Susi Holliday's spooky holiday snaps!
Growing up near Edinburgh, there was never any shortage of eerie places to discover in my youth – the old town streets are oozing with dark history, especially Mary King’s Close - the street full of plague victims that was blocked off – while all the inhabitants were still alive; and Greyfriars Kirkyard – the most haunted graveyard in the world – where George ‘Bloody’ Mackenzie imprisoned the covenanters and left them there to die. So, with that morbid history imprinted on me from the start, it’s no great surprise that I developed a fascination with the creepy and macabre on my travels… here’s a small selection of my favourites.
A scary Mexican saloon
No Scum Allowed Saloon’ – a bar in White Oaks, New Mexico. Once a mining community, and now officially a ghost town, this place was once frequented by Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. We stayed in a dilapidated mobile home on an old rock mine… and didn’t sleep a wink.
Eerie desert sands
On the same trip, we visited White Sands National Monument – an eerie desert of gypsum and calcium sands, bordering the White Sands Missile Range, where they tested the first atomic bomb.
Haunting Chinese memorial
Nanjing Massacre Museum, China – a haunting place filled with the bones of the dead. I found out about it after reading Mo Hayder’s book ‘Tokyo’ and became fascinated by a dark period of history that I had previously known nothing about. This led me to read Iris Chang’s book ‘The Rape of Nanking’ – and it was only when I saw the memorial to her here that I found out that she had committed suicide two years earlier, purportedly haunted by her research.
Statues of remembrance
Jizo Statues, Kamakura, Japan – another thing I learned about in Mo Hayder’s book – these are statues to remember unborn babies. It is believed that as the babies did not have the chance to build up good karma on earth, Jizo helps smuggle the children into the afterlife in the sleeves of his robe. Beautiful concept, but chilling, nonetheless.
Gothic Yorkshire ruins
Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire – classic gothic pilgrimage spot, famous for being the place where Dracula came ashore as ‘a large dog’ and proceeded to climb the 199 steps which lead up to the ruins. The steps are a bit of a challenge, but it’s a must-do to get the full experience. There’s a youth hostel attached to the abbey, which is still on my ‘must-stay’ list.
Dracula's Transylvanian castle
Bran Castle, Transylvania – the famous ‘Dracula’s Castle’ – very difficult to get to, and while it’s a fascinating place, the journey there via a (possibly) psychotic Romanian taxi driver was more frightening than Bram Stoker’s book, the true story of Vlad the Impaler, and the tourist-eating brown bears that roam the mountains, all put together.
Czech church of bones
Kutna Hora Ossuary, Czech Republic – a church full of bones, apparently decorated by a mad monk… again, while the place itself was quite eerie, it was far more chilling walking the streets of this almost deserted town in the Czech countryside.
Creepy Cornwall moors
The Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall – nothing much to report during the day, although walking across the moor in the fog is quite an experience – but come night-time, when the bus parties of cream-tea tourists have departed, this place is more than a little creepy… another place where I didn’t sleep a wink!
About S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday
S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as 'Dark as a smoker's lung.' She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.
Find S.J.I Holliday on Facebook, on her website and on Twitter - @SJIHolliday
About The Lingering
By S.J.I. Holliday
Published by Orenda Books (15 November 2018)
Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history. When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution...
Here's a snippet from my review: 'Susi Holliday has created a brilliant combination of psychological thriller and ghostly mystery - a 'chiller thriller' or 'ghostly noir'.'
Read my full review here.