I am very excited to welcome Paul Magrs to the blog today for my All Hallows Eve event. Paul has been a guest on BCC previously and it’s a real pleasure to have him back again today. I’m a big fan of Pauls books and you can read my reviews of Conjugal Rites and Hell’s Belles. So please give a very warm welcome to Paul…

Hallowe’en in Whitby

Hallowe’en in recent years has meant a trip across the country to the town of Whitby on the North East Coast of England. This is the venue for the world famous Goth Weekend Festival – when the streets of this time-locked Victoria harbour town are suddenly aswarm with holidaying vamps and monsters – trekking up to the Abbey at the top of the hill and round the tea shops and pubs and antique stores. Whitby is gently invaded by wonderful fancy dressers, tottering on spiky heels through the cobbled streets, swishing their velvet capes, and parading around in full regalia: everything from classic 80s Bauhaus-style to the more recent Steampunk innovations.

And I’ve been there in recent years because Whitby is the setting for my series of Gothic Comic novels, The Brenda and Effie Mysteries. There’s a wonderful independent bookshop on Church Street in Whitby, on the road that takes you to the foot of the fabled 199 steps where Dracula once roamed. The marvellous staff there have thrown a bookstore party in order to launch each of the Brenda books when they are published each October. It’s become a kind of ritual – with the staff there staying late and laying out nibbles and wine and preparing to open the doors to all these readers dressed up in corsets and capes, elaborate hats and boots, masks, make-up and top hats. They sit me on a red velvet chair up a step in a doorway in the middle of the shop – and listen as I read them a little bit of the new book…

I love giving readings. I always have, ever since my first short story as published (fifteen years ago exactly!) There’s something extremely rewarding about seeing some of your readers right there in front of you listening – and laughing at the right bits! It’s great meeting them, too – queueing to get the new book and the older ones signed and dedicated. I particularly like the fans who are buying extra copies for their family and friends, or tell me tales of ‘starting so-and-so off reading the Brenda and Effie’s – and now they’re as hooked as I am!’ That does my heart good to hear.

Staying in Whitby on those Hallowe’en weekends is rather like stepping into my own books. We end up having tea and cake in just the kinds of cafes that my spook-hunting elderly ladies would do. We stay in a B+B not unlike the one Brenda owns. We traipse round junk shops of a similar ilk to Effie’s, and we go up to the Abbey to stare down at the vista of the town and the wild North Sea… and I can never help wanting to fall into some kind of supernatural investigation and adventure.

I love it when readers tell me that they’ve spent the weekend going round town, trying to match up the real places with the locations in the books. I get questions like, ‘We found what we think is the ACTUAL Deadly Boutique – are we right?’

In the most recent editions we’ve included a map in the book’s endpapers, so people can play the I-Spy game with a little bit of help…

Most evenings in Whitby for us wind up in the hotel on the West Cliff that feels most like the Christmas Hotel in the books. In Brenda’s world it is a decadent place ruled over by Mrs Claus and her army of elves and it’s Christmas every day. What’s great about the real life hotels up on that clifftop is that, in October, Christmas is just about starting for them. Their Christmas trees are up and lavishly strung with tinsel and lights – and it’s cabaret hour in the grand ballroom just about any time of night or day. We always go to have a look at who’s up, doing a turn.

I see my little visits as a change to soak up the atmosphere again and to charge my creative batteries once more with the Whitby vibes. When we’re walking around, night or day, around those strange old streets, I usually start to hear voices. Voices telling me all about the weird stuff that’s been happening in town recently: voices from the Whitby that is only partially mine. Familiar voices of characters I know pretty well by now…

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Carolyn created Book Chick City in July 2009 due to her love of books. A Brit chick obsessed with zombies, kick-arse chicks and sexy heroes. She's also seriously addicted to chocolate, shopping, and coffee. Her favourite genres are Urban Fantasy, Romance and Zombie Lit... Brrraaaaiiinnnnsss!


Book Chick City October 29, 2010 at 5:59 am

I absolutely love the sound of Whitby's Goth Weekend, sounds like so much fun. I will definitely look into going next year! Also, I'm so disappointed I can't make your publication party, sounds like it will be a lovely event :)


yllektra (force-oblique) October 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Oh Gosh, this sounds amazing!
I wish I could go, but living in another country sucks sometimes! lol


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