by David Southwell
“When my daughter introduces me to people as a folklorist – she feels the occupation author is too disreputable – they often ask why I bother. I sigh and tell them I do it because research into living folklore is one of the few jobs better done in pub than the library. This is not the real reason of course.
“I do it because it matters. Folklore is when we stop and hear the songs that the land is singing to us. Folklore is the quiet moment we stop and listen to the stories the land is telling us. I research it because it has me. You see, folklore is an infection that spreads like cough. It’s more likely caught in playground, pub and pew than pages of a book. I am infected.”
-C.L. Nolan, BBC National Programme talk on folklore, 1933
About Hookland: Hookland is in part a response to the weird, the paranormal content in culture when I was growing up in 1970s. In many ways I look at Hookland as an act of re-enchantment, a putting back all the weirdness edited out by the modern world. I grew up caught between space-age dreams and the last gasp of hippy culture where the main BBC news moved from reports of IRA bombs to reports of UFOs or poltergeists. Where documentaries about ancient aliens or witchcraft were shown on prime-time without sneering. The 70s were a high-water mark for weirdness. A strange, febrile time to be a child exposed to the psychic chaff of the mass media.
Hookland is also creating a haunted space that anyone could play in. As authors, we often create spaces where we want others to feel they have lived, but then deny them permission to stay. Permission to build and explore in their own way. It is an open, shared universe to explore those connections between place and our sometimes forgotten myth-circuits.
Ghostwoods Books plans to publish at least one of the Hookland books currently in the works.
About the author:
David Southwell is an Essex boy, word spiv and landscape punk. He works as photographer, folklorist and curator for the Hookland Museum of Curiosities. A reformed author of bad books, he now follows the advice given to him by J.G. Ballard to: ‘Concentrate on place, nothing without a sense of it is ever any good.’ You can often find him talking about Albionic ghost soil at literary festivals and art galleries.