Orphan Black

Newsham Park hospitalIt finally happened. After one death pose too many, we were locked away in the morgue in the dead of night. Alone.

Just another Friday night with Calamityville Horror.

We’ve been so excited about our overnight investigation at Newsham Park Hospital, a former orphanage and asylum since we booked it in June. And the day finally arrived. We drove to an undisclosed film set to meet Neen (she’s a scenic artist) then followed her camper van, Tallulah (who you may recognise from our Ancient Ram Inn episode). We left General Pinkinton in a lane just off Junction 7 of the M5, hopped aboard Tallulah and began our journey to Liverpool, hoping Pinky wouldn’t be towed/stolen/damaged. We promptly got stuck in traffic on the M6. The event started at 9 p.m. Our route planner said the trip would take 3 and a half hours from Cardiff. We left our house at 2:30. (At 2:10 we were still deciding what to wear). We arrived in Liverpool at 8:50. With Neen driving there was no epic meltdown where sailors have to phone their mothers to apologise for our foul language. Sorry about that. We know seeing us lose our tempers is becoming a favourite part of our episodes. Even if our mum does keep begging us to bleep it out. Or take anger management classes.Newsham Park hospital

We loaded ourselves up with our gear and hopped out of the van. Then they opened the gates for us to drive in. We told Neen to drive in and we’d walk, thinking the car park was just inside the gate. Turned out we had to walk around the entire outside of this massive hospital to reach it. But walking meant we got to film and photograph the exterior in the daylight. The building is stunning. We really wished we could’ve been there on our own but we can’t afford the cost of these locations (usually about £600 a night, which would take us two years to earn from royalties). Newsham Park hospitalWe joined the other guests inside. One of the leaders, Matt, was a sceptic. At first we were pleased. Being sceptics ourselves, we’re glad when team leaders don’t automatically attribute everything to the paranormal. Except he was talking about all these paranormal shows he’d been on and told us how everything on the shows was faked and that they do it for the money. We’re sorry but if you believe that strongly that the paranormal doesn’t exist, why are you running a ghost hunting company? It wouldn’t be for the money, would it? He then basically told us this place wasn’t in the least bit haunted. Just what you want to hear when you’ve paid £60 to be there. We’ll make our own opinions, thanks.

We were taken on a walk around with the medium, Phil. For once he wasn’t the type of medium who starts sprouting stuff about people he’s seeing in the room and having a one-sided conversation with his spirit guide. He refused to say anything about the rooms, instead wanting to hear what other people were experiencing because like he said, if he says there’s a clown in the room, when we’re in the room later, we’ll start seeing a clown. We hoped to god there wasn’t a freakin’ clown in the room.

Newsham Park Hospital

Naughty boys corridor

We liked him for this. He’s right – psychological impressions and suggestion play a big part in these things. We did a seance in one room but we spent most of our time joking around with the two brothers whose hands we were holding – the medium separated men ‘cos apparently men don’t like holding hands with other men. We don’t like physical contact with strangers, especially hand-holding. It’s awkward and way too intimate for our liking. Why can’t we link arms? One of the reasons we were put on reins as kids was because we hated holding hands, even with our parents. Usually one of us will film seances, so gets to opt out of this social awkwardness. The medium was getting everyone to call out so us and the brothers were trying to outdo each with creative callings out. We won. There were three women there who seemed to be experiencing everything (you’ll meet them again later in the post so pay attention). Every time we do one of these ghost hunts, there is always a couple of people who experience everything. We’re not saying they’re making it up, but someone else’s personal experiences isn’t evidence. And they’re usually so annoying that we want to use our equipment on them in a way not recommended by the manufacturers. A lot of people were either feeling hot or cold. The brothers either side of Lynx were apparently having hot flushes, which we helpfully suggested might be the menopause. We’re not fans of focusing on how you’re feeling. In every day life, you don’t stand in the pitch black, paying very close attention to you how feel, or what temperature you are. Yet because you’re expected to do this on these events, you notice minor changes and your mind attributes them to the paranormal. The only thing we felt was hungry, but we’re certain this isn’t something spirits can cause.Newsham Park hospital

After the walk around, we were split into three groups. We’d hoped to be in a group with the brothers, because they seemed to be the only ones with a sense of humour. But Fate decided the episode was lacking a meltdown, so we were put with the three ‘sensitive’ women and other women then got taken to the naughty boys corridor by Phil. This was one of the areas we’d most been looking forwards to. We did a seance in the corridor and Phil was convinced there was a child standing near Cat, who was a few feet away from the group as she was filming. Neither Cat, her K2 or the camera picked up on anything but the child seemed to hang around her for quite a while. The three sensitives kept calling out for Jeff or John. Neen suddenly said “it’s not Jeff, it’s Tommy.” Now people do this a lot of these tours but it’s never happened to one of us. We’re the first to call bullshit on this stuff. But we’ve known Neen since we were 5. So when she said she was hearing the name Tommy, we believed her. Phil said she was right. Then she sensed the child standing beside her and thought he was about 5 or 6. Again, Phil said she was right. Then he locked her in Tommy’s cupboard :D We also put ourselves in naughty cupboards, choosing doors beside each other. They happened to be an adjoining cupboard. Nobody else went in one. To be fair, we were the only ones small enough to fit. Us and Neen were in there for a while and we all felt really comfortable, despite the cramped conditions. The cupboards are in the attic so the sloped roof makes them small.

Newsham Park hospital

Psychiatric ward

We then moved on to the psych ward. Cat was using the shoulder rig for the first time and the hospital has no electricity, so she was guiding herself with the night vision camera, forgetting about the spacial awareness needed for the rig. And walked into a wall. We did another vigil then it was time to swap leaders. Sadly we couldn’t swap groups. In hindsight, we should have hidden in the cupboards until everyone had gone, but people tend to notice when we’re not around. Probably because the sounds of chains/boots/tripping have mysteriously vanished. We went with Natalie to the school house and sat in a room upstairs doing a vigil. She asked the spirits to communicate through tapping or knocking. We heard nothing. Then one of the three aforementioned women (this one had a peroxide poodle perm) said “I can’t concentrate with that camera” and pointed to Cat, who was sitting opposite her. Not exactly sure how much concentration is needed for sitting in a dark room. It’s not like we were trying to study the number of crumbs in a biscuit. Neen suggested closing the LCD screen as it does create a glow so we’ll happily close it when asked. The woman replied “no, it’s the whirring.” It’s a 10 year old camera. It takes Digital 8 tapes. The whirring is the tape. Cat said “I can’t do anything about the whirring.” To which the woman said in a rude manner “you could switch it off.” Now if she had asked politely “look, do you mind switching your camera off for a bit ‘cos it’s noisy” we wouldn’t object. But the abrupt and rude way in which she spoke to Cat instantly riled us. She wasn’t one of the organisers – they were happy for us to film – she was just a guest, like us. But we were raised to be polite so Cat switched the camera off. Almost instantly, this woman and her friends started hearing tapping no-one else could hear. When the vigil was over, the lady beside Cat said “interesting how you three are the only ones who keep experiencing things” and pointed to Poodle Perm and Pals. We could’ve hugged her. She later spoke to us, absolutely disgusted at Poodle Perm’s rudeness and reckoned we should’ve left the camera on to spite her. Wish we had.

