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A Shout Out To Terrific Teachers & Their Crazily Creative Kids!

 

A creepy reading in the school hall – lights off, of course!

A quick post to say a BIG thank you to the children, the staff, and especially brilliant English teacher Miss Andrew of Christ’s Hospital School in Lincoln.

I always get a kick out of visiting schools with my events and workshops. Getting kids excited and engaged with reading and writing has been one of the unexpected joys of being a children’s author, and I think I speak for a lot of that crazy crew who write kids’ books when I say, although school visits can be exhausting, the buzz and energy we get from enthusing young people about stories sends us scurrying back to our keyboards, full of fresh zest and new ideas! (I also enjoy making whole assembly groups leap out of their skins at the JUMP! moments in my books, but that’s just my evil mastermind side speaking. Mwhahaha!)

hospital school

Christ’s Hospital School Library Display (thanks to the awesome librarian!)

Anyway, last Friday I had the pleasure of joining a group of very creative students at Christ’s Hospital and, over the course of an hour, we came up with a frankly terrifying idea for a zombie novel crossed with Les Misérables and touching on the issues of slavery! Brainstorming, the children devised a really interesting central character and the outline of a breathlessly exciting plot. I really hope they continue with it – I can’t wait to see how it turns out for Joe and his zombie friend Claire (or 24601 as Joe’s despicable dad calls her!).

You can find a fun report on the visit by clicking this link

Now, I don’t post after every school visit – it would get a bit repetitive if I did! - but I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight the wonderful kids & staff at Christ’s Hospital and, in so doing, send out a big thank you to ALL the schools I’ve recently attended. Contrary to what we often read about in the press and see in certain TV documentaries, the teenagers I encounter up and down the country on a weekly basis are considerate, polite, engaged and VERY hardworking. Similarly, the teachers I work with (and enjoy cups of tea with in the staffroom) are tireless champions of education who put 110% (I was never good at maths!) into their work and care about each and every child they teach. So thank you again Christ’s Hospital, Miss Andrew, and all the teachers and pupils who’ve been so kind as to invite me into their school!

The Case of the Exsanguinated Sleuth

As promised, in honour of the return of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brilliant SHERLOCK, here is my cheeky Sherlock Holmes story… with a supernatural twist (Sherlockians, see if you can spot all the references to the Conan Doyle stories, and check out my previous post on Holmes and the supernatural below…)

sherlock3

Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearthrug and picked up the article our visitor had left behind the night before. Embossed in deepest crimson upon the calling card was a gothic letter ‘D’.

“Well, Watson, what do you make of it?”

Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation.

“I believe you have eyes in the back of your head,” I remarked.

“I have at least a well-polished, silver-plated coffee pot in front of me,” said he, and touching the lid he let out a sharp hiss as if the scalding metal had burned his elegant fingers.

As my eyes shifted to the pot itself, Holmes reacted with lightning speed and threw his napkin over it. Still, I had a fancy that I had glimpsed something curious before the linen descended. I had the strange idea that, although the chair in which he sat had been reflected, the face and form of Sherlock Holmes was missing.

“Watson,” he said, dragging me from my reverie, “would you have any objection to drawing the blinds?”

“None at all.” I crossed the room, all the while keeping a concerned eye on my old friend. “Tell me, Holmes, are you afraid of something?”

“Well, I am.”

“Of what?” said I, shutting out the morning glare. ”Not air-guns again!”

“No. I no longer fear… air-guns.”

The detective gave a dry chuckle and curled up in his chair, knees drawn to his jutting chin. Despite his good humour he was even more gaunt and pale than usual. I approached, took hold of his wrist and attempted to gauge his pulse. I could find none. Similar difficulties had frustrated me when examining him after one of his cocaine binges, the soporific effect of his customary seven-per-cent solution having depressed the rigour of his circulatory system. He did not protest as I rolled up his sleeve and checked for the telltale signs that his miserable addiction had been indulged. Again, I could find nothing. And then I noticed something very strange: there were two puncture wounds, but not upon his arm.

