My Podcast Interview – Breaking the silence and becoming an author & activist – It’s Never Too Late

Hello my little demons!

For those of you who follow me on social media (see the links below if you’d like to follow), you may have noticed that I did a podcast interview recently and was waiting for it to air.

Well, it all started when I was approached by Megha on Twitter, asking me to do a podcast interview and I jumped at the opportunity. Not necessarily because I love supporting fellow authors and creative minds (which I do), and it’ll be good publicity for me, but because I will be getting out of my comfort zone HUGELY.

If you don’t know, I had Selective Mutism as a child, you can read my previous post on ‘Why “The Girl Who Whispered“‘ here, which explains more about it, and as silly as it sounds, talking is something I have always struggled with.

When we scheduled to do it, I was very nervous, I could literally feel my heart beating in my chest. Megha was so lovely though, so understanding and I eventually felt myself calming (okay, a little).

I’ve been waiting for it to go live with baited breath, although the hard part was over, I was still really nervous about it going live. All those years worrying about speaking and I was going public on the internet. But the podcast went live today at 14:30 BST and I couldn’t be happier. It came out great!

If you’re interested in listening, here it is on spotify:

Huge thanks to Megha for the opportunity, it was great to make such a lovely connection too, and thanks everyone who has already listened to it – I was told Megha’s listeners love it (I think it’s my British accent!)

If you’d like to support Megha and her podcast, please check out her links:

website: meghaupadhyaya.com
facebook: facebook.com/itsnevertoolatepodcast
instagram: instagram.com/takeitsleeazy/
twitter: twitter.com/Young_blackbird

If you’d like to support Megha’s podcast, you can do so here!

Here was a little teaser trailer (I sound awful, but here it is for completeness anyway!):

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
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Author Interview – S. D. Reed

Hello, my little demons! 😈

The second instalment of Author Interviews is here, and today I have an interview from “a new author on the block,” S. D. Reed!

I really enjoyed this interview, S. D. was a pleasure to talk to, and after speaking to him, I’m really interested in his new book that is coming out! Today is the day the cover, title and release date was annonced, and I have to admit, it looks really good (I’m a little jealous!). See more about it below.

We also seem to have a few similarities with ideas when it comes to writing too, especially question 6 in the interview, this is certainly something I have been doing in my upcoming book, “Rose Garden Sanatorium” and I really like this approach, like we both agreed; it benefits the long-term readers.

Kerwall Town (Out 18th October 2020!)

Before we get into the interview, I first want to plug his book a little. It’ll be rude not to – besides doesn’t the cover look fab?

The novel is set in the late 70’s and is centred on a fictitious failed goverment experimental town that has long since been forgotten. That is until one day when two strangers arrive in town and claim to be the new owners and mayor.

Here’s the synopsis S. D. gave me:

After two strangers appear in the dilapidated town of Kerwall, the lives of every resident change. Members of the community are forced together as the number of bodies and secrets increase with every passing moment. With knowledge as their only tool against the world’s deadliest predator, the hunt for power commences. Kerwall’s hope rests on the shoulders of its youngest residents, forcing them into the depths of the earth, questioning everything they’ve ever known.

Inverview with S.D.

Right, now let’s get into the interview!

What inspired you to start writing?

I don’t think one singular thing inspired me, but rather a collection of things, and I also think it’s been brewing inside me, like I was born to write… does that make sense, or is it too cliché? Well, that’s it anyway. I would watch films and read books, and I was totally immersed. I wanted to do the same for others, to give them hope and escapism in the form of a book.

Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?

I do, yeah, just because I feel my novels are more interesting than me. I want them to speak for themselves.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Well, without giving too much away about my debut novel, it was a certain death scene. I didn’t want to write it as I grew so attached to the character, but alas, the book needed one final sacrifice.

What does being a successful author look like to you?

Being Happy, and yes, with a capital ‘H’. Isn’t that what life is all about too? It’s not about the race, it’s about the humans, earth and making a difference. Ultimately, I’d like my novels to make a positive difference in someone’s life. That’s the mark of success to me.

Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I did once and Google didn’t know who I was… Nor did Alexa or Siri.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I have two, the first is that I’ll often have a character that enjoys making puns and the second is I work in long term story telling. What this means is, you may not get all the answers in one novel, but you may in another, as all my novels are connected in some way, you just gotta look for them…

Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?

I do indeed! There are so many wonderful writing blogs out there, but it would be remiss of me to not recommend and of course, yours too!! (aww, thanks!)

The ones I can recommend right away:
@PamelaRossAA

@avidbookworm78
@dansbookblog
@FootnotesMgmt
@CanvassartS

What is your favourite word, and why?

So, so many! Right now, it’s a simple one; fantabulous! I just love how positive it sounds. Another favourite is beatific!

Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?

I always try to convey a sense of good and evil, and a strong sense of teamwork too, as that’s how I believe we will all achieve things; together.

Is your book “Kerwall Town” based on a real person?

Nope, all my novels are fictitious. But I do do (hehe) an awful lot of research as I write in a lot of different time periods and countries.

If a film were made of your book, who would you cast in the leading roles?

