A FORMER Black Country journalist has realised his dream to publish a spine-tingling novel that pays homage to the classic 1980s horror films that he grew up on and touches on true tales that have intrigued newsrooms.

Supernatural mystery story 13 Doors is the debut novel from Gary Phelps – who spent 30 years working in the news industry covering communities across the Black Country before starting a successful PR consultancy.

The award-winning writer, who worked his way up from junior reporter to editor of nine newspapers, has loved horror fiction since childhood and it has been a long-held dream to publish a book.

Gary, who lives in Birmingham and writes under the name GJ Phelps, said: “I have always been a devotee of horror and supernatural fiction and, as an 80s kid, grew up watching classic movies of the time.

Stourbridge News: GJ PhelpsGJ Phelps (Image: GJ Phelps)

“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.”

The book, published by Book Guild Publishing Ltd and available to buy on Amazon, follows news reporter Joe Baxter who aims to use his newsroom contacts to find 13 haunted places to stay and then record his experiences in a book.

As he endures dangerous vigils, meeting terrifying spectres, a terrible truth begins to emerge.

Former Black Country Bugle editor Gary said parts of the book are inspired by local locations such as mines of the Black Country and some of the strange stories he picked up during his years as a reporter.