There doesn’t need to be a ghost for someone to be haunted. The tales I write are not ghost stories. They are haunting stories – some of which, it so happens, include spirits.
Human beings are haunted creatures. It is not in our nature to let go, nor to simply accept our own frailty. The world clings to us in the most unexpected of ways.
In some of my tales – “Annabel” (in The Wedding Invitation) for example – the central character is haunted by love, whether that haunting is manifest purely in memory, or in an actual ghost is left ambiguous, and in some respects is incidental. It is the attachment, the love, which is key.
Across the tales, the haunting takes on many forms. In “Ghosts” (the title piece of the second sampler pamphlet), a woman on her deathbed is slowly passing into another state. In doing so, she sees the people around her, and with whom she has been close throughout her life, as spirits or as hallucinations. All come to her, and she tries to bid them farewell. For her, they might become ghosts.
Other hauntings include: by ritual, e.g. Snowdrops (in Ghosts) and Abandon Hope (the title piece of the first pamphlet); by a specific place, e.g. High Barn (in Ghosts); by a historical event, e.g. The Sleeping and The Wedding Invitation (in the third pamphlet). In “Where the Kisses Fly” (in Abandon Hope), the central character deceives himself into thinking he is escaping his attachments.
There is nothing in the nature of a haunting that insists on fear. Often, memories and attachments are sad, melancholic, wistful. Sometimes true happiness can be found there. Our recent cultural history has stressed the shock and horror aspects, as these have a cathartic appeal. But hauntings have little need for blood. As Robert Burton almost wrote in 1621: there is love and fear, even amongst the angels and the devils.