ST ASAPH author Ann Nibbs' latest horror novel was inspired by an unpleasant and unnerving dream.
Ann, who writes under the pseudonym Catherine Cavendish, penned the novel Saving Grace Devine after dreaming about being in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland and seeing a young girl drowning.
“The inspiration for this story originated in a nightmare I had, where I was in Stromness Museum, unrolling an old painting,” explains Ann.
“The picture showed a drowning (or drowned) girl in a lake, or some other body of dark green water. Macabre enough in its own way, but not especially scary, just an odd dream. The nightmare came when she opened her eyes, and the terror in them jolted me awake.”
Having visited the Orkneys several times and been enchanted by them, Ann was not surprised that they featured prominently in her dream, but didn't expect to associate the beautiful islands with a disturbing nightmare.
“I dreamed I was in the museum in Stromness, on the Orkney mainland, and found a rolled up artist's canvas in the drawer of a display cabinet,” she says.
“I unrolled it and saw this picture of a girl. She seemed to be drowning, or to have already drowned. In my dream, I was scared. She looked so real. Then she opened
Ann shudders at the memory.
“As soon I woke up I wrote down what I could remember of the story and Saving Grace Devine was born.”
Several months later, after redrafting and polishing the novel, Ann sent it to Don D'Auria, the executive editor of Samhain Publishing's horror line, who, much to her delight, offered her a contract.
Although part of the novel is set in the fictitious Orkney island of Arnsay, Ann has drawn on some of her own memories of landmarks in the Orkneys and left other things to her imagination.
“I created my own island - Arnsay - a sort of mash-up between the Orkney mainland and the island of Hoy, with variations to suit the story,” explains Ann.
“Thankfully for the local residents, all my characters are one hundred percent drawn from my imagination!” she laughs.
Ann is no stranger to spooky goings on though – she shares her 18th century home with her husband, and also a ghost she says announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights off and strange phenomena involving the washing
machine and the television.
“Strange things happen that can’t be explained,” says Ann.
“The building in which we live has a shadowy history, it’s very inspirational to my writing.”
Ann has written in almost every genre, finally finding her niche in paranormal horror fiction. Ann was one of four winners of publisher Sahmain's first Horror Anthology competition with her Gothic horror novella Linden Manor. A paperback containing all four winning novellas entitles What Waits in the Shadows will be published in October this year.
“I don’t write slasher horror novels,” says Ann, whose other novels include The Second Wife, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Devil Inside Her and In My Lady’s Chamber.
“I’m not that kind of horror writer. I write gothic horror novels, mostly.”
Ann started writing during her child hood. "I've been writing since I could string words together, " said Ann.
“Writing has always been a big part of my life.”
Ann chose her pseudonym, Catherine Cavendish, because it appealed to her for several reasons.
“The name has a bit of style about it,” she explains.
“I like that it’s a traditional British name too. I’ve always used it for my writing.”
Ann settled in St Asaph eight years ago, having been born in Hereford and spending many years living in the North West of England.
Saving Grace Devine by Catherine Cavendish, is published by Samhain Publishing and available in paperback and ebook at most online booksellers including Amazon.
Her website is www.catherinecavendish.com.