I would LOVE for Debra Jo Rupp, Catherine O’Hare and Tom Holland to be in the leading roles, but who knows. I’d be happy either way, but they would certainly be very cool. Ideally, I would have loved Robin Williams.

What other projects are in the works?

I’ve just started work on my next novel, based in suburbia and most notably, America, and with Foodnotes Management, it’ll be out next year sometime… as will something else…

Do you prefer writing in silence or to music?

I don’t really mind, as long as the music isn’t club level loud, haha.

What would you advise young writers trying to build a publishing history or an author platform?

Stay connected, stay grounded and most importantly, have fun and just beleive in yourself. Write often too, that is the key. It doesn’t have to be a lot either, just often to keep the practice up.

Thanks, S.D! It’s been a pleasure.

Please do go check him out, here are the links to his website and social media handles:

sd-reed.com
Insta: sdreedauthor
Twitter: S.D.Reed.Author
Facebook: S D Reed

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😊

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Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 7

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 7

Officer Jennifer Finley

The young female agent slid through a dark internal door as quiet as a mouse, keeping every one of her senses alert for sounds, sights, smells, strange touches on her body, or maybe even changes in temperature. She stepped silently and slowly through the Sanatorium, but her mind was running one-hundred miles an hour going through the training sessions; move slow, check corners, especially dark ones, don’t trust anyone or anything. She held her P90 out before her, her grip tight on it, her focus through the infrared scope, the torch illuminating the way, and felt that little bit safer knowing that it had been modified specifically for these sorts of situations.

But she still felt defenceless, even with her specially modified gear and her extensive training. She had been told about the horrors of the enemy she faced; some were able to inhabit your body, take control of it, some were large, strong and ruthless. But there were those who were just so clever, stronger, quicker, able to take most living shapes, able to control fire, make things move with just their minds, knock people unconscious with just a flick of their hands, that Finley doubted her average intelligence and physical fitness along with all her modified equipment was enough to beat them.

She slowly kept her breathing under control in an attempt to steady her heartbeat as she looked around a corner. The only way she was able to keep herself from panicking was to continue with her job, to keep moving. She just hoped no one, or nothing, could hear the panic swelling in her chest. Part of her training was to regulate her heartbeat, to keep it steady; her instructor told her that the panic was a reaction from high levels of cortisol running through her body; the fight or flight syndrome, and it affected concentration, but she always had trouble keeping it down.

Ahead of her, she noticed a wall had fallen, opening up the next room. Slowly she moved, carefully avoiding the rubble on the floor as she did, to investigate the next room.

As she made her way towards the opening, however, she heard a noise. Her skin prickled at the sound; something was shuffling. She stopped dead in her tracks and listened out. Her heartbeat thumped in her ears, and she felt a roll of sweat run down her face. She doubted it had anything to do with the amount of gear she had on, keeping her safe but unavoidably warm. The sound continued as if what ever was making it didn’t know she was there. The shuffling was also complimented with what sounded like heavy breathing and rubble being moved. Suddenly her body felt heavy with fear.

She put her eye through the scope, not picking up any heat signatures yet—not that she could pick up anything through the thick walls of the Sanatorium. She didn’t have a visual. It could be anything. It could be the wind. She willed herself to continue towards the gap in the wall.

But as she moved again, the shuffling sound stopped. She stopped herself. She pursed her lips together to stop her from breathing heavily, not even noticing the grip on her gun had tightened, her knuckles going white. The sound started again only a few seconds later, as if what ever was making it had stopped to listen out but hadn’t noticed her. She moved her hand slowly up to the gun and turn off the torch accessory, then up to her smock and turned off those lights, her sole visual was now through the infrared scope—although she still saw various shades of blue, no oranges or reds to indicate a living being.

She continued to move slowly towards the break in the wall, keeping tight to the remainder of the wall that was still left standing, using it as a guide with the use of her elbow and being careful not to accidentally knock something on the floor, either resulting in her making a noise or tripping over. She shuffled her body towards the hole and stopped for a few seconds to listen out.

There certainly was something just there, only a few feet away. All she had to do was to take one large step to her right and she could swing herself round to see her enemy. Within a split second before changing her mind, she committed to her manoeuvre. She stepped and span her whole body round and saw the classic oranges and reds in her scope.

Something barked and the orange and red blob ran off. She turned on the light attachment on her gun just in time to catch sight of a red bushy tail flapping as it ran out of the door.

Finley sighed, relaxed slightly and let out a small laugh. It was just a fox. Although she was told to be vigilant of all living things, she was sure if it was anything but sinister, it would have just attacked her, and it didn’t.

Rubbing her face with a hand and letting her gun drop a little from her grip, she steadied her breathing to slow her heart and relaxed her tight muscles. She snorted suddenly in amusement at the situation, the fact she got so wound up over a fox.

She turned around to go back out of the room she had just recently deemed now clear, but she turned around to face a grotesque and inhuman face mere millimetres away from her face. She screamed and automatically stepped backwards, her heel hit a loose brick and she fell backwards, smashing her head—which was luckily protected in her helmet—on the debris of broken wall.

