Recent Visits

Sorry, it’s been a while, *sings Stain’d* but we’ve been out of ideas on what to blog about and rather than bore you with tumbleweed, we’ve been lurking under bridges with butterfly nets trying to kidnap ideas that dare cross our bridge. We’ve also been visiting other people’s blogs, like evil Santas delivering presents of doom.

First up is Sarah Kitsinis’s great new blog, The M.I.C. which stands for Mindful, Informed, Conscious, all about issues affecting the world today that maybe people don’t think too much about. It’s about learning about subjects you’re perhaps not aware of, or don’t know much about. The first post is about blurred gender lines and how not everyone fits into the gender they were born with, or even either gender. Sarah asked us to write a couple of posts for it on animal cruelty and bullying – two issues which shaped our lives. We were thrilled to be asked. The blog feels like a mini revolution and we’re all for revolution. So we started to write about animal cruelty, which ended up focusing on factory farming and how we became vegan at 14. Read the post, Food for Thought here. Don’t worry, it’s not a preach condemning meat eaters, it’s simply pointing out what happens behind farm doors and how it affects the world, not just animals. It was a refreshing change to write about a subject which means a lot to us. It probably seems a strange paradox – horror writers who are vegan. After all, our characters regularly rip out people’s hearts or do creative things with their bones 😀

Second up is our article, Duchesses of York  that we wrote for Oapschat. It’s about our trip to York and the ghosts that haunt it. Oapschat is a website set up by author Janice Rosser for the over-50s, but it has many great articles that are relevant for all ages – we’re fans of the website on Facebook and it’s really interesting. In fact, Janice was recently named in the Top 100 people who make others happy, all down to Oapschat. So check out the rest of the website while you’re there.

In the meantime, we’ve been submitting – The Malignant Dead, our plague doctor novella, has been submitted to the Yeovil prize and Jonathan Cape publishers, who have an open submission month for the whole of June. Bleeding Empire has had another redraft and has also gone to Jonathan Cape. We’ve started writing a new short story, untitled at the moment, about a 16 year old girl who summons a poltergeist in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. We haven’t written much YA, but we wanted to try something different other than the usual supernatural love triangle which seems to dominate YA. We also didn’t want to write about the typical YA heroine, who is the new girl in town, is instantly well-liked and gets the hottest guy in school. High school wasn’t like that for us and it’s not like that for many kids. We want to show high school in its ugly, painful reality. When we were teenagers, we would never have read a romance book or even a supernatural story with a romance element, so we’re not going to write them. We’re going to turn it into a novella, along with another short story, The Slender Man. You never know, we could be the new cause of teenagers’ nightmares 😀 The hardest part will be appealing to teenagers. We didn’t appeal to teenagers when we were their age!

And we’re also about to release Season 3 of Calamityville Horror. The first episode, Greyfriars Kirkyard will air on Wednesday. So get ready for more meltdowns, more getting lost and more dancing than ever before. There might even be some paranormal activity captured too. We know – paranormal activity on a ghost hunting show. It shocked us too. Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss it! We’ve already started filming Season 4 and in August we’ll be spending the night locked inside Newsham Park Hospital, a former orphanage and asylum in Liverpool. We are so excited we keep breaking into random dancing. We plan to lock ourselves in the naughty cupboards and the morgue fridge. But we’ll have to check for spiders. We’ll get inside the fridge with ghosts, maybe even a corpse at a push but if there is a spider in there, no way. We’ve all seen Arachnophobia.

Dungeon Mistresses

Saturday dawned misty, despite the sunshine we were promised. We set off for Temple Newsam in Leeds, which was about half an hour away. The ghosts there include Margaret Ingram, who was robbed by highwaymen and had her pearl necklace stolen, which had been a christening present from her grandfather. The next day she remembered nothing of the attack and was convinced she had lost the necklace. She refused to eat and spent the next two weeks frantically looking for it, even unpicking cushions. Then she died. People report still seeing her wandering or see furniture moving and carpets rippling in her search. Most ghost hunting websites say she was 14 or 15. However, we found an epitaph of her headstone in Westminster Abbey and it says she was 12. The other ghost is Phoebe Gray, a 16 year old servant girl strangled to death by a vulgar, smelly man called William who took a fancy to her and attacked her on the dark stairway before tossing her body down the well. He was hanged for his crime. So not only does Temple Newsam have two great ghost stories, it also has a farm and an adventure playground. To be honest, we couldn’t decide which we were more excited about.

