Tag Archives: ghost stories

Interview: Hauntings with Writer Janine Pipe #WIHM #womeninhorror

Thanks for following along here this month and joining me to meet these fabulous women in horror! As a goal, I try to not only feature accomplished and established women of horror (the top names) ONLY, especially being around myself with this site for nine years, but also to support those upcoming writers of all backgrounds who are working hard at their craft and visibility. It’s not about views for me, but about supporting others.

Today, I would like you to meet Janine, just as I did recently. This is the first year she’s heard of women in horror month, which makes it clear we still need to promote it, and she, as well as I, met women in horror we didn’t know before through the awareness campaigns. I have every year. This year, I met Janine. She picked up the ball and ran with a whole month of features on her own blog with women in horror. I very much appreciate her interview with me. Now, I’d like to introduce you to her.

Stay tuned for a few segment in the #WIHM series to come.

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Hi Janine, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m glad you could join us as part of women in horror month. Please let me know your choice of coffee, tea, or drink, and if the former, how you take it? I’m hoping you pick tea as I have English Breakfast tea brewing and shortbread. But whatever you like is fine, you’re the guest!

Janine: Thank you so much Erin for inviting me. I’m a latte lady, but since I am British I would love a cup of tea. And shortbread sounds delightful.

Erin: Great, I love lattes too! Next time we’ll have those. Let’s carry this all into the library and have a seat to chat.

When do you first discover you wanted to write horror? What type of horror do you write?

Janine: I think that because horror has always been my favourite genre to read, it was just a natural progression to writing it too. I started with shorts and poems in my teens. Life sort of took over and writing fiction went on the back-burner, but over the last year I have started again in earnest. I write both supernatural and classic horror, often with a twist. I also like lore, urban legends and creepy pasta.

Erin: What are some of the first goals you have for yourself as a writer?

Janine: To be published in print. To see my name on Amazon or when I walk into Waterstones. To know people are reading my work. But I also know this isn’t an easy game and it will take some time. I mainly write short stories so I tend to submit to anthologies. I have the semblance of an idea for a full novel though, once I get the time to do it.

Erin: You have some of your stories read on podcasts or radio? How did that come about? Were they stories you already had written, or did you write stories specifically to be read on air? 

What was it like the first time you heard your stories being read out loud like that? 

Janine: The first story, “The Boy,” which was featured on Ghost Stories the Podcast, was also the first short I had written for many years. I submitted it and just hoped they might like it. Same for my second, “Adam,” which was read aloud on Tales to Terrify. The third, “The Christmas Ghost,” I wrote specifically for audio and that was on a Patreon episode of Graveyard Tales. I have become friendly with Tyler, the host of Ghost Stories the Podcast, and recently had a second story used. That was based on fact and again was written specifically for the show. Almost an origin story for my writing.

The radio interview with BBC Somerset came about as I saw the presenter tweet out that he was looking for spooky tales about Somerset for a Halloween radio special. We got to chatting and he thought it would give the show an extra boost to have an actual ghost writer come on and talk about local legends.

I won’t lie, the first time I heard my work read aloud, I cried a little. It was pride. A sense of, wow, I wrote that? It felt great.

Erin: From reading a little of your blog, I see you like ghost stories – reading, writing, and real ghost stories? What do you love about ghosts the most in any of those areas or all?

Janine: I will let you in on a little secret – I am terrified of ghosts. That sounds crazy for someone who is fascinated with them and writes about them I am sure, but it actually helps me. I can spook myself sometimes with my stories. What I like most about them is that they are (often) believable. Which is equally why they scare me so much. I am 99.9% sure that I will never meet a vampire, but I have actually witnessed paranormal activity…

Erin: Yes, that’s what scares me about it too! Are you from the UK or America? I’m just prefacing that because I want to ask who you feel has the better ghost stories and why? (I’m originally from England – personally I think the UK stories are better just because the ghosts have had many more years to percolate in their haunting there haha!)

Janine: I am UK born and bred. I suppose due to the history, we are bound to have more stories here and there are some good ones, But because I love the US, I actually prefer American stories. Boston is one of my most favourite places in the entire world, and we did a fantastic graveyard and ghost trail there. NYC also has a plethora of hauntings, and the deep south. I find these fascinating, especially around the Carolinas.

Erin: I love Boston too and all the hauntings in the older and historic cities we have. But the US is only about 250 years old and these stories come from these time frames. I suppose that’s why I like the First People’s legends and stories. I love the stories that come from England and Ireland, seeped in such deep, deep lore. I suppose it’s all intriguing!

What’s the best haunting story you’ve come across reading?

Janine: I suppose it has to be the Enfield hauntings, and 50 Berkley Square in London. Mainly as I fist read about them as a child as it terrified me haha.

Erin: I’ll have to look those up now.

Do you like other types of horror for reading and/or writing?

Janine: Oh yes, I like most types of horror, especially what I refer to as classic horror (monsters, lore etc.) and slasher/serial killer stuff. I like vampire and werewolf stories, and early King books.

Who are your writing influences and why?

Janine: As I just mentioned, Stephen King is my main writing influence, especially his earlier work and books like It. I love nostalgia and varying time-lines. Part of that stems from being an 80’s child myself.

Erin: Who’s books inspire you today and why?

Janine: My latest literary hero is the fantastic C J Tudor. I have read all three of her books, and they are phenomenal, and have been likened to King again. Her writing style reminds me of the way I write, and I can only hope and pray that one day, I might be even half as good as she is at creating a masterpiece.

