In Search of Fear……with Penny Hampson

This week on my hunt for horrors, I am joined by author Penny Hampson whose novel The Unquiet Spirit is a Cornwall based feast of spooks and suspense. I’m very happy that she has taken time to be my guest – take it away Penny!

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Anne-Marie. It’s great to talk with you about scary things!

As a child, the scariest programme I watched was Dr Who, usually from behind the sofa! I didn’t like the Daleks, but because at that time they couldn’t climb stairs I always thought they weren’t much of a threat.

The Cybermen however were something completely different – humanoid but expressionless, they terrified me. They still do, if I’m honest!

The scariest stories for me are those that are rooted in reality, when something innocuous suddenly becomes a real threat. I remember reading Jaws (before the movie was made) and being terrified. It really put me off swimming in the sea for quite some time, even though I knew how unlikely it would be for a great white shark to turn up in UK waters.

As for scary films, my favourite has to be The Shining. Those scenes where Danny, the little boy, cycles along the hotel corridors and you just know he’s going to see something around the next corner, have me cowering behind a cushion every time. Stanley Kubrick the director, certainly knew how to rack up the tension.  

As to paranormal experiences, I couldn’t say for sure, but I’ve certainly experienced events that creeped me out. Some years ago, when I was pregnant, my husband, two year old son and I rented a very old cottage in the Lakes for a few weeks, while my husband was working in the area. At the same time every night our son, who slept in the next room to us, woke up screaming, but could never say what was wrong. If that wasn’t unnerving enough, one particular night, my husband went in to comfort our son and I was left in our bedroom alone. Suddenly the doors of the large walk-in cupboard at my side of the bed burst open. Well, it wasn’t just my son who was screaming!

Not long after that, I decided I couldn’t stay there any longer and my son and I returned home. Strangely enough, my parents rented the same cottage for a week (and I hadn’t told them about my experience). They too came home early, my mother complaining about strange noises she kept hearing in the middle of the night.

In my book, The Unquiet Spirit, my heroine, Kate has lots of fears, she’s nervous around dogs and doesn’t go in elevators. She also has several unnerving experiences in her new home.

Here’s an extract where Sal, the neighbour’s dog seems to sense something spooky going on:

An eerie howl cut through the house, making the hairs on the back of Kate’s neck leap to attention again. Tom pushed his chair back with a squeal on the flagstone floor and charged out of the kitchen towards the noise. Kate stumbled after him, nerves on edge and heart pounding. Her mind somehow registered that the sound was being made by Sal. Nothing supernatural, but that did not make it any the less unnerving. Kate halted at the door to the dining room and took in the sight of Sal crouched at the bottom of the separate staircase leading up to the east wing, ears flattened against her head, and a low rumbling coming from her throat.

“What’s the matter, girl? There’s nothing there, you daft dog,” Tom got a grip on Sal’s collar and pulled her away. “Never known her do that before. Is there someone else in the house?” He tugged the now quiet Sal back into the kitchen, brusquely brushing past Kate.

“No.” Not as far as I know. Kate bit her lip, and followed them back into the kitchen. She propped herself against the counter top, certain that she would slide on to the floor without support, her legs were shaking so much.

Tom must have noticed her ashen face.

“Would you like me to check? Can’t understand why Sal carried on like that.” His voice had lost its brusqueness.

“No, it’s OK. I’m sure it’s nothing… Probably a mouse or something,” Yes, that’s all it was, she told herself, not quite believing it. Tom’s expression told her she hadn’t convinced him either. She glanced at Sal, now curled up in the corner as if nothing had happened. Well, she wasn’t bothered. It can’t have been anything.

I too, like Kate, am nervous around dogs and because I don’t like enclosed spaces I rarely use lifts. It was therefore easy for me to conjure up her feelings when she was faced with both these ordeals.

My biggest fear though is of the dark. As a child I always had to have a light on at night. I’m not that bad now, but I hate it when I’m somewhere that’s totally dark, I find it suffocating. A couple of years ago I was going round a museum in Italy and there was a powercut. My husband and I were in a room with no natural light and when the lights went out it was absolutely pitch black. Fortunately, the power didn’t stay off for long, but for me it seemed like a lifetime. If you read The Unquiet Spirit, you’ll discover exactly how I felt!

Thanks so much Penny, I’m totally with you on The Shining – for me the scariest movie Ive ever seen. And also – how scary were the first Cybermen?? Check out Penny’s links below to get involved her conjuring’s of fear….



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Here are the links to her books:

The Unquiet Spirit –

Regency mystery/romance

An Officer’s Vow –

A Bachelor’s Pledge –