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?
Take One At Bedtime: