Whether you know her from her days as a Blue Peter host, combing the halls of some of the world’s most haunted locations in Most Haunted or, enjoyed her giving Lady Colin Campbell a telling off on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Yvette Fielding is one of the UK’s most recognisable faces.
Now, with her brand new book series The Ghost Hunter Chronicles underway, we caught up with Yvette to chat all about the first instalment, The House in the Woods…
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for The Ghost Hunter Chronicles? Am I right in thinking your personal experiences come into it?
Oh absolutely, yeah. So one of the characters is called Eve and she’s 13. I based it on myself, my experiences now, but how I would have reacted when I was 13. I like to think I would have been quite ballsy… in the book, one minute she’s screaming and crying and the next minute, she’s like ‘right, come on let’s go for it!’ That’s a bit like me.
I just wanted to put my experiences down and, I’m such a huge fan of a younger age group for reading, so 11, teens and when you’re an adult, but you can still enjoy these books. So anywhere where you’re just transported to this wonderful place, so I’ve done that for paranormal fans so we can be transported to, eventually, another plane that I know exists. I’ve had experience in talking to spirits from the other side, who tell me that there is definitely somewhere we go, when we die.
I think it’s really important for me to tell that truth and the experiences of that, so when you do die, or your grandparents die, or a relation or loved one; that you will see them again, they’re not gone. They are around us and they can still see us and important events, like weddings. My daughter’s going to the RAF and like, the passing out parade, loved ones will be there watching her and being proud, I know that to be true.
You’re kicking the series off with The House in the Woods, so what should readers expect from this particular story?
Well, I think to myself as I’m reading it, would they, these mates at the age of 13, lie to their parents and loved ones, and take themselves off on Halloween night, with a Ouija board and go into an abandoned, old, dilapidated house in the middle of Epping Forest and try and contact the dead? Would you have done that?
That’s the basis of the story and, they just make contact via the Ouija board with a spirit that needs help.
I’ve often found that in my experiences. There are spirits that don’t realise they’re dead or, are very unhappy with the way their lives ended, whether it be an accident or they were murdered, so I’ve incorporated that into the story.
So, Eve, Clover and Tom… the spirit follows them home, which is quite frightening. To make them see them and get their attention, this spirit does the most awful things in their three individual homes.
It’s Uncle Rufus that comes to the rescue and helps them out. I won’t say anymore than that as I don’t want to spoil it but, it really is a rollercoaster ride.
[Bringing a spirit home] is one of the biggest fears people have when they come on events with myself and the Most Haunted team… Some people believe that no spirit whatsoever can follow you home but, I believe that they can (laughs) in certain circumstances and there are cases where that has happened.
In all the time that I’ve been doing Most Haunted, 20-something years, nothing has ever followed us home and none of the other team members have had anything awful happen to them.
I just thought, I wonder what would happen if… so that’s why I’ve put that into the story.
Through the scares there will also be quite a unique learning curve and coming of age for the characters; what else should we expect aside from the horror?
We will watch them become adults and see how their personalities change. Tom for instance, in the second book, goes through a very traumatic experience and, he sort of does something that shocks everybody and it’s really out of character for him, but through that he learns to be braver, stronger, and the others around him become better investigators through his experience.
I think through the books, I’ll take their individual personalities, and things will happen to them individually which will turn them into these epic ghost hunters.
But I love Uncle Rufus. Uncle Rufus has got his own drama and story; he lost his wife and saw her ghost, which intrigued him and made him want to make these amazing machines to contact the dead, because he’s desperate to speak to his wife.
There’s other characters that come into the second book which are all tied in with Uncle Rufus and this amazing other world, this other side to the paranormal that we have no idea about, but it’s all going on under our noses.
Was it difficult to strike a balance between scares and writing for a younger audience?
Well no, because I have met an awful lot of young fans, so we sometimes do ghost hunting events and I’ve met all these amazing young kids who are 11 and upwards, and they’re just so brave. I’ll say ‘shall we go down into the cellar?’, and you’ve got three 11-year-olds pushing to the front like, ‘Don’t you worry Yvette, don’t you be scared!’
I’ve discovered that lots of young people love to be frightened and I remember, I was in Waterstones when I first started doing my research for my books and thinking, how scary do I take this?
I went up to this poor woman who had her two young sons with her, and I said ‘excuse me, would you mind terribly if I just chatted to your two boys?’ and explained what I did and what I was doing.
So we sat down and I asked, ‘Can you just tell me, how scary do you want this?’ and they went, ‘the scarier the better, we really love to be frightened,’ and I said, ‘really? What about gore and real horror?’ and they said, ‘we absolutely love it, please, you’ve gotta put it all in!’
This was a couple of years ago but I gave them both a hug, before covid, with their mother’s blessing, so without even realising it these two strangers gave me the green light to go really frightening, so they’re to blame!
You’ve had some great initial reactions from friends like Paul O’Grady, so what was it like to hear you’ve got such positive responses right away?
