Jonathan Stroud: What would Lockwood do?

LOCKWOOD (2)Life getting you down? Got a problem you can’t figure out? Let Anthony Lockwood, teen ghost-hunter extraordinaire, help make sense of things. For one night only he provides the best advice available for all your concerns!

Dear Lockwood,
      School is really boring. What do you suggest?

School? It’s not something I’ve much experience of. In ghost-haunted London children with psychic Talent are taken out of education early and trained up as paranormal investigators. You learn swordplay, how to defend yourself against phantoms, and how to spot death-glows and other signs of the restless dead. Actually, these techniques might be used profitably in your class too. You could scatter salt and iron filings to keep teachers away, ward off bullies with your rapier, and set light to your homework with a magnesium flare. That would certainly make for a memorable school day! And probably your last one as well.


Dear Lockwood,
      Other kids have all the latest fashions. How can I improve my personal style?

Easy. For gents I recommend a dark suit, open shirt, cool long coat and ectoplasm-proof boots. A nice shiny rapier is an optional extra. If you’re a girl, go for boots, skirt and leggings, plus a dark top and warm jacket for hanging out in those chilly midnight cemeteries. Simple, effective and very, very stylish.


Dear Lockwood,
      No one pays attention to me. I feel so ignored.

Hmm? What? Sorry, I was drifting off for a moment there. You want to be noticed? No problem. A ghost-hunter’s belt is the thing for you. Fill its pouches with salt-bombs, magnesium flares, canisters of iron, torches, penknives and crowbars, and you’ll find no one ever ignores you again. Including the police. Plus, if you carry a rapier, old ladies will always give you their seats on the bus.


Dear Lockwood,
      My parents don’t take me seriously. They never let me do what I want. Can you help me?

Well, I suggest you bring them to the London where I live. It’s got an epidemic of ghosts, and adults can’t see them at all. They’re helplessly reliant on young investigators like me, who deal with the Screaming Spirits, Spectres and Wraiths stalking the streets. At nightfall, the grown-ups go home, and the children go out. Mind you, we’re risking our lives every time, so it’s not all a bed of roses. There’s a strong danger of ghost-touch and not coming back alive… But that’s all part of the fun.


Dear Lockwood,
I have an appalling spot on my chin. I feel really unsightly. What shall I do?

Let me tell you, a few pimples are nothing compared to the things I see every night. Come along with me – you’ll find that fighting a few Wraiths (which look like rotting corpses), Raw-bones (guess what they look like) and Pale Stenches (ditto) will soon put that spot of yours in perspective.


Dear Lockwood,
      I want to be somebody in this world. How can I manage it?

Well, in my ghost-hunting business you obviously need a specific set of skills. Decent sword-fighting abilities are a must, and if you can see phantoms the moment they materialise, that’s a bonus too. But courage, calmness, intelligence and integrity are even more important – and they’re essential in every walk of life. If you’ve got those qualities, plus some trusted friends to back you up, I think you’ll be successful in everything you try to do.

9780552568050Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull is out now in paperback


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