Much of my writing has an element of the paranormal or occult in its theme, and into which many reviewers suggest I have made considerable research.  To be honest, it is not so much research as practical experience.  The paranormal has played a large part in my life for as long as I can remember, although in early childhood I had no concept of it as being anything other than normal.  I think this is the reason many people do not believe in the paranormal.  They are looking for something SUPER-natural, something that surpasses all sense of reason.  Most times, it seems to be little more than strange coincidence that, until one stops to think, often passes unnoticed.

I remember the first time I saw a ghost, that of a young woman.   I was eleven years of age, staying with an aunt in a large house in London.  At that time, my aunt was a plump woman in her fifties, and living in a terraced Georgian town house with five floors and a basement.  I was at the top of a flight of stairs leading into the basement.  As I began to descend, the woman walked past the foot of the stairs along a short passageway leading to the kitchen, where I had a few minutes before, left my aunt reading a newspaper.  She looked up at me, smiled, and continued walking, passing out of my sight.  Thinking it was someone else staying at the house, I hurried down and into the kitchen to meet her.  My aunt was alone, sitting at the table as she had been when I left the room. 

The woman appeared to be so real, I had no suspicion she was not, until I wondered how she had walked into a room with only one entrance and vanished.  It was several months later, I mentioned to the aunt who owned the house what I had seen, and she told me the spot was supposed to be haunted, several people having seen shadows, or felt a presence in that passageway.

The regularity of paranormal experiences fluctuates in and out of my life through the years; probably the most intense period was between 1994 and 2004.  At this time, I was married to a lady deeply involved with Spiritualism.  She was a medium and clairvoyant, and to her, speaking with “spirits of the deceased” was almost as normal as speaking with the living.  I have no desire to discuss here the pros and cons of the validity of mediumship, but only to say I met many mediums, but never one who did not believe in the integrity of the messages he or she gave.  I wish however, to draw a distinction between a medium and a fortuneteller.  Although the medium sometimes will foretell the future, they do so only with the intention of giving evidence that our awareness continues after the death of our bodies.

We had been married for a year, a second marriage for each of us.  I had one son from my previous marriage, but she, then in late thirties, had never had children.  We therefore decided to try for a baby before old age and senility overtook us.  Two pregnancies ended in the first two months by miscarriage, and then, middle of December we realised she was pregnant again.

During the early hours of the morning of Christmas Eve, she felt acute stomach pains, so I rushed her into A&E of the hospital twenty kilometres away.  The doctors diagnosed an entopic pregnancy, and considered the only course of action was to abort.  They operated that afternoon.  

The early evening of Christmas Eve, I sat by her hospital bed waiting for her to wake from the anaesthetic.  Being Christmas, every patient not with a life-threatening ailment was sent home, and we were the only two people in the ward.  Lighting was subdued, but not dark, and blinds had been drawn over the windows.  I was relaxed and reading at the time, when I suddenly became aware of an intense blue light hovering about a metre above the head of the bed.  I estimate it to have been about half the size of my fist, but it was that vivid hue often described as electric blue like an electrical discharge.  The light remained floating in that position for about five seconds before fading and vanishing.  

She awoke shortly after, so I told her what I had just seen.  She believed it to have been the departing spirit of the aborted foetus.  Spiritualists believe that a soul or spirit is assigned to a new life from the moment of conception.

On several occasions, I know I have been in direct (telepathic) communication with “the dead.”  One of these, I had no knowledge until three days later that the person was dead.  This story may seem a little weird to anyone with no belief in the paranormal, but it is a true story. My interest in writing began when I met an author Neil Harrison and his wife, Patricia in 1998.  They were in the audience at a demonstration of mediumship my wife was giving at a Spiritualist club in Lancashire, UK.  They were so impressed they invited us to visit them at their home in Blackpool the following weekend.

Patricia was a trance medium and they were convinced they had lived a previous life together in Dawlish, on South coast of England some 300 years earlier. Information she had disclosed to Neil while in trance had led them from their, then, present home in Spain, (they were originally from Scotland) to England, in attempt to find real evidence.

During our first visit, Neil suggested that he and I had met before, although I knew this to be most improbable. I then realised he was referring to this ‘past life.’ It appears that people are drawn together from one life to the next, particularly if there are unresolved issues from the previous existence. He asked me if I had any connection with France, which as it so happened I did. I had bought a cottage in Burgundy some ten years earlier—my present residence. He believed the connection with the earlier life had something to do with brandy smuggled into Britain from France, also a connection with a half sister named Maria. This seemed intriguing, as I had often wondered why Burgundy had felt like home to me.

Reincarnation has always felt more acceptable to me than the heavens and hells of religious belief, but not a subject I had actively pursued. With no memory or evidence to back the theories, it had remained, for me, nothing more than an interesting idea—until he mentioned ‘past-life regression.’

