There’s an old locked gateway on the Eisenbrand with its own bell and letterbox. The drive looks dark, overgrown with bushes and ivy. The house is not even visible from the road. You could easily walk past a dozen times without noticing it. If you were writing a ghost story set in Büderich, it would make a wonderful haunted house setting. Time to sharpen my pen again?
I was at the Teloy-Mühle this afternoon for an event and took a couple of photos of the staircase up to the upper levels. For those who have read The Devil’s Missal, this is the setting for a dramatic scene.
Last night we went on an unofficial tour, led by Josh Simpkins, of Düsseldorf’s Altstadt to explore Düsseldorf’s dark side. Josh has spent the best part of a year researching all the terrible crimes and supernatural happenings in the town and this tour is the result of that. Although the walk calls itself ‘haunted Düsseldorf,’ it actually involves a creepy mixture of ghost stories, unsolved historical murders, assorted grisly crimes and other anecdotes.
Josh had the great idea of constructing his own portable projector which he used to illustrate his stories as we went along… suddenly walls, doors, even trees became screens for images from the past… this added a strong visual dimension to the experience.
Of course Düsseldorf by night is beautiful anyway, especially as the old town is still lit by around 14,000 original gas lights. These lend an almost Dickensian atmosphere to the streets when you are listening to ghost stories, tales of serial killers and unsolved murders.
One episode in The Devil’s Missal is set in the historic city of Bruges in Belgium. What really inspired me was the atmosphere among the backstreets and canals. Most of the houses are still lived in by local people. The buildings almost all date from the late middle ages and even those which are dilapidated exude a unique charm. But even in the sunshine, the silence is eerie. It is almost as though ghosts are watching you from those empty windows.
Of course true lovers of ghost stories should visit Bruges by night. Then Bruges is at it’s spookiest, with its old street lamps and narrow alleyways. Echoing footsteps falling on cobbles reflect off the walls in strange way, so you never can quite tell whether or not some invisible presence is following you.
One of the most engaging aspects of The Devil’s Missal is the eerie setting of Schloss Pesch in Meerbusch for some of the key scenes. Since the events of the book the schloss has been extensively cleaned and renovated, to remove the decay and ghostly atmosphere which is so redolent in the novel. In particular the dilapidated old chapel which plays a crucial role in The Devil’s Missal has been renovated almost beyond recognition. For readers who know what went on there, this will come as a relief…
This afternoon the first sample proof of The Devil’s Missal arrived. I couldn’t be happier with the quality of the layout, print and the cover art is just wonderful. The cover photo was styled and shot by Angela Serena Gilmour, a very talented photographer who lives in Berlin. The layout was by Tamsin and Grosvenor House. Many thanks also to Becky at Grosvenor House for dealing with all my queries and neurotic fiddling with font sizes and other things that shouldn’t technically concern me. I am deeply indebted to the wonderful Claire Jennison over at Penning and Planning who is the best editor any writer could wish for and a suitably nit-picky proofreader to boot.
Now to give it one last read through and then if there are no more changes, it will be ready to go to press!