted during the Georgian era and a couple of later Victorian models with severe, frowning faces.
Helen walked over to the Georgian pair and studied them closely. She could see at once that they had been painted by different hands, probably at different times and yet they had been framed identically and hung together as if in life they had belonged as a pair.
The man had obviously been a Morrow. Like the other portraits of Morrow forebears, dark hair tumbled over his handsome aristocratic brow and he glared at the artist, his stiffness emphasised by the high collar of a scarlet uniform. Charlie’s fair hair, inherited from his mother, made him quite a cuckoo in the family portrait gallery.
In contrast to the formality of the male portrait, the woman beside him glowed with life. A fierce intelligence burned from her light grey eyes. A tangle of chestnut curls framed her face and her mouth lifted in a half smile as if any moment she would burst into laughter. She wore a green gown that exposed a great deal of décolletage in a manner fashionable in the early part of the nineteenth century and no jewelry except a slender gold chain, with a locket hanging from it, nothing more than a blur of gold under the artist’s brush.
Helen shivered and pushed the windows open, admitting a breeze that carried with it the waft of warm grass and the sounds of the country--birds and the distant hum of a steam engine driving a threshing machine.
Along with these comfortable, familiar sounds drifted another faint sound, a whispering, a woman’s voice half heard, the words indistinct and undecipherable.
Helen frowned and tilted her head to listen, turning back into the room.
“Can you hear something, Alice?” she asked.
Alice looked up from turning an old globe on the table.
“No,” she said.
Helen looked around. The whispering seemed to come from within the room, not through the open windows. She stood transfixed, staring at the two wing chairs by the fireplace. The whispering grew more insistent, more urgent. Wrapping her arms around herself, Helen gripped the sleeves of her cardigan. The back of her neck prickled, her breath almost stopped.
As she took a step toward the chairs, the whispering ceased and she let out her breath and straightened her shoulders before crossing to the windows and pulling them shut.
“Come on, Alice,” she said. “We’ll be late for supper and I don’t want to annoy your grandmother on our first day.”
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