Friday, October 5, 2012

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley (Guest Post/Giveaway)

Please give a warm welcome to author, Susanna Kearsley!

The House that I rented in Wales 
One of my great-grandmothers was a Spiritualist. A formidable woman, she attended the Spiritualist Church and séances when both these things were popular. I never met her, but I wish I had, because I’ll bet she had some stories about ghosts she could have shared.

I have three, myself, though I’ll admit they’re pretty tame. No moving furniture, no warning apparitions, nothing overly dramatic—and in fact, all three could be put down to my imagination. After all, we writers frequently imagine things. It’s what we do. But still, I like my ghost stories. I like the thought that maybe there’s a little more to this world than we’re able to explain.

When I was young, my mother owned a bookshop in our town. She and my father bought a little, old white house, right on the main street, and made the two front rooms the bookshop, while the back remained a private office area. A set of musty cellar steps led down from the back kitchen to the basement, with its bare bulb and its whitewashed old stone walls. And in that basement was a Cold Spot, like a draught. Except it moved. I’d walk right through it, and then turn around again to find it gone, only to walk through it a moment later, someplace else. I never liked that basement. I could sprint up those old stairs in record time, not looking back, for fear the ghost (for I’d decided that it had to be a ghost that made the Cold Spot) might be behind me. And although I missed the books, I have to say I wasn’t all that sorry when we sold the bookshop.

In the winter I turned 31, I had a rented house in Wales—the house I set Named of the Dragon in, the book that I was writing at the time. It was an ancient farmhouse, in a row of three, with a half-ruined castle tower only steps from my front door. I loved that house. There were three bedrooms upstairs, but I found that I could only sleep in one. And I had the sensation there was Something in the house with me. At night, I sometimes heard what I felt sure were footsteps walking down the corridor, and past my bedroom door, as if someone were making sure that house was all secure, the way my father always did when I was little. It might have only been the wind. The wind on the Welsh coast is something wicked. But on nights when I heard those patrolling footsteps, I stayed quiet in my room, and turned my back towards the door, just to be safe.

The final, and most recent brush I’ve had with something unexplained happened, again, at an old house, where I was staying with a group of other writers for the weekend. I was working at my laptop, with my back towards the room, when without any warning every hair rose on the back of my neck, just the way a cat’s does. I was startled, but because the room was empty when I looked around I put it down to my imagination and went back to work. Not fifteen minutes later, all my hackles rose again, this time so sharply that it rattled me enough to turn around and tell the empty air behind me, ‘Cut it OUT.’

I ended up switching my room with a friend who was actually hoping it might be a ghost, because she’d always wanted to see one. She didn’t. We both had good sleeps, in our switched-around rooms, but a few of the other guests had strange encounters with things that went bump in the night, and next morning our hosts said that things had been known to “happen” quite frequently in the room under the one I’d first had. They’d had ghost-busters out, at one point. Good to know.

One great thing about being a writer is that none of what we experience is ever wasted. The cold spot that moved in our old bookshop basement went into The Shadowy Horses, and made a good scene. And my ghostly patrolman in Wales helped create the right sort of an atmosphere while I was reading the proofs of The Shadowy Horses there, putting the finishing touches on my ghostly Sentinel. As for the…well, the whatever-it-was at the weekend retreat, I’m quite sure it will work its way into a story, as well, given time.

But I’d still like to hear my great-grandmother’s tales. Hers would probably put mine to shame. Do you have any shivery ghost stories in your own family?

Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.
Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.
Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.

