Megan lives in Nottingham, England. She teaches Creative Writing workshops has published four novels: We Wait (the latest, which is a haunted house story), The Woman Under the Ground which is a collection of short stories, The Lives of Ghosts and **The Dawning. They are all very well reviewed and there is great praise for the writing.
In the interview we talked about a love for the short story form and for ghost stories in general, though not all of Megan’s work is in the ghost/horror genre.
The Dining Room Ghost
It was good being able to talk to the author about what she intended in the story rather than me guessing what long dead writers meant in theirs.
The Dining Room Ghost was partly inspired by Megan half-seeing something when overtired coming down the stairs with her young baby. We talked about the silent woman ghosts, often with long hair, sometimes drowned that keep cropping up in horror but she said she wanted the ghost to be the silence and quiet in a house of screaming babies and the busy head of the young mother. The mother seems to want silence and peace above all, and there is just one way to get it!
There is ambiguity about the ghost: is it a ghost or is it a post natal psychosis? In that there is a strong pedigree of ghost stories with unreliable narrators; The Yellow Wallpaper being one and The Horlaanother among the stories we have read out.
This is a theme in our culture as a whole — are people who see ghosts simply mad, or do they reveal a whole other realm by their seeing what the rest of us cannot?
We talked about a Freudian interpretation where the ghost is a dissociated part of the narrator — her Shadow if you like (though that is a Jungian term that Freud would not have liked!). The emotions embodied in the ghost, murderous waiting amongst them, belong properly to the narrator, but she cannot tolerate them so she splits this desire to destroy the baby (and thus have quiet) off from herself and creates this spirit.
It occurred to me that her standing by the patiently ticking clock introduced a kind of inevitability to the ending which we did not at first suspect, but given the clock was there all along as a kind of hint, perhaps we should have known that the time of silence would finally come.
Quite a disturbing story then.
Writers of ghost stories, weird tales, folk horror and other sorts of unnerving fiction, feel free to contact me through the Classic Ghost Stories Podcast Facebook page/direct message if you would like your story read out and to be interviewed on a future episode of the podcast.
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Beginning music ‘Some Come Back’ is by the marvellous Heartwood Institute . The end music is by MYUU Bad Encounter