Medium Wave

Becky Moran has built a career claiming to talk to the dead. A successful clairvoyant medium, a Cambridge graduate with her own radio show ‘Medium Wave’ and a team dedicated to crafting the celebrity myth – because Becky Moran is a fake. Until, one night, something supernatural, inexplicable, breaks through live on air as she is broadcasting. Becky Moran discovers the paranormal is real, the dead can indeed speak and she is being pursued relentlessly towards a battle for her very survival. 
‘This thing has no defined shape. Whatever energy exists within it, it cannot settle on a shape. The strands of darkness curl out and then wrap back inwards. The bulk of the shadow becomes concave, then bulbous, the height building in on itself but lacking any skeletal structure to wrap itself around. There are no eyes, no clearly defined head shape. It is creating itself from darkness, like a swirl of ebony ink dropped into a vat of putrid water, spreading silently….’

Guest Post

When I was four years old, my Irish grandmother took me to one side and made a few things clear.

'You do not call me grandma, you call me Monica,' she said. Her dyed red curls shook with indignation at her recognition that I, her granddaughter, was clearly a sly, living, breathing marker of her current status in society, not to mention being a reminder she was now a woman of a certain age.  

The four year old me just nodded, wide eyed. I remember the pink of her lipstick creasing around her mouth and I was already a bit traumatised from staying in a strange room, with a strange bed, with its hard, scratchy eiderdown and pillows which placed my head directly under a picture of Christ on the Cross, blood dripping from his hands and a look  of suffering on his face.

It was my second visit to Ireland and I remembered well enough from the first visit that there was a strange smelling bedroom in the family farmhouse in County Meath and I had been unsettled enough already by seeing my Irish grandfather calmly wring the neck of a live chicken. That’s surely enough traumatic experience for any child to have to assimilate.

Monica took my arm and stared down at me. I caught a hint of what I now think of as old lady’s perfume. She asked me if I had the 'sight'. I didn’t understand what she was talking about and, by this time, I was hoping my mother would come and rescue me.

Monica was my father’s mother. My maternal grandmother fed me cakes, read me fairytales and tucked me in. This paternal one was fierce and uncompromising. I must have looked confused and, probably, terrified standing there in front of her. Monica just sighed and then told me the story of her own grandmother, who used to smoke a pipe and sit in a rocking chair and could hear the Banshee, the howling Irish spirit that foretold a coming death. Monica said that all the women in the family could hear it when if gave its fateful cry. And, as she told me this, she pressed a string of rosary beads into my hand, for protection, she said, as if the Devil himself was watching over her shoulder. 

By this time, I was aware – in a way that only a four year old can understand – that I was being inducted into a cultural heritage which dealt with the paranormal. And, even at four years of age, I knew there was some sort of expectation that ‘the child Rose’ was expected to possess this dubious gift within her DNA.  Monica’s lecture frightened and intrigued me so much it became the seed that germinated into a lifelong fascination with the paranormal, the unexplained, with folklore. And it all began with the Banshee.

Disappointingly, I do not have any ability in this area. Monica - long dead now - I can almost hear that gravelly Irish voice, full of cigarettes and a life of being a farmer's wife, chastising me for my failing to carry on the family tradition.

In my adult life, as a journalist, I have had the opportunity to interview many who claim to have a supernatural ability, or say they are gifted with the power of being a medium. I’ve hardly believed any of them. I have had a love of horror stories, paranormal tales, the strange and the unexplained, all through my life. I like to think that is the only part of the lyrical, fanciful tradition of the Irish I have inherited.

I have met three mediums whom I believe have some ability to speak to the spirit world. My first thought is how do they do it? Especially on a cold reading. But, what really interests me most of all is why we want believe they can hear the dead. I understand grief and that desire for some reassurance that we don’t just fade to black on the moment of death. Is the sense of loss so great that our desperation for word of our departed loved ones leaves us gullible and open to exploitation? Do we just want to be told what we want to hear and unwittingly lead the medium in our direction?

The psychology of our fascination with the paranormal is what fascinates me, along with our desire to believe in something that is beyond our day to day experience. I sometimes wonder if this is a form of spirituality that is replacing organised religion. In my novel, Medium Wave, I wanted to explore that idea with a fraudulent protagonist who successfully exploited this area and then take her on a journey to see what would happen when she really could see and hear the dead.

As for me, well, I have never seen a ghost or had a glimpse of what might lie beyond. But it may just be possible that we live in a world where the dark veil of the paranormal might occasionally open up and allow things to pass through. And, if so, it might be a good idea never to tell a four year old child she may hear the wail of the Banshee. You never know where it may lead...


 About Rose Zolock
Her Irish grandmother first told Rose about the Banshee when she was just a small child. How the wailing sound of the spirit of the dead and dying could be heard when someone was about to pass.
It was family folklore that the women in the family had ‘the touch’, the ability to see spirits and other dimensions. Rose listened and grew up fascinated by those who claimed to have supernatural or psychic abilities.
Rose does not claim to have those powers. Take her to Venice in February when the mist swirls over the canals, walk by her side along the darkened streets of Greenwich Village in New York City in high summer, listening to a ghost walk tour guide tell the stories of death, murder and the unexplained – Rose would say those stories and our belief in them gives her a power to see into the shadows within our imagination.
As a journalist, Rose takes every opportunity to explore and investigate strange stories, myth and folklore. Living in rural Yorkshire, with a rich library of ghost stories and literary tradition, Rose also has a sceptical and forensic insight into those who peddle the stories which feed our imagination but of which we have yet found no proof. She has listened to the debunkers who argue against those believers who are convinced that sand the dark side exist.
Rose’s mind is open. Is yours?