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And the winner is… A haunted house handed Liz Kessler her next novel PLUS win a signed copy of ‘Haunt Me’


Author extraordinaire Liz Kessler had a brand new book come out in October.

When Erin moves into a new house, she instantly becomes aware that she’s not the only one in her new room. Joe wakes up after a long, deep sleep to his family leaving in a removals van. They can’t hear him and he can’t leave his room.

‘Haunt Me’ had some seriously spooky beginnings. Read on. If you dare…

ghosts

Seven years ago, my partner and I were in the process of buying a house. It wasn’t going all that well – so we decided to take a break and rent for six months. We moved into a lovely house and began our life in St Ives.

Everything was OK to begin with. But gradually, odd things started to happen. Most of the odd things took place in one particular room. A spare bedroom that we didn’t use much.

We had a teddy bear that lived on one of the shelves. Every time I went into the room, the teddy seemed to be on a different shelf. I assumed that my partner had moved him and didn’t think too much about it. However, one day something else – I can’t remember what it was now – had also moved, and finally asked the question.

‘Why do you keep moving things around in this room?’ I asked

My partner replied ‘I haven’t been moving anything – I thought it was you.’

liz-kessler-haunted-house

Thus began the realisation that all was not quite as it seemed in this house. We were a couple of months in, and now a little uneasy. The unease grew over the coming weeks.

Next thing that happened was in my office. I have one of those office chairs where a lever lifts the seat up and down. One day, I walked into my office to see the seat rising – on its own. It did this more than once. I spoke to an engineer who came and tinkered with the chair and told us that this can happen on its own, although he admitted it was unusual. We told ourselves that the chair was just faulty, and that one of us must have moved the objects in the room, and mostly forgot about it.

Till my partner saw a shadow moving across the wall – when there was no one there. That one wasn’t quite so easy to explain.

The final straw came when I heard a clunking sound in the spare room and went in to see what had happened. We had a cupboard under the stairs in this room, with a pole across the top and two curtains hanging from it.

scared-home-alone

The pole was standing in the corner of the room, and the two curtains were laid out on the floor – opposite ways round.

We stood looking at the scene for absolutely ages, trying to work out if there was any way it could have fallen naturally into this position. There was simply no way it could have happened.

That was the point where I’d had enough. I was no longer comfortable in the house, especially when I was in on my own, and I desperately wanted the house-buying process to hurry up.

A friend of ours came to visit who was at that time training to be a psychic. She told us she could sense a presence in the house – but that it wasn’t nasty or scary. If anything, it was mischievous. She told us to burn white sage around the house, and to be firm with it.

So, a few nights after this, when the smoke alarm went off in the night three times – the third of which AFTER we had taken the batteries out of it – my partner got out of bed and yelled at the top of the stairs:

‘STOP IT!!! GO AWAY!!! LEAVE US ALONE!!!!’

(Or words to that effect. I’m not sure her actual words are repeatable!)

The strange thing was – it never bothered us again. Admittedly, we were only there for a few more weeks, but I don’t know if our friend was right and we just had to show whoever it was that we were in charge and we didn’t like the antics. Who knows. I’ll never know.

And so we moved out and got on with our lives.

kermit-writing

Once we were a safe distance from the house and firmly installed in our lovely new home, I started to think about writing a book based on our experiences. I didn’t want to write a spooky, scary book about ghosts. (I am way too much of a scaredy-cat to do that.) But the house had planted a seed in my mind and I left it there to grow for a few years.

Over those years, and with the help from some friends at a beautiful writing retreat and a shared playlist with fellow author Kelly McKain, my idea came to life.

It would be set mainly in one room in a house. There would be two main characters who existed simultaneously in this room. A girl who lived there now, and a boy who had lived there before her – when he was alive.  It would be a ghost story – but primarily, I realised, it would be a love story.

Seven years on, the book is just out. ‘Haunt Me’ would never have come about if it wasn’t for that spooky house. So I can now – from a safe distance – say, I’m really glad and grateful for those six months, and I can confirm what I had always suspected.

Nothing is wasted on a writer.

Guess what? You can also win yourself a copy of Liz Kessler’s ‘Haunt Me’!

How to enter:

  • Follow @maximumpopbooks
  • RT the following tweet

This competition is now closed! Congrats to the winners @shannoliviab, @jesscgolding26, @ObliviousApple, @FoxVillagefox, @kxtielouisexo, @khall1610, @Witch_bonbon, @AmyNikitaWords, @CharloCIFR, @dibble_amber.

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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