Erin: I love CJ  and her books too. She an excellent dark thriller writer. I don’t think she is too much like Stephen King myself, because I think she writes tighter, which is a compliment. haha! I love many of his works though too. CJ is one I know will also give us a good read, and beyond that, a humble and cool person. Keep aspiring! It happened to her almost overnight so you never know.

What is the biggest current challenge you’re finding as you start your writing career?

Janine: Time and rejections. Time as with a lot of people starting out, because I have a job, a family, a house to run. And rejections just suck. I know they are part of a writer’s life and I need a thicker skin pronto, but it still burns to hear – no thank you time and time again.

Erin: Yes that’s true. I think it’s time for any of us no matter how long we’ve been writing especially if we have other work and a family. It’s the same for me. Rejections will always suck, but also it’s not always about you or your writing, but what an editor is looking for as a whole and the puzzle of an anthology or their yearly calendar. There are so many writers out there, and with the publishing market not being profitable, it just makes it hard for them to take on too many. That’s why so many are going to self-publishing these days and it works. Keep that positive thinking going and persevere.

What has been the best part to you about being a writer? Have you had any help whether schooling, writing help books, websites, people?

Janine: The best part is seeing a story come together, and people actually enjoying it. I have had some help via other writers. I am very lucky to have met another horror writer and publisher in my own home town, Graeme Reynolds. He is my unofficial mentor, and will edit and check through work for me.

Erin: What’s next for you with your writing. Your big plans for 2020?

Janine: To continue the blog, keep submitting to anthologies and hopefully, see my name in print.

Erin: I realize you are also a huge Disney fan. It’s amazing how diverse the interests are in those who write horror. What do you like most about Disney and your favorite movies? Do their stories or characters ever inspire your writing?

Janine: Oh I LOVE Disney!!! I have been writing for Florida based blogs and websites for years. Our house is like a Disney Store. What do I like most? That’s a tough one. For me, it is not just about the movies, or the rides at WDW. I love to know about the history of the parks. I love the trivia. Actually, my daughter is the first published author of the family. She is one of the reviewers in The Unofficial Guide to WDW for Kids haha! I guess my most favourite thing about Disney is kind of cringy. But it is how I feel when I am there, in the parks. I feel happy, relaxed and like I am Home.

My favourite movies are The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog and Fantasia. My favourite rides are The Haunted Mansion and The Tower of Terror.

Thus far, I have steered clear of anything Disney related in my work. Another reason why I like CJ Tudor so much? Another huge Disney fan. As is Brian Moreland!

Erin: That’s so cool! I like Disney so much too as do all three of my kids, even my son, who is now in college loves The Lion King. They do have a way of making you feel wonderful. Though I live in the states I’ve never been to Disneyworld though!

How long have you known about women in horror and how has the month, or social media, allowed you to meet more women in horror? How has it been?

Janine: I will be 100% honest, this is the first year I had heard of it. I think it is a fantastic thing. I have met some fabulous people I might not have interacted with via social media had it not have been for this. I think that it is an amazing way to help promote women who’d for some reason remain underrepresented in horror.

Erin: That’s so good to hear. So many question if we should still have it and this is a good reason why!

You have a great site where you post stories, reviews, and interviews with other horror authors, primarily women this month! Were can readers find that? Where else should they follow you?

Janine: Thank you! I try my very best to post daily, you can find me at Janine’s Ghost Stories.

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/disneynine and Facebook.

Erin: Thanks so much for coming by Janine. Stop by anytime. I’ll be rooting for your writing success!

Janine: Thank YOU Erin, it has been my absolute pleasure.

Janine Pipe, Biography – 

Janine PipeJanine has loved to write spooky stories and tales with a twist since she was at school. She is a huge fan of Stephen King, first devouring Salem’s Lot at the tender age of just nine. Her work is heavily influenced by this. She also loves C J Tudor and credits fellow Swindon horror writer Graeme Reynolds as an unofficial mentor.

You can find her stories on Ghost Stories the Podcast, Graveyard Tales and Tales to Terrify. She shares some of her original shorts and flash fiction on her blog, Janine’s Ghost Stories, where she also reviews and interviews authors of horror.

She loves to chat about all things horror and Disney related over at @Disneynine on Twitter.

WiHM11-GrrrlBlack

 

 

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Guest Article: Rachel Rebecca – The Ghost Who Haunted Me by Catherine Cavendish #promotehorror #hauntings #TheDarkestVeil

Hey all! Today we have a familiar face in writer friend Catherine Cavendish, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors. I love when Cat stops by with her guest articles – she has many times over the years here. A couple years ago I read her novel The Darkest Veil as an editor hoping to acquire for an indie press I was working for, but unfortunately, as with several manuscripts, I couldn’t get a chance to receive answers as the press was delaying all things. I’d have LOVED to work on and publish this book – I love it! I WAS able to acquire and serve as her editor on a short story for the anthology I co-edited, Haunted are These Houses, and it was a pleasure. Maybe one day I’ll get to work with Cat again!

Long story short, it’s a great book, as most all of Cat’s books, and I’m so glad that Crossroads Press picked it up to publish for her! It’s available now and I highly recommend it if you like gothic, haunting reads as I do. Check out this spine tingling article about the ghost who attached to her and then pick up The Darkest Veil!

Rachel Rebecca – The Ghost Who Haunted Me
by Catherine Cavendish, author of The Darkest Veil

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She attached herself to me – and that really is the only way I can describe the ‘latched on’ feeling that would swarm over me whenever I sensed she was around. I heard her name variously as ‘Rachel’ or ‘Rebecca’ until I became convinced that she possessed both those names, so Rachel Rebecca she became.

