From Henry James to A. S. Byatt, literary authors have long conjured spirits from beyond the grave, and as the weather cools and the shadows grow longer, the Daily Telegraph is honoring the form of the ghost story with a writing contest. Until Saturday, November 20, the British newspaper will accept short story entries, and on December 11 will publish the winning story along with illustrations.
"To be any good, a ghost story needs a structure, characters, a narrative line—dialogue is optional," says judge Susan Hill, author of literary novels such as The Beacon (Chatto and Windus, 2008) as well as crime fiction and ghost stories, most recently The Small Hand (Chatto and Windus, 2010). "Above all, the ghost must have a purpose. It may be revenge for harm suffered. It may be to explain some past incident. It may be to protest, to offer information—the whereabouts or contents of a will, a murdered body or the identity of a killer."
The Telegraph's Lorna Bradbury and Andrew Franklin of Profile Books will also judge. Their shortlist will be announced on December 4, and the finalists' stories will appear on the Telegraph's Web site on that date.
Stories should be no longer than two thousand words may be e-mailed or sent via postal mail to the Telegraph's offices. Full guidelines appear at the end of Hill's article on literary ghost stories on the Telegraph's Web site.
In the video below, Hill's The Small Hand is introduced in an eerie book trailer.