Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

December 10, 2017

A Helping of History – Festive Editions

Coming up on A Helping of History on North Manchester FM over the Christmas period, I’ve got a couple of new shows for you.

Boxing Day Special

On Tuesday 26th December at 12-2pm, it’s the Helping of History Christmas Memories Special. North Manchester residents will be sharing their memories of Christmases (and Hanukkahs) past in Moston, Harpurhey, Crumpsall and Blackley. I’ll also be reading Yesterday’s Papers, and as always you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

New Year Special

The first Helping of History of 2018 will be on Tuesday 2nd January at 12 noon. I’ll be reading Yesterday’s Papers from 1900, to see how past-Manchester celebrated the new century. And there’ll be another mystery building to puzzle over in the Who Am I? quiz. And as if this wasn’t enough, I’m going to be talking about the Help the Poor Struggler pub in Hollinwood, and the peculiar double-life of one of its landlords.

Tune in to A Helping of History on Tuesdays at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

December 10, 2017

Hannah’s Bookshelf – Festive Editions

Coming up on North Manchester FM over the Christmas period, I’ve got two festive episodes of Hannah’s Bookshelf for you.

Christmas Special

Tune in on Saturday 23rd December, 2-4pm, for the Hannah’s Bookshelf Christmas Special. As is now tradition, I’ll be talking about a selection of my favourite festive fiction (old, new, scary, sweet…). Want to find out what books made this year’s list? Catch the show on North Manchester FM on Saturday at 2pm.

New Year Special

And then on Saturday 30th December, 2-4pm, it’s my Apocalypse Books New Year Special. I’ll be featuring some of my highlights of Hannah’s Bookshelf in 2017, including a selection of the books saved for post-apocalyptic posterity in The Library at the End of Days.

Tune in to Hannah’s Bookshelf, every Saturday at 2pm, on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

December 10, 2017

Be my guest on A Helping of History in 2018

Are you involved with local history in North Manchester? Got an interesting group or project you’d like to talk about? Then I’d love to hear from you!

A Helping of History is my local history show on North Manchester FM, which goes out weekly on Tuesdays at 12. The show highlights the people, buildings and stories that have shaped the place we live. I’m interested in hearing from people who’d be up for being interviewed on the show, whether it’s volunteers, researchers, writers, curators, or anyone else involved in preserving and celebrating the history of North Manchester (and Prestwich, Broughton, Hollinwood, Failsworth, Alkrington, Middleton, Chadderton… all the neighbours!).

If you’d like to come on the show in 2018, please get in touch. You can email me via the contact form on this site, tweet me, or leave me a voicemail.

I’d love to hear from you!

December 10, 2017

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 19 December, 12-2pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History.

On this week’s show, I’ll be reading a Christmas message from Failsworth’s favourite son – Ben Brierley. And I’ll be talking a bit about Brierley’s life and career.

I’ll also be reading Yesterday’s Papers – how was Manchester preparing for Christmas back in December 1939? And as always, you can also pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

Catch A Helping of History on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

December 10, 2017

Be my guest on Hannah’s Bookshelf in 2018

So… we’re bidding goodbye to 2017… and I’m starting to put together the schedule for a new year of Hannah’s Bookshelf. I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be on the show.

Writers, academics, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians… I’d love to interview you for the show. In case you don’t know, Hannah’s Bookshelf is on every Saturday at 2-4pm on North Manchester FM. Among the brilliant writers I had on the show in 2017 were Peter May, Hugh Fraser, Caroline England, Tony Williams and comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean. The archive of last year’s shows is here, and you can check out previous guests’ Apocalypse Books selections here. Fancy coming along and chatting about your own work? Email me via the contact form, tweet me, or send me a voicemail.

And don’t worry if you’re not in the North Manchester area (or even in the UK)… I’d still love to hear from you. We can always do a pre-recorded or remote interview. Drop me a line. 🙂

December 10, 2017

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 16 December, 2-4pm

Tune in to North Manchester FM on Saturday at 2pm for the Hannah’s Bookshelf pre-Christmas Christmas Special!

On this week’s show, I’ll be playing a selection of fabulous festive flash fiction, courtesy of this year’s 3 Minute Santas writers: Fiona Cullen, Ian Peek, Magda Knight, Holly Hirst, Bridie Breen and Benjamin Cassidy. I may even sneak a little story of my own in there too! As well as these new stories, I’m going to read a couple of my favourite classic festive tales to get us all in a seasonal mood.

For all this – and some Christmas music too – catch Hannah’s Bookshelf on Saturday at 2pm on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

December 10, 2017

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 12 December, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 for another Helping of History on North Manchester FM. This week will be something of a Cheetham, Crumpsall and Smedley-themed show.

