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Edward Parnell, author of Ghostland, visits Spalding to sign copies of his new book

An award-winning writer, who grew up in Spalding, is returning to the town on Saturday (November 23) to sign his new book - all about ghosts.

Edward Parnell is the author of a previous novel, The Listeners, which won the 2014 Rethink New Novels Prize, as well as having received awards from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship.

His new book, Ghostland, is a non-fiction book that explores the places around Britain that inspired writers and filmmakers, whose work touches upon the weird and the supernatural.

Ghostland author Edward Parnell. Image by K Waine.
Ghostland author Edward Parnell. Image by K Waine.

He will be at Bookmark in The Crescent, in the town, between 11.30am until 2pm this Saturday to meet readers.

He said: “In Ghostland, I visited a huge variety of locations around the UK that fed into classic ghost stories, films and television programmes.

"From the lonely Galloway coast where The Wicker Man was filmed to the tip of Cornwall that inspired the Edwardian ghost story writer E. F. Benson, or the Welsh hills that sit at the heart of some of my favourite children’s books by Alan Garner and Susan Cooper – researching Ghostland was an atmospheric experience.

Ghostland by Edward Parnell.
Ghostland by Edward Parnell.

"Yet some of my favourite chapters are about the marshes of The Wash that I remembered so well from birdwatching trips as a teenager, or the Fens themselves, which find their way into so many eerie stories by writers like M. R. James and John Gordon."

The book is also a moving exploration of the author’s own haunted family history.

Growing up in Spalding and attending the Grammar School, he lost both of his parents to cancer when he was in the sixth form.

“In the book I wanted to try to breathe a kind of existence into my parents’ lost lives, to make their own ghosts something tangible on the page,” Edward said.

"Researching Ghostland was an atmospheric experience." - author Edward Parnell.

His father, Ken Parnell (who died in 1991) was well-known to many people in the town as the Group Secretary of the National Farmers' Union and a key figure in the organisation of the Flower Parade, while his mother, Les, also worked at the NFU.

After his parents’ death, Edward continued to live in Spalding with his older brother, Chris, who at the time was a journalist on the Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press, before he went away to study literature at university in 1992.

Sadly, Chris also passed away from cancer in 2014, which was one of the catalysts for Edward to write the book.

“Trying to think back across thirty years to old family memories has been really difficult, particularly without my brother to reminisce with,” Edward explained.

“But writing Ghostland has really helped me to think back on so many fantastic memories with my family that I hadn’t considered for such a long time. Hopefully I’ve now laid some of my own ghosts to rest.”

  • Ghostland is published in hardback by William Collins (part of Harper Collins) - RRP £16.99.


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