Temple Newsam

Temple Newsam

We didn’t get lost! We headed to the manor house as we wanted to get on the cellar tour, which started at 11. We weren’t allowed to film and photography was also prohibited, but as you can tell from the photos, not everyone is willing to follow the rules. No flash was used so there’s no damage caused, and as for taking photos in the cellar, they said ‘no photography inside the house.’ Technically, we were underneath it 😀 The manor house was lovely though the overuse of ‘please do not touch’ signs did hint at mistrust. There was no-one on hand to tell us stories about the place like there was in Baddesley Clinton, though one bored worker in charge of entertaining school kids happily talked to us.

Temple Newsam

stairway where Phoebe Gray died

Then began the tour. It was really cool. We were taken to the stairs where Phoebe was murdered and taken through parts of the house where normal tourists aren’t allowed, through servants’ passageways and then down to the cellars. We walked through the servants’ tunnel and our guide switched out the lights. It was pitch black. We could imagine how scary it must have been walking through there with only a candle, if they were lucky. We would’ve tripped and dropped the tray. They even had to master the stairs in the dark. We can’t even master stairs in daylight!

Temple Newsam

show us your babies!

After the tour came the part we were most looking forwards to – the farm! Yes the manor house had ghost stories and creepy tunnels but the farm had babies! We shouted “show us your babies!” and almost every animal obliged. We got to pat kids (the goat kind) and lambs. The lambs even nibbled our fingers and when we scratched them above the tail, their little woolly tails wagged! They were so cute. We wanted to take them with us but with a four seater Mini Cooper and our electric cool box taking up one seat, there was no room. Plus there’s the frankly unworkable ‘no more pets’ rule that has been enforced at Casa Raven. Temple NewsamWe spent more time with the animals than we did at the manor house. We interviewed chickens, donkeys, cows, ducks, sheep, goats, rabbits and pigs about the ghosts at the manor house but not one animal would talk to us. Even one particularly noisy sheep fell silent every time we mentioned the ghosts. Then four grey hens (who can’t be named for legal reasons) gathered around and they were very eager to speak to us. Through the syllables clucked, we were able to determine their answers. When asked “what happened to Phoebe Gray?” they responded with “she died.” And when we asked how, they said “William killed her.” We might now have to take these hens in to Witness Protection.

Temple Newsam

Neen on the swing

Time disappeared and we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from the babies. But York was calling and so was the adventure playground. We dropped our bags, hitched our skirts and showed the kids how it’s done. Think they were impressed. It’s not every day you see Goths in playgrounds. We took turns on the swings then the obstacle course, going up it the wrong way and demonstrating to the kids how not to use playground equipment.

Cat showing kids how it's done

Cat showing kids how it’s done

Neen was the only one suitably dressed for playground shenanigans but we never let style get in the way of having fun. And it turned out, satin skirts made the tube slide even faster, with Cat shooting out and landing on her feet before giving an enthusiastic bow. Only for her heavy locket to swing up and smack her on the nose. She still has a bruise and small lump there four days on. And Lynx hurt herself in the slide when she came out sideways and landed on a stone. Then we all jumped on the rounabout, only to feel sick with all the spinning. We were unable to walk once we’d jumped off. It’s a sign you’re getting old when you can no longer enjoy the children’s roundabout 😦

Temple Newsam

Lynx demonstrating climbing skills

Then we set off for York and The Dungeons. We loved Edinburgh Dungeons and regularly stalk the Twitter and Facebook pages so we were really looking forwards to the York Dungeons. We even found a cheap car park! £4 for 24 hours, so we could use it Sunday too. It was quite a walk, but we’ll happily walk further to pay less. Though our feet weren’t thanking us by the end. Even Cat’s special insoles for heel spurs gave up. We had to queue outside The Dungeons but finally the sun had appeared so it wasn’t too bad. In Edinburgh there was only 8 in our group. In York, there was 23. It would’ve been better with less. Even worse was there were 3 intensely irritating 10 year old girls in our group. Even Neen wanted them to be locked in the mirror maze and she’s a mother! There were also 2 15 year old girls who spent the entire time clinging to each other with their eyes shut. The Dungeons say if you have a nervous disposition, don’t enter. The only ones who weren’t scared, were us and Neen. The attractions were great and the staff are amazing there, though the girls did ruin it for us. It’s hard to enjoy something when someone irritates you to the point of murderous intentions.

But the highlight was Neen being chosen as the witch. We heckled and called for her burning while the group were silent. They did eventually join in with chanting when the witch pricker encouraged it. Neen cursed everyone as the flames rose and when they died, all that remained was a charred skeleton. We asked if we could take it with us, as we were now a team member down and a charred skeleton would look great in our photos. We weren’t allowed and Neen was returned to us unharmed. Clearly a witch.

We had fifteen minutes before the final tour of the witches’ shop so we rushed across York to Stonegate and got there with two minutes to spare. Except the final tour had already left. Calamityville Horror – we didn’t get there in the end.

York Dungeons

Off with her head!