How would I feel if I read that I’d been horribly murdered - it’s a question - It’s a question that Doncaster-born author Malcolm Stacey asks himself before he puts pen to paper.
Journalist-turned-author Malcolm Stacey, once a reporter for sister title the Sheffield Star, left Doncaster at the age of 21 in pursuit of a career in radio and television journalism, however, he is returning to his roots on the pages of his latest book.
The book will be a sequel to Black Snow, a horror-ghost-crime blockbuster set in the holiday town of Tenby where Malcolm now lives.
Malcolm said “It’s vital for an author to know the setting for his book intimately. So, it makes sense for me to set the sequel to Black Snow in Doncaster were I was born and worked as a news reporter.”
What’s unusual about Malcolm’s books is that his characters are based on people he knows, and a he writes in the horror genre some of his closest companions find their characters meet a horrifying fate.
Malcolm added: “I was worried about writing about people I knew at first. I asked myself: how would I feel to read that I’d been horribly murdered?
“But, the fifty or so real people in Black Snow have been delighted. Many more have stopped me in the streets and asked if they are in it. They’re very disappointed if I say ‘not this time’.
“My family still live in Armthorpe and they will probably be written up as characters in my follow-on book. Some more of my family will come to a sticky end in this book.
“The advantage of making characters out of people you know so well is that you can make them super credible. That’s important with a supernatural story. You know they’ll react in a certain way, even in horrific circumstances.
“It’s a lot easier to write about people you know. You don’t have to make up their backgrounds, the way they dress, their ages and how they talk. I don’t even have to think up names.”
However, writing about people you know is not without challenges of it’s own, which Malcolm, who has had a life long interest in ghost stories and spooky television programmes, found out while he was writing Black Snow.
He said: “There was a problem with Black Snow in that some people had the same name - there were two Jacks, for example.
“I kept finding I’d included a few characters with the same moniker. Then I had to change everything.”
Malcolm can still remember the first time he frightened himself with a horror film - and formed a fascination with the genre.
He said: “I saw my first Dracula Film in a double bill with The Mummy at the Doncaster Essoldo.
“It was an X, so I added two years to my 14 years. 1 was petrified. And I’ve been fascinated by supernatural horror ever since.”
It is that spooky, but intelligent, story telling that Malcolm strives for in his own books - wanting to surprise not disturb his readers.
He said: “I’ve been told that only the brave would want to read my novel at bedtime.
“That is the ultimate compliment, but I was surprised bv it. Then I re-read my book and even I was scared stiff in places.
“I must have read hundreds of horror stories and I’ve tried to put the most frightening aspects of them in my books. For instance, malevolent children seem particularly terrifying. Or very well educated villains. Or fog and snow.
“But though I’ve certainly tried to make it frightening, I’ve also wanted to write an intelligent supernatural story. Sadly that is quite a rare thing, these days.
“The genre has a bad name now because of too much blood and not enough atmosphere. I’ve always liked stories which are spooky, more than violent. Most of todays’ graphic horror stories and films are intended to shock and not frighten people.”
Despite the upsetting nature of his books, Malcolm finds it easy to separate the story he is writing from the reality of the Doncaster he remembers fondly.
He added: “I will include a lot of Doncaster in the fifties and sixties in the book, as I know that period very well.
“There will be many well-known locations though and I will ask my brother Richard, his wife Kath and their children about changes that have happened in the town since I left.
“The book will be of huge interest to older readers but I will set a large part of the story in the present day. Present day ghosts are always more fearsome.
“I do write the more disturbing chapters in the eveningas the mornings have nothing like the required creepy atmosphere.”
Malcolm is researching his Doncaster book, which has a working title Even Darker Snow, now and expects to start writing soon.