Random Bullets of Ghostliness

‘Tis the season, not just for a deluge of forced consumerism and overplayed Christmas music in every public space, but for cold and darkness and, traditionally, for sitting around the fire and scaring the living daylights out of each other with creepy stories. And since supernatural things have been on my mind a lot lately (I keep being ambushed by more plots for weird fiction I want to write someday), and since I want to follow through on my many good intentions not to let my blog fade away with neglect, I bring you: Random Bullets of Ghostliness. Happy winter solstice!
  • Oxford University Press just came out with a new edition of the collected ghost stories of my all-time favorite author of things macabre, M.R. James. I think this one’s destined for my collection. When I tweeted about it, a friend (recalling that James used to read his stories out loud to friends at Christmastime) commented, “I always like to think that someday I’ll time-travel to one of James’s Xmas ghost storytimes.” That’s now right up there with “attend the first night of Le nozze di Figaro” on my personal list of Things I’d Do If I Had a Time Machine.
  • If this workshop is ever held again, I want to go. I mean, think of it: ghost story writing in Scotland in an old house near Loch Ness. For a week. Heaven!
  • Favorite ghostly book I’ve read recently: Sarah Monette‘s The Bone Key, a collection of linked stories about an archivist named Kyle Murchison Booth who lives in a never-named city in a vaguely early-20th-century setting, and who keeps encountering cursed artifacts, revenants, ghouls, and, in one story that’s not so much scary as it is heartbreakingly sad, an incubus. Monette is an admirer of James (both Jameses, in fact: M.R. and Henry), and it shows. I didn’t find this collection entirely bone-chilling, though there are some great creepy moments, but I enjoyed the psychological depth a lot. The scars from Booth’s deeply screwed-up childhood — family curse that kills his parents; abusive guardian; horrific boarding school — feel very real without being melodramatic; in one story, he’s startled when a former schoolmate treats him with simple friendliness instead of shunning him, and that moment really resonated. (My own childhood was nowhere near that traumatic, but I remember very clearly what it was like to operate under that same assumption that no one would ever voluntarily associate with me.) This is another for the permanent collection.
  • I think I’m going to join the Ghost Story Society, just for the fun of it.
  • One of my so-far-unrealized ambitions: to host a ghost-story-reading party of my own. Preferably on a cold dark evening around this time of year, with the lights turned down low and my ever-growing collection of ghost story anthologies on hand to read from. Who’s in?

3 Responses to “Random Bullets of Ghostliness”

  1. I haven’t kept very good track of who follows whom for a while, so this may be old news to you, but do you read Aunt B at Tiny Cat Pants? She’s a fantastic ghost story writer & has been blogging occasionally about her new writing project. http://tinycatpants.wordpress.com/ and http://betsyphillips.net/ (She also posted on The Bone Key not very long ago.)

  2. rr says:

    I’m trying to encourage the adoption of virtual spaces for such events – it would be a bit of a trek for some of us irl – and am hoping that one day G+ will host such gatherings. If/when, I’m in!

  3. Amanda says:

    Pilgrim, thanks! I haven’t seen that blog before, and I’ll have to check it out.

    rr, do you ever do the G+ “hangout” thing? I’ve tried it a couple of times now, and apart from the occasional bit of lag, it’s worked pretty well. Might be a bit tricky with time zones 5 hours apart, but I’m sure we could manage something!