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Next chapter coming soon!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 6

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 6

Henry Blackburn

The sound of Highway to Hell from AC/DC filled the air, filling out into the garage and which was loud enough to hear from the office. It was still quite early so not everyone had arrived yet, but there was just the one person there to appreciate the classic music; the owner of Blackburn Garage.

A man with mousy brown hair, mid-thirties, an unshaven face, navy overalls that looked overused with the patchwork of oil, dirt and rust marks, stared out through the window into his workshop, mouth agape as he was mid-yawn.

He was wondering about when his delivery would arrive. He had gotten to work early that morning, much to the dismay of his wife, to attempt to finish a customer’s car. It was a lovely Mercedes-Benz C220 AMG in a deep blue and he had already delayed the customer as he found the front brake-pads had to be replaced—someone loved their breaks! The customer was quite okay with it, being appreciative that he had checked, but Henry wanted to get there early to make a start anyway.

Blackburn Garage was well known in London, it came highly recommended and specialised in German cars as the owner was a big fan of them. A lot of Audi, BMW and Mercedes drivers preferred to go to Blackburn Garage, it was cheaper than going to the dealership and it was actually guaranteed not to get ripped off. Even if you sold the car, local people would prefer to buy a car that had been serviced at Blackburn Garage over the dealership. Of course, they got a lot of other cars; Fords, Jaguars, Toyotas, Hondas, they even had a lovely 1967 Chevrolet Impala once, a local guy had moved over from the States and brought a few from his collection over from America.

Henry Blackburn loved his business. Ever since he was a small boy, he loved cars and loved learning how they worked. He was adamant from a young age he wanted to be a mechanic. Dreaming of owning his own company, hiring staff, ordering tools, having a large house and his own private collection of interesting cars, teaching his own son mechanics. He spent ages one night looking through a catalogue of tools with his brother listing out all the tools he would get.

Part of his dream came true, he now owned his own business; Blackburn Garage, but he didn’t own any of the cars in it, they were all customer’s cars. He personally only owned two; his own E90 BMW M3—which he was sure the clutch was on its way out—and his wife’s Fiat 500 which he wouldn’t admit to her, but he hated. He also didn’t have a son, he didn’t have any children, mostly because his wife decided she didn’t want children and he was talked out of the idea of having them too, made to think it was his idea. Although a part of him felt he was missing out. But she was right, it wasn’t a good idea bringing children into this world.

Henry’s daydream of the time before was broken when he heard his mobile phone go off, he dug it out of his overall’s pocket, ignoring the large crack on the screen and opened the message. It was his younger brother, who had no concept of time, and laughed at the childish and crude picture he had decided to forward to him. He sent a quick reply back before pocketing his phone and remembered he was making a cup of coffee.

Henry’s brother, Dean, had gone a completely separate way to him. Dean wasn’t really interested in cars and mechanics like Henry. In fact, Henry couldn’t really remember Dean being enthusiastic about much when he was young. He had a troubled life, struggling to fit in. Both the boys had been home-schooled, their family deciding it was for the best. This didn’t really bother Henry, he easily made friends, always outgoing and bubbly, but Dean wasn’t so lucky. Although Dean seemed to have figured out his calling in the end.

Henry finished making his strong cup of coffee; a dark mess in a questionable hygienic mug with a Ford Capri on the side and headed back into his workshop. He placed the coffee on top of his big black toolbox and got back to taking the wheel off the deep blue Mercedes.

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Click here to read the next chapter


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Why “The Girl Who Whispered”?

Hello, my little demons! 😈

I don’t get many questions about why the name “The Girl Who Whispered”, but I have had a few comments that have been made in poor taste, so I want to just explain where the name comes from, why I use it and why some of these jokes are in bad taste.

Short answer: I had selective mutism as a child.

Selective mutism is defined as “a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed.” – Referenced from https://selectivemutismcenter.org/whatisselectivemutism/

I had no idea there was even a defined term for this until only a few years ago!

Long answer:

When I was a young child, I was bullied. I had red hair and freckles and I was quite reserved and quiet. There are a lot of other complex situations that made me the way I am, and I don’t personally have all the answers, nor do I feel completely comfortable explaining them.

But I will explain that I think it started after a particular issue in Primary School. I remember it quite well, considering I was probably only about 5 at the time. I remember being in a classroom with a load of other children, we were all playing, having a down time or something. There was a particular child, a boy, who decided to rearrange the tables and chairs, but he was deliberately trying to trap me in them, deliberately singling me out. It was at this time that the teacher called us all over, but this boy kept moving the tables and chairs so I couldn’t get out. I think I was the one who got told off for not listening to the teacher, but she failed to notice I wasn’t ignoring her, I was being trapped by this bully.

Somewhere in my little brain I decided enough was enough, after all the years of adults not listening to me, I went into remission.

I stopped talking.

I refused to talk to the teacher. My friends.

Even my parents.

I went home that day and my mum didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking to her. My dad got home from work and he didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking.

I had developed selective mutism.

My parents tried in a few ways to help me, one of which was to send me to a different Secondary School than the other kids. Most of the kids, after completing Primary School, went to one Secondary School. I went to a completely different one. It didn’t work though.