The year was 1973 and I was living in a small flat in Leeds. Not much more than a bedsit really, in a converted Victorian terraced house. Four other girls lived in the building, so why Rachel should choose to attach herself to me is a mystery I have never solved.

At first, she was a movement out of the corner of my eye that I couldn’t quite grab hold of. Then silly little things like tin openers, a hairbrush and spoons would disappear. I lived alone. No-one had a key to my flat and none of these items would reappear. It was as if some black hole had opened up and swallowed them. Now and again, the pre-remote control TV would change channel – on one occasion flicking through each of the three available stations before settling back on the original one.

Needless to say, I told no one.

Then I was promoted at work. Time to find a larger apartment and leave Rachel Rebecca behind. Or so I thought.

“Who’s that little girl?” my new boyfriend asked, three weeks after I’d moved into my lovely, shiny new flat.

I nearly dropped the bottle of Chianti I was pouring.

“What little girl?”

“The one over there, by the door. She’s smiling at you. Looks to me like she wants to play.”

pic 2 - credit Equinox Paranormal

Photo Credit: Equinox Paranormal

As if on cue, a small drinks mat slid off the table, which was easily within reach of where John had said she was standing.

I set the bottle carefully down on the sideboard. “Can you describe her?”

“She’s about ten or eleven, with long dark hair, in ringlets, and looks like she stepped off one of those Victorian Christmas cards.”

I took a deep breath. “Is her name Rachel? Did she follow me here from Mexborough Close?”

John shook his head. “Sorry, she faded out as you were talking.”

After that, things began to disappear out of drawers and off the mantelpiece, just as they had in my previous flat. Only this time, I heard girlish laughter when I knew there was no one around. I would feel a strong presence standing next to me in the kitchen and, when I turned to see who it was, a breeze fluttered my hair as if someone had rushed past me.

My relationship with John didn’t last the course and, in any case, he only ever saw her on that one occasion, so he couldn’t help with any more information.

Gradually things quieted down. Sometimes weeks would go by and nothing happened. Then I moved again. This time away from Leeds. But Rachel came with me.

I went to a service at the local Spiritualist Church, and the guest speaker connected with me. She described the little girl exactly as John had. She told me that children who pass over into the spirit world continue to behave as earthly children and this little girl was no different. She was mischievous and I must talk to her and tell her to behave. Then, with no prompting from me, the speaker said she heard the names ‘Rachel’ and ‘Rebecca’.

man trapped inside television

A few months later, I was watching my new TV, with its remote control next to me. Suddenly its red function light started flickering – something it would only do if a key was depressed. The volume started to rise.

“Stop it, Rachel! That’s very naughty. You are not to play with the remote control, do you understand?” It was the first – and only – time I spoke to her. The remote switched to ‘mute’.

Weeks of silence drifted into months. I moved to another city. This time Rachel didn’t follow me and I have neither heard nor experienced her since. I’ve often wondered where, and why, she went.

My new novella, The Darkest Veil, draws on the locations of my first encounters with Rachel Rebecca although there the similarity ends.

Eventually, I moved to a haunted building with a very different ghost but that, as they say, is a whole other story…

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We are the Thirteen and we are one

 4 Yarborough Drive looked like any other late 19th century English townhouse. Alice Lorrimer feels safe and welcomed there, but soon discovers all is not as it appears to be. One of her housemates flees the house in terror. Another disappears and never returns. Then there are the sounds of a woman wailing, strange shadows and mists, and the appearance of the long-dead Josiah Underwood who founded a coven there many years earlier. The house is infested with his evil, and Alice and her friends are about to discover who the Thirteen really are.

When death’s darkest veil draws over you, then shall shadows weep

The Darkest Veil is available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Catherine Cavendish, Biography –

pic 5 (2)Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. In addition to The Darkest Veil, Cat’s novels include The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

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Guest Article: The Ghost With The Bandage and Other Apparitions by Catherine Cavendish

Today I welcome back a very special writer friend, Catherine Cavendish. If you follow my site, you probably have read some very interesting guest articles from her here in the past, and without fail, she’s written one again that’s sure to spook you! Of course, she is talking about ghosts, in celebration of her newest release, THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE, from Flame Tree press. I am so very happy for Catherine about this release and I can’t wait to dig in. It’s one my most highly anticipated novels of the year as well my favorite cover so far. I’ll also have an interview with Catherine in the near future so stay tuned!

Enjoy…and be spooked…

The Ghost With The Bandage and Other Apparitions

by Catherine Cavendish, author of The Haunting of Henderson Close

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Famed as Scotland’s spookiest castle, Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire was the home of the Leith-Hay family for nearly 300 years since it was built in 1650 and is now a favourite location for ghosthunters. The Most Haunted TV crew filmed an episode here, with medium Derek Acorah. He proclaimed that a tree in the grounds had been used for hangings, and rope marks are indeed visible in the branches.

But who are the ghosts? Probably the most commonly seen is the ghost of former owner John Leith III who came to a most ignominious end when he was shot in a drunken brawl in Aberdeen in 1763. In critical condition, he was brought home to Leith Hall where he succumbed to his injuries three days later. He seems unable to move on though and appears wearing dark green trousers and a shirt. A filthy once-white bandage is wrapped around his head, covering his eyes and he wanders around, seemingly in great pain and distress at his injuries. Novelist Elizabeth Byrd reported seeing him on July 16th 1968 in the bedroom in which she was staying. She said he appeared as solid as a living man but when she shouted at him to go away, he simply vanished in the direction of a window behind a dressing table. After that experience, she refused to spend another night in that room. I can understand why!

