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Travel with Black Feathers to Rebecca Netley’s Yorkshire

  • Submitted: 25th October 2023

Travel with Black Feathers to Rebecca Netley’s Yorkshire

This is spooky reading month and TODAY I am sitting in front of the Queen of the Spooky Novel. Miss Netley, for this is her name, has arrived at BookTrail Towers with a basket of apples, current cake, some ale and two tankards and offered to talk to me about the mystery of the Black Feathers. She is dressed in a black cloak and looks very serious. There is mystery afoot, I am sure.

Rebecca Netley The Black Feathers

Rebecca Netley The Black Feathers

We sit beside a crackling fire and start to feast. As we tuck in, Miss Netley opens her dusty notebook and starts to talk…

Rebecca Netley

Rebecca Netley

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

Edgar Allan Poe (c) Wikipedia

Edgar Allan Poe (c) Wikipedia

I’ve had a nearly life-long fascination with the supernatural, reading any ghost stories that came my way and having a young introduction to horror films via the delightful work of Hammer House of Horror. We also owned a rather gruesome volume of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories illustrated in sickening and bloody detail by Harry Clarke. The pictures were far more disturbing than the stories but I was compelled again and again to look and shudder.

The Yorkshire Moors (c_ Wikipedia

The Yorkshire Moors (c_ Wikipedia

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

This early introduction to the genre created a high scare threshold and a thirst for more, but I’m also attracted to the supernatural because it raises those universal questions for which nobody appears to hold a definitive answer: is death the end or is there some sort of afterlife? And also, is it possible that, after death, our consciousness remains and we can potentially communicate with the living or to appear as ghosts?

black feather

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

For those who want to believe in ghosts, there are plenty of anecdotal accounts to suggest that it might be true. And in all probability, we all know someone who has experienced what they judge to be a supernatural event or have undergone one ourselves. For many, the idea that death is not the end brings great comfort but the concept that it might be possible to breach the barrier between the two worlds is about as terrifying as it gets. All the more so for our lack of knowledge and understanding.

The Black Feathers Rebecca Netley

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

I love playing with these ideas in my novels almost as much as I love trying to scare the reader. Two key ingredients in preparing the reader for a chilling experience are atmosphere and setting. A good ghost story is a collaboration of the reader’s imagination and the writer’s skill. Readers’ imaginations are like gardens in which I place all the seeds for a haunting read.

black feather

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

Although some wonderful ghost stories have been written with contemporary settings and summery weather, I have a love for the crumbling mansion situated far from society in a wild and inaccessible location. Once you light the candles on a stormy night and the house is creaking and wind is whistling through the sashes, as a writer you are half-way there. The setting becomes a blueprint of the story and takes on its character. After the stage has been prepared, it is only necessary to drop in a few inexplicable and creepy occurrences – a footstep behind you in the ill-lit passageway, the sound of a childish voice in an empty room – and the reader should be feeling the chills.

black feather

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

I draw heavily on pathetic fallacy to enhance the sense of desolation and menace and when the inner world of my protagonist grows dark the wind will howl with more vigour and the house will grow full of sprawling shadows and creaking spaces.

BookTrail locations in The Black Feathers

Settings that are remote are also useful for plot purposes; I have respect for my characters and the almost supernatural courage they have to harness in order to survive the ghosts I throw at them. To be believable, they must demonstrate authentic reactions and after I’ve done with them, any sensible person would drop everything and run for the hills. By making the settings hard to flee from —  a remote Scottish island in The Whistling and the wilds of the Yorkshire Moors in winter for The Black Feathers —  I effectively trap my characters with no hope of escape.

The Yorkshire Moors (c_ Wikipedia

The Yorkshire Moors (c_ Wikipedia

To add further incentive for a character to remain, I like to add a story arc where other factors compel the character to stay –  in The Whistling it was my main character’s compassion and growing love for her troubled charge, and in The Black Feathers, the need to be with her son.

Although most traditional ghost stories include a ghost, a great ghost story must tell another story too.

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Black Feathers

Twitter: @Rebecca_Netley 

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