And by then, because the issue hadn’t be addressed properly, it evolved. As a pre-teen and eventually a teen in Secondary School, I had difficulty trying to express myself because of my selective mutism and in the end I found a new way to communicate; by whispering.

I had become The Girl Who Whispered.

Of course, this had it’s own issues. A lot of times people would assume I just had a bad throat and lost my voice – not that I corrected them. I had more children bullying me because I was now different. I had teachers trying to fix me. I had my parents and friends trick me into talking. I had issues with communicating still. Issues with grades. Social issues. And I developed a few bad habits from the social issues (avoidance for example).

My selective mutism didn’t really go away until I became a young adult, when I was about 17 years old when I left school and went to college. All the kids in the class were new, no one knew who I was (until I met one kid who was at my old Primary School, which I remember vividly, but I just hoped he didn’t remember me!)

But I finally had a voice. And some really bad social skills!

Meeting up with old friends, or bumping into those I went to school with was extremely awkward, but I eventually “grew out” of my selective mutism and started talking to them all properly.

A lot of my newer friends didn’t even know about my previous issues. It’s only until recently in the last few years that I started talking about it and opening up.

Also, my selective mutism not only gave me issues with social skills, but I also developed depression and anxiety. Most of my life has been difficult. Even now I get bad days. But the bad days are easier to deal with now, because I kept fighting. I learn to recognise when days got bad. Found healthier coping mechanisms. And grew emotionally.

The ironic thing is, when I was a child, if I got passionate about something you couldn’t shut me up about it (even as an adult). But when I had selective mutism, I lacked that basic need, to have a voice, to speak up for myself.

It still haunts me now, my past, what happened to me as a child. And I’m slowly getting over it, learning social skills, communicating properly, and finding ways to get over my weaknesses (social situations for example).

This is one of the reasons why I write. It’s a silent voice. Because when I was a child, not only did I love reading (as a form of escapism from the real-world I hated so much), but writing was my way of communicating easily. When computers became popular, I used to sit for hours on Instant Messenger, MySpace and Chat rooms, it was a way of being normal for a change – no one knew I didn’t talk properly. I would also write stories, build my own little universe to escape to.

I, one day, would also love to do something where I’m not sat behind a computer screen with written words. I actually love to sing and I have a huge interest in acting.

I remember the first time I actually got to “stand up” and sing to an audience, and although it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, as I just stood on a tour bus in Brooklyn. But, my goodness, I will never forget that. And I’m so glad my friend got that picture (see below).

10553422_10152376625330938_5388833987590551101_n
This is me singing on the tour bus. For more photos of me, scroll to the bottom of the post! 🙂

Acting is another thing I wouldn’t mind to do – although I’m realistic, I can’t see it really happening, everyone wants to be an actor! – because not only are you speaking out, saying your lines, but you’re also pretending to be someone else… something I wished a lot when I was a child. I wished so often to be anyone else but Penny. (Update: Since writing this blog post, however, I am planning a tour of America, for charity… and I will be filming it!)

Now, though, I embrace it. I embrace who I am and what I went through as a child. It made me who I am today. Okay, I still have a few quirks and flaws, but I hate to imagine who I would be now without it.

I may never have travelled to Australia. I may never have abseiled Forth Rail Bridge. I may never have walked across Sailsbury Plain. I may never have got my Bachelor’s Degree or my Master’s Degree. I may never have met all the interesting people over the years. I may never have flown a plane. I may never have fired that brown bess musket.

And, of course, I may never have become a writer and an author and I may never use my writing to help others.

I am Penny Hooper.

And I am The Girl Who Whispered.

I use this designation to hopefully inspire people.

Keep fighting, guys! ❤

P.s. If you think you know someone who has selective mutism, please try encourage them to get professional help. Do not try to “shock” them into talking. Do not simply assume it “will go” that “it’s a phase”. If it’s lasting more than a few weeks or months, then it could develop into something more serious. Unless you are a professional who understands selective mutism, do not attempt to fix it! I wished my parents or teachers did more, they didn’t, and it got worse and had a negative impact on my life.

P.P.s The song I sang on the tour bus was “Innocent Eyes” by Delta Goodrem.

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Here are a few other photos of me over the years:

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As always, if you liked this post, please do give it a like, and feel free to comment. I’m always happy to hear from people, old and new! 🙂

And do check out my other posts:

I’ve started blogging about my trip to Australia:

Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)

My post about my 34km trek across Salisbury Plain tank training ground for charity:

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

A few posts to see my writing:

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

My website:

thegirlwhowhispered.com

My problem with perfection…

Hello my little demons! 😈

So, as you have probably noticed, my blog has changed a little over the past few months, it’s gone from soley about my books, to incorporating posts about travel and history (I’ve had other ideas too, but I’ve refrained for now!)

Anyway, I’ve been going back to my favourite book lately; Rose Garden Sanatorium, since my career is back on track and I’ve had some spare time.

My problem with perfection

But, I get a lot (okay, not a lot, but a few at least!) of people asking me when it’s coming out. I cannot honestly answer that, as I’ve been waiting to save the money to hire an editor.