“What have you been doing to yourself, old fellow?” I exclaimed.

“Peace, Watson,” Holmes muttered. “You will be pleased to hear I have no further use for the cocaine bottle.”

“Hmn. Well, something very odd has happened since I saw you last. Perhaps it is all to do with your visitor of last night. I am sorry I could not be at your side, my practice is rather busy of late. But come, tell me about him.”

Holmes stretched his long legs towards the fire and a great shiver ran the course of his body.

“Can’t get warm for the life of me,” he said. “As to my client, he was a nobleman of eastern extraction. A Count, no less.”

“Indeed? Well, I suppose we have hosted hereditary kings of Bohemia in Baker Street before, but what did this illustrious client want with you?”

“A trifling, if puzzling, business of persecution. He arrived in the town of Whitby on the Yorkshire coast some weeks back and was immediately set upon by a ragtag band made up of a wild frontiersman, an asylum physician and the eldest son of one of our noble families.”

“Good God, what had the man done to attract the hostility of such an unlikely crew?”

“That is somewhat unclear,” said the detective. ”He is a foreigner, of course, and that may have been against him from the first. The Count is of the opinion that, as dangerous as these men are, their leader poses a far greater threat to his safety.”

“Who is this other man?”

“A Dutch professor with a very particular idée fixe that borders upon insanity. He is, however, a brilliant fellow with half the letters in the alphabet after his name. This obsession with the Count and his ‘kind’, as the Professor in his narrow-mindedness might term them, has diverted him from his true calling as an expert in obscure diseases.”

“Prejudice is a horrid thing,” I said shortly.

“Indeed. There are some trees, Watson, which grow to a certain height, and then suddenly develop some unsightly eccentricity. You will often see it in humans.” At that last word an uncharacteristic expression of condescension passed across my friend’s features; a certain aloof inhumanity which chilled me strangely. “Whatever the cause,” he continued, “the man has begun to go wrong.” 

“Well, it seems a most interesting case,” I ventured.

Holmes smiled, and in that instant I had the uncanny impression that his teeth, particularly the canines, were of a peculiarly pointed, I might even say feral, appearance. In all the chronicles I had made of our adventures together, of all the sketches of his person contained therein, I had not remarked upon, for I did not remember ever observing, this singular feature before.

“Interesting indeed,” Holmes nodded, “though I remain sanguine as to the problems the mystery presents.”

“Well then,” said I, “shall I leave you to ruminate upon it?”

“No, Watson. I should like you to stay and give me your assistance in certain matters.”

Holmes’ eyes glowed with a sudden fire and he rose and slipped across the hearthrug. Within three steps he was at the door of our Baker Street sitting room, turning the key in the lock. Then he spun round and, fixing me with that peculiar smile, he said:

“Indeed, I fully expect this to be a three pint problem…”

With sincere apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Bram Stoker!

 

No Ghosts Need Apply

 

The latest Holmes & Watson

The latest Holmes & Watson

In honour of the return of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brilliant Sherlock, I’ll be reprinting a cheeky short story from my back catalogue, a pastiche called THE ADVENTURE OF THE EXSANGUINATED SLEUTH. The story will be posted Monday, but first a discussion of that most rational of detectives and his attitude to my favourite genre, the supernatural…

The question I always get asked at signings and school events: what did you read when you were a kid? I then bore the audience to death (sometimes literally) with a huge list of favourite books and stories. Always at the very core of that list is the ‘canon’ of 56 short stories and 4 novellas that make up the adventures of Mr Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes was my first real literary passion, and I use the word ‘passion’seriously. Whenever I sat down with one of those stories, I found my young heart racing as I followed the Great Detective and his faithful companion and chronicler, Dr John H Watson (formerly of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers) into the dingy alleys of Limehouse, over the hound-haunted moors of Devonshire and across the cantons of Switzerland, all the way to that fatal encounter at the Reichenbach Falls… (SPOILER ALERT)… and beyond!

