Lex “Lonehood” Nover is a master storyteller. He’s had years of experience penning plays and articles capturing the imaginations of audiences. Since 2002, he’s worked as the Web Producer for Coast to Coast AM, one of America’s highest rated overnight radio shows. In his first full-length non-fiction book, Nightmareland: Travels at the Borders of Sleep, Dreams, and Wakefulness, Nover thoroughly documents the strange occurrences we encounter when we sleep.
Nover’s writing skills pay off in this exhaustively researched and eerily entertaining book. Nover weaves folklore and anecdotes with scientific research regarding sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep behavior. Nover’s sense of humor is reflected in such subtitles as “Beware the Ambien Zombies,” “A Salad of Sound,” and “Back at the (Paranormal) Ranch.”
Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who died this past July at the age of 69, states “A must-have book!” She’s correct; however, people interested in general sleep issues not just paranormal enthusiasts will find value inside. Nover retells stories of average people experiencing the weirdest things while asleep. Then Nover attempts to explain what happened! He completes the story by adding context and science. How incredibly novel in the paranormal field!
Illustrations accompany each of the nine chapters. All are in black and white and operate as artwork inspired by the chapter’s focus. The book feels like the field journal of a scientist attempting to unpack the complexity of sleep, contemplating every possible theory.
Nightmareland is a compendium on sleep. It should be on everyone’s bookshelf.
Two nights before my panel presentations at Dragon Con 2019, I finished my mystery book. I’m a serial reader. I read before bed, between 1-2 AM. I prefer series; however, when the series runs dry, I start looking for my next new author. And I found her, and a few others who will be in separate blogs, book talking books at the Bard’s Tower bookstore in the AmericasMart Atlanta, or Mart for short. Corinne O’Flynn’s new Witch Island Mysteries series has me hooked, line and sinker.
Although I’ve always tried to identify new authors at Dragon Con, I rarely do. I feel rushed when shopping at the Mart. When there’s 80,000+ people attending, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. This year, however, I was determined to find one new author. I was blessed with 5.
Ask my daughter and husband, and they will agree. I talk to everyone. My dad never knew a stranger, and I take after him. While my daughter was scouting for items, I beelined over to the bookstore. My time was limited; I spoke fast.
The Con has megastars where attendees wait in line for hours to see. And the Con has a hoard of other professionals—namely authors and artists—who spend time chatting with attendees. One of the best things about Dragon Con is the accessibility to up-and-coming authors, actors, artists. Lisa Manifold, author of 25 books, started up a conversation.
She pitched me a couple of her “New Adult” (books for late teens and early twenty-somethings who have outgrown the Young Adult section) books. I purchased two for my daughter; both were autographed as her birthday gifts. Then came me. I’m a tough nut; crime and mysteries are my favorite genres. Since I was not at a crime and mystery conference, my odds for finding something interesting was low. When I ask Lisa to book talk one of Corinne’s books, Corinne interjects and tells me briefly what the book was about. I had no idea that either were the authors. How serendipitous was that!
I started Death Comes Ashore last night. After walking 23,000 steps and participating on 2 panels yesterday, I was tired. I’m 20 pages in and trying to wrap this entry up so I can get back to reading. The book has everything I’m looking for: not too in-depth with the fantasy, enough paranormal descriptions to be believable, and a solid crime scene, where I believe Corinne did her research. I’m fan-girling!
The former New Yorker turned Coloradan runs Rowan Tree Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is “support after the death of a child.” She’s a full-time writer, mother of four children, and tea addict. Lucky for me, her latest book was released on August 28th—just in time for the Con.
Find more information about Corinne here: https://www.corinneoflynn.com/
The Best Christmas Gifts Evoke the Horror of Christmas’ Past
The Spirits of Christmas: The Dark Side of the Holidays, written by Sylvia Shults, debuted last month, appearing in independent bookstores across Illinois. It can now be purchased online directly from the publisher, American Hauntings Ink (https://squareup.com/store/american-hauntings-ink) for $16. The 240 page compendium is overly ambitious—bulging with tales. However, book lovers live by the adage: More is actually, well, more—and the more tales the better! This book is packed with domestic and international folktales and historical events occurring around the Christmas season. Each of the sections could stand as its own title. But for the 2017 Christmas Season, Ms. Shults’ book will warm the bodies circled around the hearth celebrating “the weirdness that has swirled around the Christmas season for many centuries.”
Ms. Shults rarely delves into any paranormal events circulating around these horrific stories. Instead, she leaves that to the reader. She does, however, include a lot of background information for most of the stories. The organization of the contents is as important as the stories themselves. Ms. Shults groups the stories into themes: traditions; creepy characters; things that bump in the night; natural disasters turned horrific because of the season; ghost sightings; and finally ghost stories inspired from Christmas. Some are true stories written to encourage readers to Google the events themselves. Others are folktales that were believed at the time by the people who experienced the phenomena. All are fascinating. The lengths vary as to the topic.