I also went back to it after a long time – while doing my Masters – and I not only have fresh eyes to see the mistakes, but I’ve also come up with a few changes. Yeah, some are only small, but others are big – like a whole new prespective in the book.

I have a problem… with perfection.

This book is my baby. It’s been developing and growing for years, and I want it the best it can be.

I want the characters to be interesting, the plot to be believable, add in the little details that I like.

I’ve recently been watching a bit of Amazon Prime, not only been watching Supernatural, because of course, angels and demons! But also been getting into the Sci-Fi ones (I’ve always had an interest in space and space travel). I watched most of Dark Matter and then went onto The Expanse…

and, oh my goodness, the difference! The Expanse is so much better. The detail. The laws of physics. The plot as well other little stories off it. It gave me the inspiration to make my book better!

So, I’m sorry it’s taking a while to publish… but trust me, it’ll be better for it!

Also, watch this space! I’ll be updating the pages on my blog too! 🙂

Feel free to read the prologue here!

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As always, don’t forget to check out my other posts!

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

No one likes you! – A short story.

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1 – UPDATED

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

I’m moving to the Highlands!

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)

Hello my little demons!

Sorry this Christmas Special is a little late, been a little busy lately. But hopefully better late than never, right?

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, read it here!

So, a small update before I begin which my Christmas Special blog post!

In 2009, at just 21 years old (ten years ago!), I went to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. With my ex-boyfriend. It was both an exciting trip and a nightmare!

DSC00755.JPG

Looking at the above photo of me (yes, this was on Christmas day!), you would think I was a happy person, but Christmas back in 2009 was horrendous.

It hadn’t even been a month into my Australian Working Holiday Visa yet I already had lost a lot of money, had a nasty break up with my boyfriend (I talk about this in my previous post), my relationship with my family in Australia was on edge and was now starting to question what to do with my life.

My ex and I had a small plan to build a new life in Australia, my Aunt and her husband had done just this, so we questioned whether we could too. But after finally realising the person he was, I knew that new and relatively young plan we had was crushed.

Now what do I do?

Over the Christmas period my mood was low, not only had I broken up with my boyfriend, I didn’t know what to do with my life, I was unknowingly suffering with depression and I was away from my close friends and my parents, whom I had never spent a christmas apart.

Christmas day 2009 was spent at the house of my Aunt and Uncle’s friends’, along with my step-cousin and a friend of his. It was a very hot day, as unlike the northern hemisphere where we hope for a white Christmas, Australia is in the peak of their summer. It was that warm that a couple of people took a dip in the pool.

Christmas 2009 016(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: A selection of prawns freshly caught for Christmas.

Christmas dinner was a BBQ, mainly focusing on freshly caught seafood, including some rather large prawns and playing a few silly games like this fun spin on Russian roulette which involved a plastic gun which would fire a pin into a water balloon

I remember having a phone call with the other side of the world with my parents at one point. I went off into the dark garden to take the private call and at the time feeling a little upset at the thought of what had previously happened, but then my parents opened the flood gates when they rang.

Luckily the day wasn’t a complete waste with my low mood and homesickness, I do remember a few laughs and good times. I remember my step-cousin’s friend disappearing and someone found him in a bedroom asleep. I took photos as my step-cousin and one other person started drawing something obscene on the side of his face, I remember him waking up and sitting down in the garden again, with a few people making puns, all the while he had no idea what was on the side of his face.

DSC00693(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Secret santa present from my step-cousin.

I remember my step-cousin had me as a secret santa and had bought me a remote controlled lamborghini and I was extremely happy with it, not just having a cool gadget and a cool car, but the fact he knew me well enough to know I’d like it.

penny 09 10 022
(c) All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper. Photo above: Side-show Penny.

I remember someone had the bright idea to stand underneath a hanging plant and looked like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons, and a few others, including myself took part in this ridiculous photo opportunity.

I also remember someone bringing out their pet rat and I instantly fell in love.

So, although it wasn’t the best Christmas I’ve ever had, it certainly was one to remember.

Christmas 2009 048

If you liked this post, please do give it a like! And feel free to leave a comment!
~Penny (Aka The Girl Who Whispered).

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If you liked this blog post, please do check out my others:

A small trip to Reading – Wokefield Mansion

Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Happy Birthday! But why do we celebrate?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

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Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 5

Officer Jennifer Finley

Finley stared into the darkness of the van, trying to concentrate on the noises she could hear. She listened to the hum of the engine, the tires rolling along the tarmac, the occasional squeak from the van’s suspension, the traffic noise outside which she unfortunately couldn’t see and the sound of the pedestrian crossings after the van had come to a stop at a set of lights. It was an attempt to ground herself, to overcome her fears and to slow her beating heart, but it wasn’t really working. There might have been noises outside, even the occasional noise inside from one of her colleagues giving a cough, but they were unsettling her even more. The silence inside the van was eating away at the inside of her head, the world outside was going about its daily business not knowing the potential storm that may eventually hit them.

She had started to consider the option of bolting for the van door to her right, deciding that she wasn’t cut out for the job after all. But she had a feeling Director General Ryan wouldn’t even let her get that far. She wouldn’t put it past him shooting her right in the face to contain her.