From the age of 5 to 14, the cosy sitting room of 221b Baker Street was as familiar to me as my own bedroom. All I had to do was close my eyes to see Holmes’ Stradivarius violin propped up on his chair, his correspondence pinned to the mantelpiece with a jack knife, the tobacco-stuffed Persian slipper, that patriotic ‘VR’ done in bullet holes in the wall, Watson’s bull pup lounging on the hearthrug (probably poisoned by Holmes in one of his unethical experiments), a chalkboard covered in strange ‘dancing men’, and on the side table: a dark lantern, Watson’s service revolver and Holmes’ burglar kit all ready and waiting for the next thrilling adventure.

A lovely chill raced down my spine whenever those famous words - ’The game’s afoot!’ – were uttered or when I read some wonderful line like: ‘Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound…’

Of course, in the end (SPOILER ALERT!) there was no demonic hound haunting the Baskerville clan, just a big dopey dog covered in luminous paint. You see, unlike his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes was an arch rationalist who did not believe in the supernatural.

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes shrugs off the legend of the ghost dog as interesting only to ‘a collector of fairy tales’ while in The Sussex Vampire, another story that at the beginning seems to be dipping its toe into the world of mythical monsters, Holmes makes it clear that his work as a detective ‘must stand flat-footed upon the ground… No ghosts need apply’.

But despite Holmes’ scepticism, Watson’s accounts of their adventures together often contain a frisson of what might be called supernatural or uncanny terror, and despite this terror always being rationalised and made sense of at the end of the case, a hint of eerie impossibility seems to linger in the mind of the reader. Maybe this is because, very often, Holmes’ cases teeter on the edge of gothic literature, a sub-genre that was the first to treat the supernatural as a real threat and which did much to birth the detective story.

All of this, as I say, is by way of an introduction to my very short Sherlock Holmes story that will be appearing on the blog Monday. It’s a parody really, my way of poking a bit of fun at the Great Detective’s insistence that ‘no ghosts need apply’…

HAUNTED & WITCHFINDER: INCREDIBLE KINDLE DEALS!

So… There are Hussey Horror deals galore on Kindle!!!

You can get my new book HAUNTED and WITCHFINDER: DAWN OF THE DEMONTIDE for just 99p!

AND you can get my chilling short story, TURN HER FACE TO THE WALL, for absolutely NOTHING! Yup, completely FREE!

This Macabre Madness will have to end soon, so snap ‘em up while you can. You might event choose to give these bargain horror books as gifts as part of Neil Gaiman’s brilliant All Hallows Read project!

Just click on the covers below and you’ll get around 150,000 words worth of terror for just 99! (OK, enough with the exclamation marks!!!)

Haunted-5 front only

Witchfinder_-_Dawn_of_the_Demontide[1]

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Tour Stuff #1: An Evening of Ghost Stories

Hello All

Well, I’m back from the very exhausting but VERY rewarding Haunted tour! 1,600 miles, dozens of schools, and plenty of scares later, and part of me wishes I could do it all over again! I met so many great people on my trek around the UK – brilliant booksellers, terrific teachers, stupendous students, as well as that crazily creative crew at Seven Stories (see the post below).

I could write and write about my experiences, filling paragraph after paragraph with funny stories and intriguing anecdotes, but I’ve decided to rest my typing fingers (I really need to get back to writing books!) and select nugget-size chunks of cool stuff to share.

The first is this amazing poster and tickets from my ’Evening of Ghost Stories’ event at Lostock Hall Academy! (Click images for larger views)

Lostock Hall

Lostocj Hall

(‘An Evening of Ghost Stories’ is my brand new after-schools event, designed, in part, to get parents more involved in school life. Details of this new event can be found at my School Visits page here.)

