Saturday, November 26, 2011

Uncle Vernon by Jenny Twist

There's something very peculiar about Uncle Vernon. Nobody knows what he does in the cellar. But he's quite harmless, really. Isn't he?

Jenny! Okay hon, you have to help me understand this Uncle Vernon idea you had for the book.

 I'm not quite sure where Uncle Vernon came from. I've always been delighted by ghost stories and spooky horror, as opposed to gory stuff. And I think that horror is always more effective when it is set in a comfortable, familiar world. 

As with all stories, elements of it come from my own experiences. I invented the village of Hethersedge and the old, rambling house, but I had a boyfriend once whose bedroom window lacked a pane and the fog got into the room. And my ex-husband once left an enormous, gaping hole in our bedroom floor which was immediately above the porch outside the front door, but that's another story. 

My ex-husband also had a rather spooky uncle but he was not quite as sinister as Uncle Vernon. Nor, as far as I know, did he ever call up the spirits of the dead at Halloween.

It's like you gave me a cookie!!! Yay excerpts!!!!

They went out into the cold streets, their breath frosting in the air and Alison, regretting that she had chosen such a flimsy outfit, snuggled into Gary’s jacket as they walked along with the revellers, singing as they went. 

There must have been a lot of parties in the village, since there were far more people about than she had ever seen before. 

“Gary,” she said, aware of a note of nervousness in her voice, “how many people live in Hethersedge?”

“Oh. I don’t know.” He gave a shrug. “There’s about fifty houses. Couple of hundred maybe?”

She gave a little shudder. Surely there were more than that just walking through the streets and there were a lot more up at the church. She could see lights over at the cemetery and a lot of dark shapes. Some of them seemed to be flitting about in an odd, disjointed way. She looked again at the people in the streets. Many of them were dressed as ghosts and vampires, demons and witches. There was even a clown which was somehow more disturbing than any of them. Of course, she was just getting the heebie-jeebies because of the fancy dress and because it was, after all, Halloween, but some of them looked horribly convincing. A zombie came up beside them and she could have sworn bits of him were dropping off as he went past. In between the figures there seemed to be some more insubstantial shapes....flitting about.

“Gary,” she said in a tiny voice. She wasn’t sure he had heard her. He was marching along, smiling, obviously unconcerned by the people round about.

In the background, on the edge of her hearing, someone had begun singing a much older song, “Soul, a soul, a soul-cake. Please good missus, a soul cake...”

The voice was high and reedy and not quite human.

“Gary!” She tugged at his sleeve, and he looked down at her. “Yes?”

For a moment, she misgave. In the pale light of the streetlamps, he was Lurch, smiling with just a suggestion of pointy teeth. Then his expression changed to one of concern. 

“What, love. What is it?”

She managed a weak smile. “Maybe we should go back now. Go in the back way.”

Gary’s face lit up with delight and she heaved a silent sigh of relief. She just wanted to get out of the streets and pretend she wasn’t seeing what she thought she was seeing. She wanted to feel safe.

The walk back seemed to take much longer than the walk out. Everybody was going in the opposite direction, away from the village, up towards the cemetery. Now almost all the people had a shadowy, insubstantial look, as if Uncle Vernon was, indeed, calling  up all the stray souls and they were making their way up to the cemetery to meet him. Once, she saw the clown again. He stepped out suddenly from behind a hedge, his false red smile a purple gash in the moonlight. He waved at her and beckoned and she shuddered and turned her face into Gary’s chest. She looked up at him and his face bore a strained, anxious expression. “Where’ve they all come from” he muttered.

That's wonderful!!! So for those who don't know you, tell me about Jenny Twist.

Jenny Twist left school at fifteen and went to work in an asbestos factory. After working in various jobs, including bacon-packer and an escapologist’s assistant, she returned to full-time education and did a BA in history at Manchester and post-graduate studies at Oxford.

In 2001 she and her husband moved to Southern Spain where they live with their rather eccentric dog and cat.

Where can we find your books? 

