I have always been interested in all things supernatural. I suppose it would be a very odd thing indeed if I weren't so interested, considering the family I grew up in. I was about five years old the first time my grandfather took me off on one of his countryside adventures. Generally speaking, such outings involved miles and miles of walking, a fair bit of singing, and a considerable amount of storytelling, usually in a churchyard. We'd take a packed lunch and a bottle of something fizzy, sit alongside our favourite Victorian vault, not far from the gravediggers' den, and he'd tell me about his childhood, his family and his years in Burma during the Second World War. He'd also tell me stories about the occupants of the graveyard, and what they got up to when we weren't around to observe their goings on. He was an accomplished storyteller, and he had me hanging on his every word. And that is how I spent the Sundays of my youth... sitting in graveyards, drinking ginger beer and hypothesising about the occupants of the graves we so loved to sit amongst and their nocturnal shenanigans.
So, I loved all things ghoulies and ghosties, vampires (courtesy of the Hammer films I started watching around the same time) and things that go bump in the night. But I had another reason for being so interested in the supernatural - my grandad was a medium and psychic. It was something never spoken about outside of my immediate family as long as he was still with us, as outsiders might think he was batty (or, in the case of churchgoers, possessed by demons), but within my family it was talked about openly. I grew up surrounded by the other side.
When I was about nine years old, I was severely reprimanded by a teacher for telling spooky stories. Apparently, it's not a good thing to terrify fellow pupils to the point where they refuse to enter the school's lavatories alone, for fear that disembodied hands will rush under the cubicle walls and grab their ankles. I was only carrying on a family tradition, I explained. After all, I'd been frightened out of my wits many a time since I was five years old, and it had never done me any harm.
I have always loved old books and history... and libraries, archives, museums and historic sites. I am a researcher by nature, and ferreting about for information about things long gone and people long dead is what I do best. Give me a room full of dusty old books and I'm content for hours... days... maybe forever. Considering all of the above, it shouldn't come as any great surprise that I love a good, traditional ghost story; in particular, the ones written by M. R. James.