Hallucinations and The Last House on Needless Street

Very interesting interview with Catriona Ward (author of The Last House on Needless Street – a book that will dominate 2021) on the Bestseller Experiment Podcast. The thing that interested me most was that she gets hypnagogic hallucinations… me too.

And now I’m going to publicly talk about something that few people know about me. Don’t be afraid. I’m still me.

They used to teriffy me until I read a book about hallucinations by Oliver Sacks and learned all about hypnagogic (hallucinating while falling asleep) and hypnapompic (while waking up) hallucinations. Now when they happen I just watch. I take in the amazing detail and marvel at the weirdness of the mind.

Sometimes, and most usually, it’s birds nesting in the curtains, or vines covering the ceiling and walls with bugs, indistinguishable from the real thing, crawling all over. Sometimes they are far more terrifying. Things watching you. Still things with still eyes.

A small blackened creature, it’s face lit by the moonlight, watching me from the edge of my office chair (back when my desk was next to my bed).

Once, there were studio lights on the ceiling.

Once, a bookshelf I didn’t own was shifting across the floor.

Once, a thing made of rubber bands crawled up my duvet towards me.

I would jump up, turn on the lights, and they would vanish.

I stopped turning on the light when I began to understand what they were. Now I watch them.

Anyway, now you all think I’m completely mad, I will tell you this; my horror writing is all the richer for it.

Hypnogogia has been connected to narcolepsy and schizophrenia but it has also been connected to alcohol. When I was at my worst with the visions, I was drinking heavily. Now I don’t and the exciting nightly terrors have almost gone completely.

I’ve only had to wake Rachel a few times in the last year to ask if she can see the grey man hanging onto the ceiling, watching us with its upside down head, or if she can see the metallic moths wiggling out of the vents.

Great episode. Good to know, as a writer, I’m not alone with my escaping imagination.

EP311: Catriona Ward — Nerve Shredder

Catriona Ward’s The Last House on Needless Street is out now –


Invincible on Amazon Prime was a surprising watch. Based on the comic of the same name, written by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), the first episode is your standard superhero origin story. Sort of…

Me and Rachel were enjoying it. There was nothing new there but it was entertaining. The first 50 minutes follow the expected tropes.

But then, with ten minutes to go, something insane happens. We watched with our mouths open and eyes wide. It was glorious. It changed everything. The show went from good to great. I won’t spoil anything here but go watch it now, if you haven’t already.

I might go back and rewatch that ending.

5am Writing Blues

Getting up at 5am to write stopped being fun this week. It was hard. The words came out like stone toothpaste.

Next week will be different. I will get up with that same verve that I started with. The excitement of being amongst gunslingers while the house slept.

This week was difficult because the story stopped being a western. It was always meant to start in New York and wind its way west. I’m halfway through and can’t find my way out of the city. Gritting a 6’9″ pissed off lawman and a percheron horse halfway across a country is harder than it sounds, especially when you’re trying to maintain a certain level of pulp action.

I should have picked a city closer the the lawless frontier.

This is Robin Castle’s origin story. He’s a marshal in New York. Something terrible happens to his family and the guy who did it flees. Castle gives up his badge and the rule of the law to take after him.

He finds himself in a dry unforgiving land with vengeance in his heart and a gun on his hip.

Sounded simple when I came up with it.