SHORT STORY: Catherine Cavendish

The Curiosity at the Back of the Fridge

Gather round everyone because the story I am about to tell you is a strange one indeed.

I was introduced to it by an old man who lived on the edge of our village. His name was Robert Clements, but everyone called him Bobby Clem.

Bobby Clem lived in a tumbledown cottage atop a small hill. If you passed by during the day you would swear it was derelict and long abandoned, but at night, a candle burned in every window.

I first met Bobby Clem when I was a small boy. Indeed, I was small in every way. At nine years old, I was shorter than the seven-year-olds — a shy, only child whose mother had died when I was a baby. Dad and I lived together, and my father would work all hours trying to keep food on the table and clothes on my back.

On school holidays and weekends, I was left to my own devices while Dad was at work and I took to wandering off on my own, exploring the many country lanes and shady pine woods.

One day I came across a man with a shock of white hair. He was bending over a trap, releasing a dead rabbit. Job done and prize retrieved, he stood, and towered over me but I was used to craning my neck. The man’s unkempt beard covered his face and neck, leaving only piercing blue eyes and a kindly smile. Dirty, old corduroy trousers were tied at his waist with frayed string, while a threadbare overcoat and grimy shirt completed his appearance.

“What’s your name, lad?” His voice sounded gruff but not unkind. Despite having been repeatedly instructed never to speak to strangers, maybe it was something about his eyes — an innate benevolence. Suffice it to say, I made an exception in his case.

“Brian,” I said.

“Well, Brian. Do you want to come and share some rabbit stew with me?”

I had nothing else to do, and rabbit stew was one of my favorites. Like any boy of my age, anytime was dinner time.

On the short walk to his home, he questioned me about my life and I told him everything, from losing my mother to being bullied at school, taunted because of my height and poverty. All the other kids seemed to have so much more than I did. I told him everything, but all I learned about him was his name. Bobby Clem. And I kind of knew that anyway. He was spoken of in hushed whispers by grown-ups. Robert Clements who used to be a professor at the university. Now reduced to the local down and out. “Stay away from Bobby Clem,” we children were told. “Or no good will come to you.” But I didn’t have any friends. No one wanted to play with me. Bobby Clem was the first person who had taken an interest in me, and I so wanted a friend of my own.

I had passed his cottage many times but never paid it much heed. Now, Bobby pushed open the door and it groaned, swinging wildly on broken hinges, revealing a sparsely furnished room, its rickety table sporting a leg supported by ancient, moldy books. Galvanized buckets stood like sentries awaiting the next heavy rainfall which otherwise — judging by the gaping holes in the roof of the one-story building — would cascade down, flooding the place.

Bobby Clem led me through the room into the kitchen, such as it was. My new friend slapped the rabbit down on a none-too-clean pine table. From the sink he selected two of the least dirty plates and a vicious looking knife. He then proceeded to skin and butcher the rabbit. I looked around in vain for a cooker, but only a fire burned in a small range. A cooking pot, like a witch’s cauldron, hung suspended over it. That’s where our meal would be cooked.

I thought there was no electricity but a sudden, clanking buzzing told me otherwise. In the corner of the room, an ancient, massive fridge stood, plugged into a single socket. Bobby saw me looking.

“Ah, there’s a story behind that fridge,” he said as he carried on preparing our meal. “One Halloween, years ago, a man knocked on my door. It was a raw night, a blizzard blew, and this stranger stood on my doorstep, dripping from head to toe and shivering. I brought him in, sat him by the fire, gave him dry clothes, a blanket and something hot to eat and drink. In the morning, the storm had blown over and the sun was shining. The man was so grateful for my hospitality, he wanted to repay me. I refused to take payment and he made to leave. He called me outside, saying he needed some help with his van. It was a big old cranky thing, and it wouldn’t start. I used to tinker a bit with cars when I was younger, so I checked his engine. Sure enough, there was a loose cable. Once I reconnected it the engine turned over fine and the man was away. I went back inside and there it was.” He pointed his bloodied knife at the fridge. “How he got it in here… Let’s put it down to one of life’s mysteries because it got here somehow, didn’t it? I opened it and it was piled high with everything you could want for a delicious Halloween feast. Turkey, all the trimmings, even pumpkin pie and I’d never eaten that before. Have you eaten that, Brian?”

