Testimony: A True Story About Terrifying Things

I want to tell you a true story. About ghosts, and things more terrifying than ghosts. I‘m a journalist, fully rooted in the real world. I write about foreign affairs and politics, economics, the arts, science, health, archaeology. Reality and evidence-based. Remember that.

Half of all Americans now believe they live or have lived in a haunted house. Researchers attribute a rapidly increasing belief in the supernatural to the rise of paranormal-related media and a decline in religious affiliation.

I wrote my only non-fiction book Testimony about the most supernaturally-afflicted house in the UK after coming across a newspaper report where a home was experiencing massive energy bills as if the power was being drained away. The owner mentioned in passing some supernatural element which got me interested.

I went in thinking I’d probably at the least end up with a book about the psychology of living in a house believed to be haunted. That view changed pretty quickly. I called the book Testimony because I wanted to build it around the accounts of people who had experiences in that isolated Welsh house, rather than filtering it all through my third party view of events.

Using my journalistic skills, I tracked down lots of people who’d had something strange happen to them. In the end I had 24 interviews. 24 people, many of them unconnected, who’d seen ghosts, dealt with possession, a range of terrifying phenomena, the manifestation of a seven-foot tall beaked figure, more…

In these kinds of accounts, it’s easy to dismiss them if you’re of a sceptical nature and it’s just a couple talking about what they went through. They’re mistaken, deluded, deranged, lying. When you have so many who haven’t had the chance to talk to each other or who thought they were isolated victims, that becomes so much harder. With those kinds of numbers, rationally you have to accept that something out of the ordinary was taking place there…

There’s a BBC podcast out about the case now, The Witch Farm. So far I’m the only person to have written about it because it was unbelievably difficult to track down the people involved, some of whom are no longer with us or who have vanished.

If you want to reach your own conclusions, or dismiss it out of hand, I suggest you read all those first hand accounts first. You might find it harder than you think.

The ebook of Testimony is available in all local Amazon sites globally, but here are the UK and US links.

Unconvention 2010: Forteana And Fiction

Thanks to the people at Fortean Times magazine, here’s a recording of the panel I was on at this year’s Unconvention in London, alongside Adam Nevill, Natasha Mostert and host Nick Cirkovic. We talk about ghosts, night terrors, our experiences of the paranormal and writing.