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SNOWBOUND: WITH ZOMBIES now available; pix from release event!

Me and writer Gregory Norris in the field near the bee hives at the SNOWBOUND: WITH ZOMBIES anthology release event at the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill, MA. Photo by Judi Calhoun.

Me and writer Gregory Norris in the field near the bee hives at the SNOWBOUND: WITH ZOMBIES anthology release event at the John Greenleaf Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill, MA. Photo by Judi Calhoun.

Winter’s right around the corner, so there’s nothing more perfect than announcing that Snowbound: with Zombies, a collection of horror stories inspired by the supernatural tales of the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whitter, is now available! The official release event held at the 327-year-old birthplace museum in the barn and carriage house was a great success (see pix below)!

All proceeds will go to the museum.

Snowbound with Zombies - Tales of the Supernatural Cover

The anthology contains my short story “Shreds of Black,” which is based on Whittier’s poem, “Telling the Bees.” It appears with twenty-two other works by John McIlveen, Peter Rawlik, Christopher Golden, Scott Goudsward, Morven Westfield, Celia Thaxter, Stuart Conover, W.H. Pugmire, Roxanne Dent, Ken Faig Jr., Judi Calhoun, Tracy L. Carbone, KH Vaughn, Joseph A. Citro, Karen Dent, Hannah Gonsman, David Bernard, Michelle Souliere, Gregory L. Norris, and Faye Ringel.

The book can be purchased Read the rest of this entry

GET SNOWBOUND WITH ZOMBIES AT FREE EVENT THIS SATURDAY!

Whittier Birthplace Curator Gus Reusch shares a curious tale about a dime found in the museum.

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I’m thrilled to announce that the anthology Snowbound with Zombies, a collection of horror stories inspired by the supernatural tales of the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whitter, will be released at a free special event this weekend.

The event will take place Saturday September 26 at the Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill, Massachusetts, from 1 PM to 3 PM. All proceeds will benefit the 327-year-old birthplace museum, which is a favorite educational field trip destination for students of all ages in the Haverhill area.

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Remember last winter? This fall, get SNOWBOUND WITH ZOMBIES!

Snowbound with Zombies - Tales of the Supernatural Cover

In November of 2014, I had the honor of being invited by David Goudsward to submit a short story to an anthology called Snowbound with Zombies: Tales of the Supernatural Inspired by the Life and Work of John Greenleaf Whittier. Whittier, a poet and famous abolitionist (who was roughly a contemporary of Mark Twain), was most famous for his nostalgic poem Snowbound, but he had a darker side, too; it was this which Goudsward wanted to showcase. All proceeds will go to the 1727 Whittier Homestead in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where the poet spent his early years.

What was special about being part of a project like this Read the rest of this entry

GhoStory Guru: The Nature of the Haunted House

I did not grow up in a haunted house. Well, I did, but it wasn’t haunted in the way most people think—it was haunted by all of its occupants’ sorrow. There was no mistaking the creepy, oppressive feeling the second anyone crossed the threshold. I always felt that the house had a personality, and not a pleasant one.

Recently, while knocking around Baltimore’s Normals book store, I came across a collection of ghost stories I’d never seen or heard of before: Haunted Houses: The Greatest Stories, edited by the familiar Martin H. Greenberg (if you’re a ghost story freak, then you know who this man is and why anything with his name on it is a collection you simply must own). The collection has stories by some big names: Charles L. Grant, Joyce Carol Oates, Charlotte Perkins Gilman,HughB.Cave. This was a tome of classics.

It was likely I would be featuring some of these stories in upcoming GhoStory Guru columns, so I dove right in. Before I could even get started, I was captivated by Greenberg’s Introduction: “Haunted Houses: The American Nightmare.” Greenberg writes:

            “Several films have…[played] on the fear of discovering an unknown evil in the place which is supposedly a sanctuary for your family, and making it perhaps the greatest terror of all.

            “If a house in a story or film is found out to be haunted, the reader’s first reaction may be sympathy for the main characters. After all, they’re just trying to find shelter, to provide a basic human need. It’s not their fault that the dwelling they chose had a sometimes unspeakable history that’s now causing them to suffer.

            “But if you look at the situation from the other side, who is the interloper? Aren’t the people who move in trying to impose their own sense of history on the house, replacing what happened years ago with their memories, their emotions? Some houses may resist this change. Some may resist violently.”

I found this very interesting within the context of the house in which I grew up.

There’s a theory out there that residual hauntings exist because the structure’s materials—like wood, tile, sheetrock, maybe even carpet—“absorb” the energy from a past event and replay it periodically: the “ghost” we’re seeing isn’t intelligent, it’s just a playback, as on a videotape. The same has been said about the materials absorbing the emotions of the people who frequented or lived in it: for example, a home can make a person feel on edge the second he steps inside it if the home’s occupant has exuded nothing but anger for fifty years.

I wasn’t sure I supported this theory until after my childhood home’s renovation was complete: although the pine boards were intact and hadn’t been touched or changed, the sheetrock in nearly every room was brand new, as was paint and carpet. And even though there hadn’t been much change in terms of color scheme and layout, the house felt completely different. It didn’t feel creepy anymore. The oppression was gone.

Out in the driveway, I walked past the dumpster that held the discarded carpet and sheetrock. I had an odd feeling when I passed: I guess you’d call it spooked. I hurried to my car, and on the drive home, I marveled at the house’s new atmosphere and my very strange reaction to the dumpster.

In short, the house was no longer “haunted” because the materials that had retained the sorrow and grief had been removed. And the house seemed to be, well—happier about it.

The new family is, I’m sure, working hard to create its own memories within the house’s walls—making it, as Greenberg pointed out, a “sanctuary”—but what if some tragedy befalls them and the cycle starts all over again? The Haunted House isn’t necessarily about what’s there before we arrive; it’s about what we create while we’re in it—and what we leave behind.

If you’re interested in the Greenberg collection Haunted Houses: The Greatest Stories, you can get it here: http://amzn.com/1567311687

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