When I write, I don’t simply sit at my keyboard and dream up spooky stories. I go out and look for inspiration. And where could possibly better inspire strange stories of the supernatural than Venice - the most haunted city in Europe?
That’s where I am today, exploring the hidden backstreets of the city that started as a refuge for poor souls seeking refuge from the Barbarians after the fall of the Roman Empire.
It might be difficult to imagine Venice as an eerie city at the height of summer, but trust me - as the sun lowers to the horizon, you can feel the atmosphere change. It’s impossible not to imagine dark, cloaked figures lurking in the shadowy alleyways, or punting on the winding black canals.
There are a few haunted places on my list: the Casin Degli Spirti, a palace overlooking the lagoon, and otherwise known as “The House of Spirits”; and Ca Dario, a house so haunted they say it is afflicted with a terrible curse (perhaps best not to linger to long here.) I’ll let you know how I get on.
But in all seriousness, this city has inspired some pretty wonderful ghost stories. The definitive example is The Man in the Picture, by Susan Hill: a novella which builds with such a sense of dread and momentum, I found it almost impossible not to read in one sitting.
My advice - buy it now, and keep it for a cold winter’s night…
The Ghost Hunters is published by Quercus on October 24th, you can pre-order a copy today