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John Leith III

A ghost of a woman wearing Victorian dress has also been reported, although her identity remains a mystery. There have been sounds of a lady laughing, sudden changes in temperature, heavy footsteps and the feeling of being touched by invisible hands.

Leith Hall is positively crowded with apparitions and others include a governess and a young child as well as a young soldier. There are strange smells, including camphor and food, the sound of children playing – some have even been seen. The ghosts come from different eras in the Hall’s long and colourful history.

In 1746, Jacobite Andrew Hay of Rannes hid there, fleeing from the massacre of the Battle of Culloden. He eventually made his escape to France and was pardoned by King George in 1746 – documentation to this effect is still in existence in the Hall. Fast forward to World War I and the Hall became a temporary military hospital where soldiers who had been dreadfully injured were housed and cared for.

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Henrietta Leith-Hay gifted Leith Hall to the National Trust for Scotland in 1945, remaining there until her death in 1963. It is open to the public from the beginning of April until the end of September. If you go there, expect the unexpected. In the dining room, the atmosphere has been reported as being so heavy, it is almost suffocating. You may not want to remain in there for too long. Likewise, the bedroom where Elizabeth Byrd had her frightening encounter has been known to exude a claustrophobic and heavy atmosphere that visitors have found off-putting. Some visitors who have stayed there have felt as if they were being smothered in their bed or, in some cases, have experienced nightmares where they felt hands squeezing their throat. They have also felt someone was in the room, even though there was no one but them there.

A painting in the drawing room – The Flight into Egypt – appears to give visitors a start too. Poor Elizabeth Byrd had a sighting here as well. She saw a large man with a beard in the picture. She pointed it out to her fellow guests – but only she could see it.

So, not for the faint-hearted perhaps, but well worth a visit. The house is different. It’s quirky and full of fascinating objects, along with its host of ghosts.

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For ghosts of a different kind, here’s what to expect from The Haunting of Henderson Close:

Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released. Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face? The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real.

The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.

The Haunting of Henderson Close is available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Flame Tree Press

Catherine Cavendish, Biography –

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Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. In addition to The Haunting of Henderson Close, Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here –

Catherine Cavendish

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Twitter

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Laura K. Cowan’s Music of Sacred Lakes is Beautiful Redemptive Ghost Story + INTERVIEW

musicofsacredlakesbookcoverfrontMusic of Sacred Lakes, by Laura K. Cowan, is my type of book. I love books that rise above words on a page and become their own surreal, atmospheric, deep thinking entities. It’s why I love Neil Gaiman, Erin Healy, and Ted Dekker so much. I really wish there were more authors who would write stories that intertwine the essence of life with fantastic ideas and a connection to nature, our ancestors, and the spirit world. Maybe I just think deeper myself than an average person on such subjects, but I doubt it. I am sure there are plenty of us free spirit thinkers sitting on benches by rivers and lakes and thinking about how it all fits together.

In this novel, Laura deals with emotions and issues such as not feeling like you belong, feeling guilty for not meeting expectations, feeling that you can’t be who you are, and as well, emotions that come from accidentally doing something wrong and having it eat away at you. She does a wonderful job of bringing it full circle though and redeeming the protagonist as he does inner soul searching and embraces self-awareness and forgiveness.

This story is somewhat supernatural in regards to it deals with the character diving deep beyond the normal, natural world and seeks guidance from God, spirits, natures, and himself. He is heightened in regards to thinking beyond the average world and healing himself. The lake, and his quest he is sent on by a native american healer to hear the lake speak to him, brings a gothic, foggy feel to the novel.

I really enjoyed Laura’s use of the first people tribes, the Odawa and Ojibwe, which are native to the area of Canada and Michigan. Native American novels and the use of their spiritual history and connection with nature has always interested and appealed to me, so I was thrilled that her novel included this element. It gives us as Christians an understanding that their is more than the usual religion that most are used to, that long before the white men came here, native americans were in-tune to the natural world and as well their own emotions and spiritual plain. A deep understanding of nature can call to us, change us, and speak to us, or how spirits and ancestors can speak to us through it, is so eerie to read about and yet so interesting to think on.

I really loved the issues and emotions Laura put into her book, as well as her character development and  her astounding magical and spiritual realism and symbolism. I can’t read to read more from Laura. If you liked Erin Healy’s Afloat or Neil Gaiman’s The House at the End of the Lane, then I think you’ll love Laura’s Music of the Sacred Lakes.  4.5 stars

Interview with Laura K. Cowan~

laura-k-cowan-headshotHi Laura!! Happy to have you come by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s always a pleasure to have you here. You are kicking off quite the year as not only are you publishing Music of Sacred Lakes, but you have many more books launching this year. How are you feeling about launching Music of Sacred Lakes to the world?

Laura: Thank you! It’s so nice to be back to talk to you again. How am I feeling? Giddiness followed by dread followed by joy. No biggie. But seriously, this book came out of a full year of intense research and involved a shift in my worldview to a new understanding of the connectedness of things, so it’s big for me even if I’m not inventing any new way of seeing things that didn’t already exist in the world. I am super excited to share it with everyone, but I’m also pretty nervous. How many more people have to call me a heretic before I earn my sew-on “This Artist Has Been Flogged and Proven Sincere” patch?

Erin: NO reason to be nervous….haha! It’s getting somewhat more like spring where we are in Michigan and Ohio, after all that massive snow we had, let’s don our sweatshirts and head out in the cool breeze for a walk around one of our neighboring lakes. Should we bring coffee or tea? I opt this time for a steaming cup of java myself. You?