Domingo's Angel: 

Take One At Bedtime:


Curious Hearts:

Spellbound 2011:



Jenny Twist said...

Thank you for having me, Mila. I always love being on your blog

Marion Webb-De Sisto said...

Ooh, Jenny, that excerpt was definitely spooky. Way to go!

Maz. ^j^

Anonymous said...

After I read Uncle Vernon the first time I realized it was an excepitonally good story,. I read it again to see what I liked about it.

Heathersedge seemed solid and an inetersting village, the characters were engaging and I liked the use of humor and family dynamics to bring a natural element to the story that grew into something supernatural and finally horrific.

A lot comes together in Uncle Vernon. If you haven;t read it take some time for yourslef and enjoy.

I also read Take One At Bedtime by Jenny and I'd highly recommend it as well.

Good work Jenny!

John M.

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you, Marion. I love getting comments from new friends.

Jenny Twist said...

Dear John. I am so pleased with your thoughtful comment. It means a lot to me that writers of your calibre are so complimentary about my work.

Eva87 said...

Another fabulous story from Jenny, not to be missed! Her other books were wonderful too, especially her novel Domingo's Angel which I always highly recommend to everyone I meet and would recommend to everyone else that I haven't met too!

Na said...

Hi Jenny! I'm with you on preferring scary stories that are down-rigth scary and spooky as opposed to gory. I want to be scared not disgusted. I think when a scary story is set in familiar world, it makes it easier to connect to the story and gives the imagination a chance to adjust and fly.

I think I would like to meet your Uncle Vernon character and see what he is all about. Thank you for the interview.


John Steiner said...

Na's got a point about scare versus gore. Granted, I enjoy both, but I'f off that way. That might explain why I'm a big fan of George Romero's zombie movies and John Carpenter's The Thing. Having an idea embed itself into your unconscious to spur nightmares for years turns kind've fun after a few years of it happening.

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you, Eva. What a lovely comment. I'm so glad you enjoy my stories.

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Na and John. Glad you agree about spooky versus gore. I think Na's right about the disgust factor. You can scare somebody senseless without making them feel sick. I go for the something behind the door, rather than the full-on monster

Brenda Whiteside said...

Loved the excerpt. And love your kind of spooky.

Jenny Twist said...

Thank you, Brenda. I'm very pleased to be in the next anthology with you

Tara Fox Hall said...

I'm glad I don't have an Uncle Vernon in my cellar :) though I love the story.
I agree also on gore versus scary, but add vicarious sex and swearing in there, too. I'm not adverse to these entirely, but the story should be good enough on its own that if the gore, swearing, and sex were omitted there would still be a story left that made sense, at the bare minimum :)

John Steiner said...

I use swearing mainly to reflect how real people my characters are modeled on actually talk. In Squad V most of the characters are military, so that's the language I use. How a character swears also is a way to define their personalities in concise dialogue.

Plus, with terror or gore or anything else inducing stress swearing is a natural expression rooted deep into our neurology. One of the first things chimps, gorillas and orangutans pick up after being taught sign language is to swear in sign.

Jenny Twist said...

I am right there with Tara on the explicit sex scenes. When I come across sex scenes that are thinly-disguised porn (sometimes not-so-thinly) I put it down. There are more books in the world than I can read in a lifetime and I refuse to read something I find offensive.
But I'm with John on the swearing. If your character would swear then it's OK. In fact, it's mandatory. There is one swear word I cannot bring myself to use, so I refrain from having my characters say it. Otherwise, it's whatever feels right.
We should start a discussion about this on the Melange Social site.

Tara Fox Hall said...

I seem to have put my foot in my mouth here with an offhand comment. That's what I get for blogging while low on sleep. :) ANYTHING a character would really do, they must be allowed to do, without reining them in for politeness sake, no question. And I'll stop right there :)

Jenny Twist said...

No, you didn't put your foot in it, Tara. We knew that didn't quite come out the way you intended. This is the woman who only yesterday was asking me for Spanish swear words for one of her characters.
Loads of love