Interview: Shirley Marr, Ghosts and I. [And Giveaway!]

Is it just me or when you’re following a book blog tour and you’re reading fantastic guest posts and interviews and discovering fabulous new bloggers to read, do you ever think “God, this is great but, dammit, I wish there were more ghosts!”



Just me then, I guess.

Usually, in this situation, I would move on swiftly… maybe with a hilarious joke to distract you at how much of a loser I am for having a passion for all things ghosty.

But this time I don’t have to because, ladies and gentlemen, I have met my soul mate.
The incomprehensibly brilliant Shirley Marr is just as much of a Ghost Geek (GG) as I am!
I’ve always been a believer in ghosts and the paranormal and the person I have always wanted to be when I grow up is Yvette Fielding. Make of that as you will….

So imagine my JOY when I was trying to decide what “theme” to base my Preloved Blog Tour Post on and I sent Shirley Marr a speculative e-mail with one question:
“Do you believe in ghosts?”

Shirley Marr and her ridiculously gorgeous shoes.

And her reply was:
What follows is the two of us geeking out completely and utterly because we want to and we can.

So, grab a torch, stick it under your chin, light a campfire… actually, wait no… don’t. I do not want you to blame me for houses burning down….

And join Shirley and I as we discuss all things spectral.

Paranormal books get a bit of a rough time in YA circles. Words such as ‘cliché’ and phrases like ‘already been done’ get thrown around a lot. Were you nervous that people might lump Preloved in within that group?

Oooo. Straight onto the tough questions. I love it! Honestly, I don’t mind being lumped into the paranormal genre if that’s what I’ve written. I keep thinking back to The Changeover by Margerat Mahey, which was written about twenty years before the modern paranormal popularity boom. It’s book that I absolutely loved when I was a wee thing and it’s a landmark Aussie YA classic. So if I am lumped in with books like that, then it’s an honour.

What makes Preloved different to the others?

I wrote Preloved along the lines of a contemporary Aussie YA fiction that just happened to have a ghost in it. As opposed to picking up a paranormal cookie cutter format with the obligatory three-novel story arc, forbidden instalove romance, dodgy mythological elements, climatic battle scenes… you know the drill. So I hope it has a different hybrid feel to it, but more predominantly contemporary. The other problem I have with the paranormal genre is that it takes itself oh so seriously and oh so real. I mean, what if the narrator was only seeing ghosts because they were having a psychological breakdown? Exploring the psychological, as opposed to supernatural, perspective intrigued me more and that’s what I wanted to do in Preloved.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Apparently I saw the ghost of my recently-deceased grandad when I was three years old. In Chinese tradition, it is believed that the spirit of the buried come back home after seven days. On that exact night, I told my family that Grandad came into my room and he stole my pacifier. That was a game that he used to play with me when he was alive. I was too young to lie or to understand the belief, so that makes you really think doesn’t it? And the other thing – Toddler Shirley’s pacifier was never found.

What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

Believe it or not, every holiday is always the scariest thing ever because I’m scared of ending up in a haunted hotel room! When it comes to bed time and I’m draping a towel over the TV set because I’m scared that something might crawl out of it (The Ring style) then you know you are dealing with a serious ghost phobic! And there’s always less room for one book in my luggage ‘cos I have to bring the Bible with me. Am currently unsure if a Kindle version will work.

Alright, who's coming with us?

If you had the chance to go to any haunted destination in the world, where would you go and why?

I would go and stay at the Banff Springs Hotel in Canada! It’s supposed to be the most haunted hotel in the world. Apparently there is a bricked up room number 873 that the hotel denies exists, but which was the location of a horrific murder and which guests can hear noises coming from in the middle of the night. Yes, I know this is an odd choice, but there’s only one way to conquer a fear right?

I bet you were the kid who would tell everyone ghost stories at sleepovers (don’t worry, I was one of them kids too). Which are your favourite ones?

Oooo! I loved those good old days! Listen. This one is a true story actually. My late uncle rented this apartment once in Singapore and he couldn’t believe his luck because not only was it really huge, it was also really cheap. Because he was on business most of the time, he just wanted somewhere he could crash whenever he was in the country. He was to learn why it was cheap later on.

