Tag Archives: Beijing

Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story (Uncut)

My latest book, Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story (uncut) is out now on ebook and paperback. As the title suggests, it’s a partially re-written and expanded version of an earlier release. The original Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story came out on Damnation Books back in in 2009. I was never truly happy with that version.

By the time Damnation Books was absorbed by another publishing house and consequently vanished off the face of the earth a few years later, the contract we had decreed that all rights regarding the book had reverted back to me. That meant, it was free for me to do with what I wanted, and I felt a remix was in order.

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When Jerry leaves his old life in London behind and travels to Beijing to take up a teaching position, at first he is enchanted by the brave new world he finds waiting for him. However, things soon take a turn for the worse. Upon his arrival he learns of the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor, and after he moves into his new apartment he is plagued by strange dreams in which he shares the dwelling, and his bed, with a ghostly entity. Then things start going bump in the night, and Jerry soon finds himself embroiled in the kind of supernatural drama that had previously been unthinkable to him.

An encounter with a fortune teller with a difference proves the catalyst for a new wave of terror and eventually, he is forced into the accepting the realization that something else was waiting for him on the other side of the world, and perhaps even in the next world. What’s more, his time is quickly running out.

Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story (Uncut)  is out now.

Bonus content:

Inside Apartment 14F (essay)

Little Dead Girl (short story)


I want to eat your brains!

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What is it with zombies and eating brains?

I’ve always been curious about that, and to a lesser extent, what brains might taste like. At a hot pot restaurant In Beijing recently, I got the chance to find out.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t a human brain. At least, I don’t think it was. As far as I am aware, it was a pig’s brain.

I’ve been lucky, or unlucky enough to eat a lot of things during my time in China that aren’t considered pleasant to the spoiled Western palate, including chicken’s feet, duck’s windpipe, pig’s ear, cow penis, meal worms, and scorpions. The brain, however, was the hardest hurdle to overcome. When various body parts are chopped up and cooked, they could be anything. But a brain looks just like a brain.

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It’s common knowledge that sometimes, eating brains isn’t a good idea. That’s how mad cow’s disease happened. But it does have some nutritional value. Specifically, it contains a lot of DHA, an important Omega-3 fatty acid, which isn’t surprising as the average brain 29% fat. Brains are also very high in cholesterol.

In China there is a general idea that ingesting specific parts of animals has a positive effect on the corresponding area of your own body, which may or may not be true. The same belief manifests itself in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Living in China made me much less picky about my food. But still, this was a new experience. As the cooked brain finally emerged from the boiling pot dripping hot oil, I was filled with a strange mixture of trepidation and nervous excitement.

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The consistency was as you’d expect, soft, spongy, even a little creamy. Weirdly, though most of the taste was masked by chilli peppers and spices, to me it tasted a bit like a boiled egg. Overall, I don’t think pig brain, or any other kind of brain, is something I’d like to eat on a regular basis. If eating brains is a dietary requirement, I’d make a shit zombie.


27 Again!

I’m not religious in any sense of the word, but I do believe in something. I just don’t know what. Everything that happens in life can’t be a result of a happy accident. For evidence of this look no further than Mother Nature, where everything has a purpose, a reason to exist. I believe the signs are there if you look. Or maybe if you know what to look for.

My fascination with the number 27 is well documented, on this blog and in articles I’ve written for various publications over the years. I would like to give you with an update, or a postscript to my last 27 blog. In summary, for whatever reason, this particular number has some resonance in my life, and the pattern continues.

I spent five years working as a teacher in China. It was a wonderful experience, but I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing with my life. One of the reasons I was so sure of this was the sheer absence of THAT number in my life, which cropped up at irregular intervals in my life as if the universe was letting me know I was on the right path. There were still a few occurrences when I was home visiting for the summer. But in China, nada. Which I found remarkable in itself.

There was one incidence a while ago…

I don’t often tell people about my 27 obsession, for fear of sounding slightly bonkers. But I did tell a girl I met recently. Most Chinese people are, by nature, quite practical and pragmatic. So this girl was instantly sceptical, and put it all down to coincidence. A fair point. But she was as surprised as I was when I pointed out the date on which we were having that particular conversation, which I hadn’t realized until that moment. It was 27th October.

A couple of months ago job opportunity came up in London. It was the kind of job opportunity I had been waiting my entire life for. Without needing to be asked twice I ripped up my teaching contract and booked a flight from Changsha back to the UK, via Beijing, where I planned to say goodbye to an old friend.

On the way from my apartment to Changsha airport, the number 27 came back with a vengeance. Suddenly, it was everywhere. The taxi I was travelling in was stuck behind a bus for much of the journey, which had the number 27 in its license plate almost as if leading us through the traffic. At one point the taxi stopped at some traffic lights. I glanced out of the window and saw a shop I hadn’t noticed before. The shop was called ‘I Am 27.’

Quick as a flash, I snapped a picture.

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The journey continued, and later that day I found myself in Beijing. My friend wanted to visit a particular restaurant in the Hou Hai area. I agreed. The restaurant was one of those places where you order food at the counter and are then assigned a table number. Yep. You guessed it, our table number was number 27. To my mind, another sign that I was on the right track.

Another photo opportunity.

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When I arrived in London one of the first things on my agenda was getting a new smartphone. I went to Carphone Warehouse. There, I chose a phone and could then select a number. The first number on the computer-generated on-screen list ended in 27. It wasn’t the only number available, there was a whole page and probably more. But the fact that this one was first struck me as significant. Naturally, I took it.

Another intrinsic number in my life, for many reasons, is number 9. Number 9 is, of course, 3×3, 3 being the original Magic Number. 3x3x3 is… 27

The office where I work is on the 9th floor.

My new address, however, is not number 9. Nor is it number 27. Its number 229. If you subtract 2 from 29 you get…

Of course, you could argue that the only reason my mind picks out all these 27’s is that I am consciously looking for them, and you may have a point, but still, there are an awful lot of 27’s in my life. I’m always on the lookout for the next sign post…


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