A woman at the window

I’ve been cursed/blessed by supernatural experiences throughout my life and the one common factor in nearly all of them was that they were solitary experiences, easy to dismiss by others or even myself. But what happened last summer was entirely different.

I’d been living in my flat for three and a half years and felt very safe there, both on a physical and spiritual level. There were a few occasions where I’d caught sight of movement in my bedroom doorway that I’d put down to tiredness as I hadn’t got any ‘vibes’, good or bad, from them.. One night, in June 2022, I woke up to the sound – and the movement of the mattress being weighed down – of something climbing onto my bed behind me. My first thought was that I had an intruder, in which case I was in serious trouble. I was frozen in fear, but after a while I realised that whatever it was was too small to be a human and it eventually curled up by my back. I fell asleep and woke up in the morning, alone.

The general consensus was that it was the ghost of a dog or cat that felt safe enough with me to approach me. It was true that, despite my fear, I hadn’t felt any malevolent intent from Whatever It Was. I assumed the incident was a one-off but I was wrong; Whatever It Was began making frequent visits, always following the same routine. So I changed mine – I slept in a different position, put a night light on – and it kept the visitor at bay for a couple of days but then its manifestation escalated. It would now climb onto either side of the bed to curl up behind me and then it escalated further: I woke up to find a huge, black cat sitting on my chest looking down at me. I spoke to it and stroked it then fell asleep again.

I began dreading bedtime. I needed the ghost cat to leave. I burned white sage in my bedroom and instructed the cat to depart. It made no difference and I realised I needed to bring the big guns in, so I turned to two wise women from a nearby village. I’d interviewed the pair some years ago and they were well-known figures in the area, and I felt they could do the job compassionately. By the time they came to my home I’d been suffering the visitations for around six weeks and I was quite ragged.

After a chat, the women dowsed every room in the flat, finishing in the bedroom. They told me of their findings: a woman was standing at my bedroom window, looking out at the church next door, which she’d had strong links with during her life. She’d died in the house many, many years ago and had been at the window ever since. The cat was hers; she’d sent it to comfort me as I was grieving. This was very touching to learn but I couldn’t have them stay. Despite their benevolent intentions the visits were terrifying and disruptive. So the wise women performed a cleansing ritual in every room, using herbs, incense and blessed water. I was allowed to observe until they got to the bedroom. They shut the door and were in there for some time. I heard a voice but whose it was and what was being said wasn’t clear. When they emerged they explained they’d “had words” with the ghostly woman and had told her that her and the cat’s presence weren’t required. The woman had left the house and I was told that should the visitations resume a protective charm would be made to hang at my bedroom window.

It was a lot to process; I’d been sharing my home with a ghost for years, albeit a kind one, without being aware of it. The wise women had confirmed the haunting was real. I’d always believed in the existence of ghosts and to me this was absolute proof, both of this event and of all my previous experiences. I hadn’t spent my life inventing them. It was a huge moment.

Several months on, my home is still peaceful, although it took a while to relax enough to be able to sleep. I still wonder about the woman at the window. Had she been happy lingering? Or had she got stuck here somehow? I can only hope she knows I was grateful for her efforts and that she – and her cat – are at peace.

The Bee Keeper Edition

I’m delighted to say that I now have the Bee Keeper Edition of Contagious Magick Of The Super Abundance: The Art & Life Of Ian Johnstone. [For the back story regarding my friendship with Ian, refer to the Anshe-Goat Also page on this website.]

This amazing and extremely limited edition of 10 copies (mine being Wound 7) is described here (from the publisher’s Timeless Editions website):

 “Limited edition of 10 copies of which 8 are for sale.

The centre piece of this magickly charged special boxed edition is one original brass copy of one of “The 23 Stab Wounds of Julius Caesar” measuring 20 x 27 cm, handmade and initialled by Ian Johnstone himself.

In a dream Ark Todd instructed his late partner Mikel, who effectively created the edition under Ian’s guidance, to ceremoniously bury all of the “Brass Wounds” on the Winter Solstice of 2019 in the exact place where their apiary used to stand. The Spanish soil worked its magick on the resurrected Brass Wounds. The wooden box holding the Wound was handcrafted by Mikel using the actual wood, oak for the box and chestnut for the lid, of the apiary.