Anyway, my aunt and some of the others in the family who were in charge of occasionally dropping by to check on things, decided to stay overnight this one time. In the middle of the night my Aunt heard this noise. It was like a creaking noise that kept repeating itself. Right outside the door. She woke everyone up who was also sleeping in the room and asked them if they could hear it too. And they could. Everyone was shitting themselves and too chicken to go into the hall and see what it was. So they decided to try and peak under the bottom of the door to see if anything was there. Nothing. But the sounds was still there, right outside the door. Creak. Creak. Creeeeeak. Although somewhat familiar, she couldn’t quite place the sound.

A few days after, my aunt talked to one of the neighbours who commented “Aren’t you scared of that apartment?” “Why?” asked my aunt. “Because there was a death there once. The owner killed himself by hanging himself in the doorway outside his bedroom.” That’s when my aunt freaked out. Of course that’s why they couldn’t see anything through the crack under the door. Not if the “thing” was suspended off the floor. My aunt realised then that the creaking noise sounded just like a rope… with something heavy attached to it like a body… swinging back and forth, back and forth….

If you could have a ghost visit you from any era/place for the day, where would they have come from and what would you get up to?

I would love a visit from a girl my age and social standing from any of the ancient Chinese Dynasties. Watching romanticised movies from that time makes me wish I lived back then, but I’m sure it was very hard. What I want to do is show her how I live and what I do and to find out whether I am considered lucky or not. I always think modern life is incredibly blessed, but it’s also very hard and I would love a definitive answer. Otherwise I would LOVE a guy my age from the 80s. We could go on a date and I bet it would be hilarious.

OK, picture this, you have to spend the weekend in a haunted house with three people. Who would they be and why?

Markus Zusak – so that every time something goes bump in the night I have someone’s buff arm to hang onto. Plus he can take everyone’s mind off things by reading Bridge of Clay. And Fox Mulder and Dana Scully so I can have one believer and one sceptic to keep things balanced. Plus Mulder & Scully are my favourite paranormal couple ever. If I could have a fourth person I would bring you with me Jo.

[Added by Jo: OF COURSE YOU CAN HAVE FOUR PEOPLE. MY BAGS ARE ALREADY PACKED. Um… I mean… yeah, sure I think I could have some time off work.]

Are there lots of ghosts like Logan drifting around waiting to fall in everyday heroines?

According to my mum, yes. But you should never fall in love with a ghost because there’s only one way that the two of you can end up together and it isn’t because they’re coming back from the dead.

And, finally, do you have any advice for girls who find that they have inadvertently fallen in love with a ghost?

Real boys are way better because you can snuggle into them. If you try and make out with a ghost in public and you’re the only one who can see them, people will be very scared of you. But if you do fall in love with a ghost, don’t do anything rash. If you believe in the Afterlife, agree to meet them there at a specified time in the future, making sure it allows for you to live a very long natural life. If you believe in reincarnation, agree to get born at the same time and then meet up at a suitable time when you are both alive and single. It might help to have a password like say “Preloved” whereby you can identify each other. Good luck girls! If you take Agony Aunty Shirley’s advice, let me know how the relationship pans out.

Thanks so much to the wonderful Jo for having me on her flirty, fun and fabulous blog today! Tomorrow I will be heading off to The Readventurer where I go back in time to high school (YA Author Heights High to be exact) and demonstrate my awesome skills at Art, Science and my speciality – lunch time. I hope not to fail Math. You don’t want to miss it, but till then – seeya later cool kids.


OK, Shirley Marr, let’s make a deal. I’ll spend a night with you at the Banff Springs Hotel if you’ll spend a night with me in Blair Street vaults in Edinburgh and/or Chillingham Castle.


Thank you to the wonderful Shirley for answering my questions.

Do you want to be in for a chance of winning a copy of Preloved?

You do? Oh good! Because Shirley and the wonderful people and Walker have provided me with a copy for just that reason.

Pretty simple rules: To enter this International Giveaway– just leave a comment on this post (don’t forget to include your e-mail!) and you’ll be entered into the draw. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Sunday 29th April so you have just under a week!

Also, because this book is extra difficult to hold of in the UK… I’m giving one extra entry to all people who live in the UK.
I’m good like that, you see.

Good luck everyone!


