Dead Letters—“The Last Word on Paranormal Literature”—was a segment of The Ghostman & Demon Hunter Internet Radio Broadcast, which launched in February, 2007, and ran through June, 2011. After a hiatus, The G&D Show returned to the airwaves December, 2012 and is still on the air at www.ghostanddemon.com.
Initially, the five-minute segment was meant to review books and shorter works, both non-fiction and fiction, which might be of interest to the show’s listening audience: paranormal investigators. After I did my first review, however, I realized I didn’t like it. I didn’t like “reviewing” nonfiction and fiction books. What I wanted to do was talk about my favorite fiction horror books and stories. I wanted to get excited about a particularly scary book or story and tout it to the world.
The G&D listeners responded positively to this new approach; they came to the hilarious, outrageous G&D hour because, first and foremost, they wanted to be entertained. They wanted their DVD libraries packed with scary movies (Gore Girl handled the movie reviews before she left to found her own show, The Gore Girl Variety Hour), their heads full of legends (The Mind of Magnus examined cryptids and other creepy newsbits) and they wanted their bookshelves heavy with terrifying tales. They wanted to watch and read the stuff that made them go out and chase ghosts in the first place, the stuff that gave them nightmares and made them insist their closet doors be kept closed at night. Some fans even e-mailed me to tell me their next scary read would be whatever I recommended, and could you tell me right now so I don’t have to wait?
As time went on—and my Master’s thesis developed into a collection of ghost stories set in Walt Disney Parks—I narrowed the focus even further: not just horror or the paranormal, but ghosts, specifically. While back in 2007, my intent was to run one Dead Letters episode per month, the ensuing changes in the segment’s focus—from nonfiction and fiction to just fiction, from review to recommendation, from horror/general paranormal to ghosts—made that not so easy. Unlike a reviewer, I didn’t solicit books, nor did I listen to recommendations. While a couple of the books I recommended happened to be by my friends, I didn’t go into reading the book for that purpose; I read the book because he or she was my friend and was blown away. The way it usually happened: I picked up a book, started reading, and flipped out. Or I happened to be re-reading one of my old stand-bys from childhood and flipped out all over again (the Dali concept of persistence of memory can make things better in your mind than they actually were). It was a happy accident. And thus a true winner—one that I wanted to hoot about from a tall dead tree, if you will—came along infrequently.
We recorded each Dead Letters segment in-studio, and then Nathan did his magic with setting it to music. Then I took the text of the recommendation and posted it on The Ghostman & Demon Hunter Show forums, with links to where what I’d recommended could be read or purchased. Any scary short stories I’d written that were available on the web were also posted over in the forums in the Dead Letters section.
Interestingly enough, Dead Letters served as a precursor for 2011’s short-term blog features: GhoStory Guru, which recommended ghost stories and why they worked (spoiler-free), and Short Takes, which recommended short stories I found on the web which were worth reading.
Below, the text of all the Dead Letters segments appear as PDFs below each heading, but before the links to each recommended piece.
Classic Ghost Stories – October 11, 2009
HorrorMasters.com Classic Ghost Stories Main Site
“The Spook House” by Ambrose Bierce
“The Empty House” by Algernon Blackwood
“The Closed Window” by A.C. Benson
“The Wind in the Woods” by Bessie Kyffin-Taylor
“On the Northern Ice” by Elia W. Peattie
“Across the Moors” by William Harvey
“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs
The “Sweet” Perils of Isolation – September 21, 2008
The Sweet By and By by Jeanne Mackin
Spirits and the Sea – August 17, 2008
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“A Descent into the Maelström” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Hold” ~ Dark Water by Koji Suzuki
“The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Lighthouse” by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe’s Lighthouse ed. by Christopher Conlon
[Out of Print, so search your favorite used places]
Creative Crypto – May 10, 2008
“Eight Rules for Dating my Teenage Chupacabra” by Steve G.
“Bury Him in the Rose Garden” by Neil Ayres
“The Cryptozoologist” by Tony Early
Urban Legends in Fiction – March 9, 2008
Toasted Cheese 2007 “Dead of Winter” Contest Winners
“Movement of Skin” by Fay Bouman
“The Purchased Bride” by Tara McDaniel
Aura – July 1, 2007
Random Thoughts on The Haunting of Hill House – May 25, 2007
“The Lottery” & Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Critical Essay on Shirley Jackson’s Life and Work
Age of Consent – April 29, 2007
Age of Consent by Howard Mittelmark