York based Author, Amy Flint, chats to us about her Porter Biggleswade book series, the city’s rich historical inspiration and the paranormal.
O&O:Tell us a little bit about yourself
I love a good mystery, and the paranormal is certainly that. I went to boarding school, where sharing a dorm with friends allowed us to stay up late and tell ghost stories, make Ouija boards, and generally scare ourselves silly. We were conscious that fearing ghosts was not exclusive to the young, which made the paranormal seem all-the-more terrifying.
A degree in archaeology led to me working in Pompeii and the British Museum, before doing a Masters in Forensic Archaeological Sciences. My interest in archaeology was sparked after a trip to Egypt when I was young. The pyramids, Valley of the Kings, Aswan they all made a big impression, not least because of the ancient Egyptians’ preoccupation with death. Telling ghostly tales certainly isn’t a modern phenomenon!
Archaeology and investigating the paranormal aren’t that dissimilar, with both exploring past lives, so moving from archaeology into writing paranormal fiction was a natural next step for me. Nicknamed ‘the Shadow Reader’ for her ability to see ghosts, my protagonist Porter Biggleswade is a straight-talking paranormal investigator. I had the idea for the series after moving to York in 2011. Allegedly one of the most haunted places in England, the city provides me with rich fodder for my books, whilst also allowing me to keep indulging my passion for archaeology.
My Porter Biggleswade series is designed to entertain, whilst taking a realistic view of paranormal investigation. Porter exposes some hauntings to be little more than poor plumbing or faulty wiring while other phenomena can’t be so easily explained.
O&O: What/ who is the inspiration behind your Porter Biggleswade series?
It’s easier to write about what you know so it’s inevitable Porter shares some of my traits. She’s single-minded, driven, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly, which are a blessing or a curse depending on the circumstance. I would never have been able to write three books whilst having three children under the age of six if I wasn’t focused, but my husband may prefer to call it being stubborn. I couldn’t possible comment! I’ve had the odd paranormal experience (or at least I can’t rationalise what happened), although nothing on the scale of my lead. Plus, Porter and I are both partial to the odd glass of Sauvignon Blanc!
Porter moves from London to York after being headhunted by the Paranormal Investigation Unit (PIU). She’s much in demand, with a skill like hers! Artistic licence allowed me to pull some fictional strings and place her in a flat on the Shambles. Well, it’s only fitting she lives on the most famous street in York.
York really is integral to my books. A city steeped in history certainly knows a thing or two about ghosts; it seemed inevitable Porter should be based here. Ghostly squatters are rumoured to haunt many a property within the city wall, which is hardly surprising considering their age. These rumours prove useful when coming up with ideas for Porter.
O&O: What challenges, if any, have you faced writing paranormal fiction?
I’m an ideas’ person, so I haven’t found writing paranormal fiction challenging, but I originally found it difficult to categorise my books. I write paranormal mysteries revolving around ghosts - they don’t fit into the mould of paranormal romance focused on vampires or werewolves, or both!
O&O: What’s next in the pipeline? Any more novels?
I’ve nearly finished editing The Ghosts of King, the third in my ten-book series, so only seven more to go! I’m also busy working on a new project with the really rather marvellous Anna Rogers, called ‘Anna and Amy Investigate’. Anna is paranormally sensitive, and we’re making short films exploring her experiences in and around York.
O&O: Do you believe in ghosts?
Porter has a theory that ghosts are simply the energy of the dead that are either trapped on earth, or just not ready to leave yet. I’d go with that!
Amy’s series is available to buy online now.Website