Well Paul is sort of my paranormal partner in crime. He keeps texting me asking ‘when am I coming on another ghost hunt? I can’t wait!’ Anything spooky, he absolutely loves. He just can’t wait.
What makes me laugh about Paul is he’ll say, ‘right no more screaming’, but as soon as anything happens, he runs off and leaves me, screaming!
The amount of celebrities that open up to you and say, ‘I really love the paranormal’, although I did have one celebrity say ‘I think what you do is really stupid!’ I kept to myself what I thought about them, I can laugh about it now but at the time…
It’s lovely, but it’s nerve-wracking when you give your book to people. You’re like, I’m giving you part of my brain, my emotions, my everything, please be kind! So far, they’ve been really lovely and really nice.
My Mum cried and sent me a text saying ‘oh my God, well done, I’m so proud of you, you’ve managed to write this’, this from somebody who’s still got my school and college report where I got C- in English Literature and told to basically give up. I honestly look back at that and part of me wanted to say, I’ll show you, I’ll write a book - and I did.
Going back to Most Haunted, I know Pendle Hill is an experience that has really stuck with you, but are there any other locations that you still think about now?
There’s loads. Sadly, a lot of the places that we’ve investigated have been bulldozed down, or made into flats, especially the old hospitals or work houses, but there was one place that really stands out in my mind: Standon Hall.
Oh my God, I actually saw a full-bodied apparition. HE was so tall this man and was staring at me from behind a column. Let’s just say, I lost weight!
We had a wheelchair moving on its own, doors slamming, cupboards opening and closing, voices, lights turning on and off, anything and everything happened in this place but it was a really creepy atmosphere, and we had objects thrown at us.
Gloucester Prison is another one. Being pelted with snooker balls at full force in the dark is not something that I relished. The sceptic, Glen that we do the show with, he and I took ourselves off to the last cell that a convicted prisoner would have to stay in the night before he was hanged, they’d made it into a stairwell now.
We decided to do a Ouija board in this particular space, but every time we put our fingers on and asked out, the snooker balls would come flying, but smashing and you just thought, if my head gets in the way I’m dead. It was that violent. Doors slamming on their own, we heard growling; it was a really frightening place. So if you fancy ever making the trip to Gloucester Prison, make sure that I’m on it and you’ll absolutely poop your pants, let me tell you!
Despite the wealth of evidence you have collected throughout your career, there are still sceptics. Do you ever learn to brush them off, or do they always p*** you off?
(laughs) No, I actually have great respect for people that have to look for the logical side of things. I think that’s really, really important before you say, ‘oh it’s a ghost!’ I don’t mind that at all and actually respect that.
I think science should be more involved in what we do. When people say, ‘it’s fake’, that used to really upset me because, we’ve never faked anything and don't fake anything, and I am so blessed to experience what we experience.
That’s why we started Most Haunted Experience up, because when people use really disgusting words on social media, I go back to them and genuinely mean it, saying ‘please come along to an experience, let me show you what we do and then, tell me what you think’. Two of them have been brave enough to actually turn up to an event and then said, ‘do you know what Yvette? Now I understand and I’m really sorry.’
We say to everybody, if you hear a noise, put your torches on, check everybody’s feet, around you, under tables and so on.
I want scientists to become more involved in this knocking and tapping phenomena that we encounter, this has been going on since the birth of spiritualism with the Fox sisters. Then, because they were under so much scrutiny and journalists were coming to their house all the time, they felt they needed to perform and so they admitted to faking it - but not at all of it.
It’s the same with the Enfield Poltergeist, the young girl admitted to faking about 20% of it, because of the pressure on her.
We’ve never needed to do that. What you see is what you get and we ask the viewer to make up their own mind.
Away from Most Haunted, we did see you on I’m A Celebrity, are there any other reality shows that you’d want to get involved with in the future?
I don’t think so now. I’m so happy with where I am at the moment. I think I’ve done all the TV that I really want to do. I’m not craving any more. I used to really want to go on Strictly Come Dancing but I just love being at home and writing my books, doing my radio shows and going out investigating with Most Haunted. I love my life and family, so I don’t really want to be away from home and doing what I do and love. I think I’ve had the most amazing career, I’ve travelled the world, done what I wanted to do and think, yes, tick, how lucky am I?
There are some lovely, lovely celebrities out there that I’ve had the pleasure to meet, like Paul and Matt [Lucas], and yet there’s a lot of people where I think, ‘oh my God, get a grip, who do you think you are?’ I don’t want to surround myself with that.
So finally one last word on the book, why should people pick up The House in the Woods and give this new series a chance?
Well if you like anything spooky, if you like to be scared, then this is the book for you. Please don’t read it under your duvet with a torch, because you will scare yourself to death!
The House in the Woods by Yvette Fielding, published by Andersen Press available from all good bookshops and online, £7.99.
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