Newsham Park hospital

school house

We moved downstairs to where there was a glass on a table. We were still pissed off so didn’t participate. We just wanted to be rid of the group and go off on our own. We’d been stuck with everyone since 9 p.m and were frankly bored. We’re not keen on using planchettes and ouija boards with people we don’t know. We don’t trust them not to fake it. Neen joined in while Lynx stood behind, watching with the K2. Cat had wandered to another corner to watch a plastic cup Natalie had asked the spirits to move. The K2 bleeped a couple of times. It had been silent all night. Unfortunately, due to Poodle Perm, Cat wasn’t filming. The K2 didn’t go off for the rest of the night, which made us even angrier, because the one time it did go off, we weren’t filming because Mystic Meg ‘couldn’t concentrate’. Weirdly, when Natalie brought out the spirit box, the deafening static didn’t seem to affect the woman’s concentration at all.Newsham Park hospital

Then we did our final vigil with Matt in the upstairs day rooms of the hospital. He mostly spent the vigil ranting about ghost hunting shows. We all know Most Haunted was faked, we don’t want to spend our vigil time hearing about it. Remember the £60 we paid to be here? We paid to spend the night ghost hunting in a stunning location, not to listen to a man ranting for an hour. We can watch that for free on YouTube. Again, if you really think it’s a load of crap, bugger off and let us do our own vigils. We moved to a different room, because strangely, talking about Most Haunted didn’t encourage the ghosts to interact with anyone. Neen got an impression of a stocky woman with a miserable face in the middle of the room and walked forwards to see if anyone was standing there.Newsham Park hospital They weren’t. Again, this has never happened before. She put it down to her working a 9 hour day, the long drive, and her imagination. Although Matt did say that people who have seen this matron described her as Neen had. Poodle Perm and Pals by now were taking over the vigils, doing all the calling out and acting like proper paranormal investigators. Basically they were parrotting the callings out you hear on shows. We would’ve invited them to be our guests for the night but there’s no room for egos on our show and Cat’s camera would’ve just annoyed them.

Finally we were allowed to go off on our own. After 5 hours of being stuck with everyone, we felt like dogs being let off the lead. It was all we could do not to go running off cheering or barking. We’d been promised we could have 3 hours of lone investigation time. We had 2. When we go with Beyond the Grave events, they let you go off alone between each vigil, which is much better. We headed for the naughty boys corridor and set up two cameras in the corridor, along with Ketch, our cuddly executioner, and Roxy, our punk sock monkey, who were our trigger objects for the children. We set motion sensor lights opposite the toys so we’d know if a child tried to touch them. The JVC was set up on a tripod with a light filming from one end of the corridor and the Sony night vision camera was filming from the other side of us. Cat and Neen got out our crystals and we started our vigil. However, lots of people kept walking through the corridor, so we had to keep stopping our vigil until they left. So our effort for a controlled EVP session was a failure. A strip of fabric hanging from a cupboard door handle kept moving. We checked for draughts but couldn’t find any. Then Lynx found one of the windows near the cupboard was ajar. We moved the fabric to a different door handle and sure enough, it stayed still.

Newsham Park Hospital

vigil in Naughty Boys corridor

We locked ourselves in different cupboards to conduct separate EVP sessions. We felt really comfortable in the cupboards. If we’d had pillows, we could’ve slept there. It probably stems from when we were kids, every time we went into our mum’s school, we were so scared of the other children (we were chronically shy) that we would shut ourselves in the store cupboards for pretty much most of the day. When we later worked in our mum’s school aged 18, if being around all the kids and staff got too much, we’d hide in the art storeroom until we felt better. So cupboards have always had a calming effect on us. Neen moved into the psych ward on her own and heard a knock, but couldn’t tell what it was. Cat started feeling horribly sick in the cupboard, one moment feeling fine, the next nearly heaving. This was probably due to tiredness.

Newsham Park hospital

the morgue

We now only had half an hour left and there was one place we hadn’t gone: the morgue. Matt had said earlier that he didn’t understand why people wanted to go to the morgue as people don’t die there, so there are no ghosts, same with cemeteries. This is right. Those places aren’t haunted. But we love them. We went outside to find one of the organisers to take us to the morgue, as it was outside the gates. We eventually spotted Natalie heading out of the gate and chased her. We got to the morgue just as she was about to lock it up. She asked if we wanted to go in. Then she said: “I have to lock the gates to stop local youths getting in so I’m going to have to lock you in for half an hour. Is that alright?” That’s like asking if Goths like Halloween. It was all we could do not to barge her out the way.

The morgue is really small, but there before us, almost glowing with tantalising light and accompanied by angels singing, was the morgue fridge. We’ve been boring people stupid since June going on about how we’re going to get inside the fridge and finally, here was our chance. We took photos and filmed a bit until we couldn’t wait any longer and climbed inside. There were two doors, but it was open plan on the inside. Each side had three pull out slabs. We took a ‘top bunk’ each and promptly did death poses for our photos. If there’s an ultimate place for a death pose, it’s a morgue fridge. Sadly there weren’t body bags to complete the photo. Neen then shut both doors, trapping us inside.

Newsham Park hospital

inside the morgue fridge

We lay down to conduct an EVP session. Weirdly, we weren’t at all creeped out. In fact, had the slabs been soft, we would have been happy to sleep there. Neen then joined us on a middle bunk. Except when you pull out the slabs, they tip, so she had a job getting in. And then getting out. Watching Neen fail to get out of a morgue fridge was the highlight of our night. Natalie fetched us way too soon, just as Cat was crawling free of the fridge. Natalie said “you just have to go in there don’t you?” she was clearly a fan of the fridge. It’s the only time we’ll get to go in one while we’re still alive. We insisted on crawling inside the crematorium pit before we left.

Newsham Park Hospital

we’re inside here

We left Newsham at 4 am and drove until we found somewhere to park Tallulah for the night. We chose a nice looking housing estate and bunked down for all of three and a half hours.

