Well, I bet everyone is wondering how Southern Haunts came to be. The desire to create a southern-based ghost anthology is something I have always wanted to take a stab at. Since childhood, I was raised around old fashioned ghost stories, some of which were nonfiction.
I was taught that the paranormal wasn’t as uncommon as what one would think. My mother would speak to me about peculiar happenings in the night. Once, she actually confirmed seeing the ghost of my great grandmother in the living room mirror, my father was also a witness.
During my high school years, it was common to hear urban legends about my hometown. Stories of going to the local military park at night and yelling out from a bridge, “I don’t believe in you, Hookman!” would result in a ghost with a hook for a hand chasing you. This legend and many more regarding the paranormal intrigued me further.
In my senior year, I began reading books on the spirit world and decided to venture out to abandoned locations that were supposedly haunted. Although I never experienced anything supernatural, I wanted to be a part of its history and learn as much as I could about the supposedly haunted areas.
I didn’t have my first paranormal experience until after I graduated. I was nineteen and living in Jackson, MS, in an apartment with my spouse. My grandfather had recently died and it seemed that with his passing something was able to break the veil between the living and the dead. Although I expected any sort of paranormal activity to be from my grandfather, something of a darker nature entered my home. There was a sense of paranoia that came over us at the apartment. Neither my spouse nor I wanted to be there alone, especially at night. On occasion we would see shadow people or the curtains moving on their own when there wasn’t a draft. More commonly, electrical devices tended to have minds of their own. They would work only when they wanted to. We moved out of the apartment shortly thereafter and went our separate ways. I didn’t have any further disturbances until years later. They were very similar to the disturbances we had experienced in the apartment, but instead of moving, I had my home blessed and it worked pretty well.
Over the following years, I began experiencing paranormal activity such as smells, sounds, and glimpses out of the corner of my eye. Unlike the previous entity, these were not frightening. As a matter of fact, these friendly entities still visit today. In particular, I believe these entities are my cousin, who died in a wreck my senior year, my grandfather, and my aunt because they provide signs to me that I can recognize.
In the timespan of living with ghosts, I began my writing career and produced my first book, Traumatized. I started my book signing tour in 2008. Within only a year, I was introduced to Imagicopter at a convention in Jackson, MS, called Pulp Con. At this convention, I met author J. L. Mulvihill who was finishing her first novel, The Lost Daughter of Easa. Immediately, we dubbed each other “brother and sister” then began signing together.
It wasn’t until October the following year in Hot Springs, AR, where we discussed our paranormal experiences. We had just finished attending a ghost tour and although the hour was late, we were hungry so we stopped at a bar/restaurant called Capone’s. It was here we discussed paranormal lore and our experiences and found that we really weren’t that different.
In our discussion, we discovered we shared the same passion to create a collection of ghost stories that could be enjoyed no differently than campfire tales for the young adult and adult. As soon as we returned to the hotel, we started jotting down guidelines and agreed that the most important guideline was, “Your story has to be based in the South or Southwest and you have to be inspired by an actual location.”
We shared the guidelines with friends on the internet and authors we had met at conventions. From all of the stories we received, we only had to turn down two tales. It wasn’t because they weren’t good stories; they just didn’t fit the flow of our anthology. After we gathered sixteen tales for the anthology, the project was handed over to Seventh Star Press.
In the process of getting Southern Haunts ready for publication, we discovered that the artist Robert K. wanted to illustrate each story. We considered this idea to be a good move for the anthology so we brought him on board. We requested that he provide us with drab but beautiful imagery similar to Rod Sterling’s The Night Gallery or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Allan Schwartz. With this style, we felt that it would be a great throwback to old school themes.
Now that all of the work is completed, I invite everyone to enjoy our anthology, Southern Haunts: Spirits that Walk Among Us. This book is full of new talent as well as award winning names with locations that literally range from the East Coast to the West Coast. Southern Haunts is friendly for ages 13 and up and has thrills, chills, and even laughs within its pages.
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