It's a conversation I have with fellow authors from time to time - how far can you include supernatural/paranormal elements in your writing? How much woo-woo is too much? Publishers notoriously don't like it - it's not supposed to sell books. Yet writers enjoy writing it and readers don't seem too adverse to it. Hence those conversations. Ghost stories are popular at Christmas. Podcasts investigating strange phenomena proliferate. A few writers - Barbara Erskine comes to mind - are very successful with novels that include something 'other'.
It's a genre that attracts me as reader and writer. I've done a number of courses, mainly with a folklore bias, that I have plans for in the future. I'll have to decide how I'm going to handle that. With incidents that might have a mundane explanation as well as a more spooky one? Certainly there is plenty of material on the Internet, specialist magazines and whole bookshops dedicated to the occult to prove that there is an interest out there Clairvoyance, tarot reading, reincarnation, spiritualism. Most people who have lost a loved one have probably wondered about the chance of one more connection, even if only fleetingly.
The idea for a blog post came to me when reading one of those irresistible internet lists. This one was on ways of knowing whether a lost loved one is near. It was a long list - but three things stick in my mind. The appearance of feathers in unexpected places, water puddles and flickering lights. I can tick off both the latter, now that the radiator and the light fitting in the hall have been replaced. And feathers? Having teenage seagulls on the roof who are just coming into their adult plumage can explain that. Am I being sceptical? Maybe? But it's still intriguing.
And then there are the magpies. I have one, sometimes two and occasionally eight or nine - a whole charm - that have taken to visiting the garden in the mornings.
And magpies are supposed to signify the presence of magic.