At the kind invitation of Head of English, Mrs Butterworth, I took this new event into the wonderful Lostock Hall Academy. The school hall had been suitably decorated with spider webs, tarantulas and bats (plastic, thankfully!), and all manner of creepy accessories. The evening kicked off with an introductory speech from Mrs Butterworth welcoming parents into the school and highlighting the different activities in which the children were engaged.

Then we were treated to some particularly spine-tingling readings from the school’s ‘Community Readers.’

I was waiting in the stage’s darkened wings (the lights had been turned low in the auditorium and the shadows had gathered), listening to these courageous young people reading extracts from their favourite scary stories. We had pieces from classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, as well as exciting contemporary extracts from Darren Shan and other fresh voices in horror. I must say, these pupils read their pieces beautifully – I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to perform to a packed hall when I was their age! We were then treated to a charming and suitably haunting song from a young lady who, I believe, really ought to try out for The X Factor!

Then it was my turn at the podium. Echoing a line from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, I suggested that we were no longer sitting in Lostock Hall’s auditorium but had been transported to a ‘home by horror haunted’ and that the audience ought to keep repeating to themselves: It’s only a story, only a story, only a story…

I performed a dramatic reading from MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, then two tales from my own pen. I’m happy to report the audience screeched and jumped out of their skins in all the right places! The atmosphere was just right, with pupils from throughout the school chaperoning their nervous parents into the hall and then laughing along with them as those spooked-out mums and dads leaped out of their seats during the scary bits!

After the readings the school had organised a charity raffle. I think the best part of the evening was the community atmosphere generated by the event. It was great to see parents, pupils and teachers all brought together for the evening in an environment where parents could learn more about the school and feel more included in their children’s education.

So a huge thank you to Mrs Butterworth and all the staff and pupils at Lostock Hall. I was very gratified to receive this message from Mrs Butterworth after the visit:

‘Just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic day and for your  breath-taking readings . Your impact on our pupils’ enthusiasm for reading was tangible.’ What greater compliment can a writer receive?

‘Not your average horror story’, Haunted Gets Its ‘Hooks Into Books’!

A brief ‘howdy’ from the road-weary author! I’m now halfway through the Haunted tour and, so far, I’ve covered about 800 miles!

One of the highlights of the tour so far was my visit to the wonderful Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books (I must thank Lorna for her gracious and informative tour of this fascinating place!). There, in the shadow-strewn attic, we held our Evening of Ghost Stories. The event went really well, with creeped out kids leaning forward in their chairs and then leaping to the ceiling when… but no, that would be telling!

I’ll be blogging fully about the tour soon, but I’d like to share two brilliant things from the Seven Stories visit. First, this fantastic sketch of me reading MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’. It is the work of Seven Stories own artistic genius Cathy Brumby, isn’t it great?!

Me!

The other exciting news is that Seven Stories has chosen Haunted to be part of their Hooks Into Books package. Here the team chose ’7 of the latest, high-quality titles in children’s literature’ from the thousands published each year and then created a whole package around those titles for schools. What an honour for Haunted to be selected! I was giddy with excitement! In their own words, here is why Haunted was chosen:

‘Not your average horror story, we liked how Hussey weaves the chilling town past with the modern day supernatural happenings… This is a darkly layered story merging the supernatural with reality into a complex and absorbing read.’

Please click the links above to find out more about the terrific Hooks Into Books project and the amazing Seven Stories.

Now, back to packing up my Haunted tour kit. Where did I leave those vampire fangs?

HAUNTED TOUR & AN EVENING OF GHOST STORIES AT SEVEN STORIES

Starting Monday, Haunted goes on tour around the UK!

For two weeks, I’ll be driving up and down the country, covering over 1,500 miles, with my brand new schools event:

THE SUPER SPOOKY SUPERNATURAL FICTION SHOW!

