Monday, November 22, 2010


HALLIE: After enjoying Charlaine Harris's visit to the New England Crime Bake, I've been thinking about the appeal of the paranormal, and how many otherwise perfectly normal people I've met are convinced that a house they lived in was haunted. A woman I used to work with told me how she could feel the cold air and many times saw the ghost of a woman in an upstairs bedroom. She and her family never used the bedroom, nor did the family that lived in the house before them.

So even though I've never put a vampire or a werewolf or a fairy into a novel, every once in a while I do put in a touch of woo-woo. Like when one my main character drank a glass of wine, imagined he was talking to his dead wife, fell asleep, and when he woke up there were two wine glasses beside him.

Have you toyed with the fantasy or paranormal in your fiction? What about in real life--anyone grow up in a house that felt haunted?

JAN: Well my new novel features an antagonist who may or may not be the devil, so I am definitely experimenting with Woo-woo (although I originally wrote this novel 21 years ago before I ever heard the term woo-woo)

About thirty years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) and I went to a bed and breakfast in Nova Scotia and we both woke up at four in the morning totally freaked out feeling weird energy in the room and convinced it was haunted. We gathered up our things, went out for breakfast and returned to check out by something like 6:30 a.m. We have never before or ever since felt that way or experienced anything like that, so we are not inclined to fantasize in that direction.

Not entirely sure about ghosts -- especially ones called up at seances - we believe what we want to believe -- BUT I'm a true believer in energy -- certainly the energy that we all project while we are alive. So its not that hard for me to believe that some energy lingers.

RHYS: I grew up in a haunted house. It was a big rambling old country house and my brother and I slept alone on the top floor with a long staircase between us and our parents. The mat outside my door used to flap even though no window was open and one night the window opened by itself in the middle of the night, causing me to freak out. I used to have a recurring dream of waking up and seeing a procession of hooded figures coming up the stairs toward me.

When I spoke to my brother about it recently and said I thought the house was haunted, he replied, "Of course it was." And he was only about eight when we moved away. I never saw an actual ghost and I suppose all the creaking and flapping could be attributed to drafts, but why would a little boy sense the presence of something paranormal?

And of course my latest book, Royal Blood, is a complete spoof on the whole vampire genre, but you never quite know in the end whether the vampire might have been real.

ROBERTA: Never lived in a haunted house--as far as I know! I did enjoy hearing about Charlaine's imaginative worlds this past weekend. I'm so stuck on reality! I guess the closest I'm coming is a tarot card reader in my new series. I'm going to have to trot down to the Mallory Square sunset celebration in Key West and get my cards read so I can write it realistically...

ROSEMARY: I'm a gardener. I compost. Nuff said.

HANK: Never lived in a haunted house. (That I know of, at least.) But ESP? yes, indeedy. There's more going on than we understand? Yes, indeedy. So who are we to dismiss things that happen as "coincidence"? I'm open to it.
HALLIE: I like it best in books, as in life, when there's something weird but you don't quite know what to make of it.

Please share with us your tales of ghost, visitations, or simply stuff you just can't explain.

AND COMING ATTRACTIONS: Tomorrow, Sarah Smith visits Jungle Red to talk about her new YA novel, "The Other Side of Dark," with a young girl who talks to ghosts and wonders if she's going crazy. It's a sweet and poignant.

Then, after Thanksgiving, Toni L. P. Kelner and Dana Cameron pay us a visit to talk about how their celebrated short stories are exploring the dark side. On Saturday Barbara Corrado Pope drops by to talk about her wonderful new historical mystery that only sounds like it's got vampires in it, "Blood of the Lorraine."


  1. All right, Snark Alert...I went to a funeral last week and learned that the deceased thought she used to see - woman in a long white dress - standing over her bed sometimes. Can you say Wilkie Collins? She was almost 90 so I dismissed it, but when a young cousin confirmed the presence I had to wonder..

  2. Cue Twilight Zone music! Did your cousin say if the deceased said it frightened her?

    Lots of people have 'visions' like this either when they're just falling asleep or just waking up. Wish I did. Sounds sooo cool.

  3. Apparently, my 90 yr old relative took it in her stride. She probably had a smoke and went back to sleep.

  4. I love the term woo-woo. It conveys so much, without saying anything concrete.

    Coming attractions sound great!