In past-life regression the subject is put into a mild form of hypnotic trance and given the suggestion of going back through the centuries to unlock hidden memories of a previous life. Although a strange experience for anyone trying it for the first time, I found nothing in the least frightening about it.  I had never been hypnotised, but it was nothing like one imagines from watching TV shows. I was relaxed, but knew exactly where I was and what I was doing. The things I said felt more as if I was making them up rather than seeing them.

I was a lad of sixteen, riding a horse in the company of three older men, a father, a stepbrother and a cousin. They were knights, but not the romantic fairy tale warriors of King Arthur and Camelot. Think more of the images from the Norman conquest of Britain in 11th century as depicted in the Bayeux tapestry. I was their squire. We had recently ridden through a village or small town where the inhabitants stood at the side of the road cheering, and we had waved swords in salute to them. We were heading east toward Antioch to join the first Crusade—occurred, I later discovered, in 1096. I felt there was a link with the Templar Knights, although knowing very little about them I could not say how they were involved.

Although Neil was disappointed the results were not as he anticipated, during the next few months we went more deeply into regression while researching and correlating information on internet. The latter gave some interesting results, one of the most striking concerned the Roman Catholic Pope of that time, Urban II. He had been attending an assembly of Bishops at Macon, about fifty miles south of my home, when a letter from the Byzantine Church in Greece was delivered, requesting assistance in their war with the Moslem Seljuk Turks. His idea of a Crusade where, in the event of their death, warrior knights were certain of absolution from all sins, developed from this plea. A tour of France leading on from the assembly in 1095 took in the church at Autun, ten miles west of my home, where he gave only the second sermon calling for the Frankish knights to take the cross and join the Crusade.

I also discovered the link with the Poor Knights of Jesus Christ and the Temple of Solomon, that mysterious but powerful enclave, the Knights Templar.  Formed just after the successful conquest of Jerusalem by a group of nine knights, several had come from the area around Dijon, and one had previously been a monk at a monastery at Beaune twenty miles east of my home.

My intention was to write the story as a novel...well perhaps I should think more of describing it as an epic from the amount of information I have. Unfortunately, the novel is still not completed, but anyway, this short story does not end there. Fast forward to end of October 2003. Patricia and Neil had returned to Spain three years earlier, and we had lost contact. I was going through divorce at the time, and had moved house, but was still living in England. Five days before Halloween, I was working, my normal daytime job designing electronic circuits, when I felt a story forming inside my head. It felt as though the tale was being narrated inside my mind. It was so powerful I had to stop working to take notes.

The story was about a teenage girl, I guess sixteen years or so, the daughter of an innkeeper from near Dawlish on southwest coast of England. Her name was Katherine and the year was 1645. This was the third year of the English Civil War between the Cavaliers, (supporters of the King, Charles I) and Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentarians, the Roundheads.

To read more about Katherine and a synopsis of the novel, Preserved in Amber, click link at bottom of this page.

After two days of constant nagging in my head, the sensation subsided, to allow me to return to work. The following day was Halloween, and I had arranged to attend a party with friends. As I was getting ready, I received a telephone call from a distraught friend I had not seen for some time. He told me that Patricia had been trying to contact me for the past week since the sudden and unexpected death of her husband from heart attack.

I was shocked, not only from such news, but I immediately realised from where the story had come.  I contacted Patricia, giving my condolences, and attended the funeral at their family home near Glasgow in early November. I made no mention then, to Patricia, of the story I believe Neil had wanted me to write.  I should add here that several years earlier I had done some ghost writing for him although nothing ever came from my work. The story was never published.

Over the next few months, I completed the novel entitled Preserved in Amber and on completion of the first draft contacted Patricia. I felt it advisable to explain the writing and my intention of getting it published, needing her approval, as there are elements of the story taken from the times I visited them. She had returned to Scotland to be with her family, so I visited her about a year after Neil’s death. I am not sure whether she or I was the more amazed at the coincidences between parts of the story I had written, and things Neil had told her. As a trance medium, she never remembered the things she spoke of during the trance state.

As I said above, the paranormal never seems as amazing or incredulous as people expect. Most times, I am not even aware that a paranormal event has occurred until trying to make logical sense of it afterwards. The most common to me appear as strings of coincidences. Some occurred while checking historical validity of events in the story, such as the battle mentioned being the battle of Langport taking place in July of 1645. The French Queen of Charles I from historical record as Henrietta Maria, coinciding with the name of Maria that Neil had mentioned on our first meeting. There were many more that if considered alone, would be put down as nothing more than coincidence.

One final point, I did make an error in the name of Katherine. Patricia told me, it should have been Kathleen… well anyone can make a mistake.


Click on this link to read more of Katherine and a synopsis of Preserved in Amber