One of the images from the 'History of Supernatural Fiction' lecture

One of the images from the ‘History of Supernatural Fiction’ presentation

Update: Anyone who purchases a copy of HAUNTED during the tour will now receive a FREE limited edition postcard! Check them out below:

Haunted Post Cards

The event will include an introduction to the life of a writer, a dramatic reading from Haunted (including the infamous JUMP! moment), and a funny and educational presentation on the ’History of Supernatural Fiction’, from Greek myth and the legend of Faust to an in-depth look at Bram Stoker’s Dracula, all complemented by suitable spine-tingling imagery.

After this introduction to the Gothic genre, pupils will take part in the DRACULA vs VAN HELSING QUIZ. Dressed up in cape, wigs and with vampire-slaying props to hand, one student will play the nefarious Count, one the heroic Professor Van Helsing. The audience will then be split into TEAM DRAC and TEAM VAN HELSING and the final battle between Good and Evil will take place! Whichever team gets the most correct answers will triumph!

Stake, Mallet & Holy Water: Van Helsing's Vampire Slaying Kit!

Stake, Mallet & Holy Water: Van Helsing’s Vampire Slaying Kit!

There will be one public event during the tour, and this I’m REALLY excited about. The last time I visited the wonderful Seven Stories (the National Centre for Children’s Books) in Newcastle was during the Witchfinder Tour, and I found it to be an absolutely enchanting place. On Thursday 3rd October at 6pm, I’ll be bringing a special event – AN EVENING OF GHOST STORIES – to this brilliant venue.

Seven Stories - the venue for An Evening of Ghost Stories

Seven Stories – the venue for An Evening of Ghost Stories

As the lights dim, I’ll be performing dramatic readings from 3 super-spooky tales: MR James’ classic ghost story ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, an extract from Haunted, and a special story where the twist comes in the very last word! This last story, I performed last year at a special Halloween event and it drew gasps from the crowd! Full details of this event can be found here http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/whats-on/events/117417/an-evening-of-ghost-stories-with-william-hussey You will need to book, but scares ARE guaranteed!

Below are some of the schools I’ll be visiting (others may be added). Is yours on the list?

Haven High School, Boston

Boston Grammar School

Newman School, Carlisle

Queen Elizabeth Grammar, Penrith

Keswick School

Jedburgh High School

Earlston High School

Bispham High School

Lostock Hall Academy

Bristol Metropolitan School

Marlwood School

Downend School

Test Valley School

Sheredes Senior School

The Nightmare Eater Begins To Feed!

nightmare eaterThe Nightmare Eater is here! And his diabolical presence is all thanks to awesome editor Adrian Cole and the fright-fans at Franklin Watts.

Adrian contacted me last year requesting a truly terrifying tale. He wanted something fast-paced and super creepy, with a strong lead character and a memorable setting. Oh yeah, and he wanted it all wrapped up in a punchy 3,000 words!

Now, for a long time I’d wanted to write a story set against the fairground world in which I’d grown up. For the first few years of my life, candy floss stalls and hot dog joints, shrieking rides and screaming klaxons, hook-a-duck games (which my great-grandfather always claimed he had invented) and spinning gallopers (merry-go-rounds, as they’re known to non-travellers) made up my world.

The Park 1

You know, fairgrounds are places of fun and adventure, but even showmen admit that there has always been a dark side to these touring carnivals. Sometimes this is an in-your-face kind of creepiness – the ghost train, the horror house, even the freak shows of the Victorian circuits – but there’s also another sort of spookiness. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it. Perhaps it’s contained in that moment when you walk through the Hall of Mirrors and, from the corner of your eye, you see a sudden flash and have the sense that, for a split second, some unknown figure is standing right next to you. Or the uncanny feeling that, behind the fixed smiles of the horror house dummies, a real smile lurks, and it is not a friendly one…

In The Nightmare Eater we are presented with a fairground of thrills and spills. A dizzying wonderland which tempts a young boy to break a sacred promise.