“As you may already be aware by now,” started Captain Stroud, his accent a deep Scottish from within the dark confined space of the van. “This is not a drill.”

Finley could feel the ripple of silent panic within the metal cage. The van had come to a stop, possibly at a set of traffic lights, she wasn’t sure. She was glad for Captain Stroud to break the silence but was also dreading what would come.

“This is a Code 139,” he continued. Someone let out a small gasp somewhere in the van, she wasn’t sure who it was, and neither would Captain Stroud and the Director General, but she knew they wouldn’t be happy.

“This is indeed the real thing!” beamed a voice next to her; the Director General had started to take over, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “This is…” he paused as the van lurched forwards again, a rather unfortunate time to move. “This is what you are trained to do!” If it was even humanly possible for it get even more nervously silent in the van, it had. “We are headed to a site of a possible Code 139. We do not know how many we may face or what type. But this is why we have drills! Remember the Rules!”

There was silence in the van again, the silence that Finley now welcomed more than the Director General speaking.

“Is that clear!?” The Director General made Finley and the man sat next to her jump.

“Yes, sir!” everyone spoke in unison.

“Just like every Code 139 drill, the mission is to secure the site,” continued Director General Ryan. “The road has been cordoned off by police, both civilians and the police have been told it’s a gas leak. No one except us are allowed in or out. The shops and flats above have been evacuated. It is my responsibility and my responsibility alone to close it, you all will sweep the area. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir!” everyone said with a little more confidence.

Finley wasn’t sure what she was expecting after that little speech, words of encouragement maybe, but the sudden silence afterwards felt even worse than before. She resisted the urge to speak out or hum to fill the silence. She instead went over the Rules in her head and mentally recalling every item that was on her person.

***

A black unmarked van stopped outside an old building. A building that appeared to have been boarded up and unused for years. The sign that ran the length of the front door read ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’.

The group hidden inside filed out of the back of the van one by one. Director General Duncan Ryan was first out of the van, who looked up at the building while waiting for his team, followed by his Captain. Each of them dug into their utility pouches to dig out a small air-tight plastic box, took out a pair of two specially designed ear-plugs and put them in their ears.

The front of the Sanatorium sported a very Victorian style front; with its large front arched door and large arched windows boarded up, the exterior mainly a red mason brick, the window frames painted white, parts of them were falling apart due to the years of neglect, ivy climbed up the side of the building, right next to where there was a black mesh fence that hid the back garden from the street and snaked its way up until it hit the moss covered slate tiled roof.

Officer Finley had read about this Sanatorium in old secret government files. It was a typical Sanatorium really, but with a bit of a dark history. A dark history that resulted in its early demise. Most derelict buildings gave her the creeps, but this one in particular raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Standing in front of the Rose Garden Sanatorium now, seeing it in person, she felt an unusual disgust for the old abandoned building. It might just look like an ordinary building, with an unfortunate history, but it was the current situation that made her nervous.

She looked back at her superior and noticed he was just standing outside looking like he was composing and preparing himself for what may lie on the other side.

Or did he know something they didn’t?

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Samhain, All Hallows Eve and Ghost Stories – Halloween Special!

Some of my close friends will know, Halloween is my favourite holiday! It’s the one time of year that the majority of people dress up as something ‘scary’ and in a way celebrate the dead and all things weird yet wonderful. Why do I like this? Well, only a select few will know that not only have I got a few ghost stories of my own, as well as been able to predict a few things, but I have a fascination with parapsychology.

For those who don’t know, or probably think they know but are a little misinformed, parapsychology is a study of paranormal psychological phenomena (such as telephathy, psychokinesis and clairvoyance). It’s not to be confused with paranormal investigators! (But ghosts and spirits can be a part of it). And, as far as I am concerned, parapsychology is a little more ‘science’ based than paranormal investigators. There are even legitimate research laboratories set up around the world for the study, one of my favourites is the Koestler Parapsychology Unit based here in Scotland, at Edinburgh University (link at the bottom of the blog post). I am interested in one day completing at least the online course for interest, but have also been considering a PhD and conducting real research (plus, wouldn’t it be a cool talking point to say that my PhD was in parapsychology? I’ll call myself Dr Spooks!)

Continue reading and there might be a few spooky stories of my own!

Where did Halloween Originate from?

Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31st. This year it falls on a Thursday. Many people around the world celebrate it; United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, even China and Japan.

Some people believe Halloween originated from the pagan religious festival ‘Samhain’, others, however, believe that Halloween is a solely Christian celebration.

Samhain

Let’s start with Samhain.

the-festival-of-samhain-is-celebrated-in-glastonbury

Photo from: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain

Samhain (pronouced “sow-in”), is a Gaelic word for “summer’s end”. It is a typically ancient Celtic spiritual tradition, possibly originating in Ireland 2,000 years ago (the Celts also lived all over the United Kingdom and parts of northern France), celebrated from the 31st October to 1st November (the mid point between autumn equinox and winter solstice) to usher the “dark half of the year” and to welcome the harvest. The Celtic New Year was November 1.

