A Chilly Encounter: Exclusive extract from Susan Hill's new ghost story and competition launch

 

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The Independent Culture

To celebrate the publication of Printer’s Devil Court, The Independent has teamed up with Ritzy Picturehouse and Profile Books to launch a nationwide search for a talented filmmaker to create a trailer for the book.

Guest judged by Susan Hill  as well as our literary editor, Arifa Akbar, the competition is open to all filmmakers. The winner will receive Calumet Photographic vouchers worth £200, a one-year Picturehouse membership, a signed copy of Printer’s Devil Court and the chance to have their trailer screened before a special showing of The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe, at Ritzy Picturehouse cinema in London. One runner-up will receive a one-year Picturehouse membership and a signed copy of Printer’s Devil Court. #susanhillcomp

To Enter: you will need to create a 2-3 minute video trailer inspired by the extract below. You then need to upload your trailer to YouTube and email the link to susanhillcomp@profilebooks.com

Extract from Susan Hill’s ‘Printer’s Devil Court'

Just before midnight I set off to walk back to the club. My route was the old one, but this corner of London had changed a good deal. Fleet Street no longer housed the hot metal presses and many of the old alleys and courts had long gone, most of them bombed to smithereens by the Blitz. Once or twice I took a wrong turn and ended up among new buildings I didn’t recognise.

At one point, I retraced my steps for a hundred yards and suddenly I was thrown back in time. I realised that the old Printers Devil’s Court, where I had lodged, had been laid waste and that the hospital club was now sited on part of the same ground. I thought little of it – Printer’s Devil Court held no special memories for me, other than those last peculiar and unpleasant ones.

I was about to turn into the club when I noticed that there was still a passageway to one side and saw the tower of St-Luke’s-at-the-Gate rising up ahead of me in the fitful moonlight. I stood stock still. London churches are always a fine sight and I was glad that this one, with a surprising number of others, had escaped destruction. The passageway ended at the back of the old graveyard, as before, and that seemed unchanged, the tombstones still leaning this way and that and even more thickly covered in moss.

And then I saw her. She was a few yards away from me, moving among the graves, pausing here and there to bend over and peer, as if trying to make out the inscriptions, before moving on again. She wore a garment of a pale silvery grey that seemed strangely gauze-like and her long hair was loose and free. She had her back to me. I was troubled to see a young woman wandering here at this time of night and started towards her, to offer to escort her away. She must have heard me because she turned and I was startled by her beauty, her pallor and even more, by the expression of distress on her face. She came towards me quickly, holding out her hand and seeming about to plead with me, but as she drew near, I noticed a curious blank and glassy look in her eyes and a coldness increased around me, more intense than that of the night alone. I waited. The nearer she came the greater the cold but I did not – why should I? – link it in any way to the young woman, but simply to the effects of standing still in this place where sunlight rarely penetrated in which had a dankness that came from the very stones and from the cold ground.

“Are you unwell?” I asked. “You should not be here alone at this time of night – let me see you safely to your home.”

She appeared puzzled by my voice and her body trembled beneath the pale clothes. “You will catch your death of cold.” She stretched out both her hands to me then but I shrank back, unaccountably loathe to take them. Her eyes had the same staring and yet vacant look now that she was close to me. But she was fully alive and breathing and I had no reason to fear.

“Please tell me what is wrong?”

There was a second only during which we both stood facing one another silently in that bleak and deserted place and something seemed to happen to the passing of time, which was now frozen still, now hurtling backwards, now propelling us into the present again, but then on, and forwards, faster and faster, so that the ground appeared to shift beneath my feet, yet nothing moved and when the church clock struck, it was only half past midnight.

The competition closes at midnight on 12 October and the winner will be announced in The Independent. Full details on how to enter can be found here: http://bit.ly/indybooks-susanhill

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