Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan

One in every town...

My name is Jennifer Morgan. When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by an old, abandoned house in our city.

It was a place which just didn’t seem to... belong. Houses had been torn down around it and others had been built about 300 metres away on either side, but it still sat there, untouched. It was four stories tall and sat up higher than the street, so you had to access it by a massive set of steep, narrow steps cut into the hillside. I wouldn't want to work for a furniture delivery business and try to get an oven, refrigerator and sofa up those steps!

One thing about the house that attracted my attention, was the fact that one side had no windows, but there was a gaping hole in an almost perfect triangular shape in the bricks. I assumed birds would be taking advantage of the shelter. Pigeons. That's what I imagined as a kid. A community of fat, happy pigeons. But I never actually saw any birds near the house although I passed it and studied it every day on my way to school.

You read about houses like this in books and see them in cartoons and in shows on TV, like that one where the kids are sitting around the fire telling ghost stories. I developed a fascination for abandoned houses, and when I was in my teens, I started checking websites about these places. Some buildings were well documented and had fascinating histories. With others, you could get so many different stories on the same building that internet searching seemed pointless.

If you didn't check certain locations out for yourself, it seemed you would never know the truth.

When I was fifteen, my parents moved to a small town. After I unpacked, I remember looking back through my diaries. They were filled with speculation about all the abandoned houses I had encountered while travelling with my parents. That's when I decided I wanted to be a journalist. At dinner that evening I told my parents about my decision and they didn't look surprised.

By the time I was 16, I started thinking straightforward journalism wasn't for me. I guess that was due to listening to my parents during breakfast, moaning about the Town Council (a constant source of frustration), questioning their decision to pay some company to cut down perfectly good trees to the annoyance of local residents. But I didn't really want to uncover hidden agendas and contracts that were just pay-offs to friends who were owed money. At the kitchen table, I learned that corruption and politics were synonymous, and while I cheered for the reporters looking into these cases, I didn't fancy being one of them. Impractical as it was, I wanted to look into 'spooky' cases; track down monsters and ghosts. Maybe it was from watching too much 'Scooby Doo' when I was a kid, but that was my 'Dream Job'. Too bad it didn't seem to exist.

The 'next best thing' was what I ended up settling for. I started working for the local newspaper, first as an apprentice photographer and then fully employed. I was still living at home, but my parents were so impressed by my skills that they let me change a small, spare bedroom into a darkroom. I spent hours developing my films and making enlargements to frame and decorate the walls of the house. Okay, so I had to do family portraits and pets on request, but it was photos of abandoned houses that adorned the walls of my bedroom.

Let's fast forward a bit so I don’t lose my audience! My job 'developed' from photography to include proofreading and eventually, page design. Final goal? Freelance writing. They liked some of my 'local interest' stories and thought they were a nice change of pace. (I did tell you that it was a small town!)

Next thing I knew, I was a full-fledged reporter. And with it being a small paper that only put out two editions a week, having multiple roles was very manageable. Unfortunately, my ‘reporting’ was often covering the local fair, new business openings and school events. God it was dull!

When I had enough of a portfolio, I thought it was time for a change. I moved to the UK - my family was originally from Norfolk. I took a job at a daily newspaper, but I felt as if I was being left out of the good stories and handed the doss. It was such an interesting city with so many weird tales of hauntings and strange activity, I couldn’t believe that I was just as bored as I had been in Canada. After a tedious 5 years there, I took the advice of a colleague and applied for a job which I thought was way out of my league. I was wrong. So now here I am, working for a man who promises me some interesting subjects to delve into. He assures me that I’ve finally found that 'dream job' I always wanted to get my teeth into.