As I prepare to wade into the exciting frontier of e-publishing, I figure people might want to know why I write the types of stories that I do. Well, it’s because the paranormal, the supernatural and the mysterious fascinates me. That doesn’t make me an evil or bad person in any way. I just want to make that clear. I am not a devil worshiper and I am not an atheist. It boggles my mind when I get a horrified reaction from someone after revealing that I read palms and tarot cards. “That’s the devil’s work!” they say. No. It’s not. But, you can’t argue with someone whose belief is that all forms of divination and all things supernatural are evil. So, obviously my books are not written with those people in mind. Though some of them do, I am sure, read and watch horror. Speaking of horror, I hesitate to classify my stories in that genre, but because of their content (ghosts, mediums, reincarnation, past lives, etc…) that is the genre under which they will most likely be filed.
So, why do I write stories that are focused on supernatural content? Well, I love to write and I love to write about things that interest me and I’ve been interested in the supernatural since I was a very young kid. And that was because I moved into a haunted house when I was seven years old. Until we moved into the “farmhouse” as we called it, my life was pretty normal. Normal in the respect that I was not exposed to situations that generated fear and uncertainty.
The farmhouse was an old, two-story structure sitting not far off a quiet country road and surrounded by fields. In the center of the field was a small grove of trees and located there was a tomb with eleven people buried in it. Supposedly, the people buried in that tomb all died either in the farmhouse or another structure on the property that no longer exists . Their deaths dated back to the 1800s and early 1900s. There were several young children included in their number. How do I know this? Their names, age, and the dates of their birth and death were chiseled in stone above the entrance to the tomb. Eerie. The farmhouse was in a sad state of disrepair when we moved in. My parents didn’t have a lot of money. They rented the house for a measly amount and in return agreed to fix it up at their own expense. My parents thought it was a great deal. Seven years later, they weren’t so inclined to believe that anymore and we left as quickly as they could manage it.
Although I was only seven when we moved in, I remember my first impressions of that house as being dark, depressing and spooky. The one thing that excited me was all the neat stuff that had been left within it. The place was full of junk and antique furniture. Speaking of which, antique farm equipment lay about the surrounding yard in total neglect. My three brothers, my sister and I (me being the oldest of five) gleefully played with those antiques until we unwittingly destroyed them or they became too rusty and old to bother with. On the second floor there were three bedrooms and a small room we dubbed “the dark room”. It was the size of a small walk-in closet and oddly enough, there was a small window in the wall that divided the dark room from my parents bedroom. My mom put a large dresser against that wall and its large mirror covered the gaping hole. There was no door to this room so my mom hung a curtain there. The doorway was located in the bedroom where my three brothers slept. Too bad for them. All five of us kids were afraid of that room. It gave me the willies just walking past it. I still get the willies just thinking about it. My parents used the room to store some of the antique furniture that had been left in the house. A bummer that, because I loved the old dressers that sported lots of drawers and attached mirrors.
Soon as we moved in, I became afraid of the dark. I don’t remember being afraid of the dark until we moved into that house. I had a lot of nightmares while living there and most of them were about that house. I remember that it was always cold. Even in the summer when it was hot outside, the inside of the house always seemed gloomy and cool. We didn’t have central heat and that may have been a contributing factor, but the chill in that house wasn’t just from the air, it was the kind of chill that seeped deep into your bones and made goosebumps break out on your arms even if you weren’t really cold. The house was heated by an oil stove in the living room and a huge old cast iron stove in the kitchen. There was no heat upstairs so in the winter time we all had to move downstairs. A situation I liked because I felt safer having mom and dad close by (the five of us kids shared the one bedroom that was located downstairs and my parents converted the large entry hall into their room). We used the barn door entrance during the winter. A situation I did not like but you do what you have to do. Right?
