Read spooky ghost stories on Halloween

Sophie Hannah, internationally best-selling author, has written 'The Visitor's Book', a collection of ghost stories for Halloween


Read spooky ghost stories on Halloween

Here, we talk to her about ghosts, overcoming fear and why 'if you wait till you're not scared, you'll never do it'

What inspired you to write ghost stories?

I've always loved spooky books and movies – some of my favourites are Susan Hill's The Woman in Black, the short story The Monkey's Paw, and the films The Sixth Sense and The Others. What I love about the supernatural is that, as a fictional genre, it always involve mystery. Ghost stories are as mysterious as crime and detective stories, because the ghost never announces itself and its agenda upfront. The protagonist has to work out the who and the why, and only then might the ghost be persuaded to go away. So I was attracted to writing in the ghostly genre because of the mystery base note that shares with the crime genre. Mystery is what I love above all else, in fiction.

Do you believe in ghosts or have you ever seen a ghost?

I've never seen one, no. I neither believe nor disbelieve – I'm a ghost agnostic!

When have you been been most scared and why?

I've only ever been scared of other human beings – particularly tyrannical ones who have power over me.

What is your greatest fear and how do you manage/overcome it?

I have many fears, and I'm too scared to say what they are, in case Fate is then tempted to make them come true!

What is the scariest story you have read and why did it frighten you?

The Monkey's Paw, because it shows brilliantly that the worst thing you think might happen is not actually the worst thing – there are many other more horrific things that you simply haven't imagined.

What advice would you give on how to overcome fear?

Useful fear should be listened to: for example, don't put your finger in that plug socket. Useless fears that limit your life – of flying, of failure, of whether or not people will disapprove of you – should be ignored. I believe: 'feel the fear and do it anyway' is a great motto.  If you wait till you're not scared, you'll never do it.

'The Visitors Book' by Sophie Hannah (Sort of Books, £8.99) is published on 31 October 2015. Find out more about Sophie at

Photograph: Corbis

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