After the harvest, the community began celebrations around a wheel that, due to friction, would create sparks and flames. This is said to represent the sun. Cattle were sacrificed and people would take a flame back to relight their fire in their own homes.

The Celts also believed that a barrier between worlds was breachable during Samhain, believing that this time of year was associated with death and also believed the dead would cross over during this time.

By 43 A.D., the Celtic territories were conquered by the Roman Empire, and over 400 years, two Roman festivals (Feralia, a day in late October for commemorating the dead and day to honor Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees – probably where the tradition of bobbing for apples came from) were combined with Samhain.

It’s possible that Samhain was merged with these two days to eradicate the original pagan festival, as there was a Persecution of paganism under Theodosius I in 381 A.D., who reigned as co-emperor of the Roman Empire. Theodosian created “Theodosian decrees” which meant practicing paganism was banned, visits to temples forbidden, and remaining pagan holidays were abolished, among others. He also declared that pagan feasts that had not yet been rendered Christian ones to now be workdays.

Christian Halloween

The name “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ eve”, which, “hallows” means saints. November the 1st was a day to celebrate all the saints and martyrs, originally called All Saints’ Day. October the 31st just so happened to be the eve, which, of course, was also important day of celebration.

But, All Saints’ Day was originally on the 13th of May, originally to celebrate Martyrs, but Pope Boniface IV changed it to the 1st of November and incorporated a celebration for all saints.

In 1000 A.D. the church also made November the 2nd “All Souls’ Day” a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain.

All three days are collectively called Allhallowtide.

Pumpkin Carving

On Halloween, pumpkin carving is a tradition, sometimes called Jack O’Lanterns in America. This is where a pumpkin is hollowed out, a face calved into it’s side and then a candle being placed inside to light it up.

This tradition originated from Ireland, but it wasn’t pumpkins that were originally used, as they weren’t native. Originally turnips, potatoes and other root vegetables were used, it wasn’t until Halloween made it’s way to America that pumpkins were used, as it was found they were easier to calve than root vegetables.

images

Original Jack O’Lantern, Turnip Carving.
https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/jack-o-lantern-turnips-ireland

The name ‘Jack O’Lantern’ is also from an Irish folktale. According to the story, a man called Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so Jack could use to buy their drinks. But Jack decided to keep the money and put it in his pocket, next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing.

The Devil was eventually freed, under the condition he would leave Jack alone for one year, and should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.

The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing a tree, Jack carved a cross into the tree so the Devil could not come down until he promised Jack he would not bother him for another ten years.

When Jack died, God didn’t allow Jack into heaven for his actions, but the Devil also didn’t allow him into Hell. Instead, Jack was sentenced to roam Earth with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and became a ghostly figure called ‘Jack of the Lantern’, which eventually was shortened to ‘Jack O’Lantern’.

Trick or Treating

It is suggested that the practice of trick or treating originated from the custom of “Souling”, baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collect soul cakes in return for a prayer for the dead.

Soul cakes, or soulmass cakes, were often market with a cross, much like the Easter/Lenten hot cross buns.

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Picture from: https://www.instructables.com/id/A-Witchs-Afternoon-Tea-Celtic-Style/
(includes a receipe if you’d like to recreate them yourself!)

Of course, the phrase ‘Trick or treat’ wasn’t used back then, the first mention of this phrase can be dated back to 1951 from a Peanut Comic Strip, but the actual origins are unclear.

Now, trick or treating has become a tradition for children to go knocking on local doors in exchange for sweets, usually dressed up as something scary!

Dressing up

The act of dressing up on Halloween can probably be dated back to Samhain, where villagers would disguise themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away unwanted visitors/spirits.

It was also a tradition shared with Christians, who believed Allhallowtide was the last day for the dead to seek vengeance on their enemies before moving on. People would dress up to avoid being recognised from being a target of this vengeance.

Now, the act of dressing up is left to parties and children who take part in trick-or-treating.

My Own Spooky Experiences

Something doesn’t feel right

A few years ago, probably around 2013, I took a trip to Conwy, Northern Wales (home to the smallest house in Britain) with my partner at the time. We both lived in Warrington so getting to Northern Wales was easy.

It was a cold day, which made for a good day exploring as there weren’t many people about, and so we took a trip to have a look around Conwy Castle.

conwy01
Photograph from www.castlewales.com/conwy.html

At first, it was great, hardly any tourists, because it was the wrong time of year, it was cold but dry and I always love my little days out visiting new sites, so I’m happy exploring too. We had just seen the smallest house in Britain and now we were having a wander around the castle, I was snap happy with my camera. As always.

But as I got closer to one of the towers, I had a very unsettling feeling towards it. I hadn’t had that feeling anywhere else so far in the castle except that one tower. I told my partner I couldn’t go near it and he just looked at me oddly. He was a sceptic (I didn’t hold it against him, but I did hate the looks he used to give me). But he started to read out the board next to the tower, and told me why couldn’t go near…

…it was the prison tower.

Imaginary Friend

This is a story that I will be turning into a book eventually, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will explain a little about it.

My experiences with all things paranormal started when I was a child. When I was very young, probably still at primary school (ages 5 to 7), my brother and I had an imaginary friend; Sammy.

