Jack Lance reveals why a tale from an estate agent had been an inspiration to him.
‘A curse rests on a house where someone hung himself.’
This is Dutch real estate agent Richard Zimnik’s strong belief – and for good reasons. ‘A few years ago I got a phone call from a man, living somewhere in the countryside,’ Richard says. ‘He asked me to view his house and buy it. So I went and had a look. Great scenery, a beautiful house, truly impressive. And his asking price was reasonable. No sooner did I get home after this visit, when the guy called me. Are you interested in my house? Do you want to buy it? I explained to him that I usually don’t buy houses, only intermediate between sellers and buyers. He said: doesn’t matter. I want to sell immediately. I’ll take any offer.’
‘So I thought: well, okay, and offered him half his asking price, assuming I’d hear from him never again. But five minutes later he was back on the phone: you’ve got a deal. I raced to him, perplexed, and asked if he really meant that. And he said yes, definitely. He wanted to get rid of his house as soon as possible.’
‘We signed the purchase agreement and a week later I met him again, finally asking him why he had been so desperate to sell his house. And he told me: let me tell you about that. Ten years ago, a man hung himself, in my shed. Ever since, this fellow walks around in the garden. I even have an alarm installed, because of him.’
‘I don’t believe in ghosts, but I was shaken and defeated after hearing this. What to do now? How could I ever sell that house, if a dead guy was walking about all the time? My wife proposed to dissolve the purchase agreement. Legally, that’s possible. I’ve heard of at least one home buying agreement which was cancelled because the buyer had not been informed that the house was haunted.’
‘I contemplated about it and finally decided: well, bugger off, I’m not going to be scared away by ghosts. It took a while but in the end I did manage to sell the house, though with a poor profit. And I’ve never heard the new owners complain about ghosts.’
Richard Zimnik has sold all sorts of bad houses. Houses where, within its walls, a murder was committed; even the house of a murderer. Such blood-stained houses do get a reputation, especially in small village communities. But murder or suicide usually does little to decrease the selling price. ‘I once sold a villa in which the former owner had gassed himself. That didn’t make much of an impression on the buyers. The one exception is suicide by hanging. People are mortally afraid of that. When they go for a house viewing where such a thing has happened, you can see them thinking: God, that’s where he has been dangling. You have to lower your price if you want to sell a house like that.’
Jack Lance reveals that . . . this tale from the real estate agent has been an inspiration to me, because a hanging in a house is an important theme and twist in my novel, Pyrophobia. And a haunting, ghostly feeling is for sure present throughout Zone. But what I remember mostly about talking to Richard is his sheer enthusiasm: how he grabbed my attention and pulled me forwards in his story. That’s a quality I like to have in the stories I write. Now, this is a statement, right? Let me know what you think. If you’ve read any of my books, please use the comments section below and just give it to me – any opinion you may have. I’ll reply to whatever remarks thrown at me and won’t be scared away. Promise!
For more information on Jack Lance visit his website.