The wait is over!
On Sunday, March 15, 2020, my spooky new book PARANORMAL WALES was unleashed upon the world, and should now be available in all good bookshops.
Ahead of its release I did an interview with Jenny White for the Western Mail newspaper, and here are some of my answers about the book writing process:
What inspired this book and, more broadly, what has inspired your fascination with the paranormal stories of Wales?
I’ve been fascinated with ghost stories for as long as I can remember, but I have no idea when and why it started. Maybe it was during my school trips to Llangrannog which, as anyone who was in Welsh language education will know, is incredibly haunted by a certain Black Nun!
Wherever the fascination came from, I’ve wanted to write a book about Wales’ “most haunted” places for a very long time, but I was never interested in just rehashing what was already out there. This is why my previous books on the subject have looked at obscure long-lost stories, not well-known stories.
The research process involved a lot of reading, a lot of interviewing and, where possible, going out, rolling up my sleeves, and doing some ghost hunting of my own.Mark Rees
It was only last year that inspiration struck and I decided to combine what are, to my mind, two very different types of ghost stories into a single book. The first are those more rooted in folklore, which have been passed down for generations and involve suits of armour clanking around old Gothic mansions. The second are the modern-day accounts, such as those seen on the ghost hunting TV shows, which are trying to prove the existence of life after death using scientific methods, rather than just spooking people.
My aim with this book was to look at both side-by-side and to see if there were any connections between the historical tales and more recent sightings.
Tell me a bit about the research process for the book. Did you make any interesting discoveries along the way?
The research process involved a lot of reading, a lot of interviewing and, where possible, going out, rolling up my sleeves, and doing some ghost hunting of my own. I made lots of interesting discoveries along the way, the best of which were those that added new details to already well-known tales.
For example, the story of the White Lady in Oystermouth Castle is a popular ghost story in Swansea, but when you actually go back and dig out the original accounts from the nineteenth century you discover some interesting new facts, as well as a few contradictions.
What are your favourite places, and favourite stories in the book – and why?
My favourite place would probably be the Prince of Wales pub in Kenfig. Besides the fact that it’s just a wonderful pub which serves wonderful food, it also has some incredible stories attached to it which, as far as I know, have been overlooked by other ghost books. It’s always nice to be able to put something new into the world.
Another favourite is Craig-y-Nos Castle because it combines ghost stories with another of my other big passions in life, opera. It is said to be haunted by its former owner, the superstar soprano Adelina Patti, and some claim to have heard her singing there. I also heard of a nice ghost story involving opera at the Wales Millennium Centre but, sadly, I was unable to find out any more information about it and couldn’t include it in the book. If anyone knows anything please let me know!
Want to know more? Here’s the publisher’s blurb from the back of the book:
Wales is said to be the most haunted country in the world. Restless spirits roam the ancient land, from the lofty peaks of Snowdonia to the dark depths of the abandoned mines. In Paranormal Wales author Mark Rees takes the reader on a spine-chilling journey to dozens of these locations, which include well-known tourist landmarks and more secluded spots well off the beaten track.
These accounts of disembodied voices, supernatural mists and pesky poltergeists range from centuries-old legends to modern-day sightings. Visit the ‘oldest pub’ in Wales, where more than 180 people are claimed to have been sentenced to death by hanging. Explore the majestic opera house built by a world-famous soprano, who some say continues to perform on her beloved stage from beyond the grave. Spend the night in a seemingly idyllic manor house, where the presence of a Victorian housekeeper is said to reduce unsuspecting guests to tears. Or step back in time at one of the many ivy-strewn castles, where ladies in white patrol the Gothic battlements as tortured screams ring out from the dungeons below.
Some of these stories might be familiar, others less so, but they all have one thing in common – they will make you think twice about turning off the light at night. Illustrated throughout, Paranormal Wales will be of spine-tingling interest to those wanting to discover more about the country’s haunted and hidden heritage.