I’ll be joined in the studio by Martin Gittins, one half of folk duo Bunting and Frolics, and founder of the Cheetham and Crumpsall Heritage Society. I’ll be talking to Martin about the heritage society, the history of Cheetham and Crumpsall, and about his research into the ‘lost suburb’ of Smedley.

As always, I’ll also be taking a look at Yesterday’s Papers, and you can pit your wits against the Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

Tune in on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here:

December 10, 2017

OUT NOW: The Darkest Midnight in December, edited by Storm Constantine (Immanion Press, 2017)

A new collection of seasonal ghost stories, including ‘Log’, a tale of festive foliage by yours truly…

The ghost story is a Christmas tradition; shadows looming over the brightly-lit tree in a room where logs crackle in the hearth, and the smell of spice and brandy fill the air. Outside the weather is chill; perhaps snow is falling. The house is far from town – lights twinkle in the distance. And over the festive season, as people gather to celebrate and welcome in the New Year, eerie breath might be heard in a dark corridor, hurrying footsteps overhead, a sigh in the depths of a stairwell. When all are supposed to be happy and secure, the intrusion of fear, grief or sadness are alien, and yet bizarrely integral to a time of celebration whose roots lie in ancient, pagan festivals. What stirs in the darkness?


An Eye for an Eye by Rosie Garland
On the Loop Line by Misha Herwin
Holly and Ivy by Fiona Lane
The House with the Gable by Nerine Dorman
When He Comes Home Through the Snow by Storm Constantine
Bethany’s Visit by Jessica Gilling
The Supernatural Stocking by Rhys Hughes
Log by Hannah Kate
Driving Home for Christmas by Fiona McGavin
Gift from the Sea by Adele Marie Park
Kindred Spirit by J.E. Bryant
A Midwinter Nightmare by Suzanne Gyseman
Spirit of the Season by Rick Hudson
The Shadow by Wendy Darling
Jay’s Ghost by Louise Coquio

For more information, or to buy a copy of the book, please visit the Immanion Press website.

December 10, 2017

Some of my Favourite Ghost Stories for December

Inspired by the season, and by our recent snowfall, I decided to devote this Saturday’s Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM to some of my favourite ghost stories – December is the best month for ghost stories, after all. You can listen to the show on the player below but, as promised, here are the details of the stories I featured. If you agree (or disagree) with my choices, or if there are other titles you’d recommend, leave a comment!

The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens (1866)

Published as part of the Mugby Junction series of stories in a Christmas edition of All the Year Round, Dickens’ short story is a must-read for December. Beginning with the wonderfully ominous line, ‘Halloa! Below there!’, this tale has an unnamed narrator meeting with the eponymous signal-man in his cabin by a railway cutting. Seemingly fearful of the narrator, the signal-man reluctantly invites his visitor in and begins to explain why he is so nervous, and why he was standing so still, staring into the railway tunnel…

A perfect story for a snowy December evening, ‘The Signal-Man’ was one of the tales adapted by the BBC for their Ghost Story for Christmas series. The 1976 adaptation was produced by Lawrence Gordon Clark and starred Denholm Elliott and Bernard Lloyd.

Beloved by Tony Morrison (1987)

Toni Morrison’s multi-award-winning novel Beloved tells the story of Sethe and her daughter Denver, who live in Cincinnati after escaping slavery on a plantation. Sethe’s house is haunted – it is believed that the ghost is that of her eldest daughter – and the women are isolated from their community. When Paul D, another slave from the Sweet Home plantation, arrives, Sethe’s story is gradually revealed, and the true trauma haunting the women begins to surface. But Paul D isn’t the only new arrival. A young woman called Beloved also appears, bringing the manifestations in Sethe’s house to an end, but signalling the beginning of a different type of haunting.

Morrison’s rich and evocative novel is never unambiguously a ghost story, but it is undoubtedly the story of a haunting. It was adapted for the big screen in 1998, in a film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.

Sir Amadace (14th Century)

Back a few centuries now, with a medieval romance. Sir Amadace is a late-fourteenth-century Middle English verse romance, which survives in two manuscripts (National Library of Scotland Advocates and Princeton University Library Ireland Blackburn). It is a chivalric romance, with a ‘ghost story’ plot. While it is by no means the only Middle English tale to feature a ghost, I chose it because the ghost that appears in Sir Amadace feels much closer to our modern idea of a haunting than many other contemporaneous texts.

