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Posts Tagged ‘Dracula’

Ghoulish Goings On At St George’s College!

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Hello all

Before the summer holidays I visited the brilliant St George’s College in Weybridge. Mr Waight kindly wrote up this report of the events for the school newsletter and has allowed me to reproduce it here (names of students have been removed due to school policy):

‘On July 3, author William Hussey visited St George’s College to give three presentations. He started the day by discussing the writer’s craft with the Sixth Form English students, followed this with a terrifying mock witch trial with the First Years and finally gave a haunting talk on the Gothic genre to the Second Years.

The First Year students were immediately engaged by William’s presence, learning how he became interested in writing and the historical events surrounding witchcraft in Civil War Britain. Having been educated on the traditional instruments used by witchfinders of the time, including the terrifying bodkin, the students were ready for their very own witch trial. [student name] was the unfortunate student accused of being a witch – and with the help of townsfolk, his fate – guilty! – was sealed by the jury of 120 first years.

When the Second Years arrived in the afternoon, they were given a brief history of the horror story before William focused on the classic novel ‘Dracula’, dispelling certain myths about vampires – Stoker’s original creation CAN walk in sunlight. This was followed by the ultimate battle: Dracula versus Van Helsing.

In all three sessions, the students were totally engaged with William, which is testament to his fantastic public speaking ability. All of the lower school students were treated to a reading from one of William’s books, where new meaning was given to the phrase ‘bringing words to life’. The students asked thought-provoking and interesting questions once each presentation was completed, although the Second Years did have a strange obsession with discovering William’s favourite horror film (The Shining).

The students and staff at St George’s are incredibly grateful to William for giving up his time. The queue of students lining up to purchase a signed copy of his novels speaks volumes as to the impact that William had on his young listeners. The event was a roaring success and was described by Mrs Rowlatt, Head of English, as: “thoroughly entertaining and spine-chilling; William Hussey has the gift of stimulating and surprising his audience in equal measure”.

The Case of the Exsanguinated Sleuth

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

As promised, in honour of the return of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ brilliant SHERLOCK, here is my cheeky Sherlock Holmes story… with a supernatural twist (Sherlockians, see if you can spot all the references to the Conan Doyle stories, and check out my previous post on Holmes and the supernatural below…)

sherlock3

Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearthrug and picked up the article our visitor had left behind the night before. Embossed in deepest crimson upon the calling card was a gothic letter ‘D’.

“Well, Watson, what do you make of it?”

Holmes was sitting with his back to me, and I had given him no sign of my occupation.

“I believe you have eyes in the back of your head,” I remarked.

“I have at least a well-polished, silver-plated coffee pot in front of me,” said he, and touching the lid he let out a sharp hiss as if the scalding metal had burned his elegant fingers.

As my eyes shifted to the pot itself, Holmes reacted with lightning speed and threw his napkin over it. Still, I had a fancy that I had glimpsed something curious before the linen descended. I had the strange idea that, although the chair in which he sat had been reflected, the face and form of Sherlock Holmes was missing.

“Watson,” he said, dragging me from my reverie, “would you have any objection to drawing the blinds?”

“None at all.” I crossed the room, all the while keeping a concerned eye on my old friend. “Tell me, Holmes, are you afraid of something?”

“Well, I am.”

“Of what?” said I, shutting out the morning glare. “Not air-guns again!”

“No. I no longer fear… air-guns.”

The detective gave a dry chuckle and curled up in his chair, knees drawn to his jutting chin. Despite his good humour he was even more gaunt and pale than usual. I approached, took hold of his wrist and attempted to gauge his pulse. I could find none. Similar difficulties had frustrated me when examining him after one of his cocaine binges, the soporific effect of his customary seven-per-cent solution having depressed the rigour of his circulatory system. He did not protest as I rolled up his sleeve and checked for the telltale signs that his miserable addiction had been indulged. Again, I could find nothing. And then I noticed something very strange: there were two puncture wounds, but not upon his arm.

“What have you been doing to yourself, old fellow?” I exclaimed.

“Peace, Watson,” Holmes muttered. “You will be pleased to hear I have no further use for the cocaine bottle.”

“Hmn. Well, something very odd has happened since I saw you last. Perhaps it is all to do with your visitor of last night. I am sorry I could not be at your side, my practice is rather busy of late. But come, tell me about him.”

Holmes stretched his long legs towards the fire and a great shiver ran the course of his body.

“Can’t get warm for the life of me,” he said. “As to my client, he was a nobleman of eastern extraction. A Count, no less.”