Is Newsham Hospital haunted? We’re undecided. Neen’s experiences were peculiar. If it wasn’t for those, we’d say no. Two hours wasn’t long enough on our own – there were areas we didn’t get to explore and our EVP sessions were interrupted by other people. We’d like to go back on our own and experience it properly in true Calamityville style – locking ourselves in creepy places, dancing, getting lost in the hospital and not noticing anything paranormal. But first we need the funds. *Dons balaclavas* If anyone wants us, we’ll be at the bank ;)Newsham Park hospital


Our last day :( we spent ages packing our bags as we seemed to have accumulated more stuff than we came with, despite our bag only weighing 13 KG as opposed to the 15 KG at the start. It might have had something to do with the free newspapers we’d swiped to take home for the rabbits. Neen and Elaine headed to the City Cafe on Blair Street for breakfast while we took Ketch to Parliament Square to do some filming. We stood in car park space 23, where John Knox is buried. And nearly got run over.

National Museum of Scotland

ooh shinies

Our first visit of the day was to the National Museum of Scotland. When we’d visited on Wednesday, we were so intent on Burke’s skeleton that we forgot about our other reason for visiting – the miniature coffins. 17 miniature coffins with carved corpses were found in a cave on Arthur’s Seat in 1836. To this day, nobody knows why there were there – paying homage to Burke and Hare’s victims? Witchcraft? We assured Neen our visit would be quick as we would ask where the coffins were and go straight there. Neen “you’ll get distracted by the shinies.” Us “no we won’t, we’ve seen the shinies.” We got into the museum, asked where the coffins were (4th floor en route to the Industry section) and…got distracted by the shinies. In this case, swords. We scuttled off, scattering in different directions and swiftly losing Neen and Elaine.

National Museum of Scotland

horse-drawn hearse

We eventually regrouped and resumed our search for the coffins. Then we found the greatest corridor of all time – Daith Comes In. Yes, a corridor dedicated to death customs. We tingled. There was a beautiful horse drawn hearse pride of place. We sat Ketch on it for his photo. We want the hearse. We have no practical use for it, nowhere to store it, no horses to pull it but damn it, we want it. National Museum of ScotlandIt’s black with a picture of a skull with ‘memento mori’ on it, which is Latin for ‘remember you must die’. What’s not to love about it? We found a display with an old velvet Mortcloth. These were used to cover the coffins for funerals. Surgeons used to have one between them and it would be loaned out for each funeral. There was even a scrap from George MacKenzie’s shroud.

National Museum of Scotland

mourning jewellery. Only available in black.

Next was a display of mourning jewellery. The Victorians were big on death and when they weren’t taking photos of their relatives’ corpses and posing them, often with the use of rods and costumes, women’s magazines used to give advice on what mourning clothes and jewellery to wear. They had to be black. Dear god, why can’t women’s magazines be like that today? It’s a damn sight better than ‘get a bikini body in so many days’, or ‘some celebrity you’ve never heard of is single/pregnant/fat/thin/covered in cellulite’. Queen Victoria wore her mourning clothes for 40 years after Albert died, right up until she died. She was clearly the original Goth. We actually have our own piece of mourning jewellery. The keen-eyed of you might notice the headstone necklaces we always wear. They’re actually lockets with photos of our dogs and our sister’s dog in there, which we got after the first of our 2 dogs died.

National Museum of Scotland

the tiny coffins

There was also an iron mortsafe that coffins used to be placed in to deter bodysnatchers. Then we found the coffins. Only 7 remain but the detail that went into making them is incredible. They have little hinges and the carved corpses have individual outfits. We love the mystery behind the coffins and part of us hopes it never gets solved. The truth will be never be as intriguing as the mystery. We spent longer in this corridor than anywhere else in the museum.National Museum of Scotland

We moved on to medical practises. The Malignant Dead has sparked an interest in 17th century surgical procedures. Before we wrote it, we were only interested in the fact surgery was gory and they did it without anaesthetic. We wandered off, again in different directions, losing each other and Neen and Elaine. When Neen finally tracked us down by the sackcloth of shame and stool of repentance (they exist) she remarked being out with us is like “herding kittens.” We would have to agree. This is why our poor mum had us on reins as children. That and we used to run into the traffic. Our road safety has not improved.

sackcloth of shame and stool of repentance. See? They exist.

sackcloth of shame and stool of repentance. See? They exist.

We’re not proud of what happened next. Many of you have witnessed our meltdowns when we get lost trying to find Calamityville locations. You have never witnessed a meltdown when we fail to find our morning Red Bull. We spent so much time in pubs that our liquid intake for the holiday mostly consisted of Smirnoff Ice or vodka and lemonade. As such, Cat had a horrible headache for the 4 days (no, it wasn’t a hangover). But we absolutely CANNOT miss our morning Red Bull, because that creates a headache of epic proportions that lasts all day. But all the newsagents are off High Street or Cockburn Street. There is one on Cowgate. We scampered to it, all excited and snatched a biggie Red Bull from the fridge. This is where the horror began. The fridge was off. Muttering, we stomped out and continued down Cowgate. We headed up to venture down Canongate, only to discover there were no newsagents on Canongate. We ran across the road to a shop. No Red Bull. We darted back across and walked further, finally finding a sandwich shop. No Red Bull. “Oh, they sell the utter crap that is Coke but no Red Bull?” Cat growled as she and Neen inspected the fridge. Cat left in disgust. Neen laughed and said “you can’t go into a shop and tell them they sell crap.” Cat “well they do.” Neen “I love how ratty you get when you don’t get your Red Bull.” We were reaching crisis point. Cat’s headache was worsening. Neen “you can take pills for that.” Cat “I need a Red Bull to wash them down.” Neen “try water.” Stony silence descended. The only time we can stomach water is when we’re about to pass out and it’s so horrible it revives us.

Finally, at the bottom of Canongate, we spied a newsagents. We sprinted across the road, ignoring the traffic. We scuttled to the fridge, grabbed a biggie and…it was warm. “Why don’t any of these places switch their bloody fridges on?” Cat raged. The assistant came over. “There’s a cold one right at the back,” he said. Cat started moving cans aside. He insisted on doing it, probably worried we were going to start hurling cans everywhere in a bid to reach the cold Precious at the back. Then he handed us the cold can. We paid, avoiding eye contact. You know how it is when you have a meltdown in public then have to deal with witnesses after the situation gets resolved. Made worse by the fact we are the nicest, most polite people you will ever meet. We’re even polite to people who don’t deserve it. Except when we’re in a rage. We barely got out of the shop before opening the can and drinking it. Neen came out and said “I don’t think that poor man had ever seen someone have a Red Bull related meldown before.” Needless to say, we will not be returning to that shop.

Museum of Edinburgh

model of 16th century Edinburgh

Tempers cooled, we headed for the Museum of Edinburgh. And realised we had a half full can of Red Bull. We cursed our decision to buy a biggie. We emptied the side pocket of the rucksack and stashed Precious safely inside. As long as Cat didn’t lean forwards, Biggie would be safe. The museum was really cool. We found a 16th century model of Old Town and spent ages studying it, as this was how our Edinburgh would’ve looked in The Malignant Dead. A volunteer came over to us so we explained why we were so interested in the model. She was able to tell us so much about the city back then, things we’ve now started including in our book. She told us to head to Gladstone Land to speak to a man there, but sadly, we didn’t have time. Since returning from Edinburgh on Friday night, we’ve been desperate to edit the book again. But it’s with a publisher and in a competition. On Monday we caved. We’re weak people.

