A Ghost Report from the Evening Star on July 25, 1887

Spectral EditionHere’s another ghost report that didn’t make it into the book. There’s some poltergeist activity described, but it’s not very impressive.

It might have fit into the “Natural Explanations” chapter, but there are too many tricksters afoot. Even so, not all of the ghostly evidence is explained.

1884-07-25 p3 Evening Star [Washington, DC]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1917. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

UPDATE: Formatting is still in progress with the book version of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports in U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. Keeping the graphics looking good is proving to be difficult as I convert the Word document into a pdf. I’m still aiming for a pre-Halloween release, though.

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4-Question Interview: Loren Rhoads

present-tensionsIn a recent online discussion, I tried to boil down the difference between occult detective fiction and urban fantasy to simple math: “5 vampires per 7 billion humans = occult detective. 1 billion vampires, 1 billion werewolves, 1 billion zombies per 4 billion humans = urban fantasy. There’s an error margin of + or – 17.”

Loren Rhoads is blurring that formula — as well as the division between those genres — with her occult detective fiction. On her website, she explains that she’s written “a series of urban fantasy short stories about Alondra DeCourval, a young American witch who grew up in London. Alondra travels the world, battling monsters.” But the author’s take on urban fantasy doesn’t seem quite so monster-heavy as my formula suggests. She explains this while answering the 4 questions that I’ve asked of many writers keeping the occult detective tradition very much alive today. Continue reading “4-Question Interview: Loren Rhoads”

A Ghost Report from the Brownsville Daily Herald on March 19, 1904

Spectral EditionI’ve found several reports of murderers haunted by the ghosts of their victims. It’s easy to attribute this to a guilty conscience. A few of these appear in the “Haunted People” chapter of my forthcoming Spectral Edition book.

But here’s an article that almost fits better into the chapter on “Natural Explanations” — or it would if it offered a clear-cut explanation for Susano Marmolejo’s ghostly visions of a man he had stabbed and left for dead.1904-03-19 p1 Brownsville Daily Herald [Texas]Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1917. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

UPDATE: I’m now at the slow, careful formatting stage with the book version of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports in U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. I’m also gradually learning what’s needed to self-publish the book. All looks good for a pre-Halloween release!

Dolly Desmond: Reporter and One-Time Ghost Hunter

Dolly Desmond was the lead character in a 1914 movie serial titled The Active Life of Dolly of the Dailies. There were twelve episodes in this series, produced by the Edison Company and directed by Walter Edwin. In the title role was Mary Fuller, who also happened to star in what is considered the very first movie serial, What Happened to Mary (1912).

As were a few other serial heroines from the 1910s, Dolly Desmond was “noteworthy less for her extraordinary beauty than for her daring and resourcefulness. This woman would often perform her work in a male-dominated arena, winning the day with confident self-reliance and an imaginative capacity seemingly unavailable to her male peers.” Specifically, Desmond was a reporter in that era of brave, adventurous reporters carving a place for professional women, journalists who included Nellie Bly and Ida Tarball.

Continue reading “Dolly Desmond: Reporter and One-Time Ghost Hunter”

A Ghost Report from the Nebraska Advertiser on October 31, 1902

Spectral EditionHere’s a good example of a ghost report that didn’t make its way into the upcoming book version of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspaper, 1865-1917. I rejected any articles published on either April Fool’s Day or, as this one was, on Halloween. No trick reports, thank you.

And there’s not much ghostly activity here. A woman wearing black appeared on a porch one day. When addressed, she “disappeared.”  Does that mean she turned transparent — or she simply turned and ran off?

1902-10-31 p1 Nebraska Adverstiser [Nemaha City]Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1917. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

Deceived by H. Macaulay’s “The Detective” (1870)

Unearthing the Unearthly

Skimming through an 1870 short story called “The Detective: A Tale of the Old Walton House,” I spotted clues of supernatural events occurring. Given the title, I felt very hopeful that I had come across yet another piece of fiction that crosses supernatural and detective genres — ideally, resulting in another early occult detective to add to my Chronological Bibliography thereof.

But I had been deceived. Tricked. Bamboozled even. The title detective in H. Macaulay’s tale is actually the supernatural being, and it’s called “the detective” because it haunts — or shadows — the protagonist as a detective might do. This is all explained up front: Continue reading “Deceived by H. Macaulay’s “The Detective” (1870)”

Download a FREE copy of the first Vera Van Slyke ghostly mystery: “The Minister’s Unveiling.”

the-v-files

On the Complimentary Haunting page, you can find a link to the very first chronicle in Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries, by Tim Prasil (a fellow who looks surprisingly like myself).

This collection of thirteen paranormal cases, all investigated by master ghost hunter Vera Van Slyke, is currently out of print. Alas, the publisher has taken a new direction. Help for the Haunted will return in traditional and ebook form, however, once I figure out how to self-publish.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting links to all thirteen ghostly mysteries — one a month, in chronological order — right here at The Merry Ghost Hunter. I’ll continue to do this even after the book is available for purchase again. Drop by this website once a month, and you’ll be able to download almost the entire collection. I say “almost” because there’s also an Introduction and a Postscript in the book.

The first chilling adventure takes place in a wintry, New England church that’s being haunted by the spirit of a curiously out-of-place minister. Or, at least, that’s the story the locals tell. Vera — along with her friend and biographer, Lucille Parsell — uncover guilty secrets in “The Minster’s Unveiling.” Find it in pdf, epub, and Kindle formats here!

winter church

A Ghost Report from the Albuquerque Morning Journal on October 15, 1882

A stretch of the Virginia Midland Railroad is haunted.

At first, the phantom appeared with two ghostly horses. Afterward, it appeared alone, taunting and playing games with the train workers.

Then it appeared within the train cars beside those workers!

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1917. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

UPDATE: The entire manuscript of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspaper, 1865-1917 is complete. A couple of proofreaders will go over it, and no doubt I’ll tinker with it, too. This leaves me all of September and the start of October to learn how to self-publish — plenty of time to have the book available before Halloween. Look for updates on my progress here at The Merry Ghost Hunter site and on my Facebook author page.

The Big Plan; or, Whatever Happened to Vera Van Slyke?

Here are my plans for four books that’ll have my name on them. Let’s start (and end) with Vera Van Slyke, my favorite ghost hunter.

Apparently, Help for the Haunted
is no longer available except at ridiculous prices. Emby Press has decided to take several steps back in regard to what it publishes, returning rights to its authors and letting us either find new publishers or self-publish. I’ve decided to pursue the latter.

PoeLivesNow, if you stop by here on Wednesdays, you might know that I’m very, very close to finishing the book version of Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports in U.S. Newspapers, 1865-1917. In fact, I completed a solid draft of the whole book just last night, and I plan to proofread and polish it through the end of August. September will then be devoted to learning how to self-publish, and I should be able to have that book available to readers by Halloween. Ghost reports. Halloween. It makes sense, yes?

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I went on a Poe-grimage this summer — a trip to Richmond, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland, two cities where Edgar Allan Poe spent much of his life. I was seeking inspiration to put the final touches on a book that deals with Poe in an odd way. It’s a creative work, you see. I don’t want to divulge too much, but that’s probably the second book I’ll self-publish. While I’d like to have it out for Christmas, I’m also letting it ripen for harvest on it own schedule.

vera-lida-oval-on-white1At that point, I’ll be in very good shape to re-publish Help for the Haunted, and right now I’m planning on that happening in early 2018. In the meantime, starting on September 1st of this year, I’ll be returning to how I originally introduced Vera Van Slyke to readers: by posting her otherworldly cases on my blog. I’ll post all thirteen tales, one each month, here at The Merry Ghost Hunter even after the book is available again. In other words, you can read the entire thing (well, minus the Introduction and Postscript) by visiting once a month.

And finally there’s the Vera Van Slyke novel! I had a nice start on this book, but newspaper ghosts and Edgar Allan Poe got in the way. With luck and another summer off, I should be able to have that novel available by Halloween of 2018. We shall see.

A Ghost Report from the Sacramento Daily Record-Union on March 25, 1890

Spectral Edition

In a fit of jealousy, Harry Lebo murdered his wife in the backyard of his father-in-law’s house.

Now, one of the neighbors claims that mysterious groans woke her one night.

And then that neighbor saw the ghost of the victim — headless — in the spot where the murder had occurred.

1890-03-25 p4 Sacramento Daily Record-Union [California]

Each Wednesday, I post an actual ghost report from a U.S. newspaper published between 1865 and 1917. You can hear me read many of the ghost reports here, readings first heard on episodes of The Big Séance and the History Goes Bump podcasts.

UPDATE: The introduction and transcriptions of close to 150 ghost reports are complete for Spectral Edition: Ghost Reports from U.S. Newspaper, 1865-1917. I’m probably about halfway through an examination of the 1871 Memphis’s Brinkley College haunting — and the debates it stirred about whether or not newspapers should print ghost reports — which will go into an appendix at the end. Look for updates on my progress here at The Merry Ghost Hunter site and on my Facebook author page.