“Indeed? Well, I suppose we have hosted hereditary kings of Bohemia in Baker Street before, but what did this illustrious client want with you?”

“A trifling, if puzzling, business of persecution. He arrived in the town of Whitby on the Yorkshire coast some weeks back and was immediately set upon by a ragtag band made up of a wild frontiersman, an asylum physician and the eldest son of one of our noble families.”

“Good God, what had the man done to attract the hostility of such an unlikely crew?”

“That is somewhat unclear,” said the detective. “He is a foreigner, of course, and that may have been against him from the first. The Count is of the opinion that, as dangerous as these men are, their leader poses a far greater threat to his safety.”

“Who is this other man?”

“A Dutch professor with a very particular idée fixe that borders upon insanity. He is, however, a brilliant fellow with half the letters in the alphabet after his name. This obsession with the Count and his ‘kind’, as the Professor in his narrow-mindedness might term them, has diverted him from his true calling as an expert in obscure diseases.”

“Prejudice is a horrid thing,” I said shortly.

“Indeed. There are some trees, Watson, which grow to a certain height, and then suddenly develop some unsightly eccentricity. You will often see it in humans.” At that last word an uncharacteristic expression of condescension passed across my friend’s features; a certain aloof inhumanity which chilled me strangely. “Whatever the cause,” he continued, “the man has begun to go wrong.” 

“Well, it seems a most interesting case,” I ventured.

Holmes smiled, and in that instant I had the uncanny impression that his teeth, particularly the canines, were of a peculiarly pointed, I might even say feral, appearance. In all the chronicles I had made of our adventures together, of all the sketches of his person contained therein, I had not remarked upon, for I did not remember ever observing, this singular feature before.

“Interesting indeed,” Holmes nodded, “though I remain sanguine as to the problems the mystery presents.”

“Well then,” said I, “shall I leave you to ruminate upon it?”

“No, Watson. I should like you to stay and give me your assistance in certain matters.”

Holmes’ eyes glowed with a sudden fire and he rose and slipped across the hearthrug. Within three steps he was at the door of our Baker Street sitting room, turning the key in the lock. Then he spun round and, fixing me with that peculiar smile, he said:

“Indeed, I fully expect this to be a three pint problem…”

With sincere apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Bram Stoker!

 

Tour Stuff #1: An Evening of Ghost Stories

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Hello All

Well, I’m back from the very exhausting but VERY rewarding Haunted tour! 1,600 miles, dozens of schools, and plenty of scares later, and part of me wishes I could do it all over again! I met so many great people on my trek around the UK – brilliant booksellers, terrific teachers, stupendous students, as well as that crazily creative crew at Seven Stories (see the post below).

I could write and write about my experiences, filling paragraph after paragraph with funny stories and intriguing anecdotes, but I’ve decided to rest my typing fingers (I really need to get back to writing books!) and select nugget-size chunks of cool stuff to share.

The first is this amazing poster and tickets from my ‘Evening of Ghost Stories’ event at Lostock Hall Academy! (Click images for larger views)

Lostock Hall

Lostocj Hall

(‘An Evening of Ghost Stories’ is my brand new after-schools event, designed, in part, to get parents more involved in school life. Details of this new event can be found at my School Visits page here.)

At the kind invitation of Head of English, Mrs Butterworth, I took this new event into the wonderful Lostock Hall Academy. The school hall had been suitably decorated with spider webs, tarantulas and bats (plastic, thankfully!), and all manner of creepy accessories. The evening kicked off with an introductory speech from Mrs Butterworth welcoming parents into the school and highlighting the different activities in which the children were engaged.

Then we were treated to some particularly spine-tingling readings from the school’s ‘Community Readers.’

I was waiting in the stage’s darkened wings (the lights had been turned low in the auditorium and the shadows had gathered), listening to these courageous young people reading extracts from their favourite scary stories. We had pieces from classics like Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, as well as exciting contemporary extracts from Darren Shan and other fresh voices in horror. I must say, these pupils read their pieces beautifully – I’m not sure I’d have been brave enough to perform to a packed hall when I was their age! We were then treated to a charming and suitably haunting song from a young lady who, I believe, really ought to try out for The X Factor!

Then it was my turn at the podium. Echoing a line from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, I suggested that we were no longer sitting in Lostock Hall’s auditorium but had been transported to a ‘home by horror haunted’ and that the audience ought to keep repeating to themselves: It’s only a story, only a story, only a story…

I performed a dramatic reading from MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, then two tales from my own pen. I’m happy to report the audience screeched and jumped out of their skins in all the right places! The atmosphere was just right, with pupils from throughout the school chaperoning their nervous parents into the hall and then laughing along with them as those spooked-out mums and dads leaped out of their seats during the scary bits!

After the readings the school had organised a charity raffle. I think the best part of the evening was the community atmosphere generated by the event. It was great to see parents, pupils and teachers all brought together for the evening in an environment where parents could learn more about the school and feel more included in their children’s education.

So a huge thank you to Mrs Butterworth and all the staff and pupils at Lostock Hall. I was very gratified to receive this message from Mrs Butterworth after the visit:

‘Just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic day and for your  breath-taking readings . Your impact on our pupils’ enthusiasm for reading was tangible.’ What greater compliment can a writer receive?

HAUNTED TOUR & AN EVENING OF GHOST STORIES AT SEVEN STORIES

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Starting Monday, Haunted goes on tour around the UK!

For two weeks, I’ll be driving up and down the country, covering over 1,500 miles, with my brand new schools event:

THE SUPER SPOOKY SUPERNATURAL FICTION SHOW!

One of the images from the 'History of Supernatural Fiction' lecture

One of the images from the ‘History of Supernatural Fiction’ presentation

Update: Anyone who purchases a copy of HAUNTED during the tour will now receive a FREE limited edition postcard! Check them out below:

Haunted Post Cards

The event will include an introduction to the life of a writer, a dramatic reading from Haunted (including the infamous JUMP! moment), and a funny and educational presentation on the ‘History of Supernatural Fiction’, from Greek myth and the legend of Faust to an in-depth look at Bram Stoker’s Dracula, all complemented by suitable spine-tingling imagery.

After this introduction to the Gothic genre, pupils will take part in the DRACULA vs VAN HELSING QUIZ. Dressed up in cape, wigs and with vampire-slaying props to hand, one student will play the nefarious Count, one the heroic Professor Van Helsing. The audience will then be split into TEAM DRAC and TEAM VAN HELSING and the final battle between Good and Evil will take place! Whichever team gets the most correct answers will triumph!

Stake, Mallet & Holy Water: Van Helsing's Vampire Slaying Kit!

Stake, Mallet & Holy Water: Van Helsing’s Vampire Slaying Kit!

There will be one public event during the tour, and this I’m REALLY excited about. The last time I visited the wonderful Seven Stories (the National Centre for Children’s Books) in Newcastle was during the Witchfinder Tour, and I found it to be an absolutely enchanting place. On Thursday 3rd October at 6pm, I’ll be bringing a special event – AN EVENING OF GHOST STORIES – to this brilliant venue.

Seven Stories - the venue for An Evening of Ghost Stories

Seven Stories – the venue for An Evening of Ghost Stories

As the lights dim, I’ll be performing dramatic readings from 3 super-spooky tales: MR James’ classic ghost story ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’, an extract from Haunted, and a special story where the twist comes in the very last word! This last story, I performed last year at a special Halloween event and it drew gasps from the crowd! Full details of this event can be found here http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/whats-on/events/117417/an-evening-of-ghost-stories-with-william-hussey You will need to book, but scares ARE guaranteed!

Below are some of the schools I’ll be visiting (others may be added). Is yours on the list?

Haven High School, Boston

Boston Grammar School

Newman School, Carlisle

Queen Elizabeth Grammar, Penrith

Keswick School

Jedburgh High School

Earlston High School

Bispham High School

Lostock Hall Academy

Bristol Metropolitan School

Marlwood School

Downend School

Test Valley School

Sheredes Senior School

Website Goes Live With A Huge Witchfindery Competition!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Hello & Welcome to my brand new website!

Here you’ll find all the latest news and info on my books as well as my occasional blogs on all manner of grim and ghastly goings on in the world of children’s horror and thriller writing, TV and movies plus… well, anything else that occurs to me, really! You can also find information on the WITCHFINDER EXPERIENCE, an event I take into schools and festivals, as well as my creative writing classes (see tag above).

But to kick this new website off in style I’ve decided to run a unique competition! The prize is:

1. A signed copy of my first children’s thriller, Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide,

2. A signed Witchfinder pull-out poster with Book 1 extract.

3. A copy of Malcolm Gaskill’s excellent Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy (which I used while researching Witchfinder 2: Gallows at Twilight – it tells you everything you ever wanted to know about witchfinding… and a few things you probably didn’t!).

4. Your very own demon familiar in the form of a massive hairy spider (not real!), just like the one I use in the Witchfinder Experience.

5. Copies of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – the 3 classic horror novels which I cheekily reference in the Witchfinder trilogy. (more…)