I’m very excited that my debut novel, Love In The Wrong Dimension, is now available for download on Amazon. It’s a love story, told from the perspective of a ghost, and written in the style of popular romance.
Do ghosts fall in love? Jemma Haley is about to find out…
When best friends, Jemma and Alice, wake up the morning after a lively party, they make a pact that will change their lives forever.
Then tragedy strikes when Jemma dies unexpectedly, and realises that she’s become a ghost. Terrified, she goes to find Alice in the hope that, using her psychic abilities, her friend can tell her what to do next. Instead of making contact with Alice though, Jemma meets Tom, an attractive but elusive ghost, who tells her that she’s trapped in the eleventh dimension, a place for ghosts who weren’t meant to die. Jemma vows to find a way out, but things get complicated when she develops feelings for Tom, whose own reasons for being there, are darker than she could ever have imagined.
In the worlds of the living and the dead, both girls try to come to terms with Jemma’s death, but their efforts are hindered by other troubled spirits. For Jemma, it’s the creepy and sinister ghost, Max, whose bitterness could threaten her safety, and for Alice, it’s the ethereal ghostly child who has been following her since Jemma died.
If you would like to read a free sample of the novel, the first two chapters are available here , or
When I heard that The Woman In Black was being released as a new film, I was thrilled. I’ve seen the play three times and it continues to be my favourite play of all time, so I was expecting big things from it.
There was an air of nervous anticipation in the audience as the film started, people were preparing themselves to be scared witless and I was no exception. This review isn’t intended to be an overview of the story, more my personal reaction to something that has got such a lot to live up to. After all, the book is brilliant, the 1989 film was supposed to have been fantastic (unfortunately I haven’t seen it – yet) and the play is the second longest running non-musical play in London’s West End (after Mousetrap).
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think the film captured the intense, spine chilling fear in quite the same way as the play does but I think that’s partly because a theatre already has a much more intimate and atmospheric setting, whereas the cinema is so much bigger and more modern. I think the film is very sophisticated and the setting amazing – Eel Marsh House is just as I’d hoped it would be and just as remote.
I’ve read mixed reviews of Daniel Radcliffe’s performance but I can be a bit more objective because I’ve only seen the first Harry Potter film (and only once) so I didn’t see Harry Potter when Radcliffe was on screen the way so many people say they did. Critics have spoken of him being a bit wooden and reserved, saying that he has underplayed the role but, actually, he was only portraying the character in the book. Arthur Kipps is not a vibrant, outgoing person but rather a quiet, unassuming man mourning the death of his beloved wife.
There were several differences between the film and the book, most notably the beginning, but you can forgive them that because it needed to be adapted to a film and I actually think it worked very well. The famous rocking chair scene was well done but it’s not as scary as in the play. I think the play did a great job of building a psychological tension in the audience but the film relies more on modern effects, and a couple of times I felt that they just turned the volume up on the particularly loud bangs! That said though, there were sufficient screams from the unsuspecting audience in the cinema.
So, is the film worth going to see while it’s still on at the cinema? Yes, definitely but if you get the chance, go and see the play as well. I’d love to hear which one you preferred and why.
At first sight, this is not the sort of book I would normally read. An expedition set in 1937 with all male characters! Seriously, there is not one single female character in this story and certainly no humour or romance. What drew me to it was the fact that it’s a ghost story (I love ghost stories) and it’s set in the arctic (I love snow), and I’m so glad that I did read it because I loved it.
In short, it’s the story of Jack Miller, a middle class scientist who’s down on his luck. He is offered the opportunity to join an expedition to the arctic which he eventually accepts. We follow their journey to northern Norway through Jack’s journal and meet the other characters from his perspective. I must admit, I didn’t like Jack very much at first, he’s got a huge chip on his shoulder and is a grumpy and very disagreeable man. It’s interesting to see the change in him as the story progresses and, at the end, you actually feel quite sympathetic towards him.
I’m not going to retell the story here, that’s not what this review is about. I just wanted to write my thoughts down as it is the sort of story that keeps you pondering for a while afterwards and, to me, that’s always a sign of a good book.