Sylvia Shults is a gifted storyteller. She probably honed her skill by working as a Library Assistant in her busy public library system. Library staff often “booktalk” titles, a practice of giving a brief overview of a book ending with a teaser to hook the reader to check it out. Booktalks are incredibly popular and very easy for a natural-born storyteller. Ms. Shults has a knack for telling stories. Unfortunately, I would have preferred hearing more stories in her voice instead of the original source material.
The book acts as a condensed encyclopedia of horror tales set in December. They cover centuries and continents. While reading, I was drawn to America’s worst hotel fire at the Winecoff Hotel, in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 7th, 1946. The fire paved the way for better fire safety measures; however, it took the death of 119 people—some high school students—for these changes to be enacted. I reside in Atlanta and know much about this tragedy and hotel. (It has since reopened and is a gorgeous boutique hotel.)
Equally interesting was the story on the Silver Bridge Collapse on December 15, 1967. This event is widely seen as the last credible sighting of the West Virginian legend Mothman (see my blogs regarding this geographically-contained phenomenon).
The book also contains quite a few unsolved mysteries and murders. These tales may be the ones to keep readers up at night.
Ms. Shults takes creative license by embellishing some stories; however, they are done to humanize the victims. Further, I wished the citations for sources corresponded with the tales instead of in a bulk listing at the end. That’s the academic in me!
This is the perfect gift for any paranormal enthusiast or history buff who is fascinated by unsolved mysteries or horrific events.
For more information on the author: https://sylviashults.wordpress.com/
To purchase the book online: https://squareup.com/store/american-hauntings-ink
#6: Residue (2017)
The pickings are slim with my informal “rules” for selecting the 10 new horror movies I’m watching this month. First and foremost, the movies have to be available through my Roku on the three services I subscribe to: Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. I usually view movies multiple times in order to review. Usually. If I don’t like the movie, I either stop watching (i.e., Hell House LLC) or don’t re-watch (i.e., Oculus). I also want to watch the film as the director intended; therefore, I don’t review movies playing on cable. I may watch a movie on cable and then re-watch it on a streaming service to write the review. Thus far I have been able to avoid renting movies, but that changes with #10. Needless to say, my goal was to experience predominantly low-budget horror movies that suffered from small PR budgets. My hope was to share some of the gems I uncovered.
Tonight’s offering introduced me to the horror-noir sub-genre. The horror-noir film is atmospheric and includes a private investigator. Residue (2017) fits the bill.
Luke Hardy (played by James Clayton) is a down-on-his-luck P.I. who takes possession of an evil book from a distant land. The enchanted book places him and his daughter, who conveniently needs a place to crash, in danger. Writer/director Rusty Nixon adds enough technological nuances to alert the reader that this is a futuristic film, as well.
Devoid of bloated budgets and overused CGI effects, the film relies on dialogue and acting—you know, elements of the craft. Nixon does well.
The film had a Sin City feel with the editing and intrigue. Make no mistake. This film is not based on a comic series; it merely feels like it does.
Nixon paced the movie well. The actors, especially the supporting ones, excelled. It’s more of a time-travel story with aspects of horror instead of a true slasher pic. Still, it’s worth viewing. It will round out the horror offerings.
The movie runs 82 minutes long and is not rated since it was distributed as a VOD (video on demand).
The Bye Bye Man: First Horror Film of 2017
Tagline: Don’t think it; don’t say it.
Time to blame the Ouija Board. Again. The Bye Bye Man (2017) debuts on Friday the 13th, January 2017. It is the first horror movie of 2017 (Amityville: The Awakening was moved from January 6 until June). The trailer portrays a menacing creature who is a cross between Candyman and Slender Man, two contrived characters to seem like an urban legend. The Bye Bye Man media package wants viewers to believe this is based on a true story. That would be a stretch.
Robert Damon Schneck published The President’s Vampire: Strange-But-True Tales of the United States of America, a collection of short tales, in 2005. It has been republished as The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-But-True Tales coinciding with the movie. The movie builds off of the short story “The Bridge to Body Island,” set in the 1990s when three college students move into a house and discover a cursed Ouija Board. Of course they begin to experiment with the board and eek out the story of an abandoned blind albino boy born in rural Louisiana and left on the stoop of an orphanage. The boy, ultimately known as “The Bye Bye Man,” escapes the orphanage traveling vagabond style leaving corpses in his wake. He pines for a “friend” and begins sewing eyes and a tongue together. The creature sets the “friend” down so it may identify the next victim. The doll whistles when a victim is found. The urban legend stops shortly after this and the movie presumably picks up the tale.
The trailer and brief write-ups describe the plot as a mesh of Ouija Board antics, tied to a creature who comes when his name is called or thought (hence the Candyman reference), photobombing pictures like Slender Man, and then leading to possession. Originally rated R, the movie is PG-13. The production budget is $6 million, making it a low-budget movie, but certainly not fatal for a horror movie. Stay tuned for my review after opening weekend. In the meantime…don’t think his name, nor dare say it.