I shook my head.

He smacked his lips. “Delicious. Hey, it’s Halloween in a few days, maybe your father will let you come and eat pumpkin pie with me.”

I doubted that but, as Halloween was on Friday and Dad was working nights all over the weekend, he wouldn’t have to know, would he?

Bobby chopped up the meat, added carrots, potatoes, herbs and onion and dumped the whole lot into the cooking pot, along with fresh water he drew from a hand-pump by the sink. “There, we’ll let that stew for an hour or so. Are you hungry, Brian?”

My stomach gave a growl. Bobby laughed and I liked the sound. It was tinkly and sincere.

“Now let’s have a look in that fridge. Is there anything in there, I wonder?”

He opened the door wide. I stared at the empty shelves. It was certainly the cleanest thing in that house, except… “What is that?” I pointed to a large black blob that looked a bit like a jelly fish, stuck to the back wall.

“Oh, that’s my friend. The Curiosity, I call him. As it’s so close to Halloween, I thought he might come out. But no.” He slammed the door shut. “Must leave him to his privacy. He doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

“But—”

Bobby put a finger to his lips. “No questions, Brian. You’ll meet him right enough. At the proper time. But it must be on his terms, do you understand?”

Of course I didn’t, but I nodded and hoped that would suffice. It seemed to.

Whatever else Bobby Clem was, he cooked a delicious stew and, a couple of hours later, stuffed to the gills, I made my way home with promises to return on Halloween.

October 31st. It rained. All day, torrents of it poured down. A river ran down the road at the end of our path. Small children cried as their Trick or Treat costumes were ruined or parents decided it was too wet to venture out. I didn’t care. They never included me anyway and for once, unlike them, I had plans I could keep.

I arrived at Bobby Clem’s cottage and the aroma of a delicious meal set my taste buds tingling and my mouth watering even before he opened the door.

“Welcome, Brian,” he said. “We’re all ready for you. Look what a feast we have.”

I stared. Bobby had moved the kitchen table into the living room. It was heaving with a roasted turkey — its skin golden brown — little chipolatas wrapped in bacon, dishes of roast potatoes, vegetables. There was gravy, and the promised pumpkin pie. I never questioned how he managed to create all that in one cooking pot. No questions, remember? Never.

Bobby Clem had cleaned the room so that it shone. Even the floor revealed polished floorboards. The only evidence to the dilapidated state of his cottage was provided by the buckets into which rainwater dripped.

“Some people spring clean. I do mine on Halloween. It’s my ‘thank you’.”

I pondered that while I took my place at the table. “Oh, you mean a ‘thank you’ to the man who gave you the fridge?”

“Not entirely.”

It was then I noticed a third place setting.

“Is someone joining us?” I was a little disappointed. I suppose I wanted to keep my new friend to myself.

“Our benefactor,” Bobby said. “Now you can meet the Curiosity.”

I blinked. There was no one there, but a slithering noise came from behind me, moving closer.

“Don’t be alarmed by his appearance, young Brian. He can’t help that any more than we can help being quite hideous to him.”

I swallowed and dared to look down as the Curiosity slipped past me. It moved on pseudopodia — I had recently learned that word at school where we had studied the life cycle of an amoeba. It thrust out its jelly-like protrusions and made its slow way round to its place at the head of the table. A few seconds later, its head — if you could call the blob a head — emerged. Bobby sat down and proceeded to load the Curiosity’s plate with pumpkin pie.

“He doesn’t like turkey,” Bobby said, setting the plate down in front of his friend. “He has other…tastes. But he adores pumpkin pie. Now, Brian. help yourself. Tuck in and eat. The Curiosity has provided all this fine food for us. Don’t ask me how. It’s enough that he does it. Every year. But only at Halloween. The rest of the year he keeps himself to himself and I…look after him.”

I tried to work it all out in my nine-year-old head. “So, the fridge is his?”

“That’s right. The stranger — I never did learn his name — looked after him. For some reason, the Curiosity prefers to live in there. I suppose the temperature suits him, and he is left alone, which is what he likes. He can turn very nasty if you disturb his slumber.”

Bobby Clem rubbed his hand, and I noticed a scar where his little finger should have been. Odd that I hadn’t noticed it before.

“He sleeps for most of the year. And before you ask, I don’t know what type of creature he is, where he came from, how old he is, or any of the usual things. I know that he exists. That he is. And that’s all you need to know too, Brian.”

From that day on, every year at Halloween, I joined Bobby and the Curiosity for a sumptuous feast. I grew up. Dad died, and I moved into the cottage. Years passed and the place was falling down piece by piece, so I built us this nice new home, with our own generator. We took care of our friend and benefactor together until Bobby Clem passed away last year. He’s buried out in the woods. So now, it’s just me and the Curiosity. He continues to provide me with a Halloween feast and asks so little in return. Merely that I provide him with food for the rest of the year.

And that, my dear ones, is where you come in.

THE END

Boo-graphy:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include: In Darkness, Shadows Breathe, The Garden of Bewitchment, The Haunting of Henderson Close, and the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy (Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients, and Damned by the Ancients), plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse, and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include: The Malan Witch, The Darkest Veil, Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife.

Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Midnight in the Pentagram, Midnight in the Graveyard, and Haunted Are These Houses.

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

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In Darkness, Shadows Breathe
Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer. In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…

The Malan Witch
“Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.”

An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood—two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

Christmas Takeover 35: Catherine Cavendish: Swallow Lodge

Swallow Lodge

A Short Story by Catherine Cavendish
2,828 words

I should have known the house would be trouble. After all, anywhere that is on the market for over £150,000 less than all the neighboring properties must have something wrong with it. Apart from being virtually derelict of course.

Swallow Lodge. The name captivated me. The moment I first laid eyes on the empty dwelling I knew I had to own it. Strange really because in its current state, it certainly wasn’t habitable. In fact, the estate agent wanted me to look at the more suitable house across the road. But no, I had to have this one, and the more she tried to dissuade me, the more determined I became. Eventually she caved in and a couple of months later Swallow Lodge became mine.

Maybe it was the unusual shape that appealed to me. The central section towered upward, tapered to a narrow pinnacle and housed the two upstairs bedrooms. To the right and left of this, the building was single story. Judging by the sorry remnants of peeling paint and ripped wallpaper, Swallow Lodge had once been decorated traditionally, with care and taste. What would poor Miss Frobisher make of it now? I attributed the chill that enveloped me, when I thought of its last owner, to an unseasonal nip in the air.

The house had been empty for ten years following the old lady’s death on Christmas Day. When I asked about her, the estate agent knew very little. A care assistant had found her and been too traumatized to go into detail. Dorothy Frobisher owned the house for sixty years and died in it at the age of ninety.

On the day I took possession of her former home, I took photographs and emailed them to my daughter in Australia. Unfortunately, even the warm summer sun pouring in through the windows could do little to improve the sorry state of the place and Carol didn’t share my enthusiasm. Her face wore an incredulous expression when I Skyped her that night.

“Mum, whatever possessed you? It’ll cost you a fortune to put that place right. Half the roof’s down for a start!”

“I know,” I said, as waves of ecstasy washed over me. “It’s going to be perfect. For the first time in my life, I’ll be able to decorate the way I want to without your father chipping in and insisting on white walls and fitted carpets. I can have hardwood floors, themed rooms—”

“And an overdraft the size of a small African country.”

I sighed, seeing Carol’s lips set in that familiar thin line. Just like her father. But she could say what she wished, I would have my Swallow Lodge and I would have it my way. After all, my daughter lived in Sydney. She could hardly do much about it, even if I decided to paint the walls shocking pink which, of course, I wouldn’t.

With hindsight, I suppose the difficulty I had in finding builders to work on my new pride and joy should also have told me something. They were all perfectly keen at first, until I told them the address. Then, mysteriously, each one of them seemed to discover they had a big job somewhere else that would keep them occupied for the next six months. I was unfamiliar with the area, as I had lived in the city – thirty miles away – until my husband George died. That’s when I decided on a change. My move to Swallow Lodge represented the first step on the path of my new life. How naïve I was. How reckless.

I eventually found a builder. He wasn’t local and gave no reaction when I told him the address. Together we drew up plans and he set to work. Meanwhile, I carried on living in the small flat I’d rented since I sold my house, and dreamed of the day when I could take my furniture out of storage and move into my perfect home.

Derek, my builder, worked long hours all through summer and beyond. Every time I went along to have a look at how he was getting on, I came away more excited than before. With my approval he engaged a gardener to sort out the wilderness at the back of the house, painters, a plumber, a glazier and, of course, a roofer. It took practically all my savings, but I was getting the house I had always wanted and didn’t begrudge one penny.

Finally, two weeks before Christmas, the day came when all their combined efforts were complete. Derek handed over the keys.

“It’s all yours, Mrs. Steadman. I hope you’ll be very happy in your new home.”

“I’m sure I will, Derek. You’ve done a wonderful job. Thank you. It’s exactly how I imagined it would be.”

He hesitated.

“What is it?” I asked. “Is something the matter?”

“It’s… well… I suppose it depends how you feel about them, but I think you may have bats under your roof.”

“Bats? Are you sure?”

Derek shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Not entirely, no. I’m only going by the sound, you see. I’ve been up there and saw nothing. Pete, who did the roof, said he couldn’t see any sign of them either. It’s a bit of a mystery how they could have got in really. Mind you, they’re crafty little buggers. Doesn’t take much.”

“You say you’ve heard them?”

Derek nodded. “A few days after I started here, I heard scratching noises. I ruled out rats and mice straightaway. Definitely not those little blighters. No, I’ve heard them before and I’d say you’ve got bats. Trouble is they’re a protected species, so I’m afraid you’re stuck with them. Hope that’s not too much of a nasty surprise.”

“No, no.” I sighed. Did bats do any harm? Hopefully not. “I’ll learn to live with them. I’m sure they’ll keep away from me and I’ll return the favor.”

When I closed the door behind him, I leaned against it and took in my new surroundings. My mother’s grandfather clock finally had the home it deserved, in a hallway where it provided a focal point and a welcome. Its steady, rhythmic tick-tock felt familiar and reassuring. It no longer chimed the hours, since its bells had been removed years earlier. I also had the peaceful library I’d always craved, where I could sit in the evenings, lit by lamps and surrounded by books. And, when sleep overcame me, I could drift upstairs to my cozy bedroom with its dark oak furniture. So in keeping with my Edwardian home.

I couldn’t wait to Skype Carol. I carried my laptop around the house and showed her the rooms, transformed from the ‘before’ photos she’d been so horrified to see. I had even erected a Christmas tree and strewn garlands of artificial holly and pine, bright with shiny red berries, around the walls and doors. With its decorations and twinkly lights, my tree looked festive and gave my home a seasonal finishing touch.

Tour complete, I sat in the library, with my laptop on my antique partners’ desk.

“It all looks lovely, Mum.” Carol smiled. “Not really my taste, but you always preferred old-fashioned stuff.”

I smiled back. “You’re just like your father. He always thought modern was best.”

“Only in Dad’s case, modern meant circa 1980.” Carol laughed, but then stopped abruptly. She stared closer into the webcam, her face wide-eyed, mouth slightly open.

Goose bumps rose on my arms. “What’s the matter?”

“I… don’t know. I thought I saw…” She shook her head. “Don’t worry. It’s gone now. Probably a technical glitch.”


That night, I fell asleep straightaway and awoke before dawn. I needed the bathroom and the chill in the bedroom had me reaching for my dressing gown. Moonlight shone through the landing window, illuminating my way.

I reached for the bathroom door handle. Invisible fingers stroked my hand. I jumped back. Spun around. No one behind me. No one either side of me. The moon withdrew behind a cloud and now I couldn’t see anything in the gloom. Where was the damned light switch? I fumbled around the walls and my fingers made contact with the hard plastic. I pressed. The bright light made me blink. Still nothing there. But something – or someone – had touched me. It couldn’t have been cobwebs. An insect maybe? The house was so quiet, except for the clock downstairs. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Above my head, in the loft, scratching, scrabbling. Bats, Derek had said. Then why did the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention? A loud groan echoed around the walls. A woman in pain. I ran into the bathroom and slammed the door, locking it. I hardly dared breathe as I strained to listen for the slightest sound in the sudden cold, still, silence…

Finally, I dared open the door and peered around. The light from the bathroom shone out, illuminating part of the landing, but casting shadows where I didn’t want them to be.

At the opposite end for where I stood, the dark void of my bedroom awaited me. There should be another switch to brighten that area, but when I found it, nothing happened. In desperation, I flicked it a few more times but still darkness where I so needed light.

From nowhere, cold, invisible hands pressed down on my shoulders, forcing me back against the wall. The face – if it was a face – loomed in front of me. Hollow sockets for eyes set in a gray, twisting, amorphous mask that might once have been human, or could have emanated straight from hell. I pushed hard against an unyielding mass that pulsated and throbbed. Panic rose in waves, coursing through my body. But when my muscles ached and trembled, some inner reserve of strength, borne of terror, powered me and I wrenched myself free, hurling myself down the landing into my bedroom. I locked the door and huddled on the bed, hugging my knees to my chest. My heart thumped and my breath came in gasps. I had to stifle them. Too much noise and it would find me again.

Above me, more scratching. I clapped my hands over my ears to drown out the noise. What was happening to me? Had I gone mad?

I swore I heard a female voice whisper my name.

‘Vivien… Vivien…’

For the first time since I was a child, I prayed, as the hours ticked by and night eventually gave way to dawn.

I waited until the sun was fully risen before I dared unlock my door. Downstairs, my confidence trickled back as I saw nothing untoward. My tree twinkled merrily. In the library, I switched on the radio to the sounds of Nat King Cole roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Outside the window, a solitary robin hopped from branch to branch on the sycamore tree, each move dislodging a shower of snowflakes. The sky looked as if it would deposit more of the white stuff anytime, all adding to the feeling of Christmas right around the corner. My grandfather clock gave out its familiar low tick-tock as Nat King Cole gave way to Mike Oldfield’s take on In Dulce Jubilo.

Maybe I’d imagined last night. Perhaps I’d dreamed it and been in a half-awake, half-asleep state when I awoke to go to the bathroom.

But then I opened the kitchen door. And stared.

Sugar, flour and smashed eggs covered the floor. Ketchup smeared all over the worktops. Two bottles of white wine, unscrewed and emptied down the sink. Glasses and plates lay smashed on the draining board, cooker and floor, and someone had written on the newly painted walls, in bright red letters:

Veni, mi domine Lucifer!

My mind sped into overdrive. Burglars. It had to be. Well-educated burglars who had studied Latin? Unusual, to say the least. Besides there were no signs of a break in. When I checked, all windows and doors were locked from the inside.

I picked up the phone and called the police.

The attending male officers looked barely out of high school. It didn’t take long before I realized they thought they were dealing with a dotty sixty-year-old – bordering on senility -who had probably created this chaos herself.

My curt responses to their inane questions were met with their exchanged glances and raised eyebrows. No, nothing like this had ever happened to me before. No, I wasn’t on anti-depressants, or being treated for any psychological condition.

One of the officers took notes, while the other examined the writing on the wall.

“It means”, I said, “Come, my lord Lucifer. I suppose whoever wrote it is into devil worship, or wanted to scare me.”

The officer, who had introduced himself as PC Workman, turned back from examining the graffiti. “The old lady who used to live here dabbled in that sort of thing.”

“Who? Miss Frobisher?” Surely not. I’d built up an image of a kindly old soul although, admittedly, I didn’t have any evidence to go on.

The other officer – PC Ramsden – scoffed. “Daft rumors. Just because she lived on her own, people made up all sorts of stories.”

His colleague remained adamant. “Oh, she was up to something, that’s for sure. Three local men went missing over the preceding three years before she died. Always at Christmas time too. The only thing they had in common was that they’d all come here to do casual work for Miss Frobisher. One was a handyman, another an electrician and I think the third was a decorator. It got so no one would come near this place.”

An icy shiver shot up my spine. “But you never found any evidence linking her to the disappearances?”

The police officer shook his head. PC Ramsden chortled. “Not likely to either. She was well into her eighties by then and hardly a match for three burly blokes.”

“But these men have never been found?”

“No,” PC Ramsden said. “But people go missing all the time. It’s not that hard to do if you’re determined enough.”

They didn’t stay long after that, merely gave me a crime reference number, promised to look into it and left. They told me I could clean everything up, so clearly there was to be no fingerprinting. They simply didn’t believe me. I suppose I was lucky they didn’t arrest me for wasting police time.

I sighed and set to work sorting out the mess, wishing I had some sort of explanation. I found none, except the crazy notion that, somehow, Miss Frobisher was behind it all.


Carol Skyped me at our pre-arranged time of eight o’clock on Christmas Eve. I hadn’t told her what I had experienced and, as the days passed and nothing more happened, I calmed myself. I sat in the library, my laptop on the desk and, when I answered her call, her cheerful smile made me ache to be with her.

“Happy Christmas, Mum.”

“Happy Christmas, love. Are you enjoying yourselves out there in the sun?”

She started to answer. Stopped. Stared hard at the screen. “What the hell?” She pointed behind me. Her hand shook. Her face a mask of horror. “I don’t know what that thing is, but for God’s sake, Mum, get out of there. Now. Just run!”

I twisted around to see what had scared her so much. A black shape swirled and morphed into a caricature of an old woman. It opened its mouth in a hideous parody of Munch’s most famous painting. From the laptop, Carol screamed at me, again and again. “Get out, Mum. For God’s sake, get out.”

But I couldn’t. The swirling mass, with its black holes for eyes, paralyzed me with its hideous stare.

Deep voices chanted in the echoing distance. A hymn to their Master. “Veni, mi domine Lucifer! Veni, mi domine Lucifer!

Carol’s hysterical cries screamed out from the laptop. “Mum listen to me, you have to get out. Just leave everything and go. Mum please!”

A rapier stab of pain in my side knocked me to one side. I clasped my head in my hands, willing it to stop. Cold fingers invaded my mind. Violating. Searching. Infecting my spirit and my soul with floods of hatred and despair. Pure evil.

I cried out. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

The laptop shot off the desk and smashed on the floor. That brought me to my senses and broke the hold on me. I sprang to my feet and ran. Behind me, I heard the sound of splintering wood and shattering glass. The grandfather clock chimed.

I ran. Out of the house, down the path. I ran and never looked back.

A year later, I’m still running. I hear the chanting. It’s in the wind. And in my head.

“Veni, mi domine Lucifer…”

It’s Christmas.

END

Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.

The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. These include (among others): The Haunting of Henderson Close, The Devil’s Serenade, and Saving Grace Devine.

Her new novel – The Garden of Bewitchment – is out from Flame Tree Press on February 10th 2020.

Cat lives in Southport, in the U.K. with her longsuffering husband, and a black cat, who has never forgotten that her species was once worshipped in Egypt.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish is a must-read horror author and someone I am super excited about having involved in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. If you haven’t read any of her work, I encourage you to give her a chance. It won’t be a waste of time, I assure you.


Meghan: Hi, Catherine. Welcome welcome. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Catherine Cavendish: I’m a published author of horror tales mainly in the supernatural, paranormal, Gothic, and ghostly traditions.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Catherine Cavendish: When I was a child, I planted a conker that is now a flourishing, tall horse chestnut tree

I am not fond of chocolate. I don’t hate it, but I could live without it perfectly happily. Cheese on the other hand…

I have a phobia about stairs – I had a nasty accident involving them a few years back.

When I was a small child, I wanted to be a ballerina.

Again, when I was a small child, I had an invisible friend called Gerry. He went everywhere with me, much to my mother’s embarrassment.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Catherine Cavendish: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Catherine Cavendish: I am re-reading Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Catherine Cavendish: Tales of the CityArmistead Maupin. I love all his books – a true guilty pleasure.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Catherine Cavendish: There is no one answer to this as I cannot remember a time I didn’t want to write. The need to tell a story that builds in my head and refuses to go away is what always gets me started. I began writing as soon as I could hold a pencil.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Catherine Cavendish: At my desk in my home office/library. The walls are lined with bookshelves. Perfect for me.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Catherine Cavendish: Nothing out of the ordinary. I research locations and settings on the internet and create a file of pictures. I also do this with main characters. For books requiring research, I read a lot beforehand to drown myself in the atmosphere of the time and place in which I am setting the story.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Catherine Cavendish: Hunting out and ridding the story of anomalies that creep in. Even when you think you’ve dispatched them all, there is always one lurking in a corner ready to trip you up.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Catherine Cavendish: That’s a hard one to answer. I am particularly partial to my latest – The Haunting of Henderson Close – because I had the basic idea for that story for a number of years and finally got around to writing it.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Catherine Cavendish: Creature by Hunter Shea is an amazing book – not only is it sublime horror but it is also one of the most moving stories I have ever read. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill is riveting, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, M.R. James, Susan Hill, Jonathan Janz… the list of amazing horror authors past and present continue to inspire me. Emily Bronte and Daphne du Maurier have also been sources of great inspiration and continue to be.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Catherine Cavendish: Strong, multi layered characters working their way through a plot with unexpected twists and turns, challenges, atmosphere, suspense and an ending you weren’t expecting.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Catherine Cavendish: I hate prissy, sweet, text book characters. I love flawed, sometimes damaged personalities who fight against the circumstances in which they find themselves. I like them to be non-conformist or to have broken away from the life they were expected to follow. I like rebels. I strive to incorporate this in my main characters. They are usually thirty years old, or more, and have had ups and downs in their lives. Of course, little do they know that things are about to take a turn for the worse and they will need all their reserves of strength and resilience…

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Catherine Cavendish: There are elements of me in most of my main characters but none are especially like me. I suppose the closest is probably Nessa who features in a novel I am currently working on. She goes through some of the major medical issues I faced a few years ago and I do see more of myself in her.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Catherine Cavendish: If we are honest, I think most of us look at the cover first and make an unconscious snap judgement about the content of the story based on that. I am lucky in that all my publishers (so far) have involved me quite heavily in the process. For The Haunting of Henderson Close and my upcoming novel, The Garden of Bewitchment, the publishers – Flame Tree Press – invited me to submit suggestions. I did so, fairly comprehensively as I always do, and the resulting covers are as near to my vision as I believe it is possible to be. I am delighted with them and feel they accurately reflect the content in each case. This also applies to my titles with Crossroad Press.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Catherine Cavendish: That you never stop learning and there is always room for improvement.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Catherine Cavendish: That has to be in my current work in progress because it involved a serious medical condition and surgery I actually lived through. While I was writing it, I felt myself back in the hospital, in pain, a bit scared and wondering how I was going to get through it. As far as my currently published work is concerned, the final scene in Saving Grace Devine reduced me to tears.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Catherine Cavendish: I think you would have to ask my readers that one. I like to think maybe it’s the combination of gothic with supernatural and the twists I take at the end. I like to challenge!

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Catherine Cavendish: I think titles are critical. Whenever I come up with one, I always check it to see if there are any other books with the same title. If there are, I avoid it and think again. Of course, there is nothing to stop someone else coming up with the same title as yours, but I think it prevents possible confusion if you try and avoid one already in use.

Sometimes a title is the first thing that comes to me and, at other times, I really have to work at it, discarding three or four choices before finding the one that really fits the bill. One of the easiest was The Haunting of Henderson Close. I had picked the name of the Close after checking that no such place existed in Edinburgh and, as the novel was about an evil haunting, the rest came naturally.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Catherine Cavendish: In their own ways, both, but because of the length of time and energy expended on writing a novel, the time when you finally decide ‘that’s it’, is a greatly fulfilling one.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Catherine Cavendish: My take on horror is the jump-scare, something lurking in the shadows, the stuff of nightmares. I often set – at least part of – my stories in the past because I love history and exploring historical locations. Mine is the world of ghosts, demons, witches, devils and unquiet spirits, frequently with a Gothic flavour. I use folklore traditions that exist and ones I create myself. My target audience is anyone who enjoys a scary, creepy story, suspense and/or horror. When they have finished one of my stories, I hope readers have enjoyed the experience and want to read more

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Catherine Cavendish: If a scene fails to move the story along, or has no relevance to what came before or will come after, out it goes. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and I don’t tend to think about it anymore.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Catherine Cavendish: I have a tin containing scraps of paper with notes on, or sometimes merely a line or two suggesting a plot for a short story, novel or novella. One came from a vivid dream I had which I can still remember around six years on. I was in a wood and came across an old timber hut. There was an exquisite and clearly expensive picture on the porch…and that’s all I’m telling you. I’ll write that story one day… maybe

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Catherine Cavendish: On February 10th, Flame Tree Press will be publishing The Garden of Bewitchment which is set in Bronte country – Haworth and its environs – in West Yorkshire, near where I grew up. This is a ghostly and Gothic tale involving twin sisters who are obsessed with the works of the Bronte sisters. Here’s the official blurb:

Don’t play the game

In 1893, Evelyn and Claire leave their home in a Yorkshire town for life in a rural retreat on their beloved moors. But when a strange toy garden mysteriously appears, a chain of increasingly terrifying events is unleashed. Neighbour Matthew Dixon befriends Evelyn, but seems to have more than one secret to hide. Then the horror really begins. The Garden of Bewitchment is all too real and something is threatening the lives and sanity of the women.

Evelyn no longer knows who – or what – to believe. And time is running out.

Meghan: Where can we find you? (Links to anywhere you’re okay with fans connecting with you.)

Catherine Cavendish: Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Goodreads

(I also have Instagram but I’m not particularly good at it! Camera-shy I guess.)

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Catherine Cavendish: Thank you to everyone who has read or reads my work. I really appreciate your support. Long may it continue. Keep reading scary stories!

Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories actually made much sense. However as she grew up, they gradually began to take form and, at the tender age of nine or ten, she sold her dolls’ house, and various other toys to buy her first typewriter. She hasn’t stopped bashing away at the keys ever since, although her keyboard of choice now belongs to her laptop.

The need to earn a living led to a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance but Cat is now the full-time author of a number of supernatural, ghostly, haunted house and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. These include (among others): The Haunting of Henderson Close, The Devil’s Serenade, and Saving Grace Devine.

Her new novel – The Garden of Bewitchment – is out from Flame Tree Press on February 10th 2020.

Cat lives in Southport, in the U.K. with her longsuffering husband, and a black cat, who has never forgotten that her species was once worshipped in Egypt.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

The Haunting of Henderson Close

Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.

The Devil’s Serenade

Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…

When Maddie Chambers inherits her Aunt Charlotte’s Gothic mansion, old memories stir of the long-forgotten summer she turned sixteen. She has barely moved in before a series of bizarre events drives her to question her sanity.

The strains of her aunt’s favorite song echo through the house, the roots of a faraway willow creep through the cellar, a child who cannot exist skips from room to room, and Maddie discovers Charlotte kept many deadly secrets.

Gradually, the barriers in her mind fall away, and Maddie begins to recall that summer when she looked into the face of evil. Now, the long dead builder of the house has unfinished business and an ancient demon is hungry. Soon it is not only Maddie’s life that is in danger, but her soul itself, as the ghosts of her past shed their cover of darkness.

Saving Grace Devine

“Can the living help the dead…and at what cost? “

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price. “