I don’t remember much about this because I was still quite young, so most of my memories have gone, the only memories I do have was remembering telling my mum that my missing hairbands were probably lost because Sammy hid them.

My mum told me that this imaginary friend, Sammy, used to live in the corner of our ceiling and would hide things for fun.

My mother at the time was a sceptic, and she believed my brother and I were just blaming things going missing on an imaginary friend, not wanting us to get into trouble. My brother also had a very vivid imagination when he was young, mum would get teachers from school worried about some of the stories he used to tell. Mum still to this day remembers the story about the Tiger in the backgarden. I’m suprised my brother never followed in my footsteps and became a writer!

But her scepticism quickly vanished after what she thought my brother and I had outgrown our imaginary friend became a lot more than just an imaginary friend…

She used to work at the primary school my brother and I went to, and because of such, became friendly with a few of the other mothers. One lady had approached my mum asking her for advice, asking if my brother and I ever had imaginary friends. After my mum gave her advice that “don’t worry, they grow out of it.” The mother proceeded to tell my mum that her son had an imaginary friend…

…called Sammy…

…who lives in the ceiling…

…and hides things.

My mum told me this a few years ago, and I can’t say I was surprised, after all the other things that had happened to me over the years… she also explained that the other mother’s son told her that Sammy was looking for his parents. Somehow we figured out that Sammy had died in an accident, car accident or something similar.

But I have tried to search for information on such an accident in the area I grew up (near Laws Woods/Park, in Swindon, Wiltshire) and I couldn’t find anything in any records. Although, a lot of locals have had ghostly encounters in Lawns Woods, my mother and I have heard a few stories in the area, a woman in white searching for something, ghost animals, even amature ghost hunters went to the area and believe they saw a woman in white being carried.

Lawns Woods used to be home to the Goddard Family, with remains of an old church and graveyard apparently for the family’s pets, an old ice house up on the hill, remains of an old sunken garden, a site where Tutor Mansion used to sit, then an 18th Century Mansion, both no longer there. But with so much history in the area, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few ghostly goings on in the area. Including the ghost of Sammy that used to haunt the children in the area. I just wish I could find more information about it.

References:

Here are a few links if you’re interested in reading more about some sites I mentioned in this blog post:

Koestler Parapschology Unit

Lawn Park

Goddards in Swindon

Paranormal activity in Lawns Park

History of Halloween

History of Samhain

~~~

Keeping in theme of the spooky, check out these links below.

New Story idea! – Butterfly House
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”
My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

If you’re interested in my other travel/historical posts, check these out:

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…
Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem
Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire
Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Don’t forget to like this post and follow me!
And feel free to comment with any of your spooky stories!

Both my books are currently 99c!

Both of my books are currently 99c in e-book format on Smashwords!

The idea of putting them up for sale is to get more reviews and traffic through my sites. I don’t get a lot of profits from selling them so cheap, as Smashwords takes a good chunk, but it’s mostly to get my name out there.

And hopefully, when I finally get my other books finished (still waiting for free time around uni work and job searching!) I’ll have a fan-base already!

See below for links and synopsis for each e-book.I-Fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath-full30713453_2359540254272254_3615440063170609152_n

Here is I fell in Love with a Psychopath:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Here is It’s My Mistake:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

Synopsis for I Fell in Love with a Psychopath:

What would you do if you realised the man you fell in love with had a psychopathic personality disorder?

After getting her degree in history, Jo took the plunge and moved to Chicago. But one day a guy changes her life completely. And not necessarily in a good way.

When she first moved to the city, Jo met Liam. She had a small crush on him from day one. Along with his good looks, he was funny and charming. Maybe a little immature, but he never failed to make her laugh. Finally, one day Liam asks Jo out on a date and she is stupidly nervous and surprised he even likes her!

Jo meets Xander in a bar. He is handsome and confident. He holds himself tall and constantly watches her reactions with mild curiosity. She keeps bumping into him, sometimes deliberately. He seems to say all the right things and do all the right things and she finds herself craving more of him.

The problem was, however, one of them is a psychopath and he now has an obsession with Jo…

Synopsis for It’s My Mistake:

Alice wants a career change, especially after a terrible incident at her last job. Her dream job has always been to work in a hotel, maybe even own one. But after messing up an interview very spectacularly for a vacancy at a well-known hotel chain in London, she wasn’t expecting to hold the attention of the Global Business Manager; Daniel Jeffries. And in more ways than one. Does Alice take the risk and accept Dan’s offer or does she play it safe?

Who knew that that interview day would be the day that changed Alice’s life? But is it for the better? Is this alluring Global Business Manager as amazing as he seems? And who is that mysterious yet amazingly handsome man at the hotel?

**Mature Content** Recommended for ages 18+ due to sexual situations and language.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you want to read a part of I Fell in Love with a Psychopath, read it here.

If you want to read a part of It’s My Mistake, read it here.

Here are some links to my other works you might like:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Butterfly House – Chapter 1

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

Other blog links:

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Paying for Reviews – BEWARE!

My Book ‘It’s My Mistake’ available in paperback!