Laura: I love coffee, but it turns me into a maniac! I seriously can’t drink more than a quarter-cup of coffee without attempting to write an entire book in one day or clean my whole house. That would be awesome if it didn’t involve a crash on the other end. So, tea, thanks.

Erin: I have some great questions I’ve been waiting to ask you so let’s get started.

Q: Tell us a little about Music of Sacred Lakes. What was your inspiration for the novel?

A: My family actually has a sixth-generation family homestead in Northern Michigan like Peter in Music of Sacred Lakes, and while I’m really proud of my pioneering ancestors and relatives who still maintain the farm, I was upset when I learned as a kid about the history of Native American tribes being forced to give their lands to the United States to open it to settlers in the 1800s. I thought all my life about how maybe I should give back land I had control over, or at least help these tribes. In the end I realized that this sort of thing has happened throughout history to many peoples and it’s not possible to untangle it so simply, but it got me thinking about ownership of land, a concept I’ve never really been comfortable with. I also was thinking about how different cultures give rise to unique musical styles that really seem to reflect the environment they come from, and I started to wonder if there was a relationship between music and land. What was people’s relationship to land? What kind of relationships do people have with nature? I was starting to realized that feeling unwanted and displaced in the world was a deeper issue than family relationships, a big theme running through the generations of my family. It had something to do with the way we view our place in the world as a whole as well, something that had more to do with our entire culture’s way of viewing their relationship with nature.

Q: Your stories generally have an air of spirituality and connection with the natural elements. How do you feel your ghost differs from the normal ghost stories we read mainstream today?

A: This ghost is so different that I didn’t decide it was a ghost until the story was finished! This ghost is more like the voice of the world or the creative force behind it, which comes to Peter in the book in the form of the girl he accidentally killed rising out of Lake Michigan as a part of the lake. That’s why I call it a redemptive ghost story. It’s certainly still fascinating in the way I think all ghost stories can be, but it’s not just scary or sad. There’s a real ambiguous quality to it. We travel through the experience of being pursued by this voice with Peter, unsure of what is going on.

Q: How do you as an author define your genre? Literary? Christian? Paranormal? And how do others define you? Even though we can say we don’t want to be defined, generally our novels fit in somewhere and this helps readers to know if it’s a read for them.

A: I guess the best fit for me is magical realism or imaginative fantasy, in which invisible or mythical truths are made literal and visible in the contemporary world. My writing hops across several genres: fantasy, literary fiction, spiritual/visionary/metaphysical/postmodern Christian, paranormal psychological thrillers, but everything is about dreams, the connections between the natural and spiritual worlds, and supernatural or magical elements.

Q: What makes your novel, The Music of Sacred Lakes, stand out on the shelves? What makes your story unique?

A: Both supernatural novels and literary novels sometimes have a kind of dark vision of the world these days, probably just a reflection of our times. But Music of Sacred Lakes dives into one of the hardest topics literature tackles–being unwanted, unloved, displaced in the world, seeing no hope or purpose in life: despair–and brings an ambitiously hopeful vision of how things might be all right after all. It might be that we just don’t see it.

Q: What do you hope readers “take away” after they read this novel? What types of emotions or thoughts do you hope to evoke from them?

A: Hope. A feeling of being surrounded by loving care and belonging just as they are.

Q: The Odawa tribe, which is featured in the book, were native to Canada and Michigan. Have you done much research about the tribes? How did you feature the tribe in the book?

A: The main character’s best friend Derek is from the Odawa tribe local to the area where Peter’s family has been living since 1865, and it’s his uncle he takes Peter to when he sees he is in trouble after accidentally killing a girl. It’s this Uncle Lou, a pipe carrier or spiritual leader for the tribe, who tells Peter he needs to live by the shores of Lake Michigan until it speaks to him. I read everything I could find about the history of the tribes and their culture and myths while researching this novel, but a lot of information is kept private within the tribe. I contacted the band of Odawa living in the area where Music of Sacred Lakes is set and someone very graciously answered some of my questions about the tribe’s culture and lifestyle. I was also lucky to find an Ojibwe linguist in my own town who would help me proof some details in my novel. (Ojibwe is a brother tribe to the Odawa and the languages and history are intertwined.) This gave me a bit more confidence that I wasn’t going to make any huge mistakes writing this novel, but the more I learned the more I realized how complex the culture and beliefs were.

Q: Is the lake in your novel Lake Michigan or Lake Huron? How many novels do you think could be penned just by looking out at a lake and clearing your mind? Lakes offer so much depth, pun intended. Do you find beauty, solace, and stories at the lake?

A: Lake Michigan. And oh my I could write forever looking out over Lake Michigan in particular. I think readers will see how much I love the lake by reading the novel. The lake itself is a character in this book, and I had no problem coming up with a new image to describe the lake every single moment Peter looks out over the water throughout the book or listens to the waves. The lake is like that, always changing, always bringing you some new insight or sense of freedom.

Q: Your life is busy, how have you found time to write novels such as these that seem to take a lot of internal reflection and deep thinking? I’d love to be able to write on this wavelength, but the voices of a million things to do with the kids and work and life seem to stifle my thoughts. How do you do it? Advice?

A: I honestly am always thinking on speculative, metaphysical and spiritual topics and have been told most of my life that it’s boring or that it’s arrogant to think that I’m capable of thinking deeply on these things. I finally had to decide that I believed I was capable of this, because I really can’t help myself. This is what I love about life. And when my brain or my heart get going on these topics, the stories just explode inside my head, or start to unfold slowly and then accelerate, and I have to write to keep up. It’s still accelerating now that I’m investing in my writing, and it’s a little startling sometimes to see all this stuff in my head rolling out onto paper. It’s only a fraction of what’s going through my mind, but it’s quickly turning into a whole library of work!

