Dying Embers out now

Dying Embers out now

Friday 4 October 2013

Haunted houses: research for my new project

With Dying Embers now just about complete, I have been thinking about my next project, tentatively titled Terror Australis. Several of the tales in Dying Embers feature historic houses, or at least some form of local legend, myth or folklore, and I know a number of English short story collections featuring such historical links (such as Ghost Realm by Paul Finch); so why not one from an Australian perspective?

To this end I have been doing some research, and I've put together a few options. Last year I visited Cockatoo Island (see my blog here), and found this otherworldly place to be inspirational. More recently I visited Meroogal house in Nowra, which is a fascinating time capsule from the 1800s, and full of stories. Next on my list is Monte Cristo Homestead, in Junee, which is said to be 'Australia's most haunted house'. Dare I stay the night there? You bet! I'll let you know how it goes.

The main view of Vaucluse House from the gardens as you approach

Anyway, for further research, today I visited Vaucluse House, in Sydney. It was home of William Charles Wentworth, father of the Australian Constitution, from 1827 until 1853; and I have discovered it contains many more fascinating tales from the past. I can't wait to get writing! 
I took some pictures for reference.
The 'games room' on the ground floor
The upstairs landing
The cellars
Barred windows in the cooler
My intention at this time is for Terror Australis to consist of around six dramatic 'strange adventures', written in a similar vein to Dying Embers, set in one of the feature locations. Each one would be followed by a non-fiction essay concerning the history, myth or legend surrounding the place.

It could be one of a series, several volumes concerning different areas of Australia. From my researches so far, it seems there would be plenty of material for such a project.

What do you think?


  1. Wonderful pictures, Martin!

    This sounds like a winning idea. I find the marriage of both fact and fantasy ideal in the study of haunting, particularly because true historical accounts can appear too dry and fantasy, though it gets the enthusiasm levels up, often leaves the reader desiring to find out more about the background to the tale. So, a massive thumbs-up from me!

  2. Thanks for your comments Paul. I thought you might like the idea! I must say I've been inspired by your approach to local myth and legend.