The Afterschool Club Investigates: The Spine-Chilling Story of the School Ghost

by Meg Small

When Emmy’s mum forces her to join the school newspaper club, Emmy doesn’t know what to expect. She’d quite like to fade into the background and be forgotten – talking to people has never been her strong suit. Making friends feels impossible. But The Afterschool Report isn’t like other school newspapers. Instead of reporting on school news, they spend their time investigating the weird, the paranormal, and the supernatural. When Emmy accidentally breaks an odd Victorian locket and finds herself being targeted by a rather nasty ghost, the club is her only hope of getting rid of it. 

So much for going unnoticed. People are scary, but this ghost might be even scarier. As it gains strength and turns its attention onto the club, and possibly her entire school, Emmy must act fast.

 

Will she be able to overcome her fears, or will this ghostly threat destroy everything?

About the Author

Meg’s head has always been full of stories. Over the years, she’s wandered between YA and Middle Grade, fantasy and horror, superheroes and sci-fi adventurers (and, one time, ghost horses). Even though she was a scaredy-cat with a very overactive imagination when she was little, she’s always been drawn to scary things. The idea of spooky stories for children has fascinated her for some time now. And so, while working on the manuscript for her MA in Writing for Young People, she finally settled on this, a Middle Grade paranormal adventure. 

When she’s not writing, Meg can be found tending to her ever-growing collection of succulents, singing loudly in the kitchen while she bakes, or spending far too much time playing video games.

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The Afterschool Club Investigates: The Spine-Chilling Story of the School Ghost by Meg Small

In the simplest terms, The Afterschool Club Investigates is a middle-grade paranormal adventure. It follows 11-year-old Emmy, who’s been forced to join a school club by her well-meaning mum. She chooses the school newspaper and is quickly dragged into a hair-raising, heart-pounding adventure that involves fighting ghosts and, perhaps even more scarily, making friends.

Going deeper, this story is me writing a letter to my younger self. I realised as I developed it that all the club members are little parts of me, but Emmy in particular is just… me. Shy, anxious, 11-year-old me, who dreamed of being brave but never quite managed it. Emmy does, though. As is the nature of stories, she grows and learns and overcomes her fears, and I think I was living vicariously through her while I was writing. She’s what I wanted to be at 11.

I hope, then, that Emmy and her adventure can be an inspiration for other kids as well. For the shy, the introverted, the anxious, I hope this story can show it’s OK to be those things, but there’s always an opportunity to take a leap and be brave.

What was your inspiration for this story?

I’ve always been drawn to spooky stuff, and this particular story was inspired by two video games I discovered at around the same time. They were both about young people investigating and confronting strange and scary supernatural forces. The concept really stuck with me and I knew I had to try my hand at it.

What was your most memorable moment on the MA?

It’s hard to say; there have been so many good ones. Every workshop was memorable for all the amazing snippets of other people’s stories I got to read! But if I had to narrow it down, then probably the induction day, when everything was new and exciting and a little bit scary, and I got to meet all the tutors and students I’d be working with on the MA.

What is the most important thing you learned on the MA?

To experiment with my writing – and to keep writing! You can’t edit or improve words you don’t have, after all. Also, that the writing process is not just the actual writing; it’s the research and the planning and the breaks you take to let your brain mull everything over.

What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

Finishing a first draft is always pretty good. I also enjoy editing – rereading and figuring out how to improve my work is really satisfying.

What do you like doing when you’re not writing?

Cooking, playing video games, amassing an army of succulents… (I’m running out of windowsills to put them on!) Then there’s reading, of course, and daydreaming about all the stories I could be writing while I’m doing these other things.

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Everyone’s going to give you advice, but not all of it is going to apply to you or your writing. It’s up to you to figure out when it’s best to listen and when it’s best to do your own thing.

What was your favourite book as a child?

The Waterstone by Rebecca Rupp. No one ever seems to have heard of it, but it’s this lush fantasy story with a gorgeous world I definitely wanted to live in. It was the first book that really inspired me to write and I think it played a formative part in my love of fantasy.

What place in fiction do you most want to visit?

Since reading The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, I’ve always wanted to go to Vienna. As for an actual fictional place, I think I’d quite like to visit the Castle from the Septimus Heap series. Really, though, take me anywhere I could learn magic, please!