I’m a New England girl, born and bred, and so I have a deep love for writing New Englandghost stories—mostly because, let’s face it, the creepy woods, two-hundred-or-more-year-old houses rife with Colonial tragedy, silent winters and pretty-near-consistent gray weather eight to nine months out of the year are the perfect setting for such tales. It’s just too easy.
But thanks to my friend and co-editor of Read Short Fiction, Robert Mayette—who treated me to the book Haunted Dixie: Great Ghost Stories from the American South Christmas—I’m thrilled for the new challenge in my work when I relocate to Florida in the next few months. From Haunted Dixie’s Introduction—“Into the Shadowy South”—by Frank D. McSherry, Jr.:
“The scary and entertaining stories in this volume are about just such beings—those that defy description—as they wreak their havoc in an equally unclassifiable setting: the American South, where mystery and majesty lurk behind the shadows of the beautiful and the bizarre. Running from the grassy plains of Texas, to the tangled swamps of Georgia, the rolling Virginiahills, the foggy bottomlands of Mississippi, and the stormy coastline of the Carolinas, Dixieis a land haunted by more than just history.”
I’ll start withFlorida’s feature: “What Say the Frogs Now, Jenny?” byHughB.Cave.
There are a few hallmarks which make this a fabulous ghost story, and I can’t go into depth without completely spoiling it (the mark a true craftsman at work), so I’ll be a little vague.
The most striking element is the fine motif Cave has chosen to weave throughout the piece: that of hands. With so many subtle references popping up, it works on the subconscious to create the overall feel of hands reaching from beyond the grave.
The second is the fact that we love Jenny—we feel sympathy toward her; she’s the hardworking, just-can’t-seem-to-get-ahead girl we all recognize in ourselves.
And the third? A shocking twist on the combination of the first and second things I mentioned, and if I explain how it works in terms of literary mechanics, I will ruin everything. You’ll just have to read the story and find out.
Tell you what: if you get the book, read the story, and want my analysis, contact me through the contact page on this website—and if you do, I’ll send you a free copy of my book Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World (why not; let’s have some fun, here!)
This book—only issued in hardcover, as near as I can tell—seems to be out of print, but there are several used copies at reasonable prices available through the Amazon Marketplace here: http://amzn.com/1435104579 But if you’re a ghost story lover, no price should be too high to own this one.
 Frank D. McSherry, Jr., “Into the Shadowy South,” in Haunted Dixie: Great Ghost Stories from the American South, comp. by Frank D. McSherry, Jr., Charles G. Waugh and Martin H. Greenburg (New York: Fall River Press, 1994), vii.