DUNSTER-based photographer and writer Nina Dodd has teamed up with Minehead-based digital artist Asia Wetherell to create a book they say is unlike anything that has been done before in the area.
It has taken them nine months and now the book is almost ready for publication.Witches, Giants and a Ghost Cat – A guide to the mystery tales of Dunster’ is due to hit bookshops in September.
The idea came from the realisation that although Dunster is a popular destination for both visitors and day-trippers, there are few guides to the village.Nina, who owns the Scandi-British lifestyle shop Dunster Living, said: “When I thought about writing a book, it was clear from the start that I didn’t want it to be a traditional travel guide, but something with an interesting twist.”
Finnish-born Nina, who has a second class honours degree in Comparative Religion and Cultural History and a Masters in English, decided to approach the subject by mixing historical facts with centuries-old British superstitions and contemporary stories of local ‘otherworldly’ encounters.
She said: “The book is written with a dual purpose.”It can be read as a collection of fascinating stories or used as a walking guide to Dunster.
“Most of the stories are not frightening, but mainly convey the azement of the people who experienced the strange encounters, and can therefore be enjoyed by readers of all ages.”
When planning the book, Nina knew she wanted a strong visual impact and felt that the style of local professional digital artist Asia was perfect for the theme.
Nina said: “I absolutely adore Asia’s work.”She completed her BA in Digital Media in Australia before moving to Minehead eight years ago with her artist husband Tim.”The way she incorporates old illustrations, her own drawings, our two photographs and then spices it up with her slightly dark sense of humour is brilliant.”
While collecting stories from local people for the book, Nina noticed that although surveys show that almost half of the British population believe in ghosts and ‘otherworldly’ encounters, some are reluctant to share their experiences in public.
She said: “There is obviously still a stigma attached to talking about such experiences, but if these stories are not recorded they could be lost forever.
“The stories I have included in the book convey not only what people believed centuries ago, but also what people in villages like Dunster believe in the 21st century.”The stories are absolutely fascinating and everyone I have spoken to has either experienced these things themselves or knows someone who has.”
Nina, who describes herself as a “sceptic with an open mind”, and illustrator Asia have both had experiences that could be described as “out of this world”.
She said: “I worked as a journalist and photographer in Finland for 15 years before moving to Exmoor with my Anglo-Finnish family, writing hundreds of articles on various subjects, some of which included supernatural encounters.
“However, this is the first book I have written and boy, what a journey it has been.”I am so grateful to all the locals who trusted me with their stories.