Sunday, June 22, 2014

Serenading the Ghosts
Maggie TideswellI was born Hester Magdalena Schutte, called Magdel by my Afrikaans family, and grew up in a small town in central South Africa, called Nelspruit. When I started my first job in the Reserve Bank of South Africa after school, I worked with a bunch of English girls and they just couldn’t get their tongues around ‘Magdel’ and started calling me Maggie. Now only my mother still calls me Magdel and when she does, I look around to see who she is talking to. I am Maggie or Mags to everybody else who knows me.
I met my husband in hospital, of all places. It was the classic romance tale, he the patient and I the nurse. We have been married many years now ( 30 plus, but don’t ask how many the plus stand for). We have three kids and have been blessed with two grandchildren, a little girl of nearly 5 and a boy of 2, whom we don’t get to see enough of.
Hotel Royal TodayMy interest in the paranormal seems to have been born about 12 years ago when we moved to a tiny village dating from the South African Gold Rush in 1873. My husband, a professional chef, accepted the position as executive chef at the Royal Hotel in Pilgrim’s Rest. When the Tideswells arrived, the population of this 150 year old (come on, in South Africa that is old. This is a young country), was 101 adults and seven children, including our 2 boys. Everybody knew each other, of course. The town boasted the 50 room Royal Hotel, four churches and eleven pubs. I give you one guess what the locals (as the inhabitants of this quaint little village were known) did in the off season.Hotel Royal 1873
The whole town is a World Heritage site and the buildings have been maintained in their original condition, most are built of corrugated iron. The town did not grow as no new houses were built and everything has to stay exactly as they were. Although there are still active gold mines in the area, the town now relies of tourism for survival.
PRMSWe moved into what the locals called The Battleship, why I have never been able to figure out. It was a large, grey corrugated iron house at the edge if the village. Rumour has it that this particular house had been used as field hospital during the Boer War and that it was one of the most haunted in the village. I have never seen a ghost, but I have experienced their presence. Shortly after moving into the house, I was dozing on the couch in the lounge one night and was startled awake with the distinct feeling of somebody leaning over, as if to have a closer look at me. There were often cold spots in that house! A couple of years later we moved to another house and in that one it often sounded like furniture was being dragged across the hollow wooden floor when there was nobody in the house but me.
I loved the little town, with all its ghosts and tourists. My friend, Lauryn, the housekeeper of the Royal Hotel, and I were the naughty girls of the town. At night we often took a six-pack to the old miners graveyard on the hill overlooking the village, in the hope of seeing one or two of these ghosts. There we would sit on an old grave and sing at the top of our voices till the early hours. I’m sure the whole town knew when Maggie and Lauryn were on the graveyard shift :D  We never saw a ghost, though. They probably couldn’t be bothers with us. And all we wanted to do was talk to them. But if you were to read my article on The Write Room blog you will understand why I am not likely to see a ghost. I am happy in the sense that I can ‘feel’ them.PRftOG
I love being scared as much as the next person, but don’t give me tentacles and lots of teeth! Those kill a movie for me. Tentacles and teeth aren’t scary. I want real creep, you know, the door slowly creaking open, and heavy breathing and footsteps coming up the dark stairs, that kind of thing. Blood and guts also don’t do it for me, but a transparent human form does, as does the sound of the wind howling around the corners of a building, the cat’s hair suddenly, and for no reason, standing on end, the dog growling at nothing and slinking away. Atmospherics like thunder and lightning, and shadows cast on a wall by a fire in the grate, a candle flame dancing in a sudden draught, things that make you break out in goosebumps are what I want. Not to mention other people’s fear. Fear is catchy, didn’t you know? :D
I love things that go bump in the night. ‘Nothing is as it seems’ is an important theme running through my books, as is romance. Love is really all around us and whether you have a murder mystery, deep-space si-fi, or a zombie apocalypse, people are always falling in love. My novels are classified as paranormal romance, although in the case of my 3rd, I toyed with classing it as romantic horror or horror romance, but I don’t think there is such a classification.
So far I have 2 paranormal romances available. Dark Moon was published in 2011 by All Things That Matter Press, and although it isn’t about a ghost, lots of paranormal things happen in it. Moragh, Holly’s Ghost, published in 2013, also by All Things That Matter Press, is as the title says, a proper ghost story with all the accompanying creep. The 3rd is Roxanne’s Ghost, a dark paranormal romance, that will be out in 2015.
MHG02  DM