Q: You’ve described yourself as a literary imaginative novelist, or an American Fabulist. Can you talk about this a little and describe what that means for readers?

A: The main features of my work are that it is high-concept, meaning I’m exploring really deep topics of speculation about how the world works. And it’s imaginative, because if I write fantasy I’m often making up my own monsters or putting two concepts together into something new, not writing about existing fantasy creatures like elves or dragons. So I’ll take you down a lot of different paths with my stories, but it will hopefully always be something that is important to you and really resonates with you, and it will always be imaginative and new.

Q: What are your hopes for yourself as a novelist? We can be humble, but we all aspire. What are your aspirations, goals, dreams?

A: There are so many things I can’t control about my success, so I focus my goals on things I think I can accomplish. I would like to be the most prolific and imaginative American Fabulist in history. Of course my real dream is to connect with as many readers as possible and for my stories to mean something to someone who is hurting and needs some hope and love or a world to escape into where they can be happy. I had my first glimpse of this when I released my first novel, The Little Seer, last year. Two people wrote to me and told me the book changed their lives. Even if I didn’t already write for the love of it, that would have made five years of work worth it, for me.

Q: What authors do you like yourself? What authors have served as inspiration for you? What are some of your favorite books?

A: I love Italo Calvino, who wrote literary fantasy. Jorge Luis Borges, the king of magical realism. I love the new fairy tales coming out these days, written by Eowyn Ivey, Kate Bernheimer or Ekaterina Sedia, and anything speculative or imaginative and spiritual at the same time. I love Victorian or Puritan ghost stories about priests, for obvious reasons. Some of my favorite books include Charles de Lint’s Memory & Dream, in which art is sentient, Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood about a layered magical wood of mythic creatures, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods since it opened up this world of contemporary fantasy mixed with world myths to me. And Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland is the most amazing story on so many levels.

Q: Are you making a conscious decision to self-publish your books? Can you talk about that and what your thoughts are on this?

A: Yes, it was a tough decision because publishing is in a huge transition right now, but ultimately I discovered that traditional publishing couldn’t offer me the things they used to, and that contract terms were so bad they could sometimes stop an author’s career in its tracks. Even though I met some amazing people in the process of making this decision, I had to go it alone in the end just so I could keep my career moving forward. As a self-published author I can publish six books a year, as quickly as I can write and edit them, I can control how quickly I get my covers designed, hire any help I need, and so on. I hope someday to find partners to help me get my work out and scale up my career even further, but for now the only way to write what I want and not get bogged down in bottlenecks is to do it all myself, and I actually enjoy that process so it’s very satisfying.

Q: Also are you crazy publishing such an unheard of amount of books in the next one to two years? How are you doing this? What is your plan? How many books do you actually having coming out and what are they about?

A: I have six books coming out this year starting with Music of Sacred Lakes, everything from new fairytales about portals between worlds to a young adult fantasy world in which dreams balloon into a new reality that threatens to roll up the world like a scroll, and a paranormal psychological thriller about an ex-ballerina running away from an abusive marriage while trying to figure out if she’s possessed. It all follows the same supernatural spiritual lines of the rest of my work but dips into many different genres.

I’m publishing this quickly because readers now consume books like they do movies, binge reading whole backlists, and because this really is how quickly I need to work to keep up with myself. I have three books I’m editing over the next few months in parallel, and I already have four more books I want to write noodling around in my head. My idea file must have close to 200 ideas in it, and growing. Yes, I’m probably crazy, but hopefully the interesting kind of crazy.

Q: Where can readers and authors connect with you? Where can they purchase your books? 

A: All my work comes out first on Amazon and Kindle (you can find Music of Sacred Lakes here [ http://www.amazon.com/Music-Sacred-Lakes-Laura-Cowan/dp/1494711427/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1397568590&sr=8-2&keywords=laura+k.+cowan ] ), but I will be releasing many of my books to other e-book retailers soon, and you can always order my work in any bookstore or request it be ordered by your local library. I’m on Facebook [ http://www.facebook.com/laurakcowannovelist ] and Twitter (@laurakcowan) as well as Pinterest and Goodreads as Laura K. Cowan. And I blog at http://www.laurakcowan.com.

Erin: I’m always so happy to learn of your work and feature you on the blog, Laura, my friend. Best wishes to you with all your pursuits and we’ll be here to inform our readers about all your fabulous novels as they publish. I love watching all this blossom for you.

Laura: Thank you so much! I really appreciate all your support. Best of luck to you with everything as well!

Music of Sacred Lakes, Synopsis~

musicofsacredlakesbookcoverfrontPeter Sanskevicz doesn’t belong anywhere. He doesn’t want the sixth-generation family farm his great great-grandfather unwittingly stole from its Odawa owners, and can’t continue his jobs serving “fudgies,” tourists in Northern Michigan who seem more at home than he is. He can’t seem to take charge of things or do anything but make a mess. Then, Peter accidentally kills a girl.

Seeing his life is at risk, his friend takes him to his uncle, a pipe carrier of the Odawa tribe, who tells him he must live by the shores of Lake Michigan until the lake speaks to him. Peter lives and loves and rages by the shores of the great lake, haunted by its rich beauty, by strange images and sounds that begin to pursue him through his waking and sleeping hours, and by the spirit of the dead girl, who seems to be trying to help him. One day, he finally finds an inner silence. And then, he hears what the lake has to say to him. A story about reconnecting with the source of your life and your joy, Music of Sacred Lakes gives voice to the spirit of the land and lakes that gave birth to us all.