The biggest question I find myself asking is if Gruhuken is really haunted, or if it’s the story of a man descending into madness? Personally, I’m convinced that it is haunted and that what Jack saw and experienced was a real ghost, but I also think there was an element of madness in him towards the end. After all, who wouldn’t go a bit doollally after all those weeks in isolated darkness?
The first thing that convinced me it was real was the fact that Jack first saw the ghost whilst things were still going well. There was no darkness, he was excited and enthralled by the beauty of Gruhuken and the ship that had brought them hadn’t even left yet. He had no reason at that point to feel paranoid or disturbed.
But then, as the story moved on and Jack was left on his own in the constant darkness, I started to question if it could indeed have been madness creeping in. That madness could have brought on hallucinations and hysteria, but, on the other hand, other people had seen the ghost too. We learnt that Mr Eriksson had certainly seen it and possibly even Gus, before he fell out of the boat. Talking of Gus, I found it interesting to read about Jack’s growing feelings towards him, especially after Gus had left. Was it hero worship or could it have been something more, something that he couldn’t have spoken about in 1937? I also found Jack’s reaction to the moon returning, and then to the arrival of Bjørvik, very sweet. He became almost childlike and it was at the point that I found myself liking him, although his kindness towards the dogs hadn’t gone unnoticed either.
Alongside the main storyline, I loved the incredible setting (it has made me want to visit Svalbard) and the endearing friendship Jack forms with the husky, Isaak was also a highpoint for me. Although I wasn’t quite as scared as the reviews on the cover indicated, it was definitely spooky and I think that anyone who likes a good ghost story would enjoy this.
Two years ago I had an idea. Normally when this happens, I either act on it impulsively, without giving it too much thought, or I forget all about it. But this time, the idea didn’t go away. Instead it started growing in my head until, eventually, I had to write it all down. The idea became, Dimensions, the working title of the book I was about to write and still it kept growing. Two years, 87,000 words and a lot of coffee later, my first novel, Love In The Wrong Dimension is finally finished.
People often talk about going on a ‘journey’ when they accomplish something big, like writing a novel, and I’ve always laughed and thought of it as a bit of a cliché. But, actually, I know what they mean now. It has been a sort of journey, a long and seemingly endless one. In that time my kids have grown, I learnt to make jewellery and the staff at Cafe Nero got to know me on a first name basis. Almost every day I’d go to my ‘office’, an hour before I had to pick the kids up from school, with my laptop and sit at the same table, with my usual coffee and write It got to the point that if I turned up at Nero and someone was sitting at ‘my’ table, I’d practically start hyperventilating. How was I supposed to write at a strange table? The view from my eyes when I stared blankly into space would be different! I could see the staff looking at me sympathetically, silently apologising for not reserving my table for me.
So, I’d written the final word, then what? I had a decision to make, did I try to submit to a traditional publisher or should I self publish? I weighed up the pros and cons. If I went for the first option, I would probably spend the next year sending out a couple of hundred submissions to agents and publishers, only to get the standard rejection letter back. If I opted to self publish on Amazon Kindle, I would have a say on the cover, the price, the publication date and I could then crack on with writing the next novel. I opted for the latter.
Now, let me make one thing very clear. I did not self publish because I thought my novel wasn’t good enough to submit to an agent. I spent two years creating Jemma, killing her off and trapping her in a hidden dimension. I care deeply for her and I would love for others to care about her too. The main reason sounds quite trivial but, believe me, it isn’t. Genre. It occurred to me that if I were to write a submission letter to a prospective agent, it would clearly need to state what genre the novel falls into. Publishers like genres, it helps them categorise a novel so that bookshops can work out which shelf to stick you on. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but that’s the general reason. Basically, they like a novel to slot nicely into an existing and proven genre. And mine doesn’t. Mine’s a bit like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole!
What genre would Love In The Wrong Dimension fall into? Chick lit? Not really, the heroine doesn’t usually get killed off at the beginning of a chick lit novel. Paranormal romance? Well no, even though it’s a romance about a ghost, which would suggest a paranormal romance genre, there are no werewolves or vampires in it, which rules that one out. Fantasy? No, that would suggest hobbits, elves and wizards. I’ve described it as a love story told from the perspective of a ghost, but an agent would fall about laughing if I tried to suggest that as a genre (and understandably so).
