Stories and Spiritual Resonance: From Lancaster University to Paranormal Warwickshire

Sheila Robinson

Sheila Robinson (English, 1974, Bowland) - pen name SC Skillman - tells how her new book has arisen from a love of English history and a love of story.

"My latest book Paranormal Warwickshire, published by Amberley on 15th November 2020, has arisen from a love of English history, and a love of story. My memories from Lancaster University as an English Literature undergraduate encompass so many stories.

So how has all this fed into my latest book Paranormal Warwickshire?

It’s a love of story, and of visiting places with spiritual resonance. I define spiritual resonance as a strong feeling of emotional connection with a place and with the many stories it holds.

I visited Lancaster and Morecambe again a couple of years ago and was amazed by the tidal wave of emotional resonance that rose up and threatened to engulf me. All the changing feelings and relationships and hopes and ambitions and plans of those years were bound up in these places.

These are just a few: memories of being challenged to defend Jane Austen in English Literature seminars; late-night horror movies in the Bowland JCR; meeting up for coffee and toasted sandwiches in Fed’s Café in Alexandra Square; lunches at the Blue Anchor in Lancaster; friendships between the girls on G Floor and the boys on E Floor of Bowland Tower; watching the sun set over Morecambe Bay from the kitchen of G Floor; discovering that Paul McCartney and Wings were performing in the Great Hall in 2 hours’ time; drama workshops in the Nuffield Theatre; concerts in the Jack Hylton Music Rooms; climbing expeditions up the Old Man of Coniston with the Hiking Club; transcendental meditation in the Chaplaincy Centre; country walks from Bailrigg to Galgate, trips out to Morecambe where we drank synthetic rum cocktails, and walked along the seafront all the way to Heysham to contemplate the Anglo Saxon graves.

We play so many roles in a variety of different dramas during our university years, and we carry them with us for the rest of our lives. During the three years of undergraduate study, you feel as if this will last forever. You cannot imagine looking back on those times decades later.

Among the stories in my book we may find several places which carry within them, in the fabric of their walls, the emotional stuff of past stories.

I choose several iconic locations in Shakespeare’s county, many of which are only a short distance from my home in Warwick: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Warwick Castle, Stoneleigh Abbey, Kenilworth Castle. I also include numerous stories in my book from working people going about their business. I share stories from trespassing teenagers; staff and customers in pubs and shops; tourists on a day out; construction workers on building sites and tradesmen coming out to do a repair. Once you start looking for them, showing a readiness to listen to people, curious anecdotes and strange first-person accounts are never far away!

Paranormal Warwickshire was published by Amberley on 15th November 2020 and is available from all good bookstores.

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