I had the good fortune to be born into a family of readers. My mother was reading Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic when I was born, so it was perhaps no surprise that Mrs Stewart became my own favourite author. I can’t remember when I began to put words on paper myself, but at seven - after reading Little Women and deciding that I wanted to be just like Jo - I started writing first chapters, and wrote continually through my teenage years. After studying politics and international development at university, I sidestepped into museum work and at the age of twenty-two became a curator. In that same year, my sister dared me to stop writing first chapters and produce a book. I’d never been able to resist a dare! By the end of that summer I’d finished my first novel, and I was hooked. My ‘hobby’ had become a vocation. I left the museum to waitress and write. Working mostly late at night, I wrote my second novel, Mariana, and submitted it to Transworld Publishers’ Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize competition. Four days before Christmas, I learned that I’d won. The very best of Christmas presents, and one that truly changed my life - not only the £10,000 prize, but major international publication of a book that continues to find its own life.And eighteen years later, I’m still feeling fortunate, doing the thing I love best...telling stories.

Sourcebooksis giving away one copy of The Shadowy Horses to one reader (US & Canada only please). To enter, just leave a comment on this post answering the author's question and then fill out the rafflecopter below. Additional entries are available but not required. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My aunt is pretty sure her house is haunted. It's an old farmhouse and she says she often sees someone standing at the end of the upstairs hall, even when she knows she's alone in the house.

  2. I think the house I lived in when I was a child was haunted. I remembered seeing people in the hallway or even close-by outside and as soon as I'd walk to them they would disappear. This happened for years... either that or I had an extremely active imagination. :)

  3. I believe in ghosts but have never encountered one. I've always wanted to visit a known haunted place and see if my senses can pick anything up.

  4. No ghosts, but I have what my Irish grandfather told me was a wee hat he snatched off the head of a leprechaun.

  5. Thanks for a great post and congrats on the newest release!

    I don't really believe in ghosts, but I do like to read about them :) And my family pretty much set the definition for practical and stoic so no family stories.

  6. No ghost stories here. I love to read about them though. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. I love Roman history so I definitely want to read this book. As for ghost stories, my family doesn't have a whole lot. I had a very weird experience where I was at a playground (though I was in college at the time) and felt very strongly that something was watching me and didn't want me there. I kept trying to brush it off but one of the other women with me felt it too before I'd said anything about it. We left and didn't go back. It was too creepy.

  8. when I was growing up, we lived in a very old house. One night my mother woke up to see a little girl wearing an old fashioned long white night gown. Mum said that it was not a scarey experience.We tried to find out who had lived there, but were unable to do so. So many unexplained things happen.

  9. Actually, I seriously wished we did but both sets of grandparents passed early. :( It would've been cool to hear tales from them. :)

    The book sounds interesting and the guest post pretty kewl. Thanks for hosting the giveaway! :)

  10. Nope no ghost stories.... But your books does sound incredible, and creepy. Loving that it's about archaeology and ancient Rome :D

  11. No scary or shivery ghost stories in our family that I know of...maybe I should start one for the kids.

  12. Susannah, Congrats on your latest release. I'm looking forward to reading it. I have enjoyed all of your books so much.
    My family throughout the years have mentioned here and there many "Ghostly' feelings in the homes they lived in or stayed at. I remember shortly after my Mom passed away I was so devastated because it was an unexpected death. I jusy couldn't pull myself out of the grief I felt. One day while sitting down at the table to just get a grip on things I started to cry into my hands and suddenly felt a warmth cover my entire body and felt someone directly behind me and I swear, a peace came over me I can't explain and suddenly I smelled my Mom's perfume. Of course I froze but it was that event that enabled me to get it together and climb out of my grief. Coincidence or not I've never ever felt anything like it since.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  13. There are no ghost stories in my family unless you count those of our own family.

    My grandfather died in 1982 in a fire. He was in pain from RA and old age. Weeks after he died ... the first night my Grandmother slept in there marriage bed ... he came to her ... told her not to be sad ... he had a good fishing hole for fishing and no pain at all.

    She never cried again for loosing him.

  14. My family doesn't have any great ghost stories. It is fun to hear them though.

  15. My family doesn't have any ghost stories. I've never given it any thought, but it would be fun.


Due to time constraints we may not be able to personally respond to every comment made, but we do read and appreciate them all. 📚❤️🙂

✋ RBtWBC has a zero-tolerance policy for review harassment and author bashing. Such comments will be deleted at the the blog's discretion.