Welcome to Haunt!

Boo! And welcome to Haunt. I thought I’d kick-start the Haunt blog series by introducing you, the spooky-loving reader, to me, to the vision behind Haunt and to our first project: Scottish oral horror storytelling.

The foreshadowing of Haunt

Since devouring Goosebumps (or did Goosebumps devour me?) from the age of 8 I have always been fascinated by the horrors that lurk where we least expect them (although my mindset at 8 was more like aaaargh!). From that age, I basically lived in the local library, snatching up anything that had a hint of mystery, darkness or quirky humour: Goosebumps, Point Horror, A Series of Unfortunate Events – my first victims. This led to a degree in literature, which is where I discovered (at the far-too-late age of 18) the beautiful darkness of Gothic literature. The castles, the creatures, the dualities and the veiled social commentary: it was poetic horror and I was addicted.

I’ve since completed three dissertations on the subject, including shoehorning one into a publishing degree. Declining a PhD placement in late-Victorian Gothic, I instead pursued a career in publishing and have since desired to work creatively with Gothic content. Then I moved to Scotland.

Haunt’s vision

Moving to Fife in January 2017, just across the water from Edinburgh, I realised that there was not a single publisher in Scotland dedicated to Gothic literature. Between the mist-cloaked mountains of the autumnal Highlands, the old spires that scratch out the Edinburgh skyline, the infamous tales of the likes of Burke and Hare and Deacon Brodie, and that thing in academic discussions actually referred to as Scottish Gothic, I could see what was missing. I wanted to celebrate this dark heritage, and to participate in its continuance and development.

Et voila! I combined my academic interest and my wish to see quality contemporary Gothic fiction published. Haunt was born out of a desire to publish stories that really stay with readers long after experiencing them. But Haunt won’t just focus on Scottish Gothic or Gothic horror: we look to publish global Gothic in all its strands and, once open for general submissions, will be looking in particular for new explorations of the genre.

Why oral storytelling?

I chose to launch with Gothic horror as this is what led me on that dark path to Gothic fiction in general. As a child in love with holidays in the Highlands, a highlight was always the local storyteller, who would sweep into a pub, adorned in a floor-length black coat and wide-brimmed hat, pockets full of props, and tell us stories in hushed whispers (which somehow carried through the room). The description of romantic landscapes blended with unease and fear was perfect. I sat, transfixed, jumping at all the right moments and nervously laughing if the storyteller broke the tension they had built with dark humour.

Through this audiobook and anthology, I want to celebrate that ability – to transfix and scare an audience – and recreate the listener’s experience. On a recent cabin holiday with friends in the Highlands, I wanted to share chilling stories in the dimly lit rooms. But we didn’t know any and didn’t feel confident enough to act as a storyteller. An audiobook of expertly delivered Scottish Gothic horror stories to fill the room with unease would have been perfect. The audiobook will also enable those who can’t, for whatever reason, go out and enjoy the thrills and chills of oral horror storytelling to experience part of the magic. The Gothic is renowned for invading the home and that’s what this audiobook will do. And, in book form, a telling of those stories will be another format ready to be devoured.

Are you a storyteller?

Haunt is now open for submissions and looking for tales of Gothic horror from oral storytellers based in Scotland, from Scotland or influenced by Scotland. Whether you deliver classic tales or write and perform your own stories, we want to hear from you. Are you a historian who delivers chilling tales of the likes of Burke and Hare? Perhaps you’re the family storyteller. Maybe you’re a writer involved with spoken word and storytelling events. However you deliver your oral storytelling, you’re well placed to submit to Haunt. You will be paid for your story as well as for your recording time on the audiobook. Help us widen the scope for those to enjoy storytelling. The project will serve as a great way to promote (your) storytelling and storytelling events (I can promise the launch will be fantastic!) and it’ll also give people the chance to welcome great storytelling into their own home.

Find out more and submit here: www.hauntpublishing.com/submissions

That’s it for now, Hauntlings.