Museum of EdinburghWe checked out the rest of the museum then went downstairs. And found period clothing for children to dress up in. Blowing raspberries, we shed our bags and circled the room excitedly, trying to pick outfits. They were actually too big for us, so we did look like children playing dress up. We returned to Travelodge for our bags then at 2, our mum texted. Our guinea pig, Pirate was really ill and she was taking him to the vets. After that we didn’t want to be Edinburgh any more. We headed to Frankenstein’s one last time for lunch then made our way to Shake Away for our customary last day milkshake. We had a vegan Red Bull milkshake – Red Bull mixed with soya ice cream. It’s as heavenly as it sounds. The girl behind the counter had to ask the manager how to make a vegan Red Bull milkshake. Lynx stared at her, stunned. Had nobody but us last year ordered this amber nectar? It’s Red Bull and soya ice cream. Two of the best things in the world. It’s a winning combination.Museum of Edinburgh

On our way in, we’d noticed 2 Border Collies tied up outside a shop in the sun. It was a boiling day and the dogs were panting. People were starting to stop and watch them. When we came out of Shake Away to sit outside, the dogs were still in the sun. So us and Neen went over. As we were preparing to untie them and moved them across the street to the shade, we noticed a woman standing by them. They were her dogs. And she barely spoke English. Her husband was in the shop trying on shoes. Neen explained we were worried about the dogs being in the heat as they should be in the shade. The Russian newsagent next door had come out with a bowl of water for them before we headed over and he came out again to refill it. He told the woman the dogs needed to drink a lot in this weather. He also owned a Border Collie. They were lovely. The white one was called Nelson and the black one was Lutz. Nelson kept rolling over for tummy tickles while Lutz was helping herself to the water. The woman must’ve understood part of what we said, because when we next saw the dogs, they were in the shade.

It was time to head home. We accompanied Neen to the train station then us and Elaine got on the bus to head to the airport. We took off our jewellery on the bus so we wouldn’t set off the bleepers. Cat set off the bleepers. Her dress was covered in D rings, eyelets and safety pins. She was taken to one side and assumed the position while security woman patted her down. The security man laughed and said “what did you expect?” Cat replied “I even took my jewellery off.” She then got scanned. Then she got scanned and patted down again. She was there much longer than anybody else. When she joined Lynx and Elaine, she noticed her rucksack was in the middle. The security held it up. “Whose is the skull rucksack?” Cat guiltily raised her hand. “It’s just a random search,” the man explained. It didn’t feel random. “I’m not getting out of this airport am I?” Cat asked. We were glad we hadn’t gone through with our earlier plan of buying herbs from a new age shop and removing the labels. We thought it would be funny but after four hours in customs, even we might have stopped seeing the humour in it. After we got through, we put our jewellery back on and went to find seats. A teenage boy came over and said “I have to ask – how did you get through security?” Cat “I didn’t.”

We texted mum to see how Pirate was. He’d lost a lot of weight over a short period of time. The vet wasn’t sure if he’d make it through the weekend. We just wanted to get home. Cardiff had never seemed so far away. Then our 7:35 p.m. flight was delayed for an hour and a half. We spent our time stealing newspapers and hanging out on Facebook while our mum tagged us in photos of Pirate. She liquidized food for him and he seemed to be enjoying it. When we finally got on the plane at 9 p.m., they were delayed again because the ground crew ran out of equipment and we were in a queue. We finally got home at midnight. The cats flocked to us, telling us woeful tales of starvation. We fetched Pirate from his cage and gave him his syringe food.

Since we got back, the cats have barely left our sides, even sleeping on our beds and Warlock is found sprawled on the pavement whenever we go out and cries when we return. He quit his hunger strike the moment we got back. We syringe fed Pirate every 2 hours and by Monday he’d regained enough strength to be put under general anaesthetic. His back teeth were starting to over grow. Apparently his mouth is the wrong shape for his teeth. He came through the operation really well and is back to singing and climbing his bars for breakfast and he’s even now wanting solid food :)

We’ve only been home 5 days but already we can feel Edinburgh and Burke’s skeleton calling us back…

Day of the Dead

Red Bull MiniDay 3 of Edinburgh – after one of the worst night’s sleep in a while, we woke to find the Red Bull Mini parked below our window like a love-struck Romeo ready to serenade us and awaken us with the amber nectar that is Red Bull. Now we’re the least romantic people you’ll meet but damn it we fell for his efforts. While Neen and Elaine headed for the cafe on Blair Street for breakfast, we spent our time wisely – harassing the Red Bull Mini. Someone even thought we were the reps. We had to explain that no, we just really loved Red Bull. Is it weird admitting to strangers you’ve written songs about an energy drink?Red Bull Mini

We met up with our fellow travellers in the cafe and headed for the Dungeons. As we reached the doors, Elaine realised she’d left her ticket in Travelodge. We told the Dungeons we would return and we parted ways. Neen and Elaine headed to Princes Street to do some shopping and we returned to Old Town. First stop – Red Bull. Mission accomplished, we toured the closes of Old Town, filming short information pieces on them as they’re the locations used in our plague doctor novella, The Malignant Dead. One of them happens to be on the street where our Travelodge is. It’s the scene of a double murder. When we discovered our Travelodge was on this street, we were so excited. It’s not often you get to stay in a place where you kill two characters. Maybe their vengeful ghosts were the reason we weren’t sleeping…We’ll put the filming together so when the book is released, people will be able to see the streets featured in it. Obviously they looked a little different in 1645 – there weren’t wheelie bins and scaffolding back then. Though we spent most of our time nearly getting run down by cars or vans. When we’re casually wandering Edinburgh this doesn’t happen, but if we stand in the road with a camera pointing at us, suddenly we become targets. There were 2 people playing Scottish music near the Mercat cross. It’s hard to film a piece whilst trying to resist doing a jaunty jig in the middle of High Street.

