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Autobiographical Defenders of Guernsey Guernsey Prose

‘Defenders of Guernsey’ now on kindle

I have revised ‘Defenders of Guernsey’. This second edition, for an 8-to-adult age is now available on Kindle.

As a child my grandparents lived in a road in Guernsey called La rue des Grons. When I lived there as a child, and then stayed with my grandparents on every school holiday the few streetlights went off at 10.30. It was very dark and definitely spooky. Just down the road was a spot that my grandfather, David Marquis, used to zoom past at night. This place was known as Le coin de La Biche (the goat’s corner) and was rumoured to be haunted by the apparition of an enormous nanny goat.

Still the most authoritative book on Guernsey folklore, Folklore of Guernsey by Marie DeGaris devotes a few paragraphs to the giant red-eyed beast and its fearsome sightings, one of which scared a 16 year old girl to death.  I was always happy about La Biche, as it’s not everyone lucky enough to have a star of folklore living a hundred yards or so down the road.

I’ve been working on a children’s character called Skelton Yawngrave for some time. I am now on the sixth draft of a novel which features him. However, when I was invited to the first Guernsey literary festival in 2011 to talk to some children, I thought I would write a longish (13,000 word) short story called Defenders of Guernsey featuring Skelton and La Biche which was published then as a limited edition.

My friend Amanda Milne is developing a board game set on the island, and having read this story borrowed the idea of a terrifying goat. Amanda’s game is now in its a prototype form and being tested by games players. You can read more about the SchilMil game in development here.

Defenders of Guernsey Kindle
Defenders of Guernsey now on kindle. My mother Margaret Hamlin painted La Biche for the cover.

Goats and ghosts

Last night added a story to the Anthology of Guernsey website about La Biche, by Freda Wolley which was broadcast in the eighties on BBC Radio Guernsey, about the legend of the giant ghostly goat.

La Biche happened to live very close to where I stayed as a child in La rue des Grons, St Martin. I remember being distinctly sped up by my Guernsey Grandfather walking past a particular corner of that road at night.

Let me state as a fact that Guernsey can feel very spooky at night. This is reflected in the folklore and supernatural tales that about in the island. And is certainly what Victor Hugo picks up on for his story the Toilers in the Sea.

It is no coincidence that court records June 1550 to July 1649 reproduced in These Haunted Islands by Chris Lake, show that 111 people were tried for witchcraft in Guernsey. As Maris De Garis says in Folklore of Guernsey:

“It is often stated by the sceptical, as an excuse for unbelief, that tales of supernatural manifestations are only hearsay happenings, several times removed from the listener. However, in Guernsey it does not need a lot of investigation to discover instances of of these occurrences at first hand, experienced by the very people who relate to them. Perhaps the close inter-relationship, inevitable within the confines of a small island, conduce to a tendency of psychic awareness uncommon in people living in a larger-land mass.”