On Saturday I was very honoured and surprised to be awarded the Gothic Short Story award for 2019. It was a wonderful day hosted by some amazing people, including Vanni Cook who is organising the Go Gothic festival which is utterly fantastic and features some brilliant authors. It was judged in two rounds by various academics and writers, including Professor Nick Groom who is Professor of Gothic literature at Exeter University and goes by the very wonderful title Prof of Goth! He has just written the Oxford University Press Guide to Gothic and has edited the new edition of Frankenstein by Oxford University Press. So I was very privileged to have my work read by him and to meet him at the presentation.
It was an international short story award with entries from many countries but I chose to set my story closer to home, in Tavistock, Devon. It’s based around the legend of Lady Howard who is said to haunt the area around her old home. She is often cast in tales as a ‘wicked lady’ style of character as she outlived her four husbands. However, I looked behind the myth at the real woman, who lived a torrid life as the daughter of a violent man, who was sold as a young woman and ended up married to a very unpleasant husband who was violent and spent much of her fortune. This inspired me to reimagine the legend of this woman. Probably the most thrilling aspect of her legend though is that she is said to ride out in a carriage made from the bones of her husbands with one of their skulls on each corner. It is one of the many wonderful tales that have ancient origins around the incredibly atmospheric Dartmoor. She is often portrayed as having a black hound (or whisht hound) with her that has red eyes. If that sounds familiar, it was the inspiration for The Hound of the Baskervilles.
I’ve attached a copy of my story, Vengeance and the Doctor. I hope you like it.