I’ve attempted to read many a scary book in my day. I have a hard time getting through them because of the fact that I like to avoid nightmares when I’m sleeping! LOL. But I recall as a kid, I tried reading The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson and I had to stop part way through. I put the book back on my bookshelf – hidden behind all the other books. I never touched it again.
But in my young teens I began to read many books based on “true events” that I found quite scary including Fatal Vision by the late Joe McGuinness. True life stories are scarier than any horror book.
So what is the scariest book you’ve ever read? What book truly scared you as a kid?
Leave a comment and you could win a free ebook copy of The Awakening by Sara Brooke. The Awakening is the first book in a series following a quiet librarian from a small town who becomes an exorcist.
Everyone knows the expression ‘things that go bump in the night’. Things go bump 24-7-365 in my house.
In the early 1960s, my father bought an old carriage house (horse and buggy and later cars) two blocks from where we lived in a house with apartments. He kept the framework of the carriage house and built a whole house from it. I was 12 when we moved, and the house was like a palace. Two floors, 2 bathrooms, attic, cellar. But whenever I was home alone, I felt like I was being watched, and walking in the attic made me uneasy.
Decades passed. Lots of decades passed. My sister and my brother (both older) left home, and finally I left home too. My mom and dad still lived in the house with the 3rd family dog we’d had. Dusty was an overweight, hermaphrodite mini-schnauzer.
My mom passed in 1999. One summer day, I stopped by to visit my dad. Dusty was on the enclosed back porch so I sat on the couch out there and patted him. My dad was upstairs and called out to see who it was. I answered that it was me. I never left the porch. My dad walked downstairs and, passing the first floor bathroom, asked if I had shut the bathroom door. I said no. He was irritated because he wanted the door open and insisted I had closed it. When I went home, I thought about it and realized that my mom always wanted that door closed. I knew then that my mom was still there. I called my sister and said, “Ma is still in the house.” My sister said, “I know.” Apparently something similar had happened to her. We were convinced my mom was still there. As time went on, other little things started to happen.
A few years later, Dusty the dog passed. (Guess who got stuck taking him to be put down. It was one of the saddest days of my life). When I visited my father, I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car. I heard Dusty barking. He sounded as if he was a distance away, but I knew it was him.
Then my father (by that time was in his late 80s) became ill. We needed 24 hour care. The overnight woman didn’t know my mother was still a presence in the house. She saw my mom walking down the stairs and then vanish. She didn’t tell us for a long time because she didn’t want us to think she was doing drugs.
My father finally passed. The house was empty except for the furniture and other stuff everyone had dumped there: my mom’s clothes, my dad’s things, my sister’s and brother’s extra free storage. Since I was getting the house, I had to clean it.
I didn’t move in right away because I wanted it painted. I also had the kitchen renovated. So the house was empty for quite some time.
That’s when things really started to go bump 24-7-365. There were the usual things: footsteps overhead as well as the pitter-patter of little dog’s feet. Yes, Dusty the dog was still there. Doors opened and closed on their own, lights on were that shouldn’t be on, sometimes voices.
I needed to put extra locks on the attic door, the cellar door, doorstops for bedroom doors upstairs. I had cats and didn’t want them to get stuck in a room.
One summer day, I stopped by with a friend. When I unlocked the front door and stepped inside, I called jokingly, “Hello!” From upstairs a voice called, “Hello!” I looked at my friend who said, “That’s your father’s voice.” I thought “Oh, crap, my father’s here too.”
Four or five ghost hunters groups came through. All the psychics who walked upstairs to the attic asked me who the little boy was. (I was being watched when I was 12). Jeremiah, the little boy, died in the carriage house decades earlier and was waiting for his sister (who had most likely died decades earlier). Jeremiah and my mom like to play pranks on me. I’ve heard the sound of a little boy running and a dog running with him.
It would take me a week to write out all the incidents that have happened. For example: The man who installed my new furnace told me I had a ghost in the house.
I’ll leave you with this. I recently called my sister and said, “If you die, don’t come here. There’s no room.”
Patricia Grasso is the author of eighteen historical romances including the Douglas Series which follows the love stories of the amazing Douglas sisters (Angelica, Samantha and Victoria) in Regency London and the Lords of Stratford Series, Regency historical romances with a fairy-tale twist about the aristocratic families in Stratford-on-Avon.
This past week, my editor sent me her notes for my novel The Astronomer’s Crypt. She declares it scary stuff, but has several good ideas for improving the pacing, strengthening the characters, and tightening the plot. I’ll be working diligently on the re-write, over the coming weeks and will look for some insights about the process to share.
One of the hallmarks of The Astronomer’s Crypt is that it’s set at a haunted astronomical observatory. Haunted observatories are not an area heavily explored by fiction or even ghost lore. So it’s fair to ask where I got the idea. Part of the idea comes from two prominent men who are interred in or just outside the observatories they founded. One is Percival Lowell, whose mausoleum is right outside the 24-inch telescope on Mars Hill in Flagstaff, Arizona. Another is James Lick who funded the University of California’s Lick Observatory and is interred under the observatory’s 36-inch telescope.
However, it’s not just bodies near telescopes that gave me the idea. My first job in astronomy was at Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket Island. The building is an old-fashioned Gothic-looking building right next to the house once occupied by America’s first woman astronomer. My fellow research assistants and I would scare each other by telling stories of Maria’s ghost walking through the building. One night, one of my fellow research assistants even climbed on the roof while I was observing, made thumping noises, and sprayed Lysol in the dome to make me think I was smelling the perfume of Maria’s ghost. In a dark, cold dome in the middle of the night, it was pretty effective!
Even today, when I walk around the main floor at the base of the Mayall 4-meter telescope, I sometimes feel like I’m being watched. I look up to an alcove at a darkened stair landing, where I think I see someone out of the corner of my eye.
It always proves to be empty, and my skeptical mind always knows its just my mind playing tricks on me, but every now and then I wonder if a ghostly presence haunts the dome. One astronomer was killed at the Mayall 4-meter almost thirty years ago in a tragic accident, several people have died over the years on the twisting mountain road to the observatory, and I just learned that a construction worker died while excavating the tunnel for the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope just across the mountain from the Mayall. There certainly is a potential for ghosts at the observatory.
I’ve only discovered one observatory that describes itself as haunted and that’s Perkins Observatory which was built for Ohio Wesleyan University, a small liberal arts college near Columbus. Ohio State University partnered with OWU to run the facility for a number of years, but finally terminated the relationship in 1998. The history page for the observatory tells us that the ghost of Hiram Perkins, the math and astronomy professor who founded the observatory, haunts the site out of frustration that he could never use the site his money funded.
I’m a skeptic who believes science helps us understand our amazing universe and our place within it. However, being a skeptic doesn’t mean I dismiss things ghosts or the spirit world out of hand. I believe the paranormal deserves serious investigation. What’s more, I love a good spooky story and believe they tell us something about ourselves.
I am curious whether anyone else knows of a haunted observatory. Has anything ever been documented sufficiently well that it bears closer investigation? Although I’m familiar with several television shows about paranormal investigations, I don’t know of any that have ever visited an observatory. Can you think of any? I’ll be happy to follow up on any leads and report about them in a future edition of the blog.