Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Ghosts - M is For Mystery, Louisa Murray, Mother Leaky

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Ghosts
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suitable for all
Okay, so today, I'm going to tell you about a ghost that scared me throughout my teenage years, Mother Leaky. I'm also discussing working mystery into a good spooky tale, and I'm presenting the works of author, Louisa Murray. And there's Part 13 (unlucky for some) of The Burning Web, where Tris is on the path of the mystery that is Berwick House.




M is for Mystery
Everyone likes a good puzzle, some unanswered questions to wonder about, and ghost stories lend themselves to mysteries very well. I have several mysteries in The Burning Web - why is Abdi haunting Tris, who were Margaret and Kenneth Berwick and what is going on in Berwick House. All of which will be answered as the story goes on. But I am certainly not the first author to shroud my ghosts in mystery :).

The Mist in the Mirror, by Susan Hill, is one long mystery. A man, James Monmouth, returns to England after spending nearly his whole life abroad, unaware of his family history and not knowing his connections to some wild and dangerous places in Yorkshire. His visions of a young boy and his creeping horror of something else, lead him on into the mystery of who his family are.

Dickens too, uses mystery, the mystery of the ghost's identity in The Signal Man, a chilling tale.

Mystery can draw the reader into the story, keep them wondering and make them want to read further, but be careful, making it too impenetrable can just annoy people. :)
by Sophie Duncan


First Part | Previous PartNext Part | Last Part
Tris was waiting outside on Berwick's meadow-lawn when Julienne drove up in a battered old Volvo. He waved at her and, as he opened her door for her, said, "There's so much sawing and banging going on inside it was doing my head in. Do you fancy a walk in the grounds?"

The loud noises weren't the only reason Tris didn't want to be wandering around the empty rooms alone as he avoided getting in the workers' way, but he wasn't about to admit that to Julienne.

"That sounds," there was a loud crash from the front hall and they both cringed, "like a very good idea."

Tris offered out his left arm to his guest and Julienne slipped her hand through. Tris then led them off round the opposite side of the house to the pond.

It was another bright morning and Tris felt no pressure from Julienne to begin their work, so they just walked for a while, talking about simple things like the view and the weather. It was when they turned back to see the grand old lady looking out over the rising aspect that Tris' mind turned back to the reason for their meeting. So too, it appeared did Julienne's, because she patted him on the arm and told him conspiratorially, "I've been asking around the village about Berwick House. Turns out there's quite a lot of gossip my neighbours didn't want to burden me with."

"Really? Like what?" Tris prompted as he was supposed to.

"Well, the place has something of a dark reputation," Julienne continued, cocking her head to one side and looking up at the house bathed in glorious sunshine.

On such a beautiful day, there was nothing sinister about Berwick House in Tris' mind.

"Apparently, several of the owners, my family included, have come to sticky ends," she carried on and tapped the side of her nose in what Tris could only think was an impression of an old yokel.

"And they would be?"

"Ah, and there in lies the trick," Julienne dismissed and winked at him while dragging him towards the other side of the house. "There are no details, only the vaguest mention of suicide, murder, accident, even, gasp, natural causes, of course at some unnaturally early age. All very intriguing, but not really very useful."

"Well, I did some searching on the web last night," Tris decided it was time to throw in his own investigations.

Julienne looked at him hopefully, but he had to shake his head and tell her, "Zip. A few references to the deeds, but nothing really juicy. Turns out most of the local records around here are still just that, local."

Julienne nodded and their conversation paused as they both fought their way up a bit of a bank that sat just in front of the kitchen windows. Julienne actually ended up offering out her hand to help Tris haul himself up onto the bottom corner of the patio, and, as she did so, she suggested, "Well, the nearest main library likely to have anything is in Hazelden, only six miles away. How about we focus our efforts there?"

Tris heard the words, but the rest of his attention was distracted as he glanced over Julienne's shoulder. He hadn't meant to look at the choked pond. In fact it was something he was planning on landscaping away as soon as they could afford it, but for now, there it was, dark, over-shadowed and right in the middle Tris knew what he was going to see before his eyes did. There, in the centre, where the statue should have been, his own personal demon was waiting for him. Tris stared. Abdi gazed steadily back.

"...Tris?" Julienne tugged at his sleeve and Tris jumped.

Julienne gave him a quizzical look and asked, "Everything okay, you zoned out for a moment there."

"Fine, fine, thanks," Tris dismissed the concern as he turned away from the pond. "Shall we go through the house? I need to check something with Bill before we leave?"

Julienne, of course, agreed.

First Part | Previous PartNext Part | Last Part

Author Info: Louisa Murray

Louisa Murray was a Canadian author. I came across her in The Third Ghost Story Megapack, with her piece Mr Gray's Strange Story. Alas I have been unable to find any more by her, but this one is a sad tale of unrequited love and misunderstandings. When a young man jokes with a innocent young woman, he should be careful she not take it the wrong way. It's a rather dramatic story, where a young woman, Celia, commits suicide after imagining a love that did not exist between her a man who courted another. Further tragedy strikes when the young man who really loved her is drowned on Lake Superior, going down with his ship. Thus far, no ghosts, but that young man will be avenged on the living one who slighted his love and he will come back from the grave to do it!


