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The Reluctant Bride

This short story was written for the anthology "Mainstream", published by Inkandescent in July 2021. The anthology gathers together 30 "outsiders" - 15 new writers and 15 established writers, including Neil Bartlett and Paul McVeigh. You can buy a copy of the anthology here.

It was an image in my head that sparked the story: an Indian bride in red stepping out from behind a large tree into a shaft of moonlight. I've always enjoyed reading ghost stories and wanted to write my own, set in an unusual location - so I chose a rural locale in Pakistan, centred around an abandoned mansion, or haveli

The story has now been turned into a podcast by the hugely talented Tony Walker from Classic Ghost Stories. You can listen to the story, followed by an interview with me, as audio or on YouTube.

The story published in the anthology was 3,000 words. Originally, the story was 5,000 words - and you can read it here.


Turn the lights down. Light the candles. Don't have nightmares ...

The crying ceases. From a distance, the lowing of an ox carries through the air like the plea of a dying man.


A figure emerges from behind a giant peepal tree, stepping into a shaft of moonlight. For the second time that night, he stops breathing. Before him is a woman in full bridal dress. A highly decorated red dupatta cowls her head. She is bedecked with gold: a tikka sunburst pendant over her forehead; a nose chain across her cheek; swathes of necklaces around her throat. In the cold light, her scarlet gown is the colour of dried blood.