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When I choose the cases which will go into the next New Ghost Stories book, I don’t deliberatly pick any theme. The stories that make it in are those which I feel are ready to be published. I’ve scrutinised the material, fact-checked them, and performed the basic editing required to make them readable for my audience. When I have enough stories ready, then I move towards compiling them for my next book.
It’s only afterwards, when I consider them together, that certain themes start to come out. In my last book, Fourteen New Ghost Stories, what seemed to come out is the theme of isolation in the city, living in cramped quarters, and hidden corners, that seemed to resonate most.
With New Ghost Stories Volume Three, what stands out to me is the portrait it paints of Great Britain in a decade heading towards a global disaster. A time where divisions hardened, inequality grew, political orthodoxy was overturned, and making ends meet became increasingly difficult.
Though these stories take strange and fantastical turns, it strikes me that it’s the most relatable of all the books I’ve put together. The circumstances that build towards the climax of case 341, How Long Will This Go On?, really could happen to anyone. It’s probably happening to parents somewhere right now. I hope that the outcome for them is not so bleak. That their relationship can be repaired.
Encounters with ghosts can destroy lives. It’s when we’re at our most strained, when we’re at our most vulnerable, that we’re most likely to see ghosts. There were plenty of ghost sightings pre-pandemic. I can only imagine how many more will come to light as we go forward. And what kind of picture they will paint of Britain as it moves towards a new normal.