Friday, 21 September 2012

Writing, Talking and Ghosthunting on Holy Island

A few days away with like-minded friends can be very refreshing. I remember a very fruitful time at Annamackerig on the Irish border, (where I saw a ghost...) While I was there  I drafted many of the short stories that later, transformed in some ways, were welded together in Paulie’s Web (see sidebar) now on Kindle and being enjoyed by those of you who like something different. You couldn’t get much farther away from prison than that idyllic place beside the lake full of merry musicians and inspired, surreal writers,

Then there was that time on the Scottish borders with the late great Julia Darling and the mistress of MsLexia Debbie Taylor. Julia was working out what proved to be her last novel The Taxi Driver's Daughter.  That was a funny, very female sojourn with lots of writing talk and (if I remember rightly)  a bit of reflexology.

Anne's Photograph
And now I have just come back from a very refreshing few days with writers Anne Ousby, Erica Yeoman, Gillian Wales and Avril Joy - first on the coast by Dunstanburgh Castle, then an afternoon, a night and a day on Holy Island.

This involved much inspired writing-talk and inspiration, active photographing and even writing. Erica was researching her new historical novel which is partly set on Holy Island. (She and we were disappointed at not hearing the seals singing. But we writers can always use our imagination.)

Gillian's Photograph of Gertrude Jekyll's Garden
The other three – very informed gardeners - visited Howick Gardens and the exquisite Gertrude Jekyll garden on Holy Island.  I looked and looked at the bright sky and and the glittering tourquoise sea and thought about ghosts – but they were as rare on these days as seals singing.

But over lunch Erica told us a true ghostly experience which winged its way right into to my notebook. We talked about Anne’s new website and urged her to love doing it. We also brainstormed with her a very original idea for a specialized blog which might come off. It is about gardening – and judging from the popularity of Gillian’s website it should be very well appreciated. We talked of Avril’s new newsletter which is full of great writing advice and also gives writers a range of competitions which can enhance their audience.

It’s always illuminating fun and joyful inspiration to meet, talk and work with writer friends of this quality. Of course it can also be physically and psychologically dangerous – which is the theme of my forthcoming novel The Art of Retreating. (See earlier posts here  here &;  here,     But that novel is set in the Languedoc. Of course …er ….that is fiction. But it could never have been written without my wide and varied experience of going away with people to write, talk and think

Have you, like Erica, any experiences of (not neccessily  belief in…) ghosts that you’d like to share? Email me if it’s just too weird to comment here email me (


  1. Yes, there is something refreshing and inspiring about being away with writers and happily this time no dangers! Fascinating that you're thinking of ghost stories. I'm sure that there are very few people who haven't had a ghostly experience - of some kind so I hope your mail box gets full very quickly. My most remarkable was, as you know, in an old house in France which was once monastic. I woke there to a bedroom full of energy and a charged presence, heard a sudden burst of choral song and then watched as long gloves were rolled onto my hands. After the gloves the charged atmosphere dissolved - the room emptied out and returned to normal.Two days later on a trip to a castle in Niort (a place i'd neevr been and knew nothing about_ I looked through an archway and was shocked to see a spiral display of long hanging gloves in many colours and sizes and found that in medieval times the town was known for its glove making industry....

  2. You have inspired me with your fabulous haunting story Avril. I might even steal it...with permission of course,
    I hope other people are inspired by your example...WX



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