With this second and astonishingly sophisticated novel, Dreaming Novelist Laura K. Cowan cements her reputation as one of the most imaginative new American Fabulists, a writer of spiritually-oriented magical realism, literary fantasy, and visionary fiction in the line of Alice Hoffman, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Paulo Coelho, but characterized by an electric mix of lyrical language, an evocative sense of place, and quick-moving narrative that harkens back to a time when literary fiction was served up raw and ghost stories weren’t told for their sad and scary parts.

Available April 26, 2014 in Paperback and Ebook

Author Laura K. Cowan, Biography~

laura-k-cowan-headshotLaura K. Cowan writes imaginative stories that explore the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Her work has been compared to that of acclaimed fantasy and sci-fi authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury, but her stark and lovely stories retain a distinctly spiritual flavor.

Laura’s debut novel The Little Seer was a top 5 Kindle Bestseller for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting,” “moving and lyrical.” Her second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story collection, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, received rave reviews. Laura’s short stories also appear in a number of anthologies, including the charity anthology Shades of Fear, and the upcoming historical horror anthology Sins of the Past, the rather ridiculous soon-to-come PANTS! anthology, and the completely absurd upcoming Faery Tale Therapy.

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Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea Made My Skin Crawl in Fright! Preparing for Upcoming Spring Releases

Do shadows lurk around the corner of your home? Press against your window, claw at your door? Does evil claim your territory for their own devices? No, well….you’re not having any fun then.  I suggest you get your fix like I did by reading Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea. 

Until you pick up your own copy, or possibly win the giveaway mentioned below, maybe this blog post will entertain you.  Lurking shadows of the night won’t envelope you just from reading this post, BUT if you don’t read it you’ll miss the review of one of the best scary stories I’ve read in years.  Published by Samhain Publishing’s horror line, Shea is one of the best writers currently out there and I don’t say that lightly.

Here’s the synopsis~

forest of shadowsThe dead still hate!

John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.

AHHHHHHH……right?

Reading Evil Eternal by Shea first, I was not sure what to expect from Forest of Shadows since Evil Eternal is a rip-roaring bloody demonic action adventure.  I know Shea is a big fan of ghost adventures and the paranormal, so I was hoping this was some kind of ghost story I could really settle down and get goosebumps from. I wasn’t disappointed!

Primarily taking place in an extremely remote town in Alaska that is more like a makeshift modern Native American village that belongs to the dump, Shea takes time to develop his characters and the town’s visual details.  But not in any way that makes the story seem slow or going nowhere…in fact, he builds his characters and his suspense like a master professional with just enough alluding paragraphs, chapter endings, and out of nowhere sentences that made me jump out of my seat or my spine tingle.

His verbiage is supreme goodness, his prose so smooth like ghostly vapors, and his foreboding and mystery perfectly ominous and flawless. I was SUCKED right in and couldn’t stop turning the pages. I refused to want to stop reading to do normal tasks such as shower or eat. 

His protagonist, paranormal hobbyist John, and his young daughter, Jessica, hail from New York and take up residence in this unlikely outpost based on a ghost hunting tip from a resident intelligent Indian delinquent who has a fancy for the local librarian and unexpectedly encounters a strange phenomena in John’s soon to be home. But this town doesn’t like white folk, or outsiders, and furthermore, doesn’t like its secrets told or history uncovered.

I really enjoyed how Shea was able to write a clean novel, without a lot of crass sex or bloody gore. When he did write some in during the bursting at the seams finale, he did so in a way that shocking and fast-paced.  He was toying so much with my emotions that I barely saw the blood I knew must be there as I was focusing on feeling for the characters.  I won’t give the ending away, but he had me guessing till the last.  It was redemptive and sad all the same, with a message of good vs. evil you won’t want to miss.

He was able to scare the living daylights out of me–had me listening to the creak of my house stairs with more than passing notice and out my back window at night, even walking and looking over my shoulder–by utilizing straight-forward story telling at its finest. If you are a fan of authors who write augur ghost stories, then Shea is a must read and I recommend him highly.

Forest of Shadows has a sequel coming out this Spring from Samhain called Sinister Entity. Shea also has written a novella called The Graveyard Speaks, which is a prequel to the sequel. (Yes, you can laugh at that). To make it more confusing, it’s a sequel to Forest of Shadows, but also a stand-alone and the start of a new series.  The Graveyard Speaks takes place some 13 years after Forest of Shadows ends and one month prior to Sinister Entity.  Shea utilizes one of his most endearing main characters from Forest of Shadows for Sinister Entity.

We’ve got a lot of cool things coming up from Shea, including an interview this month where he divulges more to me than he ever has during an interview. It’s one you’ll want to be on the watch for. We’ve also got reviews and news of these new Spring releases coming up with giveaways on tap!

The Graveyard Speaks Novella (Short Story)~

the-graveyard-speaksThe dark, moaning apparition that rises from the same grave night after night has chased away even the most skeptical cemetery caretakers. Only one ghost hunter has the will to face the unknown, but at what price?

The Graveyard Speaks is your introduction into the mysterious and at times dangerous life of the paranormal’s most powerful spirit explorer. Read it with the lights on, and if you’re brave enough, follow the trail to Sinister Entity. This isn’t ghost hunting you see on TV!

Get The Graveyard Speaks by Hunter Shea FREE on Samhain’s site (www.samhainpublishing.com) this April (or pre-order now), you’ll need to register with the site for free and put in cart for free, but you’ll pay zero…well, because it’s free. 🙂

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/graveyard-speaks-p-7337.html?osCsid=c73c83f40f523c3f9ceb87b1517a0d6d

Sinister Entity~

sinisterentityHow can you escape the ghost of yourself?