Burke's skin card case

card case made from Burke’s skin

We headed for the Witchery Shop where we bought a replica of the newspaper featuring Burke and Hare’s trial, a skull box and 3 keyrings – tombstone, coffin and ghost. Then we found what we had been searching for – the card case made from Burke’s hand skin. Finally we had caught up with the infamous body snatcher. We stared at it in awe, filming and photographing it as the shop worker sat behind it, probably a little nervous at our ghoulish delight. Unfortunately the case was in a glass case so we couldn’t touch it :( But we did chat to the worker about it and our failed attempt at finding Burke’s skeleton. He told us it isn’t in the Surgeon’s Hall like we’d been told but in the anatomy museum of the university. It’s still used as a teaching tool. The anatomy museum is only open to the public on the last Saturday of the month. When we weren’t there. Howls of rage echoed around the tiny shop. Infuriatingly, we’d originally planned to be in Edinburgh on that day but couldn’t get cheap rooms or the flight times we wanted. It seems Burke is outwitting us from the beyond the grave. There’s only one thing for it – we have to return to Edinburgh. And this time, we will plan our trip around the times when we can view the skeleton. People have planned trips around worse reasons.

execution site on Grassmarket

execution site on Grassmarket

Later we headed to Grassmarket to meet up with our fellow travellers. We found them trapped on the bus so waved and turned around, constantly taunting them as they were stuck in traffic :D We met up by the old execution site then ventured into Edinburgh’s oldest pub, The White Hart Inn, built in 1516. In The Malignant Dead, McCrae drinks in here. We filmed the corner where he sits. The guy who happened to be sitting in the corner started looking very paranoid as both us and the camera pointed at him. He was too far away to hear us talking about the book. We decided not to explain what we were doing, instead letting him wonder why he was the focal point for our filming :D A day isn’t complete until we’ve made at least one person nervous.

White Hart Inn

White Hart Inn with nervous man in white t-shirt

After finishing our vodkas and lemonades, we decided to head to a vegan cafe we’d heard about on Bread Street. It had closed down. So we wandered down Morriston Street to find the other vegan cafe we’d heard about. It was now boiling and Morriston Street was very long. We must’ve walked about half a mile when we finally found a sign for the cafe. It didn’t look very existent. In fact, it was starting to look like crack den. But the door to the building was open so we went in. As we were walking up the abandoned stairs, this was feeling more like the start to a horror film than a cafe. Did we do the sensible thing and turn around? No. Stories never start with “so we turned around and went home.” That would ruin the inbred cannibals’ fun. We reached the top to find doors locked and post piling up outside. Definitely closed then. And we’d walked all this way. Our zumba teacher commented on our FB post about this, saying how she loves our unique take on the world – we’ll walk for miles in the heat to find a vegan cafe but get really excited at seeing something made from human skin :D We found a really nice empty pub called The Priory. They had skull bottles on the wall. That was an automatic win for us. The waiter was really friendly, even if he did look like Austin Powers’s son.

The Priory Pub Edinburgh

skull bottles in The Priory Pub

We returned to Travelodge before heading back out to Frankenstein’s! Our favourite waitress, Bec, introduced us to the gloriousness that is chips in  ice cream. She is the first person we’ve met who wasn’t disgusted when we told her about the heavenly treat that is dipping chips in slush puppy. Then we made our way to the Dungeons. Edinburgh DungeonsThey were brilliant as always. Neen once again got put on trial for witchcraft. Not quite sure how this keeps happening. Maybe us constantly pointing at her and shouting “witch!” doesn’t really help. Luckily we’re in the 21 century and not 1649, or Neen’s fate would be so much worse. The only guy in the group got picked on for most of it :D There were 2 girls in their early twenties who were the obligatory screamers you get on every tour. We always have fun with screamers. You can spot them instantly – they’re usually 2 girls in the late teens/early twenties who spend the whole time clinging to each other, too scared to move on, and they shriek at the slightest thing. The girls got made to ride in the front of the boat as we headed to Sawney Bean’s cannibal caves. We love the boat ride, it’s pitch black and really creepy as you hear the cannibals hunting for you. The girls’ terror was intensified when they kept getting tickled. By Neen :D We bought ourselves a cuddly executioner from the gift shop. We named him Ketch, after the worst executioner in British history, Jack Ketch, who took 7 goes to sever James Scott’s head.

Ketch enjoying a Red Bull smoothie

Ketch enjoying a Red Bull smoothie

Edinburgh ghost bus

The Necrobus

9 p.m., it was time to climb aboard the Necrobus! The buses were used as funeral hearses to carry mourners, pallbearers and the coffin to the funeral, until a fire burned all but 2 buses. One is in London, the other in Edinburgh. They used to close the curtains if the coffin was on overnight as people believed spirits could become trapped in reflective surfaces. The bus was incredible. We want one. The tour was brilliant and a thick fog descended, making it eerily atmospheric. The views of Edinburgh were completely shrouded in the fog but we think it made the experience better. The conductor was hilarious. He even let us go downstairs for Neen to take our photo as we pretended to be the spirits trapped inside the windows. We wanted to spend the night on the bus but unfortunately, people seem to notice when we’re not among the group so we never get away with hiding until closing time.Edinburgh ghost bus

Then we finally made it to Banshee’s Labyrinth! Reputedly the most haunted pub in Edinburgh but what excited us was it used to be Bloody George MacKenzie’s house. Yes, the MacKenzie poltergeist we hunted for last year. It used to attack women in the house. And it’s now a pub and situated over one of the vaults where a banshee has been seen. It was stunning.

Banshee's Labyrinth

inside Banshee’s Labyrinth

Purple walls upstairs, red walls downstairs, black gothic furniture. It looked like our house. We found a gibbet in a tunnel so naturally put ourselves inside it. Unfortunately, the only spirit was inside our lemonade.Edinburgh ghost bus

Day at the Museum

National Museum of ScotlandDay 2 started with us finding a Red Bull Mini parked in the Travelodge car park. We were so excited! We decided to inject some culture into our lives and headed to the National Museum of Scotland. Was it in the search for the Ming exhibition? Or Scotland through the ages? No. It was to see William Burke’s skeleton. You see we had heard it was in the museum so we hurried in, excited. So excited we got stuck in the revolving doors and had to force our way free. Not quite the dignified entrance we’d hoped for, but frankly, Cat had left her dignity at the airport when she had to un-padlock our suitcase to get out the spare camera batteries out while the case was about to disappear on the conveyor belt, and Lynx’s dignity was stuck to the bollard with her knee skin. We’d never had a desire to visit Edinburgh until we learned of Burke and Hare. We know, most people want to visit a city because of its architecture, or a romantic ideal. We wanted to see the city where the body snatchers lived.

We’re terrible in museums. There’s always so much to look at it, we never know where to go first, which usually results in us standing still and pivoting until something shiny catches our eyes. And we’re always so excited about the exhibitions that we can’t read the information cards because we’re too impatient, so we never learn anything. Neen warned her mum it was like taking toddlers in. Oversized Gothic toddlers who squeal and clap at the sight of skeletons. Neen grabbed a map and we scanned it for Burke’s skeleton, which we assumed would be the jewel in the museum’s collection. It wasn’t mentioned. But dinosaurs were, so we hurried to the natural world section to look for T-Rex.  National Museum of ScotlandThere was a weighing scales where you could see what animal you weighed as the same as. Turns out, we’re somewhere between an emperor penguin and a komodo dragon. The top animal was a polar bear, so the four of us squeezed on to see if we could reach polar bear. We failed. A mum and her 2 kids were watching so we convinced them to join us. We still didn’t make it to polar bear! We called for more bodies. A little girl hopped on and we cheered as the polar bear target was reached.