41 thoughts on “Interview: Shirley Marr, Ghosts and I. [And Giveaway!]

  1. Hi Shirley and Jo :) This such a creepy post *woooooo* (ahem, that was my ‘creepy’ noise) That scary story has totally freaked me out. Also Jo, I totally love your groovy cool blue carpet!

    P.s please enter me into the comp. And I totally live in the UK too…you might have heard of the place. It’s a little town called Aidensfield. (was that convincing enough?) :D

    Maree x

  2. I love this interview! Shirley, you tell the best stories. Oh, I have always been lame with telling scary stories. but I didn’t do half bad this one time. My best mate thinks herself quite fearless. So during one of our sleepovers I started telling her one of the ghost stories my brother told me, (it’s one of those where it really builds up) and she was absolutely shitting herself (LOL) and then I said the end bit and we both jumped because she screamed! LOL. And then she told one and we were so freaked we didn’t sleep the whole night :D
    Fun times :)

    Although the story about hearing the noise and the man who hanged himself is really creepy. Freaked me out a little to be honest. Maybe I should use that one next time!

    And I love anything ghost related. I used to devour the Ghost Hunters Tv series. I think I’ve watched nearly every episode! There’s something about them visiting haunting houses and tracking ghosts and learning the history about the houses that intrigues me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it though because I’ve heard they’ve started to make things up now as it’s become more popular, which has kind of put me off. (I know it’s pretty possible that they made up from the start and a lot of things along the way (as it was proven in a special episode) but I love it so much that I’d like to believe otherwise ) lol, delusional me, eh :P
    But maybe I’ll re-visit it tonight since I have missed the series :)

    So happy you did this giveaway, Jo. I have wanted to read this for so long *fingers crossed*

    fantasy4eva (at) hotmail (dot) com

    • Thanks Aly! Haha, that sounds like the best sleepover ever. I loved telling ghost stories at a sleepover. I don’t think you can have a proper one with out descending into hysterics.

      You know, I’ve never actually seen Ghost Hunters, is that the American one? I’ve pretty much seen every single episode of Most Haunted and I REFUSE TO BE JUDGED. ;)
      I don’t even care if it’s faked. It’s entertainment!

      • yes it is! i swear i was addicted to it for the longest time :) I know. Normally i’m very nit-picky about certain things, but when it came to this show i didn’t care at all! i was too fond of it and interested to do so :D

  3. Wonferful post ladies! Loved the ghost stories. Have you got a ghost story yourself, Jo?
    I’d love to go somewhere haunted with the two of you. I’d be scared shitless but still laughing.

    • Thanks Belle! I’m really glad you enjoyed it!
      I’m going to try and trick Shirley into spending a weekend in a haunted house with me so you are more than welcome to join us! YAY. Ghosts. ;)

      I don’t really have a ghost story particularly (though when I went to Blair Street vaults in Edinburgh some creeeepy stuff happened! Edinburgh is such a great place to go if you’re a bit of a ghost fan!) but one of my mum’s friends used to live in Newcastle (the UK one ;) ) and her house was built really close to a place called Hadrian’s Wall which was built in the Roman times. And one day she said she saw a Roman centurian march through her living room except, instead of seeing the whole body, she saw the soldier from the waist up. And everyone was like… whatever, you’re lying. But then they found out that the Roman road that her house was built on was a few feet lower than the house.

      I always thought that was quite creepy. I mean, CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?!

  4. This is such a fab post Jo and Shirley, I used to love telling scary stories all the time, but then used to get scared so much that I couldn’t got to sleep. I also used to love watching Are you Afraid of the dark! :)

    Thanks so much for the giveaway Shirley and Jo (and hooray that I live in the U.K!)


  5. Ok I have stalked this tour daily and this is by far my favorite post of the tour. Are you kidding me that freaky story with your aunt and the creaking. I used to absolutely adore ghost stories and watch all those ghostly shows on the Discovery channel but the older I get, the more creeped out I get. Wouldn’t you think the older you got the less chicken you would be?Well for me it is the opposite. However, I would go spend the night in those places with you two fun gals.
    Thanks for sharing today, Shirley and my favorite line of the post was don’t fall in love with a ghost because one of you isn’t coming back from the dead so you can be together…so true!
    Please consider me for the giveaway. I left all my email and everthing when filling out the comment form :) Happy Monday!