Can you see my dilemma? Whichever genre I try to slot the novel into would be wrong. And that’s where self publishing comes in. When I published on Amazon, I chose Romance as the main genre and then picked a sub genre, which was paranormal. But being under Romance was enough – I could add to the title that it’s a romantic ghost story and my description, that it’s a love story told from the perspective of a ghost, is in the synopsis. That’s the genre sorted, but there’s more to self publishing than that. I didn’t have the benefit of a professional editor or have the cover designed for me by a top graphics designer. And then there’s the marketing to worry about. It’s pretty scary trying to market yourself without the backing of a large publishing house, but it’s possible, thanks to the internet and social media.
It’s now two weeks since I published Love In The Wrong Dimension on Amazon and I have absolutely no regrets about going it alone. I’m thrilled with the sales so far; at the time of writing I’ve had over 900 downloads, and I’m truly humbled by the fantastic reviews people have left. (Thank you so much, whoever you are).
All that said though, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think agents or traditional publishers are needed anymore. On the contrary, they have the experience and expertise to know what sells and how to sell it. The way I see it, self publishing is a platform that allows the debut novelist to showcase their work. One day, I will probably submit a novel to an agent and I’ll, hopefully, be able to tell them what genre it is, as well as be able to show them how sellable my books are and how proactive I’ve been in promoting my work.
Until then, I’m going to continue to write, at my ‘office’, at my usual table (hopefully) and definitely with my usual coffee.
Have you self published a book? How was it for you?
A few days ago, my daughter said, out of the blue, “Mummy, what’s a ghost?” I tried to explain that a ghost is the spirit of a dead person, and she then said, “Yes, but, what is it?” and I found myself unsure of what to answer. After all, what is a ghost? I mean, what is it really?” Is it just a mistaken perception of something perfectly normal, like the wind blowing a door shut? Or could it be energy left behind from another time? Or maybe it really is something real and tangible that we don’t yet understand.
It got me thinking, is it really possible to explain what a ghost is? Do you have to believe in a creator for ghosts to exist? Or, do you have to be a right brain or left brain thinker?
I believe in ghosts, because I’ve had my own paranormal experiences (more about that in a future blog), and I’ve always felt that there had to be some sort of logical explanation. A few years ago, I started reading about string theory, holographic theory and other theories from the world of quantum physics, and I became more and more fascinated by this strange and wonderful universe we live in. Then, one day, I saw a great programme called The Elegant Universe, which explained quantum mechanics in a way that even I could understand (I must point out that I am definitely not a scientist!).
So, my interest in quantum physics was well and truly sparked, along with my on-going belief in the paranormal. The final icing on the cake was when I read a book by Marie D Jones called PSIence, and everything fell into place. She takes you through the basics of quantum physics, from the early days of string theory, right through to the latest search for a Theory Of Everything, a theory that would unite the four forces in the universe. She then goes on to explain how these theories could explain the existence of paranormal phenomena. I won’t go into detail about these theories, you can always read the book if you’re interested, but she talks a lot of sense, and I’m convinced that, one day, there will be proof that ghosts are real.
I’m so fascinated with ghosts that I decided to write a ghost story, which gradually grew into a full length novel. In it, I use my, limited, knowledge of science and explain that everything in the universe, including ghosts, is made up of an invisible field of energy called the Zero Point Field. In the heroine’s world, there are three types of ghosts; residual, where energy is imprinted on the edge of a dimension that replays over and over. Then, there are the free spirits, ones that can move beyond the eleven dimensions (string theory predicts eleven dimensions, by the way). These entities can manifest and communicate with the living easily, because they have access to unlimited energy from the field (the Zero Point Field). And then there are the ghosts who weren’t meant to die, or died having unfinished business on earth. They’re trapped in the eleventh dimension and unable to move on to become free spirits. They don’t have access to the field of energy, so they have to borrow it from candles, batteries and even the living. These are the ghosts with the interesting stories to tell, if only they could tell them! Although my novel is completely fictional, I’ve borrowed some of the theories from quantum physics and tweaked them to fit in with the story, whilst adding a huge dose of my overactive imagination!
So, finally, back to the original question, what is a ghost? Well, I’m with Marie D Jones on this one, but what do you think? If you’ve had a paranormal experience, or have your own thoughts on what a ghost might be, I’d love to read about them. Please leave your comments below.