Fairground people are, by necessity, nomadic. They travel from place to place, rarely laying down roots, and sometimes they are discriminated against because they don’t quite belong. Often in our society immigrants suffer the same prejudice. In this story the son of an immigrant family journeys into the dark heart of a fairground and discovers much about himself in the process. In ‘Grimaldi’s House of Horrors’, young Tomasz  Kaczmarek will face a creature beyond his imagining, and must summon the courage to face it down.

For if he fails this Eater of Bad Dreams will devour all in its path…

I had huge fun writing this story. Trying to capture the elusive carnival world of my youth was a real challenge and a perfect joy.

So ROLL UP, ROLL UP! One ticket left to Grimaldi’s House of Horrors! Enter if you Dare…

Witchfinder Giveaway

To support the release of Haunted, I’m giving away a FREE signed copy of Witchfinder 2: Gallows at Twilight!

PICS

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is leave a comment below. A simple ‘Howdy’ will do!

In other news, I’m now preparing for the HAUNTED SCHOOLS TOUR. A UK-wide tour in which I’ll be visiting schools with the brand new SUPER-SPOOKY SUPERNATURAL FICTION SHOW. More about this in the coming weeks. For now, get commenting!

Competition closes Sunday 29th September.

PS – don’t forget to download my new FREE horror short story, TURN HER FACE TO THE WALL. Guaranteed to chill, the twist in this tale comes in the very last word! Just click here to download

Haunted: the full story

This week marks the Book Birthday (which just means it’s being published – hooray!) of Haunted!

I’ve posted quite a lot about the ‘big idea’ behind the book (basically, in 1920 famed inventor Thomas Edison claimed to the world’s press he was on the verge of creating a machine for speaking with the dead! No kidding, Google it!) and I’ve posted a few random and (hopefully!) intriguing quotes here and there, but I haven’t really said that much about the story itself.

So here it is. The story of Haunted, with as few spoilers as possible:

haunted_house

 

We begin with the adventure of a young boy called Henry Torve who, at the urging of his best friend, is about to break into FUNLAND, a derelict theme park that overlooks the little town of Milton Lake. To prove his guts and join a local gang, Henry must run the ‘Funland Gauntlet’ and return with the head of a mannequin from the abandoned park’s ghost train.

Only one catch. Funland is rumoured to be haunted. And not by just any old spectre, but the former owner, a certain Mr Hiram Sparrow. Eleven years ago, this Hiram lost his mind and engineered the mass murder of all the thrill-seekers who were visiting his park. Now his ghost is supposed to lurk in the dingy depths of the ghost train.

On that snowy winter night, in the dank corridors and dusty chambers of HIRAM’S HELLISH HORROR HOUSE, something terrible, something uncanny, something impossible happens to Henry. It begins with the ringing of an old-fashioned telephone, but that’s only the start of the story… (and you can read this entire chapter at the Amazon page here).

Old-Six-Flags-in-New-Orleans-looks-like-a-Post-Apocalyptic-theme-park

After this bone-chilling prologue we are introduced to our main character, Henry’s cousin, Emma Rhodes. When we meet her, Emma is trapped in a world of pain and grief caused by the accidental death of her little brother. But Emma will soon be forced to face the world again in a test that will demand every scrap of her formidable courage.

What exactly did Emma’s cousin witness at Funland to drive him out of his wits? Whose is the voice, so like her dead brother’s, that calls to her from the abandoned house across the street? And who is the brave and lonely stranger who’s made that ruined house his home, and whose damaged spirit calls out to her own?

As the snow falls and the town is cut off, a dark mystery threatens to engulf Milton Lake. From every period of its long history, the dead of the town are returning. Soon they will begin to claim the lives of its citizens as their own, for someone has discovered the fabled Ghost Machine of Thomas Edison and, unless Emma and her new friend can stop them, the dead will overwhelm the living. But the identity of the necromancer is not the only mystery.

For the stranger Nicholas Redway harbours his own secrets.

Secrets that will open Emma’s eyes to wonders beyond her imagining.

And terrors beyond her darkest dreams…