Archive for 'Paranormal'

Perish the Thought
by Annette McCleave on March 17th, 2009

I don’t have a favorite pen or an aversion to black cats, but I am superstitious. Not to the point of mania, or anything. But if I have a negative thought, especially something tragic, I must immediately touch wood to banish the thought and make sure it doesn’t come true. Yeah, I know. The rule is actually knock on wood. But I just touch it–that seems to be enough to rid me of the bad mojo.

Of course, living in a city, there isn’t always a tree around when you need one … so, I’ve conveniently extended the definition of wood to include anything made from wood. Like paper. Let’s face it, the odds of me being with paper at any given moment is extremely slim.


I’m not exactly sure where my superstitious nature came from–my parents weren’t superstitious, as far as I know. Although, now that I think about it, my dad probably had some routine he always followed before he flew. He was a fighter pilot, and as much as jet jockeys depend on technology, they tend to leave nothing to chance. They cover all the bases, even superstition. Maybe he had a rabbit’s foot I never knew about.

I write historicals as well as contemporary paranormal romance, so I suppose it’s possible my superstitions date back to my enthrallment with medieval society. Superstition was rampant in the middle ages. And why not? It explained everything that the dearth of science and the local friar did not. Superstition wasn’t all bad–it helped medieval people feel more secure in a world where they had little or no control. Plus, the basis of many of our current paranormal tales (vampires, pixies, werewolves, etc.) is deeply rooted in those same superstitions.

Does anyone know the history of various superstitions? I think knock on wood dates back to the time of druids and their connection to the powers of nature. What about some of the others? How did they get started?

Magic: It’s All In Your Mind…And In Mine
by Our Guest on February 26th, 2009

I’m with Sharon on this, except I’ll take it one step further and say that this week’s topic had me totally stumped! At first I started looking through my bookshelves trying to decide on my favorite paranormal story. Then I thought about ones I’ve written that never saw the light of day — and never should. By the way, Sharon, I love the idea about the frat house filled with the English poets, lol! That’s one frat party I’d attend!

College Yearbook Picture?

Then I started thinking about where all these stories come from. Paranormals especially require a huge leap of faith, both on the part of the reader and the writer. Whether its vampires, werewolves, demons, ghosts, time travel — anything that takes us out of the normal, accepted world — we have to be willing to set aside our entire belief system, shed those boring chains of the reality and surrender –utterly — to the workings of imagination.

Imagination. The human mind. It’s an entire universe unto itself, with no boundaries and where ANYTHING is possible. Where you can BE anything. Kind of a paranormal concept right there, if you ask me. I mean, what CAN’T come out of the imagination? I’ve already admitted to being a Trekkie, so does anyone else remember the episode from the original series where they’re on a pleasure planet where their daydreams are instantly brought to life? Suddenly they find themselves confronted by Samurai swordmen, knights, large talking white rabbits…. OK, maybe that’s more SciFi than paranormal, but the result is similar: abandoning the ordinary world and entering a fantasy realm where thought, however weird and wacky, becomes reality.

As writers, that’s exactly what we do. We create wild, out of this world ideas and characters, bring them to life and then cunningly lure readers to venture across the threshold into a place where WE decide what’s possible. We bid them to enter the portal, if you will. :-)

Once there they never know what will happen next, which — and here’s where writers take giant leaps of faith with all the heart, sweat and tears that go into a manuscript — keeps them so spellbound their house could fall down around them and they wouldn’t notice.

If you listen closely, you might hear them…
by Our Guest on December 4th, 2008

I just have to admit to being a pushover for those moody old Gothics, stories of ghosts and danger and weird happenings. As I kid, the books I loved most were the ones that took me far into the past, to wild places where the winds roared across the moors and waves crashed on rocky coastlines. I loved the Brontes, Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Stewart. Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray was a favorite (in fact you’ll find a bit of that theme in Dark Obsession), and the Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare was one of my absolute keepers from childhood, one of the first historical “romances” I ever read. I was also a rabid fan of the show Dark Shadows, with its witches, werewolves and vampires, present time, past time and parallel time, accessed through a bewitched room on one of the upper floors of the mansion. The show was so complex, and so ahead of it’s time!
The house used for Dark Shadows, on Ocean Drive in Newport, RI
The house used for Dark Shadows, on Ocean Drive in Newport, RI
But it wasn’t just what I read or watched that’s influenced what I love to write, it was living in New England, where everything is old and there’s so much history everywhere that you can’t help but feel a strong sense of the past merging with the present. I mean, people are still living in houses that Puritans built — yes, each one really does have a ghost inhabiting in the attic — and when the sun goes down and the oaks stand out black against a cold Connecticut sky, it really isn’t much of a stretch to envision witches and ghosts riding the shadows.

Redding, Connecticut. Tell me you DONT think a ghost lives here.

Redding, Connecticut. Tell me you DON'T think a ghost lives here.




Redding, Connecticut: Tell me you DONT think theres a ghost in this house.

St. Mary's Cemetery, Ridgefield, Connecticut




And then there’s the coast — I love the pounding, brooding New England coast. My husband is from Newport, Rhode Island, which really goes way, way back. Cobbled streets, gas lanterns, saltbox houses — all those things are still there and when the mist rolls in off the harbor and you hear those fog horns blowing, ooh, little chills crawl up your spine, but in a good way!
Newport, RI.

Newport, RI.

The Point, Newport, RI

The Point, Newport, RI


Then there have been my travels. England, Scotland, Ireland, filled with lonely ruins and ancient legends. I remember sneaking off alone through the rooms of Muckross Abbey in Kilarney. They were so dark and cold, with the wind rushing in through windows no bigger than arrow slits. I imagined myself living there, in that comfortless, isolated, uncertain place, and suddenly I was gripped with a feeling that the monks were walking right behind me, nearly at my shoulder. Were they? I kind of like to think so, that they wanted me to experience even a fraction of what their lives were like so that they wouldn’t be forgotten. There was also a trip across a lake to visit Innisfallen Island, where there had been an eleventh century abbey and before that, a seventh century monastery. While we were there, glowering storm clouds moved in around the lake, and it was so Mists of Avalon (another favorite)! I kept expecting (and sort of hoping) to be whisked through the veil from one realm into another. 
Abbey ruins on Innisfallen Island, Ireland

Abbey ruins on Innisfallen Island, Ireland

Anyway, that’s what inspires me — the idea that traces of the past are still alive and always will be, and are strong enough to touch your life if you let them, if you slow down, and look and listen closely. Oh well, I guess I’m a little like Catherine Moorland in Northanger Abbey. Give me just a tiny bit of encouragement, and my imagination takes flight conjuring up all manner of hauntings, possessions, cries from the past… Sorry, I just can’t help myself!
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