We resumed our hunt for Burke’s skeleton and decided to visit Dolly the sheep. For those of you who don’t know her, she was the first ever cloned animal back in 1997. Now she’s in a glass case. Personally, we would have preferred for her to be buried. There’s something about taxidermy that really freaks us out. On the way to see Dolly, we spotted a shiny in the form of an Isetta bubble car and scuttled into the exhibition to look at it. Then we saw a Mini, followed by an early example of car. Then there was a case of typewriters and cameras. We nearly forgot about Dolly until Neen reminded us. In the section with Dolly was a game to test your reaction speed. Neen managed to hit 32 targets, Elaine got 27. Lynx only managed 15, barely beating Cat’s score of 12. In our defence, it was pre-Red Bull o’clock and those lights were really hard to see.National Museum of Scotland

Eventually, after wandering most of the museum, we gave in and asked someone where Burke’s skeleton was. He told us it was in the surgeon’s hall and showed us where it was on the map then went on to their site. It’s closed until summer 2015. A howl of disappointment rang out through the museum. To cheer ourselves up, we went to look at more dinosaurs. Then we spotted a tree tunnel in the kids section so went inside and crawled through, to strange looks from nearby children.

Then we visited a childhood museum. In the window was one of our favourite games when we were kids – the penguin race game. Our nan and grampy bought it for us and we would spend hours playing it. We had to buy it. (We’ve just set it up at home and have spent ages watching the cute little penguins climb the steps and go down the slide repeatedly while making penguin sounds. Mum “I don’t know how that kept you amused as kids.” Us “it’s keeping us amused now.”)

Next we hopped on a tour bus and went to Dynamic Earth. We got over excited at seeing the big plastic dinosaurs outside. Dynamic EarthDynamic Earth was really cool. It teaches you all about how the earth was formed, about volcanic eruptions, glaciers and takes you through different time periods. Normally it’s not a topic that interests us (not enough blood and gore for our liking), but it was a fascinating place and well worth a visit. Even if we did fall asleep during the super volcanoes video. Not through boredom but through not sleeping well and not drinking enough Red Bull. There was one little girl of about 8 or 9 who stared at us so much we were forced to take a different tour. It was either that or charge her a staring fee.Dynamic Earth

We got back on the bus and went to another of our favourite pubs – Jekyll & Hyde. There are cabinets with skulls, medical equipment, there’s chandeliers, gargoyles and the place is painted purple with black furniture. Like our room. The toilets are hidden behind a fake library wall. If we had a castle, the inside would look like this. Then it was back to Frankenstein’s!Jekyll & Hyde

The Cadies Witchery TourAt 9 we headed out for the Witchery Tour. It was brilliant. One of the best tours we’ve done. It was led by Adam Lyal (Deceased) and his sidekick “Steve” who at first was dressed as a plague doctor, with football socks and daps. Cat was accused of being a witch and put on trial. Her thumbs were placed in thumbscrews as she protested her innocence, to the cries of “witch!” “Burn her!” and “guilty!” from Lynx and Neen. There’s always one heckler on the tour. As the tour moved through the streets, we were accosted by “Steve” in various disguises, but the football socks and daps were a giveaway. He was hilarious. Don’t think we’ve ever laughed so much on a tour. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen a skeleton monk perform the Smooth Criminal dance and flash his thighs at us.The Cadies Witchery Tour

By the time we finished the tour, a thick fog shrouded Edinburgh. Eerily perfect for a witchery tour. We stopped to take photos and met 3 people who were on our tour. When we returned to Travelodge, the people we’d met were staying in our Travelodge! One of the guys said “are you stalking us or are we stalking you?” Cat replied “we’ve been stalking you for a while now, we’re so good at it you’ve only just noticed.” He replied “we’re on the 4th floor.” Neen said “we know.” After that, we bumped into them at the same spot in Travelodge (the lift) every day for the rest of our visit and even encountered them on the street. But we did learn that the Witchery shop has a card case made from Burke’s skin. So maybe we’ll get a glimpse of him after all…The Cadies Witchery Tour

Auld Reekie

We did what we swore we’d do since last year: we went back to Edinburgh. Neen was travelling up by train from Durham, where she and her family were staying so we flew up to meet her, accompanied by her mum, Elaine. Yes, we had adult supervision. Got to Edinburgh about 6:30 p.m., arriving on match day. We time our trips so perfectly. Neen was stuck in Newcastle waiting for her train so we were posting travelling selfies to each other on Facebook to pass the time. Our Travelodge was lovely and they even let us stash our soya milk in the fridge. Now we wished we’d brought Red Bull with us to save our daily game of ‘find the newsagents’. (On Friday that nearly resulted in an epic meltdown on the Canongate). One of the Travelodge workers was a fellow vegan and also not bad on the eyes. Actually, the number of pleasant-looking gentlemen spotted during the trip was record-breaking. We did a different sort of sight seeing this week ;)

On our way to get something to eat, we passed the Museum of Childhood and saw a penguin race game our nan and grampy gave us when we were kids. It was one of our favourite games. We were so excited that as we rushed over, Cat’s IR light mysteriously fell off the bracket, breaking the battery cover. So after we had been served in Nando’s, Cat asked what is possibly the strangest request they’ve ever had: did they have any gaffer tape. At first the man looked bemused and possibly scared, perhaps wondering whether the innocent question would lead to someone being taped kidnap-style to a chair, but when she explained, he went off to find some, no longer fearful of being complicit in a crime. Fifteen minutes passed and we assumed he’d forgotten all about it. But then he returned and said he’d been hunting for it the whole time but couldn’t find any. That’s customer service for you!

Frankenstein's pubWe headed for our favourite pub – Frankenstein’s. We ventured here every day during our trip.  We reckon they have a higher than average rate of good looking bar staff :D The gothic themed pubs in Edinburgh are incredible. This is something Cardiff is seriously lacking. But then Cardiff doesn’t have Edinburgh’s gothic literature past. We made a barmaid buddy, Bec, from Melbourne who was really cool and even introduced us to the combination of chips in ice cream. And she must be the first person who doesn’t find the idea of chips in Slush Puppy disgusting. For that she has earned our everlasting respect and deserves a pay rise, especially since we got her into trouble by hogging her attention. Frankenstein’s, it’s staff like her who keep people like us coming back. We spent some time playing in an electric chair, pretending to be electrocuted and amusing the guy sitting at the table next to it. In our defence, it wasn’t there last year.

