A mysterious historical report about one of the world’s most prolific inventors and his attempts to contact the dead has inspired a Skegness novelist’s latest ‘nail-biting chiller’.
Wlliam Hussey’s fourth title for young adults, ‘Haunted’, is rooted in genuine comments made by Thomas Edison in the days before his death when he told reporters he was on the verge of inventing a machine to speak with the dead.
“It caused a worldwide sensation at the time, then nothing more of it was ever heard about it because he died 10 days later and no such machine was ever found,” Hussey said.
“Everyone assumed that Edison, who was a notorious practical joker, had been pulling the journalists’ legs.
“My spin on it was that the machine was built by Edison but, when tested by him, he discovered a truth about the afterlife so horrifying he covered it up.”
In the novel, released last Thursday, Edison’s prototype resurfaces today in a small English town cut off by a snowstorm in the dead of winter.
It emerges that someone is using the ‘Ghost Machine’ to call back the spirits of the dead, so it falls to a bereaved young girl and a mysterious American boy to find out who ‘before the dead overwhelm the living’.
Like his popular Witchfinder trilogy, based on genuine 17th century witch trials, Hussey has sought to retain a semblance of truth in his latest work.
“If you can instil a germ of reality that people can research it adds verisimilitude to the story, it adds reality,” he said.
“What I like to do is have a historical incident but imagine the consequences of that in a modern setting - how the shadows of history relate to the modern age.”
He is also keen to help his young readers examine serious themes, this time using the supernatural backdrop to delve into issues of bereavement.
“Interesting stories with a serious message, is what I think children’s fiction is all about,” he said,
“Much more so than with adult fiction, there should always be a moral to the story.”
Though he often dreads releasing his novels and fears for the critical response they will receive, Hussey says he has been delighted by some of the praise lauded upon Haunted.
Bestselling US author Michael Grant called it a ‘nail-biting chiller, which will leave readers begging for more’ and warned ‘be prepared for some sleepless nights’.
To receive such a commendation from an author he respects and admires was ‘more thrilling than getting my pay cheque from the publisher,’ said Hussey.
He will be setting off an a Halloween tour to promote the book at school around the county including two in the local area, when he will also be presenting a ‘fun and interactive’ lecture on the history of the horror story.