  5. I lived in a house that was built in 1782. I would be home alone, hear footsteps, and then smell a lilac type of perfume. It wasn't scary though. I didn't see any ghosts, but my husband and son did. Also, when my daughter worked at a nursing home, many people saw the "Lady in Black" right before someone passed on. Who really knows where our energy goes...

  6. Tremendous blog, as always . . . well-spoken and thought-provoking.

    I've never had one of these experiences (or, as was said in the blog, wasn't aware of it) but I did live in the oldest cadet barracks when I was at West Point and knew several cadets who believed they'd seen the barracks ghost. Reunion visits to that building usually yielded at least one story of the ghost having been seen by the more recent classes, so who knows?

  7. We lived in a house (built in 1930) we all called Spook Central. I swear the upstairs landing was like a bus stop for traveling spirits. Even during daylight, you could see shadows moving on it. My daughter would sit on the floor at the door to her room and carry on conversations with people.

    Another house (built in 1918) came with a former resident. We'd often see his head and shoulders on the couch watching TV in the middle of the night, but he always kept the sound turned down. The DH has some physical limitations and climbing stairs can be a problem sometimes. Our friendly ghost kept him from falling on several occasions. Several years after moving out, we actually found a photograph of him in a local antique store and he now proudly hangs on the wall in our library.

    As for my writing, I have to have a touch of the woo-woo. I can't help myself. The DH's great-grandmother was a tribal medicine woman and her gifts have been handed down. I've had more than a few experiences with ESP and ghosts before we ever met and married.

    This is a great topic! (I'll stop now before I get boring. LOL)

  8. Many years ago, I lived in an apartment above a plumbing shop with a friend. One middle of the night, I woke to an odd feeling. I thought I saw a person dressed in typical clothing of the late 1800's. I dismissed it as a dream until my friend sat up and asked me if I saw the man in the doorway. Hard to dismiss after that.
    More recently, I lived in Hawaii and taught at a school that was run by a Catholic order of sisters. There were rampant signtings of ghosts of sisters who had lived and died in the building in the early 1900's. The library had it's own ghostly resident. She pulled all sorts of pranks on us until we finally gave her a name and talked to her. After that, books stopped falling off the shelves, the telephone stopped talking to us, the electric typewriter stopped turning itself on, and the space stayed a constant temperature.
    I didn't actually see her, but my assistant did. We did some research about who it might have been, and all we found out was that she was about ten years old, and her style of dress indicated she lived during the early 1900's. The school had been a boarding school then. We named her Anela (angel in Hawaiian).
    If I heard these stories, I would not believe them, but I am unable to explain them away since they happened to me. The world is a very interesting place.

  9. Ruth - Lilac, how lovely!
    Vinny - I'll bet that spooked everyone.
    Yikes Miki... for real??
    Silver - LOVE THAT: "I swear the upstairs landing was like a bus stop for traveling spirits." You must be a writer!

  10. I've never experienced human forms in the paranormal, but I have lost a dog whose particular touch (a nose to my temple) I still feel from time to time, and another dog whose bark was heard by a visitor at the same time I heard it, a week after she died. That bark repeated for maybe a month and then never again.

    I've never included the paranormal in anything I've written professionally, though I do write about the shapes and shadows that come to us as a product of our own yearning. In one way or another -- fiction or nonfiction -- that ghost turns up for me a lot.

  11. I've been visited twice. Once in a motel while on the job, and once in a gorgeous apartment when my children were very young. My husband laughed at me - until HE felt the presence. We moved so fast it made my head spin.

  12. Dianne - your experience sounds a lot like mine. That weird room-fillled-with energy thing is hard to ignore.

  13. OH, these stories are wonderful Marvelous. Amazing. I'd rather believe than not believe.

    There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies...something like that.

  14. I have lived in two houses with friendly "haints" or ghosts--I clearly remember once a friend asking me, Judy, who are those men in your living room? There were no men of coure. But I've never been alarmed--just sensed another presence which was sort of comforting.
    I never write about the paranormal, but in my current WIP the heroine's recently deceased grandmother channels her to give advice--but then disappears at the most frustrating times.