It's a very busy day here at Supernatural Central. Lots of author popping in and out, full of pre-holiday cheer. Right now, we're going to have a chat with Alex Reid, author of For Her Bones. Welcome, Alex!
SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
AR: That’s a bit difficult as it is a collection of stories, each with a different setting and set of characters. However, the title story, ‘For Her Bones’ is novella length and is essentially the story of William Finehand. We become aware of him in a letter he has written to his wife, Sylvia, in 1834. When I first started the story, he did not exist. My aim was to have the ghosts and strange events set in today’s world. However, although I more or less had the beginning and end of the story in my mind, I quickly realized I could not pull the threads together without also going back in time. Some of that was fun to write, as I was able to contrast a 19th century prose style with the shorter sentences and informal delivery of the present day. Finehand was an explorer. He was aware of Darwin, but more interested in human creations and artefacts. He toured the world ruthlessly collecting anything that collected him. On the island of Sanguinary he learned that Sylvia had slept with one of his crew, Tarbone. This led to a furious row with the man, who stabbed Finehand through the heart, killing him at once. Yet Finehand is clearly alive in the present day and is no ghost. Every few decades he visits the museum which houses his treasure – the Pitt-Rivers museum in Oxford provided the inspiration for that. He is always under pressure to kill, but has long since become weary of doing so. And as for love….
It’s a complex plot with many characters. I hope you will enjoy discovering it for yourself.
SC: We love anthology series. Sometimes you just like to read something short. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
AR: No, I don’t, but I am not immune to strange events. I remember many years ago, when our children were young, being part of a baby-sitting circle. I was at the house of a couple we didn’t know well. I quickly settled down in front of the television with coffee and biscuits. After an hour or so I decided to go and check on the baby. As soon as I left the living-room I began to feel uneasy, even more so as I climbed the stairs. For a brief second, when I reached the landing, I had a vivid impression of a broken and bloodied body against the wall. Shaken, I went into the child’s room to find him sitting bolt upright, eyes wide open as if terrified, although I was pretty sure he was still asleep. I settled him down and left the room, saying ‘good night’ as I did so. I was a little way down the stairs when it occurred to me that I wasn’t saying good night to the child.
Once I was back in the living-room I felt fine and didn’t mention it to the couple when they returned. By the time I got home, I had more or less forgotten about it. A few weeks later my wife babysat for the same couple. A few months after that, we had some friends round for dinner. They were quite interested in ghostly things, so I told them the story. The emotion had long gone, so I was quite light-hearted about it. Until my wife looked startled and said she had experienced exactly the same thing!
SC:. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
AR: Well, I have not long finished three additional stories and an epilogue for the premier edition of ‘For Her Bones’ so I’m not in a rush to start anything else. Usually what happens is that I begin to feel like writing something. After a while, not writing becomes too uncomfortable and I get down to it. I’m not at that point yet. Watch this space….
SC: We will! Let's take a look at your dark tales now...
“The thing is, Tom, I did call him a few months after I left. It was a bit of a surprise. I was supposedly embarking on some great adventure, and there I was struck down with what felt like terminal homesickness. I needed a friend.”
“You could have called me.”
“I know, but it wasn’t you I wanted. Sorry. What I never expected was that I would be longing for Frank. How strange was that? Anyway, it was late and the foul weather made me feel even more lonely. I virtually forced him to come to me that night.”
“Do I really need to hear this?”
“He never made it. Ice on the motorway. His mother called me a few days later.”
“Jesus, Sally. No wonder you’re imagining things. It’s guilt, that’s all.”
“So that’s it, Mr Freud? I really am just imagining it? Going mad”
“I wouldn’t say going mad exactly. I mean it’s understandable. You had a terrible shock. You were missing Frank - can’t understand that bit, but there you are – and you called him to you. And because of that he died. It doesn’t make it your fault. Not really. I can’t imagine he was the greatest driver in the world.”
“He’s here, Tom. In this restaurant. I can feel it. I can almost see him.”
“Yes! Please tell me you’ve seen it too.”
Poor Tom. I think he’s about to deny it. A straight ahead, get the job done sort of guy can’t acknowledge the terrors that shimmer on the edge of his vision. It has to be Sally who is mad, not he. The truth is, neither of them is mad. I would show myself if I could, join them at their table, discuss important matters of life and death. But it doesn’t work that way. That would be like believing in ghosts. Foolish. But the three of us will soon be able to have that discussion face to face. I’m looking forward to it. Come along now, Tom, the second bottle has arrived. Pour her a drink.
General consternation sounds like an incompetent military leader, but it is probably the best description for what was happening around Tom and Sally’s table. Tom had lifted the bottle and begun to pour. But he didn’t know his own strength. Or rather he didn’t know mine. His grip on the bottle tightened like a noose until the bottle shattered, showering the unhappy couple with Pinot Grigio and sending splinters of glass everywhere. I’m not exactly a poltergeist, they don’t exist by the way, but I made sure some of the glass went where it needed to. A freak accident is how it was later described by those who were there and therefore must know. The first shard sliced through Tom’s shirt and severed the carotid artery. There was more blood than Pinot. In less than a minute he was what people call dead, although we know better, don’t we?
Sally’s demise was even swifter. A shiver of glass pierced her eye and came to rest deep in her brain.
Alec has had a number of careers, some of them still ongoing. After a brief spell with the BBC 2 arts programme, "Late Night Line-Up", he moved on to Radios 1 and 2 where he produced "Night Ride", giving Genesis their first national broadcast.
Alec went on to become an award-winning radio drama director and creator of radio documentaries and features, one of which required him to spend a week with the French Foreign Legion!
During that time, he also wrote and directed two musicals for radio, "Misrule", starring Max Wall, and "Gilgamesh", with Ian Holm; the latter was the BBC's entry for the Prix Futura award in Berlin.
After leaving the BBC,Alec was commissioned to write and produce a double CD tribute to Princess Diana. Within days of its release in America it had sold over 100,000 copies. As a result, he won the prestigious international Audi award for best creative work.
Since then, Alec has produced hundreds of audiobooks, adapted TV and movie
soundtracks for audio release, and was even commissioned to write two new
'Thomas the Tank Engine' stories! He also wrote book and lyrics for 'Muscles
the Musical', which was premiered at The Landor theatre in London where the
'House Full' sign was up most nights. There are hopes for a revival in a larger
Alec's publications have included two anthologies based on Radio 4’s ‘With Great Pleasure’, poems in ‘The Sunday Times’ newspaper and numerous magazine articles, and poems. 'For Her Bones' is his first fiction book. He is thinking about his next one.