British Hauntings: Mother Leaky

Minehead is a beautiful seaside town on the edge of the Bristol Channel in Somerset. It is known as the gateway to Exmoor National Park, and I spent many a long summer there in my teens, enjoying the long walks on the moors above the town and in the woods that ran along Culver Cliff. We used to stay in an ancient cottage up on the hill that overlooked the town and that was a fabulous place during the day, but at night, I have to say I was much more nervous. And one of the reasons was the tale of Mother Leaky. a generous, lovely lady in life, she became a wicked and vengeful ghost said particularly to prey on children. She was said to be able to appear anywhere in the town and in the woods on the cliff, whistling up storms to sink ships and scaring anyone who saw her. She is one of the few ghosts to actually have had a government enquiry!

I'd love to hear your own spooky stories, add them to the blog comments. :)

A few of us discovered that we all had supernatural themes for the AtoZ so we got together and did a mini list. If you also have a supernatural theme (ghosts, monsters, witches, spells etc), please feel free to add yourself to the list.

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34 comments:

  1. Cool that Mother Leaky stirred up a government inquiry. In one of my folklore books, there's a translation of a notice from the Japanese government to demons living in the mountains stating they must vacate until certain person of import had concluded his visit. I love that kind of stuff.

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    1. When authority gets involved in ghosts and the supernatural, it always sounds slightly farcical, because their activities are so earnest and bureaucratic :)

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  2. Hi Sophie - I've come in via your sister and the A-Z .. I love mysteries and ghost stories - not as vampirish as yours I suspect! The folklore of the west country is relatively well recorded and lives on as so much of Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall are (were) not so well known .. Cheers - Hilary

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    1. I love the West Country, it is so beautiful and steeped in history and, yes, there is so much folklore to explore as well :) I always try to buy a ghost book, or two from any region I visit, and because I spent so many summers in Somerset, I have quite a few about the West Country and they are fascinating.
      Thanks for stopping by :)

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  3. Mother Leaky *shiver* I remember the tales of her. I can't remember why she became vengeful though - I must go look her up. Great post again, dear sis.

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    1. There is no real explanation, except that she didn't like her daughter-in-law AND there is other mention of her wanting to make something right, although I'm not sure how sinking ships can achieve that - apparently, her message got a bishop in Ireland (a relative, I think) hanged for child murder,

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  4. Strangely enough, I live close to the cemetery and have had no real "ghostly" experiences. But there were always tales of how the thieves used to divide their loot there before the area got populated.

    Sania @ Fragile Words

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    1. I find cemeteries spooky places at night, but I haven't had an experience in one, either, although it was said in our local churchyard that a riding on a skeletal horse would appear out of the wall of the church. It would make sense for it to be a place where the criminal fraternity met, given their spooky reputation - half the ghosts in Cornwall it has been suggested are down to the smugglers wanting to keep folks away ;P

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  5. I remember my mom telling us stories of Mother Leaky. My mom loved ghost stories!

    --
    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches

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    1. Family-shared ghost stories are the best :)

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  6. Great blog! Stopping by to share some A to Z love

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  7. ghosts are inherently mysterious! strong emotions (like lost love) are usually what keeps them from resting, right? perfect! makes me want to write a ghost story!
    happy m day!

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    1. OO, if you do, I'd love to read it :D

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  8. See, now I want to know what made Mother Leaky so vengeful in the afterlife. And particularly to children. And why stir up storms to sink ships? Maybe she was murdered by a sailor? Betrayed by a sailor? (Okay, I'll stop now.) :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption
    Minion, Capt. Alex's Ninja Minion Army
    The 2014 Blogging from A-Z Challenge

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    1. It is a bit of a mystery - although her son (in-law? I'm working from memory) owned a fleet of ships, so it was probably personal.

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  9. I love a good mystery and read them often. Not much for the vampire/werewolf kind, but lately I have read books about the undead or half-dead or whatever they are, not sure. And enjoyed them immensely. I read Hilary's comment above and now I wonder who is your sister and where is her blog?

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    1. My twin sister is Natasha Duncan-Drake, she's doing vampires for her A to Z :)

      I do like a good mystery too :D

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  10. Okay...that was creepy and totally mysterious. Abdi, huh? Loved it.

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    1. Thanks :) Yeah - just what does he want?

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  11. I can see why Mother Leaky would freak you out as a child. She doesn't sound pleasant!

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

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    1. I used to think she'd be waiting for me in the bedroom o.O

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  12. You can never go wrong with putting mystery into a ghost story. :)

    Way to go Mother Leaky for stirring up a government inquiry. haha I never would've been able to sleep in that cottage, thinking every sound was Mother Leaky coming for me.

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    1. Luckily, I was sharing a room with my twin, otherwise I never would have slept! ;P

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  13. Mystery seems an integral part of most genres now, and I think it adds to the story. But as you said, if it is done right.
    Must admit I've never heard of Mother Leaky, but I can see how it scared you as a child. Another great post today, thanks for sharing. :)

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  14. Following from Blogging AtoZ.
    I'm writing "Things My Husband Has Broken" A to Z at http://AMomsPointOfView.com
    Come by and check it out.

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  15. I've never heard of Mother Leaky before. Pretty scary!

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    1. She certainly scared me as a kid - I think it's the ability to appear anywhere!

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  16. Mystery is the BEST! I love it when I'm puzzled by something or have to guess "whodunnit." :)

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    1. It's fun to write. as well, although a proper whodunnit can take a lot of planning :D

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  17. The Signal Man is sooooo creeptastic! I love it.

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    1. It has a surreal quality to it that I find makes it so creepy.

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear from you. :)