As most of you know, I wrote my Fowlis Westerby novel in 2008 as part of NaNoWriMo. Since then it has undergone various revisions and while I’ve been putting various Fowlis stories on this blog, I haven’t done much with it. And you know what? I feel bad about it. Fowlis is probably my “oldest” character (in terms of time I’ve had him, not age) and I’m not giving him the attention he deserves.
My esteemed colleague, Icy Sedgwick, has most graciously allowed me to use her blog on this most auspicious of occasions to wish you all a most pleasant Halloween. In her own words, “Who better to write about it than a ghost?”
As you can imagine, Halloween is a somewhat busy time of year for me and my kind, and HQ gets rather hectic as we ready ourselves for the Big Day. It is with some gratitude that I say we have the privilege to be never understaffed. Unlike Father Christmas, who endeavours to reach all children on a single night by himself, we have plenty of Haunters to go around!
Naturally, we have seen many changes in the festival as the years have rolled by. Why, back in my day, we did not even celebrate Halloween, being as it was the pagan festival of Samhain. (I shall ignore the fact that the Puritan movement wished us to not celebrate anything, let alone Halloween.) What does a Celtic celebration have to do with the demands of small children for sweets?
That particular tradition began in days gone by, when it was believed that a soul’s transition to the afterlife was eased by the number of prayers offered by the living. I have never been able to square this belief with the widespread fear of, and belief in, the supernatural, but I do not make the rules, I simply observe them. But I digress. The wealthy, believing themselves to be too busy to offer endless prayers of supplication to the Almighty, needed someone to do it on their behalf. The poor, never ones to miss a trick, stepped in to offer these prayers for the deceased loved ones, in exchange for small biscuits known as soul cakes. I am unsure as to whether or not any poor ones denied their soul cakes chose to toilet paper the houses of the wealthy, but we may leave this matter to speculation.
Thus it was that the festival, and the celebration thereof, has continued to evolve, and nowadays, you are more likely to be visited by children dressed as their favourite pop culture characters, on the trail of E-numbers and sugar, but I want you all to remember that while you may not be able to see them, you may find your home playing host to visitors of a more spectral nature. Ancestors, enemies, even old neighbours may come knocking this evening, and their “tricks” are likely to be of a more supernatural nature than flaming bags of dog business or fake vomit pushed through your letterbox.
So remember, good people. You never know who might pay a visit tonight, so make sure the house is tidy and you have sweets to hand. Even ghosts like the occasional square of chocolate.
I have a confesson to make. I have had a character living in my head for almost four years. If you’re familiar with my work, then you will have already met him – he’s my dashing Cavalier ghost, Fowlis Westerby. He’s made an appearance in three of my Friday Flashes so far – First Impressions, back in May last year, The Priest Hole, in October last year, and The Duel in March.
Way back in August 2007, I was on holiday in Scotland. It’s a beautiful country, and I highly recommend it as a destination. I’d heard the reputation of Glamis Castle as one of the most haunted places in the British Isles, and I really wanted to go. My parents are suckers for history and hauntings, so off we went on a day trip. On the way there, I spotted a road sign for a tiny village named Fowlis Wester. The name struck me, and before I knew what was going on, a cavalier ghost had walked straight into my head, introduced himself as Fowlis Westerby, and asked me to write him a story. I duly did so, writing a flash about him that I promptly forgot about. However, he didn’t forget about me, so by the time NaNoWriMo rolled around in 2008, I found I had an idea for a novel starring Fowlis. I wrote it, and in true NaNo style, I didn’t do anything with it. Until now.
Fowlis prods me every now and then to write stories about him, and I’ve found that I really enjoy writing him. So I bought this domain and set up this blog to inspire me to finish rewriting the first novel, and also to finally get started on the second! Here’s where the mission statement comes in. I intend to use this blog not only to post Fowlis stories, as well as snippets from the book, but I’ll also be looking at ghost stories, local history and other paranormal shenanigans.
Fowlis and I would like to invite you to join us for the ride…