The book itself is contained within the box in a pouch handsewn using all IJ components, e.g. a rich dark green velvet from Ian’s curtains.

The final testament and a loving homage to a great artist and a special human, gone too soon.”

Along with the contributions I made to the book, the pouch contains a ‘zine with more of Ian’s art and a short tale (‘IIIII’) written by myself especially for this edition. The photos and description can’t really do justice to this gorgeous package, which is quite awe inspiring to handle. I’ve had many high points in my writing life, but this project tops the lot.

I shall look into the eye of the storm

PODCAST: Julie Travis horror writer Interview

Yesterday I was interviewed by writer/musician Gerard Evans for his podcast. I first met Gerard in the early-mid 1980s when he was lead singer with Flowers In The Dustbin, a London anarcho/psychedelic punk band. We wrote many letters to each other and I went to at least a hundred of his gigs. We reconnected a few years ago via social media and we’re writing letters to each other again.

Gerard’s the author of several books about punk and wellbeing and writes for 3am Magazine as well as being founder and CEO of Abisti Web Design. Check out his work!

Publishing news: Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction

Very happy to announce that Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #72 has now been published, including my story, Tartan. I’ve written about this tale before, but basically it’s one of the most symbolic stories I’ve ever written. I usually take care to give meaningful names to characters, titles, etc, however obscure the references; I doubt many people would be able to guess most of the references in this story! For instance, without giving too much away, the title itself is a reference to a particular photograph album owned by the person the story’s based on. TFQ is available from Amazon, in paperback or Kindle formats.

British Fantasy Society Awards 2022

I’m delighted to announce that my story, Sky Eyes, has been nominated in the Best Short Fiction category for the 2022 BFS Awards. The story appeared in Dreamland: Other Stories, which has been nominated in the Best Anthology category as well as C A Yates’ contribution to the anthology, Fill The Thickened Lung With Breath. Congratulations to all the nominees and many thanks to editor Sophie Essex and publisher Black Shuck Books for taking my story. The winners will be announced at Fantasy Con in mid-September.

Meanwhile, I’ve just finished a very rough first draft of my screenplay, Charcoal. I usually write in a mixture of longhand and typing up/editing. Due to my printer having given up the ghost, I’ve been writing purely in longhand for the last few months. As I now have a (fairly long) short story, Every Moment Is The Beginning Of Forever, nearing completion of its first draft, I have a lot of copy typing to do to catch up! But I’m happy with both projects.


I’m delighted to announce that my short story Tartan will be published in the next issue of Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction, which should appear either later this month or in July. I’d been invited to submit a story by co-editor Stephen Theaker but had no idea what he’d make of this particular one. I’ve referred to the tale before on this site, (in this post from October 2020) but it bears repeating: the story is based on the public (at least here in the UK) perception of murderer Ian Brady, who, along with his then partner Myra Hindley, have been held up for the last half century as the epitome of evil. The Moors Murderers, as they were dubbed, tortured and killed five children in the early to mid-1960s, and narrowly missed being hanged for their crimes, as the death penalty had just been abolished. The public felt cheated of what many felt to be the only suitable punishment to fit the pair’s crimes. The public’s resentment and anger only increased over the years – during which two of the bodies were found, others weren’t where Brady or Hindley claimed (which involved both visiting Saddleworth Moor, near Manchester, with the police). During her decades in prison Hindley claimed she’d been coerced into kidnapping the children and hadn’t killed any of them; she wanted parole and had some high-profile people on her side. Brady – who never wanted to be released – died in 2017 still refusing to reveal where one victim was buried, a last act of cruelty to the victim’s family. It was not unusual to hear people wishing the most appalling deaths on the couple; the case deeply affected the country and continues to do so. I wasn’t born until the late ’60s but my parents were very aware of the case at the time and their anger never really left them. The murders left their mark on British culture, too, most famously in Manchester band The Smiths’ Suffer Little Children (and they’re also referred to in Reel Around The Fountain) but also in the anarchist band Crass’ Mother Earth. The Smiths’ tracks are deeply mournful whereas Mother Earth is aimed at the lurid tabloid press’ (and some of the public’s) desire for violent revenge, claiming such feelings make a person as bad as Hindley. Much as I love the song, it seems a bit of a stretch to compare justifiable anger with the deliberate cruelty of Hindley and Brady, but it’s an important aspect of the enduring feelings about the case.

Tartan is one of my most symbolic stories. I rarely pick characters’ names out of thin air, but almost all the names in this story relates to the Hindley/Brady case (most notably the central character Chrome), as does the title. It’s also set in Weston-super-Mare, which has a lot of occult connections but is also a traditional British seaside town that’s become known somewhat as a ‘dumping ground’ for people suffering mental illness.

In time, when those who were around in the early 60s are no longer with us, the horror of the Moors Murders will fade somewhat into history and, possibly folklore. After all, there are more contemporary monsters to replace them – Peter Sutcliffe/The Yorkshire Ripper, Dennis Nilsen, Fred and Rose West, Harold Shipman. And, we can grimly assume, there will be others.

Backwards into the backwoods

Work on my screenplay, Charcoal, continues, albeit at a slow pace. It’s a long haul and recent personal events have made it difficult to focus, (hence the vagueness of this post!) but any kind of progress at the moment is good. But I’ve begun work on an art project and switching between it and the screenplay is proving quite effective. The art project – Backwards Into The Backwoods – is planned to be in foldable poster format, very similar to the wraparound covers that the likes of Crass released with their singles and albums in the 1980s and I’m planning for it to look as much like a 7 inch single as possible, with a mixture of fiction extracts, photography and other graphics. It’s a pretty self-indulgent piece of work, and, if I go ahead and publish it there will only be a very limited amount available as I just don’t think it will be of interest to many people. This is the first time I’ve done this kind of project completely alone and it will be very different to Dykes Ink and the material put aside for any future issue. I’m unlikely to have funds to print it for some time, but I want to have the artwork completed reasonably soon. My limited technical/computer skills have slowed things down a little, but I’m learning as I go. That’s all I can say for now.


2022 has begun with a very optimistic project – writing my first film script. I’ve wanted to make a film for many years but it’s been too daunting to even start, so focusing purely on a script rather than the entire film-making process has made it more realistic. I’m aware that some writers are against adapting either short stories or novels for the small or big screen, and I appreciate that point of view as it can feel dismissive of writing as its own craft, as if it’s a writer’s ultimate goal. For me, as a lifelong film fan, it’s a natural thing to dream of doing – complete with Ray Harryhausen (impossible now, of course) taking care of the special effects! – but the written word has a magic of its own and should never be dismissed as a stepping stone to anywhere else. Therefore, despite the temptation to adapt an existing story, I’ve decided to write a story specifically for a script. It will make for slower progress but means I can think and write in a more cinematic way (although it could be argued that my stories are very visual anyway). The format and the terminology of a film script is very alien to me but I’m picking it up as I go along and am approaching it in a far more organised way than I do my fiction – writing backstories for my characters etc, rather than getting to know them en route as a short story progresses and doing much more planning. There’s only a certain distance I’ll go down that road, though, as I’ve no intention of adhering to a hugely rigid structure. The other major possible pitfall I’m very aware of is that many contemporary horror films are including a ‘folk-horror’ element, to the point where it’s becoming a lazy option, I think. I’m happy to admit that the term ‘folk-horror’ applies to a lot of my writing, but the script for Charcoal is deliberately focussed more on dark fantasy with a strong Surrealist and arthouse element. Dreams are such a big part of my life that they naturally weave themselves into my fiction, so a recent dream – where four owls flew into my home through an open window – will feature strongly. I’m not going to think too far ahead with this; the script, the story, is the thing. And the setting – an old Council housing block c1890, in a non-sensical location (a bleak moor) – is becoming more and more attractive given the insane political and social decay we’re experiencing.


I’m delighted to announce that Joelle Taylor has won the 2021 TS Eliot Poetry Prize for her collection C+nto & Othered Poems. I’ve known Joelle for a long time and have worked with her on several occasions, most recently at Swallow Your Pride in 2019 and it’s fantastic to see such talent recognised. As you will see from the clip above, the piece is very powerful and emotional but somehow there’s humour in there, too. You don’t have to be a lesbian to enjoy this! I want the whole world to see it.

Many of the people I knew in Hackney/London are making names for themselves after so many years of hard work, without compromise. I’m deeply proud of all of them.