  6. This tour has been so great so far!!! Ghost are tough for me….sometimes I believe but at other times I do not. It really depends on the day. But we should all be careful who we share our heart with. Thanks for hosting!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  7. I, too, am a blog tour stalker. I am so excited about this book! Shirley Marr seems like a very fun and interesting woman–and I love your blog, so great combination!

  8. I got goose bumps reading your ghost story, Shirley! And you’re both braver than I am, I would never voluntarily spend the night in a haunted hotel or castle or any where!

  9. What a freaking scary story about the apartment! Seriously. It reminded me a bit of that urban legend about the girl and the guy in the car that runs out of gas. The guy goes to get gas in the middle of the night and the girl later hears a noise on the roof of the car. She is freaked all night and then when she wakes up, she gets out of the car and realizes that her boyfriend has been hanging from a tree above the car and that she probably could’ve helped him. YIKES!

    Let me know when you two want to meet in Banff;-)

    • Haha, that just reminds me of the film Urban Legend.
      And Joshua Jackson with bleached blonde hair.
      Seriously, that is scarier than any ghost story ever.

      This ghost hunt has to happen. NOW.

  10. Somehow, I doubt Bible Kindle edition would work against monsters. I just pictured you waving your kindle in a scary ghost’s face, Shirley, and it made my morning.
    Tatiana, I think we all have a thing for Mulder. Well, I know I do. Can I come? Pretty please?
    I love this interview so much. It was great with my morning coffee.
    You know my email…

    • Of course you can, Maja.
      I don’t know why but I have it in my head that you would be the voice of reason on a ghost hunt. We’d all be shrieking hysterically and you’d be like ‘CALM DOWN.’ ;)

  11. Loved the interview :) (and your blog in general Jo :) It’s fabulous!) I’m sitting here crossing my fingers…I’ve been seeing Preloved everywhere recently and I really want to read it :)

    • Thanks Emily! I wholly recommend it, it’s brilliant! I’m glad you enjoyed the interview and my blog! You’re too kind! :D

      ps. Where in the world are you? Tried to do some snooping but I couldn’t find out. UK readers get an extra entry :)

  12. Don’t forget me! I want to come on your little trip too!! :D
    hahaha… The Bible ‘Kindle Edition’. Too funny.
    I loved me some scary stories when i was a kid even though I’d always get the WORST nightmares. I was such a wimp but I couldn’t resist!
    I think its awesome that Preloved seems so vastly different compared to Fury (which I loved) so I’m super duper excited for this one. Thanks Jo!!!

  13. I’m glad to hear Preloved doesn’t follow the paranormal “cookie cutter” format! There are too many of those in YA right now, LOL. It’ll be nice to read a story that incorporates a paranormal element while focusing primarily on the contemporary. I’m interested to see the psychological exploration Shirley mentions…I am always up for some twisty messing-with-your-mind kind of stuff!

    Thanks very much for the international giveaway :D


  14. Preloved sounds so very very interesting, especially with a ghost and love. Fun! I look forward to reading it! Thank you!

  15. You know, I’ve always liked to watch and heckle those shows on tv with REAL LIVE GHOST HUNTERS. Until it gets dark. Then every sound freaks me the freak out and I’m a believer until daylight comes again. And I swear, the night I saw Paranormal Activity 3 (*grimace*) I couldn’t go to sleep for at least 2 hours.

    [All said, I’d like to be entered in the drawing to win a copy of Shirley Marr’s book!!!)

  16. love the interview! i was all about the scary stories growing up. they didn’t seem to scare me as much when i was little as they do now : ) my friends and i used to be very into the local ghost stories and always hoped we’d come across one of the ghosts! (we didn’t) totally need to go get this book now!

  17. Still wide-eyed over that missing pacifer. At least it was your granddad. To me, family members’ ghosts (at least, those who died peacefully and aren’t like some freaky ancestors who got murdered or something) aren’t as frightening as what else could be out there.

    Anyhoo, I guess you can consider this me saying, “Put me in the draw, Jo!”

    busylearninghome AT gmail DOT com

  18. Sounds like a great story! And I loved reading about that haunted hotel! Never heard of it before. I so wanna go there right now! And you’re to blame. ;)

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