When Reason Dreams

Modern Ghost Stories

Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd

We live in a rational age in which science and modern technology have removed doubt and ignorance. We no longer fear the dark, we no longer need to use superstitious symbols to protect our houses and families. We know what is happening in the world and are in contact with friends and family who might live miles away. Ours is a rational world…. or is it?

These short ghost stories are not set in remote Scottish castles or haunted Victorian houses. They are about the modern world where you would not expect to find ghosts or the unknown. Just because we can see the world on television, speak with people across the oceans and know exactly what causes natural phenomena, the happenings that so terrified our ancestors, does not mean that ghosts have disappeared. Scientific progress has not buried the supernatural.

Children play with long dead ghostly friends, a cruise ship is haunted, a Stuart tragedy reveals its secret in a horrifying way, a married man revisits his past in Florence where he meets his death lured by the ghost of a former lover, a doctor fails to save his wife’s life in a car accident and is haunted to destruction by her spirit, a man is obsessed by a dream, an art dealer steals a painting from an old lady but her ghost returns to pursue him, a man buys a First World War memorial plaque and wished he had never seen it.

Reason and logic still dream.

"I have always loved ghost stories and particularly admire the Victorian writers such as M.R.James (1862-1936) and Henry James (1843-1916). M.R.James was an academic and medievalist who wrote ghost stories which he read to his students at Kings College Cambridge. His stories create a frightening atmosphere of horror, even if there is sometimes little action. Henry James developed longer, more complex subjects such as ‘The Turn of the Screw’ which are equally frightening. There are many other writers I admire such as F.E.Benson, Elizabeth Bowen, Edith Wharton and Muriel Sparks.

I started thinking about ghost stories when travelling to and from work and, as a lecturer, I often travel considerable distances. I tend to think about a story over a period of time but write it fairly quickly. I want to modernise the genre by setting the stories in modern everyday surroundings rather than Victorian Gothic mansions, cemeteries or Scottish castles. I try to establish realistic scenarios before introducing the supernatural so that the stories are contemporary and believable. They were written for my own pleasure and I was delighted and surprised when Austin Macauley’s offered to publish them."