In this novel I wanted to give an idea of what life was like for bodysnatchers in the early part of the nineteenth century. It was not a line of work for the faint of heart, having to steal out in the dead of night and dig up the grave sites of the recently departed so as to provide fresh corpses for local surgeons who wished to experiment on them. It was grisly work. If discovered these individuals would place themselves in a precarious position. The relatives of the deceased would be outraged and would be out for their blood. This is a point William Dreghorn makes to his partner-in-crime Jack Farley during their night-time discussion in a local tavern at the beginning of the novel.
However, I did not think it was enough to have two bodysnatchers merely digging up graves and delivering bodies to doctors so they could find cures for deadly diseases. Bodies were at a premium during the time when the storyline of The Lady in Red unfolds. So I thought to myself it would be an interesting idea if Jack and William resort to murder to find additional bodies to deliver to their client, a surgeon based in London.
When exploring this idea I had firmly in mind the true-life bodysnatchers turned murderers Burke and Hare. They plied their ignoble trade in Edinburgh. However, their mode of killing was slightly different to the characters in my novel. While Burke and Hare suffocated their victims, Farley and Dreghorn used the method of strangulation. I say they used this method but it was really all down to Farley who was the head man in this version of Murderers Incorporated.
This, then, is the opening premise of the book and I believe it is a startling opening to the book with a murder taking place in the prologue section. But I wanted to go much further than this. I have always had a passion for writing on a ghostly theme as you will have noticed if you have explored my website to the fullest. So I wondered what would happen if Jack came back as a ghost. He did so to create more havoc as that was his style but towards the end of the novel we find there is a another reason why he returned. I will not say what this is as I would not like to spoil the plot for my would-be readers out there in internet land. Suffice it to say that Jack is not a man to be crossed and he will do everything in his powers to see he is the one left standing when the battle draws to its conclusion.
Yes, my friends: it is a battle all right. A battle between good and evil which is played out on a multitude of fronts. In coming back in his ghostly guise Jack has to understand that his course is fraught with danger. Yes, even the mighty Jack Farley has to face up to peril. This is merely the cause and effect of being a spirit and one who has brought so much pain and suffering to so many. He may well view himself as indestructible (and he certainly does) but that does not mean to say he will have an easy ride, no very far from that.
The Lady in Red is a case in point. Yes, we cut to the chase now, my friends. Here we have the title character, the one who is a driving force behind the search for a positive ending to this story. She is Charlotte Rothersby, a beautiful, caring woman. A married woman as well to a wealthy mill owner. She did not deserve the fate which befell her, the same one which so many suffered at the sinister hands of Jack Farley and his accomplice William Dreghorn. But the fight is not over for her with her death. No, one could very easily say it is only beginning. She is like so many others: she wishes to bring an end to Jack Farley’s wanton cruelty which he has perpetrated over the course of time.
Then we have the modern day family who fall foul of Jack’s infamy. The Stanleys. There is no doubt they have their own issues to face. When I introduce Geoff and Margaret Stanley and their young children Clare, Paul and Toni I bear out the fact that if they are not quite a dysfunctional family they are nonetheless on the next street along from it. The children are typical of any siblings you care to mention: friction seems to surround them at every turn. If it is not Toni’s childish antics towards her older sister Clare, it is Paul’s feelings of being left out in family matters as if he is not wanted. He suffers from possessing a shy termperament. He largely keeps in the background whenever family discussions are going on. This brings on feelings of frustration in the young boy. However, he does at least have the solace of friendships with two like-minded boys. They might very well make for a quiet threesome but they are happy in each other’s company and they find strength in each other. They like to go around calling themselves The Three Musketeers and are never happier than when saddling up their horses and riding off into the sunset! Their horses in this case turn out to be bicycles but they live out their fantasy to the fullest.
Paul proves himself to be a resourceful boy when Jack Farley comes calling. This comes in a variety of ways. Primarily, it comes through his dreams in the first instance and than later on he experiences a vision which would curdle the blood of anyone let alone a nine year old boy. But he stands tall despite all of this adversity, proving he is a match for Farley’s ghost, even if he is of such tender years.
Throughout the book I mix the personal interaction of the Stanley family and certain crisis points they reach in their everyday lives (both personally and as a collective whole) with ghostly episodes which threaten their very existence. I move around between the historical era and the modern day one a fair amount which, I believe, only lends even more excitement to the storyline. Indeed, I have been complimented on my juxtaposition of time periods by some of my readers who feel I handled this part of the story very well. It warms my spirit as the author of this tale to receive these plaudits and I like to think they are well earned.
There are numerous supernatural episodes which occur throughout the storyline of The Lady in Red. There are also a whole variety of characters in the historical era who, I believe, add extra depth and colour to the novel as a whole. The best way I can describe this aspect of the tale is that there is a lot going on throughout the novel. But don’t take my word for it, even if this is the whole reason behind this blog. I believe my novel holds up well with any other horror novel out there and wish only that it should reach an audience which I verily believe it deserves. So please check out my author’s page at amazon, a link to which can be found on the home page of this site near the bottom of the page where I have uploaded the cover design for The Lady in Red. I love the enlarged nature of my book design on this website. I think it is quite striking and ever since I created the design on canva I have been well pleased with it. There is a sinister and eerie feel to this design which I was struck by the moment I first came across it. I think it represents the storyline of The Lady in Red very well and if you order my book I am sure you will feel the same way.
This blog takes a look at William Dreghorn, accomplice to Jack Farley in my horror novel ‘The Lady in Red.’
Demon possession in my novel The Lady in Red involving young children.
This blog is a character profile of the title character from my published horror novel The Lady in Red.