Norseman on the Threshold: New Worcester Ghost story begins series of "Midland Gothic" Books


Dark Fantasy Author Glenn Martin James launches New series Fans of Horror and Supernatural fiction are in for a real treat with the launch of a new series of tales to chill the blood by Glenn Martin James, starting with the publication of his first novella “Norseman on the Threshold”.

Already attracting attention, the book has a five star review on Amazon, where it is described as “A brilliantly written ghost story with vibrant characters and plenty of supernatural thrills!”

“Norseman on the Threshold” is a tale of ancient hauntings and brutal punishment, “which sees the spirit of a long-dead Viking unleashed on the peaceful inhabitants of Worcester Cathedral, when a daring burglary goes badly wrong. But while the sinister ghost of the dead Norseman is wreaking havoc, he is not the only restless soul to be up and about, as the spirit of King John, incarnated as a werewolf, is also on the prowl...

Norseman delves into the rich history of Worcestershire, taking its initial inspiration from a famous and grisly relic on show in the Cathedral library: The remains of the skin of a Viking found under the hinges of the great Cathedral doors.

“It’s a dark and bloody tale,” says Mr. James, “Readymade to inspire nightmares, first mentioned to me by my late friend Len Aimesbury. The story goes that when the Cathedral was last raided by Vikings a little over a thousand years ago, one of them wasn’t fast enough to get back on their ship, and the monks caught him. The Cathedral and the town had been raided no end of times by then, and everyone had just about had enough, so they decided to make an example of him. It’s said he was skinned alive by the monks, and they fixed his pelt to the doors to warn off any other raiders! That’s a really bloodthirsty legend. But they say there’s often a grain of truth somewhere in legends, and that proved to be the case here. There has always been a ghost story in Worcester about the tortured spirit of this Viking walking the cathedral, but in the 1980’s very definite proof of the story came to light. When the doors were being renovated they found this piece of leathery material stuck under one of the hinges, and they had it D.N.A tested.... And it proved to be the skin of a Scandinavian man, which was just over a thousand years old...”

Not to be outdone by a raiding pirate, Worcester Cathedral can lay claim to another celebrity ghost, in the form of King John, walking the cloisters as a werewolf!

“It’s thought that the Monks created the story as an excuse to be rid of the Kings body,” said Mr. James, “Because when John was buried in Worcester Cathedral after he died in 1216, he was deeply unpopular with the church, and the monks just didn’t want him in the Cathedral. He was entombed right before the high alter, and they simply didn’t want him there, so the story of him haunting the building in bestial form began to circulate. They actually used the story of the kings ghost to throw his corpse out of the building, but the Bishop made them show some respect and put him back! ”

“I was fascinated by the idea of these two great ghostly figures haunting that lovely building, and I started wondering just how their stories might intersect, and why. The whole tale grew from that starting point.”

Mr James has written an exciting, breathtaking tale, inhabited by strong characters, excitement, chills, and historical events. This first tale is a novella, a taste of things to come, a heady mix of Hammer Horror, M. R. James ghost stories, and Mr James own inimitable dry humour, elegant detail, and mischief.

Children’s stories: Hugo and the Werewolf

Norseman is the first of a full series of supernatural tales Mr. James has been working on, some being wholly original imaginative works, and others inspired by the history and sinister legends of the UK, under the banner of Midland Gothic.

Norseman also tantalisingly previews the opening chapter of his first full novel for younger supernatural readers, “Hugo and the Werewolf”, a story which ranges across Staffordshire, from the leafy edges of Newcastle under Lyme to the lofty heights of Mow Cop Castle on the Staffordshire Moorlands. Aimed at children from 9 years of age upwards, its an exciting and breathtaking chase across the region.

“I believe firmly that a rattling good story can be set anywhere, not just necessarily in London or new York!” said Mr. James, “and I always impress this on children when I visit schools. Why can’t an amazing adventure start on your doorstep? That’s why I called my series of works Midland Gothic, they can be set anywhere, or any when. I believe strongly in exploring a place, and Hugo’s tale ranges widely across the Potteries, taking in places and locations people will know well in surprising ways.”

Glenn James, (48) of Newcastle under Lyme, is an established horror writer and illustrator, with work published on both sides of the Atlantic. Originally from Birmingham, he lived in Worcestershire for ten years, and developed much of his style while living in the city, beginning many illustrations in the environs of the Cathedral. Glenn is a dyslexic author, and in his career has been a radio producer and a crime reporter, and was one of the inaugural team of the original Worcestershire Literary Festival. He and his wife the author Angela James founded the genre specific open mic night “42” in Worcestershire, which is going strong and is now in its eight year. A crossgenre author, he has worked on subjects ranging from the Spitfire to ancient Egypt and everything in-between, and has also developed a series of stories for younger children about the magical adventures of Lottie and Mr. Columbine. He lives in Newcastle under Lyme with his wife the author Angela Marie James, and their two daughters. Glenn is Resident Author at Ellison Primary Academy in Wolstanton.

This will be his first work published individually, initially as an eBook and later this year in paperback. A familiar visitor to schools and community events across the country, he is a compelling wordsmith and storyteller, with a growing following.

“I wanted to write something which really gets its toes into history, something which reaches back into the cobwebs for a shivery legend,” said Mr. James, “And Norseman runs an ancient, chilling finger down your spine. This is the first of a whole series of works, so watch this space!”

Norseman on the Threshold is available as an ebook online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ibook, and Kobo, via the following links. Its price is ranges from £3.00 to £.99 according to the provider. Amazon: 1&keywords=Norseman+on+the+Threshold Apple ibooks: Barnes and Noble: Kobo:

Glenn has always had a fantastic working relationship with the media, and would be happy to speak to anyone wishing to interview the author. He can be contacted on 0844 500 6185. Copies of his book cover, artwork, and a photo accompany this press release.

Sarah Dawes