For this evil cannot be contained, even by death.
The Hanged Man Rises is my first book and it’s about two of my favourite things: London and ghosts.
London’s an old city and it has a lot of ghosts: you’re walking their streets, travelling on their tube trains, meeting in their inns: you can feel them swishing past you down Regent Street in their crinolines, hear them shouting to one another in the echoing halls of Smithfield market, imagine the black feet of the slum children pattering through the alleys of the old city.
But that’s metaphorical ghosts.
When it comes to real ones, I’m a total skeptic.
Even though my house bangs and creaks, and whispers and little feet go scampering up and down stairs when the kids are at school. Even when things go missing and then reappear in the place I’ve looked 50 times. Even though my friend sees the former, dead, occupant of her house still sitting in the armchair in the corner. I still don’t believe.
Because as Derren Brown will tell you, everything has a rational explanation.
Researching the book I read about all the tricks of the trade that bogus mediums (i.e. all mediums) used in the Victorian era, from secret trapdoors to fake hands that could be used in séances so that no-one would know the circle had been broken. It was pretty disappointing because, you see, I really want to believe.
I’d love it if my granddad (who I based Titus on) was still puffing away on his cigar on my sofa. There are things I wish I’d said to people, other things I wish I could take back. I’d like to come back myself at some point (in the very distant future) and stamp muddy footprints over my kids’ carpet or leave Lego where its certain to cripple them as they get out of bed. If spirits walk because they have unfinished business, then I’m going to make damn sure that when my time comes I haven’t completed my tax return or I’ve left the iron on. Just in case.
But somebody once said that you don’t have to believe in ghosts to be scared of them. And I do love being scared of them. I immerse myself in ghost stories and horror films. I must have seen The Exorcist twenty times (each time with my fingers in my ears and my eyes squeezed shut), and one of my favourite books is Dark Matter by Michelle Paver, which terrified me so much I couldn’t stay in the house on my own.
I really hope The Hanged Man Rises scares you, because I’m guessing if you picked it up then, like me, you want to be scared.
But when you put it down, turn off your bedside light and scrunch down into your duvet, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that the creaking of the stairs is just the wood expanding, the tapping in the attic is just the water-pipes, and that shadow in the doorway is just your dressing gown hanging on the hook.
Because ghosts really don’t exist, do they? I mean, come on…
Have you read The Hanged Man Rises, or would you like to? It's really really good, I definitely recommend that you do! My review will be posted here on the blog soon, and you can buy yourself a copy of the book from these places: