a special edition 176-page compact hardback. Includes the first magazine interview with Hereford’s deliverance consultant
Opening the front door of Ledwardine vicarage – 17th century, crookedly timber framed – Merrily Watkins is wearing a light blue sweatshirt and clutching a smelly rag and a bucket into which you can’t help taking a nervous glance…
THE HOUSE OF
A new husband and a new house.
Just as well, because Zoe doesn’t like old.
Back in the 1960s, this house was built to look ultra-modern, with lots of glass and sharp angles. And it was going cheap, perhaps because of the self-inflicted death of a previous owner – notoriously bloody and prolonged.
But Zoe didn’t know that, and if her husband Jonathan knew he kept very quiet.
How is Merrily Watkins, diocesan exorcist for Hereford, to know what’s behind Zoe’s claim that the late Susan Lulham is still in residence?
More blood will decorate the pristine white walls of the New House before its secret history begins to leak out.
Lulham began as a short story, written for the Oxfam collection, Oxcrimes, published last Spring.
I’d never written a cameo thing before, but I still thought it worked.
I also knew – though this is hardly abnormal in a short story – that there was more to be told.
As did a number of readers.
‘Why don’t you finish it?’ they kept saying.
Life isn’t easily divided into beginnings, middles and ends, and Merrily Watkins’s career as an exorcist is a continuing story. It had already run to twelve novels when I started Susan Lulham, and I realised that it didn’t really make sense to progress to the 13th leaving this one hanging in the air.
So now it’s a novella – more than five times as long as the original story, but still much shorter than a normal novel. Call it an episode. Call it Merrily 12 and a half.
THE HOUSE OF SUSAN LULHAM
is unlike the other Merrilys in several ways.
It’s a novella… longer than a short story, but less than a third the length of a novel (and priced accordingly, in case you were wondering)
It deals not with folklore and remote history, but with a brutally modern house on an estate inhabited by people largely unconcerned with the landscape of the past.
Its violence is of the domestic kind.
To the police it’s open-and-shut. And they’re right. It develops resonance only for Merrily Watkins who, inevitably, keeps questioning her own role and the place of exorcism in a secular society.
Thus opening the way for some new developments in the next full-length novel.
Kindle cover artwork: B J Craven