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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Believe in ghosts

In recent years interest in paranormal fiction has burgeoned, though of course the genre is by no means new.

Many young readers who have discovered vampires through Twilight and its successors probably never heard of Bram Stoker’s Dracula when they first gained an interest in the saga of Bella Swan.

Ghost stories are one sub-genre of the paranormal and these have a long and respectable tradition, penned by a good number of great authors, among them Charles Dickens, M.R. James, Henry James, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, Fritz Leiber, Shirley Jackson, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Susan Hill.

Medieval ghost - wikipedia commons

There are two types of ghost stories. In the first, it is obvious from the outset that the story relates to ghosts – usually to be found in an anthology. There, the author is striving for effect, the crawl of chilled fingers up the spine, the anticipation of incipient doom, the tragedy of history repeating itself, etc. The second type is not defined as ghost story, and may be a romance, a mystery, or a suspense tale and its ending is often the twist that reveals the ghost aspect; naturally, these stories cannot be contained in a ghost anthology, or the plot ultimate device is destroyed.

In my time I’ve written both kinds, and enjoyed writing them.

Interestingly, a 2014 YouGov poll reveals the findings concerning British people and their belief in things that go bump in the night.

Apparently, only 23% of British people say they are religious. I think that despite the low percentage who consider them religious, a higher percentage actually believes in God (in one form or another).

According to the poll, 1 in 3 holds the belief that ghosts exist; that is 34%. And of that number, 9% state they have communicated with a ghost.

39% believe a house can be haunted.

28% have felt the presence of a supernatural being.

The poll states that women are 10% more likely than men to believe in ghosts.

And, finally, 17% are likely to believe in life after death.

Touch wood, like all poll results, these figures may need to be taken with a pinch of salt (thrown over the shoulder if spilled), since we all know that statistics can prove anything.

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