Where no-one will hear you scream… My first thought exactly, once I’d left the main road past the small Carmarthenshire village of Rhandirmyn and in the overwhelming silence, trekked up towards the bleak landscape of what had to be a disused lead mine. Encircled by dark forestry and the constant airborne flow of rooks, my second thought was how long would it take me to escape?

Back in my cosy study, that disturbing place wouldn’t leave me alone. Having added to my hurried notes and begun research on the area and its history, I knew this was where Jason Robbins, (co-main character) a jobless 28 year-old Londoner would come for the Write a Bestseller course he’d seen so temptingly advertised in The Lady magazine in his doctor’s surgery. The seat of his dreams would be Heron House – ivy-clad, with mean, gabled windows, a silted-up swimming pool and iron herons guarding like Cerberus, its forbidding gates. Also the honey-tongued Monty Flynn and his two elderly servants hiding long, disturbed histories.

I returned to Rhandirmwyn, armed with a new camera, only to find its shutter kept jamming and those few images that did emerge, were useless. All dark brown. In frustration, I pressed the dustbin symbol then delete, but soon wished I hadn’t. Something seriously odd had happened, which couldn’t be explained, and which didn’t occur again.

Except to another of my characters…

This upper lead mine boasts PERIGL/DANGER notices a-plenty. Its adits are treacherous; the caves below, death traps. However, it wasn’t these dangers which pre-occupied me, rather who had lived and died here. Who might have carried terrible secrets to their graves, and still pose a threat to those who come digging…

Jason soon meets ex-art student and reluctant cook, Helen Jenkins and together, with mutual attraction growing, they begin to unravel what lies behind the odd occurrences in his dingy bedroom, where a Welsh girl’s name has suddenly appeared on a plaque outside his door and the human bloodstain on his carpet, begins to grow…

Realising that this promised writing course isn’t happening, and after a friendly, elderly neighbour is found dead in her bungalow, they make decisions which place their lives at the gravest risk.

I wrote Cold Remains first in longhand, which can be laborious, but the story seemed to write itself and gather momentum towards the climax as if other energies were at work.

Having featured in a Sunday Times article about our brand-new, but haunted house that had apparently been built on a mediaeval grave-yard, many similar accounts from readers landed on the doormat. Most had until then, kept these to themselves for fear of ridicule.

Not me.

Terror is my key. Do take it, and turn the pages of Cold Remains. But best to keep the light on.


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