In his book, he has decided to share with us stories that are literally "out of this world." The Spirit of Peterborough is a book of ghost stories that are literary fiction, however, his basis for writing the book is that there are events that have really taken place in Peterborough that he felt he could combine with stories about ordinary seeming Peterborough folk of today going about their lives. Do you know what secrets are hidden behind the walls of the Cathedral, the Museum and many other places around Peterborough? We invite you to an interview with the author, after which i'm sure you will want to read this very unusual book.
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When I saw your book, I thought to myself: Is it possible that extraordinary events like this could actually take place in Peterborough? Stories of ghosts in the background, scary things around us like we are used to seeing in the movies, surely that certainly does not happen in reality ....?
I realized some time ago that ghost's and the stories people tell about them are not just a figment of the imagination, in truth, strange things can take place in our lives. What's more, it might not happen to you but to someone in your family. Just as in my case, things happened to my sons. Actually, you don't have to look far, just look around your environment, find out about the places you go to. In the case of Peterborough, a lot of the paranormal past bases around the city centre. Some of these tales are really very interesting. So, I decided to take advantage of this fact, my creative mind started to work and I came up with the idea of intertwining stories of events that really have happened, with literary fiction, placing ordinary Peterborians as the main characters - as the heroes of our time.
So, these are stories about people like you and me, to which happen events that place them in some extraordinary predicaments: Stories that have their roots in events of the past.
You mentioned that the centre of Peterborough hides a lot of just such stories.
Yes, it's true. Even now, when we sit at this very table in a cafe affording us a fine view of the Cathedral, many people walking past us right now don't know anything of it's hidden history. The first story, in my book is very much based around this. I do not want to reveal all the details but in fact all the stories you will find have one common theme; they should make you think: "What if something similar happened to me?" When someone tells a spooky story most are skeptical about it, I also was. However, when you become a witness to a similar event, you start to look at certain situations from a different perspective.
Ah! I understand that you might be referring to some specific stories, involving your loved ones?
Well, yes. One of my sons saw once while playing golf on Orton Meadows golf course what could possibly have been the spirit of a man who was trying to get out of the river. (The apparition was also seen by at least two others that were present.) When we tried to find out about the possible ghostly sighting nobody could enlighten us and there never appeared even a mention in anything we could find online that anything of the like had ever occured. Then, some three or four years later two of us found and browsed an old book of 'Huntingdonshire tales', and there came across a story perfectly corresponding to the mysterious experience had by my son. The story was of a young man who actually drowned in the river very near to that point in the1840's. I have since been able to research and verify it in old newspaper articles. This event has also become a kind of backdrop to one of the stories in the book. Everything fits perfectly. This inspired me to write a story that has some strong emotions embedded within. By reading it people may find that with open minds they may just become witnesses to a similarly extraordinary event at some point occuring in their lives. Who knows?
You mentioned that the stories you write about in the book have their roots in a true story, where the reader has to know when you are telling about things that really took place, and when presented situations are just a figment of your imagination?
At the end of the book there is a special section that points out the real events, which were described in the stories. As you mention, I thought that people may need such an explanation. It's facts of truth embedded within the fiction, but there is always a strong element of the narrative based on real events. If people are clear about at least some of this, then it can make these stories even more interesting for them. (I don't give it all away though.)
So you believe that ghosts really exist and are among us?
Personally, I think that all the ghost stories people tell will always have at least grain of truth within them. Also, from personal experience I now have reasons to believe that ghosts really exist. They do not appear among us without cause – this is crucial to me. The question is, why are they here? Why at a certain place or time? Often we do not realize that some seemingly mysterious event may have another, more rational explanation, but so often there is no clear answer and this interests me.
When you talk to the scholars of such spiritual entities, you'll find that there are seemingly different types of ghosts. The one that interests me most is the spirit that warns you of danger. Some call these spirits angels that stand guard over our security. It is said that they appear to protect us from something, from something which we are not able to predict and is always never something expected.
You mentioned about the historical event that could link to the experience had by your son, but you did not tell about any encounter you might have had with a ghost.
Ah, well, that's also mentioned in the book, and continues on from my last point, but I do not want to reveal everything and put it on a plate for the readers. When anyone decides to look inside 'The Spirit of Peterborough' they should be able to pick out a situation that happened to me that took place at a time when I was in danger but unaware. Then something happened out of the ordinary - perhaps saved my life and changed the course of events . . . who knows for sure? Now, here with you I sit and and talk about the subject for a very good reason, but maybe it could have been different?
This is a slightly different experience though, some will say perhaps more to do with faith, but we can end up thinking too much about all of this if we're not careful. When you look back and you analyze certain events in your life you can see that they are or at least have become more important than they might initially have seemed to you at the time.
But when we read the stories that took place hundreds of years ago, there may be concerns that parts have been invented or descriptions coloured by people who have decided to pass these stories on.
Of course. It is very likely that has happened, especially when we find several different versions of the same event, but when we find information from a specific date and place and this information can be confirmed with solid evidence, we know a certain amount must be the truth. It is possible, of course, that many elements of the stories that are passed down are coloured, over-glorified, or even fictitious!
Some of the most interesting stories behind not only the Cathedral, but also the museum, and the centre of Peterborough can be experienced on a guided tour where you can even listen to ghost stories?
The 'City of Peterborough Ghost walks' are extremely popular and they run frequently. The stories that we hear during such trips are fascinating for discovering as close to the truth as is possible, which is why I recommend anyone who hasn't been to go on one. The walls of the Museum, the back streets of the town centre and the area surrounding the Cathedral to name but a few locations hide many secrets. Therefore, in The Spirit of Peterborough you will also find a story based on such an event. In the book you will find a story about a group of friends, who are go on the tour and even though they are aware that they will experience the powerful telling of some supposedly real ghost stories, they do not expect the equally unbelievable experience that awaits them!
The United Kingdom is known as one of the most haunted places in Europe. Therefore, are there other places you might be interested in where similar stories might have taken place, and are you going to write about them perhaps in the future?
I've lived in Peterborough for 46 years, that is why I have chosen the place that is dear to me and that I am familiar with, but maybe in the future I will branch out to other cities or places of interest in the UK. Since I started writing this book, many people have actually asked me this question so there would I'm sure be some interest . . . who doesn't enjoy a good local tale, spooky or not! Peterborough is the city that has inspired me. Besides, there are many such events, which are not yet written about, and which are in my opinion very much worth some investigation.
Personally, I still hesitate whether to believe supernatural stories or not, but certainly agree with your statement that the events of the past have a greater impact on the present than we might initially think.
Yes, that is a phrase expressed by one of the key characters in the first story of The Spirit of Peterborough. There are many such key moments in my stories where there forms a realisation within a character that what happened to them has its roots in situations that have occurred in the past. Characters are nearly always given a knowledge of the past, allowing them to better understand their current situation. Past and present are all the time intertwined, so it is important to know the past, especially stories of the city in which we live.
We sit now in the centre of Peterborough before us with its beautiful Cathedral, which is the core of the history of this city, but, as I said before, I can bet that perhaps only one in a hundred people that pass by us actually know the documented history of this monument and it's relevant meaning today.
In the preview to the book you wrote: 'After reading it you'll never see Peterborough in quite the same light again.'
This is in fact the primary purpose for which I wrote this book. I want to awaken people's minds, I want them to think about the stories long after they've put the book down. I want people after reading it to not only have learned some little part about the history of their city, but also to be inspired to want to find out more.
If after reading the book the reader says to themselves; 'Hey! I never thought that something like this could happen in Peterborough . . . I never realised that such quirky and unusual events took place here' Or, they look at the Cathedral and begin to wonder if, just what if some part of all it's mysterious history could really be happening around them right here and now . . . then, I have succeeded.
Peterborough isn't as boring and grey a city as some of us might initially have thought . . . is it?
Interviewer: Malgorzata Prochal
Author's website: www.tomgoymour.com