The Leigh family is terrified. They’ve been haunted by the ghostly image of their young daughter, Selena. But how can that be, when Selena is alive and well, and as frightened as her parents? With nowhere else to turn, the Leighs place their hopes in Jessica Backman, who has dedicated her life to investigating paranormal activity. Accompanied by a new partner who claims to be able to speak to the dead, Jessica will soon encounter an entity that scares even her. And a terror far worse than she imagined.

Pre-order now, it releases in April from Samhain Publishing (www.samhainpublishing.com):

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/sinister-entity-p-7234.html

Also, pick up or order either at your other favorite retailers nationwide!!

MY BLOG GIVEAWAY~

forest of shadowsHunter Shea is giving away one (1) ebook copy of Forest of Shadows to any reader that comments with email below, comments to my (www.facebook.com/almehairierin) Facebook page, or emails me directly at hookofabook(at)hotmail.com just in time to get it prior to the new books releasing!

You have until 11:59 p.m. EST on March 15, 2013 to enter to win! 

For extra entry, follow my blog and let me know. For +2 extra entry, follow Shea’s Facebook page and let me know.

THIS WEEKEND ONLY~MARCH 1-3, 2013~HUNTER SHEA’S FACEBOOK FAN PAGE BLITZ:

From now until Sunday, he’ll send a free copy of his story, The Dig, to any new fans of his Facebook page. If they drop a note there that they were referred by an existing fan, he’ll send that fan a copy as well! Make sure you say Oh, for the Hook of a Book! sent you! Here is the link to his fan page–

https://www.facebook.com/#!/huntershea1?fref=ts

About The Dig~

While digging in the Mongoloian heat, Felicia Tang enters an archaeological mystery. What looks like a normal burial mound is actually the entrance to a centuries old chamber housing countless urns within rough hewn niches. Who built the vast chamber and why? What remains lie within the urns? Most of all, what is still very much alive in the dark?

Hunter Shea, Biography~

hunter-headshotI’m the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. I don’t just write about the paranormal. I actively seek out the things that scare the hell out of people and experience them for myself.

My novels, Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal , Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity are published through Samhain Publishing’s horror line. I live with my family and untrainable cat close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

I’m also proud to be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with my partner in crime, Jack Campisi. Our show is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. We explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun.

Feel free to contact me any time at huntershea1@gmail.com. Writing is lonely work.

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Kate Mosse’s “The Winter Ghosts” is Book Made of Legend

One of my favorite writers is historical fiction author Kate Mosse. The review for this blog will be on her most recent book, “The Winter Ghosts,” but I’ll be talking about Kate too. I not only love to read and review books, I like to give you a glimpse into the authors as well. Maybe it is the journalist side of me still coming out, but I love to do features on people and authors are a great choice.

I first came across Mosse with her book “Sepulchre” and absolutely loved it (too bad I didn’t have the blog set-up then!). In fact it is one of my favorite books. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly. She became first well-known in 2005 with “Labryrinth” when it became an international bestseller and was the top selling book in the UK that year. It and “Sepulchre” are books in the Languedoc Trilogy. The final book in this series, “Citadel” will be published this year and I can’t tell you how excited I am for its debut!

Her writing style intrigues me. It is not only extraordinarily precise writing, with astounding historical details and fine tuned characters, but they leave you feeling an eerie haunting. Not really in a horror sort of way, but more like it delved into your soul and left part of itself there. She is a literary genius and should be commended for her work, which by the way she is. Besides winning numerous awards, she is also co-founder and honorary director of the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction.  She writes fiction, non-fiction (Becoming a Mother, The House: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), literary novels, short stories, articles, columns for many publications, and is a well-known British television and radio guest.  She is a friendly soul and lives in both England and southwest France.

Her latest book “The Winter Ghosts” is quite short compared to “The Labyrinth” and “The Sepulchre” but still delivers a superb story based on her own area of France and an ancient mystery surrounding the area. According to information about the book from her publisher (Putnam, Penguin Group) Mosse had come across a shocking, lesser known legend about the Cathar people in the Languedoc region in France circa 1328. Apparently involving entombment and mass execution of the last of these people, it lingered in her mind and she turned the history and tale into a mystery story that also includes her main character, Freddie Watson, as he lingers into the area in the last 1920s mourning the loss of his brother to World War 1.

World War 1 (1914-1918) took a toll on the people of Britain and France. Mosse entertwines this struggle for family and friends remained into her story by opening it with Freddie in 1928, who is still struggling over a brother lost to the war and his family’s turmoil stemming from it. As he is trying to find some solace from this mind struggle, he is traveling through the French Pyrenees. Mosse really takes time to build the character of Freddie and let’s us amble with him while he finds his way. Getting caught up in what seems to be another time period, we are unsure as to what is happening and if the people around him are truly real.  This creates the spooky element and gives the books its air of supernatural.

As he finds true love in a woman named Fabrissa who seems to be real to him, yet not exist to others, he follows the trail to another time, another people, and finds that her spirit was truly with him all along.  He most certainly redeems them from their loss and is overwhelmed by this redemption not only of these “ghosts,” but of himself and his life as well.

Great story that will surprise and touch you in the end. Definately worth a read. It didn’t propel me to frantically turn each page, and it is not suspenseful, but I did wish to finish it to find out how his confusion and turmoil come to have a life of their own. The book had great character development and historical detail.  After reading it once, I realized I would want to read it again based on the knowledge I had from reading it the first time. The folklore spun within this book is very inviting.

For more information, go to www.katemosse.com.

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