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The Whole-y Ghost
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The Wirral. 1984. Six-year-old Paul Gannon dragged his exhausted family to a screening of the movie Ghostbusters. That experience changed Paul’s life forever… and made the lives of everyone around him miserable. Obsessed with ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night, he created his own teenage ghost hunting group, wrote demented stories about demons from beyond the grave and predictably dressed as a Ghostbuster every year at Halloween. However, like all childhood things, Paul’s days of spirit chasing soon vanished in a fog of GCSEs, student union debauchery and paying rent. 20 years later and Paul is lost, depressed and suicidal.
After countless hours of therapy, counselling and long dark nights of the soul, Paul was given a piece of advice. Maybe he should get a hobby. Maybe take up a sport? A craft? Donate some time to a charitable cause? He decided to go ghost hunting.
What began as an unusual weekend hobby soon spiralled into a weird world of believers, sceptics, paranormal tourist groups, supernatural theatre shows and wound up with a trip to the largest gathering of Ghostbusters fans in the world.
Ain't Afraid of No Ghost is a comedic tale of what happens when life and death collide via one man’s passion for a 1980s family movie. Paul isn’t shy about his love of Ghostbusters and how it informed his childhood and career choices.
It’s not all Ghostbusters however! Paul also examines the growth of geek fandom from niche pastime to mainstream phenomenon and how it’s changed in the social media age with social. Is nostalgia something to treasure or has it become poisonous and destructive?
The book will also look into the growth of 'paranormal tourism' and supernatural reality TV shows and how it’s become a hugely lucrative industry fit to fill with self important experts, con artists and eager believers.
When it comes to ghost busting, Paul has seen all sides of a fascinating, bizarre, sometimes taboo, but importantly, also very human experience. In Ain't Afraid of No Ghost Paul asks why do we continue to look for life after death? What compels people to spend hours in the dark hunting for frightening spectres? And why is the Ghostbusters logo facing the wrong way? P.s. the cover artwork is by the amazingly talented @Vorratony.
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Paul Gannon mostly works with sound. He produces radio for the BBC and commercial radio stations and is involved in a variety of odd podcasts and YouTube channels that range from the informative to the bizarre. He talks the paranormal on The Spooktator podcast, scatological charity shop based humour in the CheapShow podcast and talks about god knows what on Digitiser. Ghostbusters is his life. Pity him.
The Hellfire Caves
Situated above the village of West Wycombe, buried into a hillside, directly below St Thomas’ Church lie the Hellfire Caves. Out of all the haunted locations I have the privilege to run around, I can safely say that the HFC (as I will now call it to give my fingers a break once in a while) is possibly my favourite place to get over excited about visiting. It’s a fascinating location and ticks all of my boxes. Just in case you were wondering what my boxes are, let me tell you now. Does the place have a weird and wonderful history? If so, go ahead and tick that box. Has it got a decent ghost story attached (because most of the time it’s usually just a monk bricked up in a wall or a proud home owner who just can’t let go)? If it’s spooky enough, tick that box too. Is the location foreboding or unusual? Bosh, tick that box. Is there something rude or childishly amusing about it? Bang. That’s another one.
The HFC ticks all those boxes.
These people are helping to fund Ain't Afraid of No Ghost.
Sarah Elizabeth Hald