The tale begins as Sir Amadace discovers he is broke. Rather than face the humiliation of admitting this, he mortgages his property and flees the country, taking his last forty pounds with him. After journeying for some time, Amadace stumbles upon a strange sight in a forest (as romance knights usually do): a widow weeping over the unburied body of her husband. It turns out that her husband died in debt, and his creditors refuse to allow the burial of his body until the debts (thirty pounds) are repaid. Amadace uses the last of his own money to bury the merchant, leaving him utterly destitute. When he prays to God for assistance, a strange white knight appears and offers him some words of help. But, as in all medieval romances, help from a supernatural stranger comes with a price that will eventually have to be paid…

Moondial by Helen Cresswell (1987)

The next title on my list is a favourite from my childhood. Cresswell’s novel tells the story of Araminta (Minty), who is staying with her aunt in Belton, after her mother is seriously injured in a car accident. Minty is a ‘sensitive’ (in the paranormal) child, and prone to noticing the presence of the spirit world. As she explores her surroundings (specifically the grounds of nearby Belton House), Minty discovers a sundial, which she instinctively understands is also a moondial. Through the power of the moondial, Minty is able to travel back in time, where she meets Tom (a mistreated Victorian kitchen-boy) and Sarah (a put-upon young girl from the eighteenth century). Together, the children help each other overcome the unhappiness of their lives. But a shadow lingers over their time-travelling camaraderie in the form of Miss Raven – a ghost-hunter who has installed herself at Belton House – who may or may not be connected to the cruel Miss Vole of the eighteenth century.

Moondial was adapted for television by the BBC in 1988, starring Siri Neal as Minty. The TV show was filmed at Belton House.

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)

And now for the horror end of the spectrum… I decided to just go with the book that’s become something of a byword for the haunted house. Anson’s 1977 book was purportedly based on a true story. In 1975, George and Kathy Lutz moved into a house in Amityville, Long Island. Before the Lutzes bought the house, it had belonged to Ronald DeFeo Jr., who murdered six members of his family in 1974. Shortly after moving in, the Lutzes – including Kathy’s children Daniel, Christopher and Missy – began to experience strange and unsettling occurences, from swarms of flies to Missy’s ‘imaginary’ friend, via strange smells, cold spots and a revolving crucifix. When even the blessing of Father Mancuso doesn’t put an ending to the haunting, the Lutzes have to decide whether they can bear to remain in the house for much longer.

Anson’s book has caused a certain amount of controversy, as they question as to how much of a ‘true story’ it is has never really been answered. Nevertheless, it spawned a number of sequels and continuations, including books by John G. Jones (The Amityville Horror Part II, Amityville: The Final Chapter, Amityville: The Evil Escapes and Amityville: The Horror Returns), Robin Karl (Amityville: The Nightmare Continues) and Hans Holzer (Murder in Amityville, The Amityville Curse, The Secret of Amityville). There is also a factual account of the case: Will Savive’s 2008 book Mentally Ill in Amityville. Anson’s novel was adapted into a film in 1979, starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, kickstarting a film franchise that is still going (reasonably) strong in the direct-to-video market. The most recent installment in the film series in 2017’s Amityville: The Awakening.

The Bus-Conductor by E.F. Benson (1906)

And finally, a return to the cosier end of the ghost story spectrum. Benson’s 1906 ‘spook story’ is a favourite of mine mostly for its two best-known adaptations (both of which appear in texts I love). ‘The Bus-Conductor’ was originally published in Pall Mall Magazine, and was then collected in The Room in the Tower, and Other Stories (1912). In the tale, the narrator is in conversation with his friend Hugh Grainger, who recounts a creepy experience from earlier in the year. Grainger had been staying with friends and, unable to sleep due to the oppressive weather, he had got out of bed during the night and looked out of the window (or had he dreamt doing this?) To his surprise, he saw a fully-decked hearse waiting outside the window, with its driver (dressed incongruously as a bus conductor) sitting in the cab. The hearse driver looked up to the window and greeted Grainger: ‘Just room for one inside, sir!’ And then… but no… no spoilers here. If you don’t already know the story, I thoroughly recommend getting hold of a copy of Benson’s story to find out what happens next!

‘The Bus-Conductor’ makes an appearance as one of the tales in the 1945 portmanteau horror film Dead of Night (an absolute favourite of mine), and was collected as an anecdote in Bennet Cerf’s Ghost Stories anthology in 1944. It is also the basis (in a somewhat revised form) of the Twilight Zone episode ‘Twenty Two’ (1961). So powerful (and yet so simple) is Benson’s story that it’s become something of an urban legend, as you can see from this post on Snopes.

To hear more about all of these books, and my reasons for choosing them, you can catch the show again here:

December 4, 2017

North Manchester FM: A Helping of History, Tuesday 5 December, 12-2pm

Join me on Tuesday at 12 on North Manchester FM for another Helping of History.

This week’s show is a special outside broadcast – live from Harpurhey Market. I’m going to talking about the history of Harpurhey – and hopefully doing a couple of interviews too. If you’ve got any memories or stories about the market – or about Harpurhey in general – you can tweet me @HannahKateish throughout the show. All this, plus some vintage pop music and my regular Who Am I? quiz – just how well do you know North Manchester’s iconic buildings?

Tune in on Tuesday at 12 on 106.6FM (if you’re in the North Manchester area) or listen online (if you’re further afield).

Missed the show? You can catch it again here: