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Posts Tagged ‘MR James’

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?

‘Not your average horror story’, Haunted Gets Its ‘Hooks Into Books’!

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

A brief ‘howdy’ from the road-weary author! I’m now halfway through the Haunted tour and, so far, I’ve covered about 800 miles!

One of the highlights of the tour so far was my visit to the wonderful Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books (I must thank Lorna for her gracious and informative tour of this fascinating place!). There, in the shadow-strewn attic, we held our Evening of Ghost Stories. The event went really well, with creeped out kids leaning forward in their chairs and then leaping to the ceiling when… but no, that would be telling!

I’ll be blogging fully about the tour soon, but I’d like to share two brilliant things from the Seven Stories visit. First, this fantastic sketch of me reading MR James’ ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’. It is the work of Seven Stories own artistic genius Cathy Brumby, isn’t it great?!

Me!

The other exciting news is that Seven Stories has chosen Haunted to be part of their Hooks Into Books package. Here the team chose ‘7 of the latest, high-quality titles in children’s literature’ from the thousands published each year and then created a whole package around those titles for schools. What an honour for Haunted to be selected! I was giddy with excitement! In their own words, here is why Haunted was chosen:

‘Not your average horror story, we liked how Hussey weaves the chilling town past with the modern day supernatural happenings… This is a darkly layered story merging the supernatural with reality into a complex and absorbing read.’

Please click the links above to find out more about the terrific Hooks Into Books project and the amazing Seven Stories.

Now, back to packing up my Haunted tour kit. Where did I leave those vampire fangs?

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

A Haunted Treat: a free Short Story with a Twist in the Tail!

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

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To celebrate the official publication of Haunted next week, Oxford University Press and I got together to plan a little extra treat for all you horror hounds out there. A completely FREE short story for you to download onto your Kindles! Just click this LINK and you can start reading straight away. Also included are the first few chapters from both Haunted AND Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide!

It’s a particularly creepy little number that I call ‘Turn Her Face to the Wall’. Last year, I was involved in a special Halloween event to help support my local library. The evening involved me performing dramatized readings from a few of my favourite creepy stories, including ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You’ from the spooktacular (that’s a word, right?!) pen of Mr James and a story from ‘Nocturnes’, a terrifying collection from modern master of the macabre John Connolly. I decided to write my own story for the evening, and to set myself a challenge…

The story had to be chilling and mysterious throughout – a nagging sense that something isn’t quite right with the picture the reader is being presented with – and then there had to be a twist. Only the twist must explain the entire story. And, to make it doubly difficult, the twist must take place in the very last sentence! In fact, in the very final two words!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy! And keep an eye out for a little teaser that connects Turn Her Face to the Wall directly to Haunted, though you’ll have to read Haunted if you’re going to get the gag!

Ghostly Goings On

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

In support of my brilliant local library in Skegness, I recently held a HALLOWEEN STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT event. Basically, it was me acting out some classic ghost and horror stories, including MR James’ terrific chiller ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come To You, My Lad’ and ‘Some Children Wander By Mistake’ by modern master of the macabre, John Connolly. I also penned an exclusive Halloween story of my own for the event, a mysterious piece which only makes sense when you hear or read the very last word of the story! I called it ‘Turn Her Face to the Wall’.

Anyway, the evening went really well. There were props and atmospheric lighting and some very creepy introductory music for each story. I’d also arranged for a few surprises to take place during the tales, with librarian Sarah suddenly appearing at key moments in some spooky and really rather gruesome disguises! Another terrific librarian Sue had her  cameo at the end of ‘Some Children…’ when she suddenly sprang from nowhere in a very freaky clown mask! It was great fun, especially when one of the kids in the audience jumped so high he almost landed in his mum’s lap!

But one thing still puzzles me. Towards the beginning of the evening, before the audience had arrived, librarian Ben took a photo of the empty stage area. Imagine our surprise when, viewing the photos at a later date, this strange figure seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. You see, even ghosts enjoy being spooked at Halloween!

Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

MR James (1862-1936) is widely acknowledged as the master of the English ghost story. His tales of the macabre are not of the in-your-face, blood, guts and gore variety (although he didn’t write exclusively about creeping spirits and ancient revenants – his stories are, in fact, laced with demons and horrors of a more visceral nature). James has been a big influence on my work. I love the subtlety of his storytelling and the sheer weight of history and antiquity with which he dusts his tales.

For one week you can hear me read a brief, abridged extract from one of James’ most famous ghost stories, ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You.’ All you have to do is follow this link and click ten minutes into the programme.

You can also hear me talk briefly about how I got into writing and the HALLOWEEN STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT event which will be taking place on Thursday 25th October at Skegness Library. The reading is a little rushed as I had to get it all in before the traffic report! If you are intrigued by what you’ve heard I would thoroughly recommend picking up one of MR James’ collections. Details about the author can be found here.

The picture, by the way, comes from the BBC’s adaptation of ‘Oh Whistle’, starring Michael Hordern as the crusty, fussy Professor Parkins – a man haunted by the thing in the empty bed… Details of that wonderful interpretation can be found here