A former Birmingham journalist with a life-long passion for horror stories has written his debut novel featuring real-life hauntings.

GJ Phelps, who was born in Birmingham, makes use of the city’s locations – such as the catacombs in the Jewellery Quarter – in his psychological horror story. 

Phelps is an award-winning journalist who spent thirty years in the news industry, working his way up from junior reporter to eventually editing nine newspapers including the Tamworth Herald.

He continues to live in his beloved Birmingham where he runs a successful PR consultancy, specialising in education, public affairs and industry.

Phelps says he grew up devouring horror films and books, and when he decided to write his first novel he was instantly drawn to the horror genre: “I have always been a devotee of horror and supernatural fiction and, as an Eighties kid, grew up watching classic movies of the time.

“I wanted to write a book that paid homage to those influences, while adding something new and different to the genre.

“Most of all, I wanted to write a horror novel that was rooted in my journalistic background – that featured the kind of odd, real-life stories that occasionally come into all newsrooms. So, while 13 Doors is fiction, there are a handful of stories and anecdotes in it that are based on real stories – stories that journalists couldn’t explain.”

13 Doors by GJ Phelps makes use of Birmingham locationsThe Book Guild Ltd
13 Doors by GJ Phelps makes use of Birmingham locations in his debut novel

13 Doors, published by The Book Guild Ltd, follows the journey of a journalist and supernatural enthusiast as he travels to thirteen different haunted locations across the UK.

Phelps was inspired to use real Birmingham locations and tap into local history for his debut novel. The story, which is terrifying and thrilling by turns, is largely set in Birmingham, and locations such as the Victorian graveyards in the Jewellery Quarter – and the Birmingham Catacombs – play a key role in the Phelps’ story. Other parts of the book were inspired by the back-to-back heritage houses and the Black Country Living Museum.

The book also features a number of ghost stories inspired by real-life hauntings and incidents in Birmingham.

The tale’s central character – Joe Baxter – is a reporter who uses his newsroom contacts across England to find thirteen haunted places to stay, and then record his experiences in a book. From an abandoned cinema to a dank pub cellar, from a World War Two airfield to a lonely, landlocked cruise liner, Baxter is prepared to spend long nights in the cold and dark, but has no idea what he is about to unleash.

A terrifying truth begins to emerge as Baxter endures increasingly dangerous vigils and meets a succession of gruesome and tragic spectres.

13 Doors promises to deliver a spine-tingling supernatural mystery entwined with spooky ghosts and phantoms that still lurk and haunt the Birmingham landscape.

13 Doors by GJ Phelps will be published on 28 July and can be ordered at this link.

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