As we left Frankenstein’s, Lynx saw a newsagent’s across the road. While wondering if it sold sellotape, she didn’t look where she was going. SPLAT! Straight into a concrete bollard. She somehow managed not to face plant, but she did graze both knees. Weirdly, although she did it in front of everyone who was sitting outside the restaurant right by her, the only people in hysterics were our group. Unfortunately, nobody was filming at the time, so the most epic fall on Calamityville has gone unrecorded.

Mercat tours blair street vaultsThen we headed for our first tour – the Blair Street vaults with Mercat Tours. We’d visited Auld Reekie’s and City of the Dead’s vaults last year. The vaults were amazing. Really atmospheric. We wish we could’ve spent the night there alone but writing doesn’t pay enough! When we were in the ‘safe’ vault, we stood in the corner where the cobbler is heard. Cat started feeling dizzy but it may have been the wobbly board she was standing on. Pregnant women tend to get pushed in these vaults but sadly there were no pregnant women there for us to test this theory. Even if there was, people get scared when you use the term ‘ghost bait’. We moved into Mr Boots’s vault, so called because of the heavy boots he wears. We stood right at the back in the most active area. The K2 meter, which had been registering 0 all the way around, rose to 1.5 in this vault, then dropped to 1 before rising back to 1.5.

Mercat tours Blair Street vaultsThis is where the tour ended so we loitered while everyone else left so we could take photos and spend some time in the vaults alone. Lynx had gone on a bit ahead while Cat stayed back to photograph the creepy corridors. She heard a scraping sound, almost like sawing and thought it might have been her Dungeons keyring rubbing her bag, so she stood still. The noise was still there. By now, she was the only person in this part of the vaults. She caught up with Lynx then we were standing near a skeleton in the cage when we both heard footsteps, really loudly, like cowboy boots marching through the vaults. We turned around, thinking a member of staff was coming up behind us to throw us out.

Mercat tours, Blair Street vaultsThere was no one there.

Neen came down to look for us as the guide, Lia, wanted to lock up. When we got upstairs, we asked her if there was anyone else in the vaults. She said no. Apparently there was someone else in the shop upstairs, but not in the vaults. We wondered if maybe someone had gone down to blow out the candles or check to make sure everyone (us) had left. Nobody had passed us, but the vaults have a lot of chambers, so it’s possible someone came down when we were in the vaults towards the back. In hindsight we wish we’d gone back down to check, but we were already pushing our luck by staying behind. As far as Lia knew, we were alone down there, but we can’t be sure.

Was Mr Boots trying to force us out of the vaults?Mercat tours, Blair Street vaults

Escaping the Asylum

Today is a historical day for us. Today we will leave the mental health system for the first time in 11 years because our psychologist, Neil, is retiring. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little anxious. We’ve never experienced adulthood without the mental health system. We get the sense the strait jacket dresses we bought last Halloween may be coming into use…Neil did offer us the choice to go with another psychologist, but we declined. It’s hard for us to open up to people and we’re not sure another psychologist could tune into our frequency as easily as Neil does.

It was nice knowing that when something went wrong, it wasn’t that long until we saw Neil and he’d help us sort it out. There is something comforting about having someone completely separate from your life who will back you up, help you out, or just listen to you rant and weep. Everyone should have a psychologist :D

We first saw a psychiatrist when we were 15, having been diagnosed with clinical depression at 14. We saw our psychiatrist for 2 years until an incident led to her never calling us back. To be honest, we didn’t find the sessions helpful, although she did prescribe us Propranolol for our panic attacks. Looking back, we weren’t completely honest with her. We were scared that if we told her everything we felt and thought about, or that we’d lock ourselves in our house, armed with knives, in case someone came to kill us, that she would have us locked away in Whitchuch. We were scared of our own minds and what we might be capable of. We tried going it alone for nearly 3 years, but we got worse. In the end we went back to our GP and told him needed help. He put us on the waiting list then when we were 20, we met our clinical psychologists, Neil and Andrew. They decided as we were experiencing the same problems, they would treat us together. Andrew later left to join the CRISIS mental health team. We don’t remember much of the first meeting (our memories are like black holes – the older we get, the more they swallow) but we do remember crying from pretty much start to finish. And it’s rare we’ll cry in front of people.

We haven’t been the easiest patients. Every time Neil would try to praise us or compliment us, our stock response would be “but you’re paid to say that.” Such smartarses :D He described us as ‘exotic’ and ‘paradoxes’. For the first time, someone got us. It took us a while to actually be willing to change. It might seem weird to people who have never suffered from depression or anxiety, but the idea of getting better terrified us. As much as we hated the depression and anxiety, they were familiar. Safe. We knew who we were. We didn’t like who we were, but we knew us. We were scared that we wouldn’t like the people we would become if we changed. People didn’t like us, what if they hated the new us more? The idea of not being depressed or anxious was so alien to us that when Neil would ask us what we would do if we were better, we couldn’t answer. Our whole lives had been under these demons’ control that it was unthinkable to imagine a life without them. He set us a challenge to write where we thought we’d be in 5 years’ time. At that point, we weren’t even sure if we’d still be around then. Turned out, 5 years later, Neil came to our first ever book reading at Waterstones when our first story was published. It was him who encouraged us to start submitting our stories. Without him, we would not be published authors.

Gradually we came to realise that Neil did actually like us and not because he was being paid to be nice to us :D And somewhere along the way, we became friends. After 7 years of bullying, we couldn’t see why anyone would like us. The kids in school found plenty of things to dislike about us, so we naturally assumed everyone else felt the same way. To this day, we struggle to see why people like us. We’re the same people we’ve always been. Neen will often tell us how much people we’ve met like us and we always respond with “but why? We don’t speak to people.”

When we first started battling our social phobia, Neil set us a challenge – we had to one scary thing every month for a whole year. The first thing we did was book tickets to see Rocky Horror in the theatre. One month, we sat outside Starbucks, too scared to go in. After half an hour, we drove away. We returned in the afternoon, but it was busier than it had been in the morning. Again, we drove away. It wasn’t until our first visit that we went inside and stayed. It wasn’t a comfortable experience, but we kept doing it. Social phobia isn’t just being anxious about social situations. There are more layers than that. The thought of ordering something left us cold inside. What if they didn’t have anything we liked? (A high probability as we’re extremely fussy.) What if there was nowhere to sit? We hated eating and drinking in public. When you have social phobia, it feels like everything you do is on a giant TV screen, with everyone watching every single tiny move you make. Eating in front of people was unbearable. Even smiling in public was unbearable. We used to practise what would we say so we wouldn’t mess it up and embarrass ourselves.

Now we embarrass ourselves all the time on YouTube :D

The end of that year resulted in us going to see My Chemical Romance in concert. Thanks to Neil we can now eat and drink in public. We can now use public toilets – something we wouldn’t even do when we were kids. We wouldn’t even use them in school. We can now go to the cinema, something we hadn’t done in 12 years. We go out to pubs, we go ghost hunting all around the country. We even flew to Edinburgh last year and are going back in a couple of weeks. When we first met Neil, we didn’t have any friends. Now we do. We’re now online – something which took him about 2 years to persuade us to do, as we feared being bullied online. We’ve been to gigs, a rock club, we’ve done poetry performances, done a reading at a literary festival. We do zumba, which involves two things we hated – people and dancing in front of people. And we love it. We started swimming again after an 18 year gap because the thought of wearing bathers in public terrified us. We used to be really good swimmers. When we started back up in October, we could only swim one length before stopping. Now we swim a mile non-stop. We’ve now joined a Boxercise class. And it’s all because of Neil. Because every time we go with our first instinct, which is to say no, we think ‘what would Neil say?’ Neil would say “go for it. Feel the fear and do it anyway.” We were going to say no to the reading at Salem Literary Festival, as all the other authors were highly successful and had been published for years. We’re nobodies. We’re not successful. Nobody’s even heard of us. We felt we had no right being there. But we heard Neil’s voice urging us to say yes. So we did. And it was brilliant. Everything we get invited to, we have to fight the automatic ‘no’ and say yes. Something we’d never have done without him.

To us, social interaction has always seemed like a game where everyone knew the rules, yet somebody had forgotten to give us the rulebook. We’d be on the outside looking in, not understanding a single thing that went on. To be honest, we still haven’t fully grasped it, but now we make up our own rules. And we don’t care if we get it wrong. We used to consider ourselves failures because we didn’t have what everyone else had, what our family had – a well paid job, their own home, marriage kids etc., society’s view of ‘success’. He said to us “is that what you want?” we immediately said “no. That’s exactly what we DON’T want. It’s our version of Hell.” Neil “then how is that successful?” Us “society says that’s successful.” Neil “but that’s not YOUR version of successful is it?” And he was right. We were comparing ourselves to other people. But we didn’t want what they had. We wanted something different. From that point on, it changed our view of what success was, and it wasn’t the typical set-up society presented. A nice house, good job, marriage, kids etc. is fine for other people. But not for us. So this is why at 31, we still live with our mum. Society says this is wrong and we should be living elsewhere but we no longer care what society says. We’d rather live here and be able to afford to travel the country ghost hunting and buy what we want rather than being permanently broke just for the sake of having a place we can’t afford so society accepts us. We don’t have a well paid job – we earned £300 between us last year for writing – and we’re single. And we love it. We’re full time writers (which we couldn’t do without our mum’s support), part time ghost hunters and we can spend all day with the animal army. THAT’S what we’ve always wanted. Although it would be nice to be successful writers…

We haven’t won the war against our social phobia and depression, but we win the small battles every time we say yes. We still don’t like doing certain things – like ordering at the bar, walking into a crowded place, making phone calls, but now we do them. We don’t let fear dictate what we do. Well, not always. You can’t win every battle. And some weeks we won’t leave the house for days. But that’s no longer because of the social phobia. It’s because we’re natural hermits and leaving the house means interrupting writing time :D

It’s not every day you meet someone who changes your life and saves you from yourself, so thank you Neil.

Omelette on the Rampage

We’re very excited today because we have another guest in Ravens Retreat. There hasn’t been a guest for a while – probably because of the rumour that those who visit Ravens Retreat never leave. That’s not true. They are free to leave whenever they like. They just have to make it out of the dungeon first :D Anyway, our guest today is the lovely and hilarious Sharon, all the way from Scotland. She’s the author of The Tangled Web, the highly successful Leger Cat sleuth stories and she’s here to talk about her latest release which combines two things we love: horror and humour. And you don’t get more humorous than an omelette on a rampage. So welcome Sharon, have a seat in our throne room and when you’re done, our hunky servant will show you the way to the dungeon. We mean exit.

Lacey DearieMy name is Sharon and I write using the pseudonym Lacey Dearie.  I want to reach out to people thinking of switching genres because recently for a short time, that is what I tried to do.  Writing horror was never part of my plan.  I always intended to write women’s fiction.  I even chose my pseudonym based on what I thought would appeal to my target audience.  However, the majority of readers who downloaded my work hated it for no reason other than that it was low-brow chick-lit.  I had to have a re-think because I use my royalties to pay bills.   I rely on writing income to survive but since I have no contract with a publisher, that means I can write anything I want, doesn’t it?  Okay, so my attempt at romance was reviewed as “awkward and weird,” and “the weirdest title I have read on my Kindle,” but I made an impression.

I began writing cozy mysteries about a cat detective and launched a lingerie blog.  It wasn’t chick-lit but I was subconsciously reaching out to the same demographic.  I still needed to do something else.  I wanted to prove I’m not all about cats and knickers (but really, I am).  I needed to show the world I can write characters who aren’t winos and whose lives aren’t a series of embarrassing disasters they’ll relate to their friends later.  I write enough of those stories about my own life on my personal blog!

I decided to dip into erotic horror.  I discarded all the chick-lit clichés – the gay best friend, the protagonist’s penchant for wine/cocktails and all manner of sex and shoe related disasters.  I vowed to write something harrowing that would have my readers finishing the story in a state of shock and confusion.  So I did.  I wrote something with a dungeon, inter-species sex, an orgy, a schizophrenic terrorist who goes on a killing spree, someone who has their innards ripped out and served up as breakfast and an incestuous scene involving two brothers and something that may or may not be a transsexual.  Oh, and a lesbian whose boobs explode when she gets angry.  But because I’m a chick-lit writer, when I wrote all this I made it acceptable to girly girls like myself by making all the characters FOODS.  Despite this, I still guarantee you will never look at breakfast the same way again.

To me, it’s important to write something fun and Omelette On The Rampage, my alternative horror story, allowed me to do that.  It’s also crucial to be true to yourself, no matter what your genre is, and write what you feel comfortable with.  When I sat down to write a horror story, I couldn’t pull it off.  I thought about the times I picked up a book with a sparkly, pastel coloured cover by my favourite chick-lit author and read about somebody getting abused or murdered.  It’s never happened!  And it’s something I never want to happen to my regular readers.

I don’t want to change the world.  I just want women to read my books on holiday.  Thanks to my cat detective series, I gained a whole new following of men and women who are passionate about animals and don’t enjoy having theirheart rate skyrocket when they settle down with their Kindles.  My hope is that if readers take a chance on my attempt at erotic horror, they’ll have fun.  By turning those serious, disturbing situations into a chef cooking breakfast in a restaurant, it will be something that anyone with a sense of humour can enjoy.

Thanks for reading my ramblings and thanks to the C L Raven ladies for hosting me here today.  If you’d like to read Omelette On The Rampage, the links are included at the bottom of this post.

Omelette on the Rampage, Lacey Dearie Amazon US

Amazon UK





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