I have to mention the cellar. Cellars are scary enough to young kids but the cellar in the farmhouse was especially spooky. It had a dirt floor and granite blocks for walls. It was damp and musty and there was just one hanging light bulb for the entire space. This meant that there were lots of very dark corners. There were two entrances to the cellar. One from the door next to the kitchen and the other from the side of the house facing the driveway. My parents didn’t have to lock these doors. There was no way any of us kids were about to go down there to play or meddle. We were terrified of the cellar. One feature that gave it and extra creep factor was the vaulted room made of brick. It had an arched ceiling and a cement floor. We learned later when researching the history of that house that bodies were kept in there until they could be transported to the tomb or buried. Whether that was true or not, I don’t know but I can believe it just from the energy that emanated from that room. It was the same sort of energy that emanated from the grove of trees surrounding the tomb.
The first few years of living there, things happened that really didn’t grab our notice enough to raise any flags. Things came up missing quite often. Lots of things disappeared while living there that have never been found. Honestly, where did they go? I still wonder about that. Our dog acted very strange. He often whined and barked at, well nothing. At least, that’s what we thought until we knew better. In the early days, we figured he was a tad touched in the head. He was a small dog, part poodle and part chihuahua. We figured his crazy antics were part of the breed. I must add here that I loved that dog. His name was Tippy and when I later learned that dogs knew when ghosts were around, I used him to determine when I was safe and when I wasn’t. Until we figured it out that our house was full of ghosts (yes there were several), we really did think poor Tippy was weird. Once we knew why he acted like he did, he was looked at in a whole new light. Tippy became our detector for the presence of ghosts and the gauge by which we determined if the ghost was bad or good.
The first really scary event that grabbed our attention happened about a year after moving into the house. Up to this point, lights coming on and doors being left open and things disappearing were all chocked up to the fault of us kids. Though my dad tried his best to determine which of us was the culprit to these shenanigans, he rarely got a confession. A fact that pitted the five of us kids against each other because we too believed that one of us must have done the deed. If no one confessed, we all got punished. Totally unfair. It was an outrage to all of us to be punished for something we didn’t do and I was always sure my oldest brother, younger than me by three years, was the one responsible. But I digress.
One evening the five of us kids were playing on the stairs while my dad chatted with a friend at the kitchen table. My mom had gone out to play bingo with her friend whose husband had stayed to visit with my dad. The stairs turned near the bottom and had two more steps that led down into the kitchen. A small window was located in the stairwell. As we kids were all small, we could only see out the window if we were about halfway up the stairs. It was about four feet above the landing where the stairs turned right to the kitchen. On this particular night, we were making a game of sliding down the stairs when my two year old sister froze in fear and started screaming. My brothers were one behind her and a couple in front of her. They looked at the window where my terrified sister was staring and they too began to scream and scramble back up the stairs. I was standing on the step below the window and the hairs on my neck went up as shivers raced down my spine. My dad didn’t know what was causing all the commotion but he told me to get my sister. She sat on the step, rigid with fear and unable to do anything but scream. I remember her eyes being wide and dark and unblinking as they stared transfixed at that stairwell window. My heart pounding, I picked her up and turned to look. Nothing. By this time, my brothers were scrambling to get passed me on the stairs and run to the safety of our dad. They claim they saw red eyes in the window. They said it was a monster. From the outside, the window is about six or seven feet above the ground. That makes for a pretty big monster. My dad grabbed a shotgun and a flashlight and he and my dad’s friend went outside to see what was out there. I envisioned them being killed and the red-eyed monster coming after us. But after what seemed an eternity, they came back in the house and said they didn’t see anything. Subdued, the five of us went into the living room where we huddled on the couch together. Dad didn’t believe they saw anything. I believed them. So we whispered quietly to each other as my young siblings told me what they saw. I vowed to keep them safe and they calmed down. But the fear in me grew. Something was wrong with this house. I just knew it. But as I didn’t even know what a ghost was at that age, it took me a few years to figure it out.