I love the idea of sitting around a roaring fire, the curtains drawn against a dark, cold night whilst drinking a glass of mulled wine, eating a mince pie… and telling ghost stories! The Victorians loved this tradition too and the great master of the ghost story, M R James, used to read his own ghost stories to a rapt audience each Christmas.
I wanted to explore this wonderful tradition in Christmas with the Book Lovers and who better to tell a ghost story or two than the Nightingale family from The Book Lovers series? I had so much fun writing the stories they told, highlighting the likes of Gytrash and Black Shuck as well as making up one of two ghosts of my own.
I also wanted to drawn on the rich history of Suffolk and how very well it lends itself to a good supernatural tale. A few years ago, we visited the church at Stonham Aspal and discovered the tomb of a wonderful knight. I just knew he’d find his way into a story one day.
Suffolk is a landscape rich in churches and Holy Trinity at Blythburgh is one of the best, famous for its beautiful angels.
And here’s the marvellous old door with the strange scorch marks on it, thought to be the claw marks of the legendary dog, Black Shuck who is said to have run through the church during a thunderstorm in 1577, killing two of its parishioners.
Christmas with the Book Lovers is a slight move away from the essentially romantic Christmas tales my readers might know me for, but I hope there’s still enough romance, sparkle and warmth to keep everyone happy. And maybe – just maybe – the odd shiver down the spine too!