The Stanley Hotel Hedge Maze Winner Announced Tomorrow
In celebration of 20 years of ownership of the Stanley Hotel, Stephen King’s inspiration for his spine chilling novel The Shining, the Grand Heritage Hotel Group held a contest: design a hedge maze. Tomorrow at 5:30 MST the winner will be announced.
A hedge maze was a key feature in The Shining (1980) movie directed by Stanley Kubrick. However, a hedge maze did not exist at the hotel. The movie was not filmed at the hotel but instead in England. Hedge mazes are incredibly popular. This maze will be constructed with 1,600-2,000 Alpine Currant bushes. It will be installed on the front lawn and will remain a permanent fixture on the grounds.
The contest generated nearly 400 entries from 40 odd countries. Originally set to unveil the winner today, the panel had to postpone the vote due to inclement weather. Stay tuned for an announcement.
Own Mister Babadook, the Pop-Up Book
The horror movie The Babadook is premised on a children’s pop-up book. The movie is the best horror movie of 2014. Read my review. This blog is about owning the pop-up book. The book will be fashioned after the production version and autographed by Jennifer Kent, writer/director. It’s costly; however, there’s a huge part of me who wants to buy it.
As a former Youth Services Librarian, I adore pop-up books. They are very popular. And one that is incredibly sinister takes the cake!
Just as the movie was crowd funded, so will the book. Jennifer Kent wrote the story and Alex Juhasz illustrated the nightmarish images. The U.S. price is $80, which includes shipping. Pre-order sales were set at 2,000. To date, 3,019 books have been ordered. The book will take 5 months to produce. Time is of the essence. Only 34 days remain. Go to http://thebabadook.com/ for more information.
Christmas is coming. It will make the perfect gift.
Missing: A Haunted House or 2 or 3 or …
Self-proclaimed “Artivist” Seph Lawless, a pseudonym, has pulled the wool over the paranormal community’s eyes this month. Surprisingly, mainstream media took the bait and fell for it too. Most of the “haunted” houses Lawless photographed and published in his recent book 13: An American Horror Story (Artivist Publishing) are made up. False. Non-existent. “Take that, all you American paranormal suckers!” Seems the joke’s on us, my friends.
- Nova House, Youngstown, Ohio.
“Nova House Mystery” posted on Friday, November 7th, https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2014/11/07/nova-house-mystery/, discusses the made-up story about a house in Youngstown, Ohio. Lawless claims that Benjamin Albright accidently shot and killed his son. Bereft with grief, Albright supposedly turned the gun on his wife and then himself. This tragic murder/suicide supposedly occurred in 1958. Problem is no one named Benjamin Albright died in Ohio in 1958. Nor was this person the father of a boy dying in 1958. Research pays off!
Since posting this blog, I received numerous comments and emails from people from the area who had never heard this story. Some even did some legwork and visited archives only to leave empty handed.
- Cater House Estates, Buffalo, New York.
Lawless penned a brief blurb for this photograph claiming that Sheriff Donald Caters shot himself to death in this house. In 1968 the home went into foreclosure and has been vacant since.
Several people have called this story false. Further, I cannot locate any information substantiating this story. Another piece of fiction.
- Oliver Family Mansion, Chester, Pennsylvania.
Lawless claims that the Oliver family went missing in 1898 and was never heard from again.
Nothing turned up on this story. Zilch.
- Milan Mansion, Milan, Ohio.
Lawless states that a known witch lived in this house and is possibly buried underneath the front door.
Again, I cannot locate any information supporting this story. Further, it is easy to prove with radar. However, the address for this home, like the others, is not available.
- Hooley Haunted Mansion, Texas.
Again, I located an electronic bulletin board asking for any information since no one has ever heard of this. My, my, my.
By now, I’m exhausted and disgusted at this juvenile attempt to fool the paranormal community.
I did not pay $99 for the book to see whether Lawless has a tightly drafted clause stating that the stories are for entertainment purposes only. However, he has portrayed these stories as true, when in fact, they are not. This is false advertising. Lawless is attempting to deceive readers and the media. This must stop. Poking fun at the paranormal community is abhorrent. Taking advantage of believers by misrepresenting the truth in order for financial gain is unlawful. The paranormal community should stand up and boycott this interloper. We should also ask those who regurgitated his press release if they actually viewed the book and conducted a little research. Just a little research would have caused a journalist to pause.
Shame on you, all you copy-and-paste “writers”! Do some research next time.
Paranormal Field Notes Benefit All Investigators
Field notes are invaluable. They capture moments when the memory fails. Field books contain notes, drawings, and working hypotheses. Patrick H.T. Doyle’s Ghosts from the Ground Up: Field Notes of a Ghost Miner interweaves observation, reflection, and visual imagery and comes up with an entertaining paranormal read.
Oregon’s Crescent Mine has long been believed to be haunted. Located outside Sumpter, Oregon, the entire area has reported activity. This town ceased to thrive when the gold mining dried up. The town’s population is under 300 people; moreover, tourism is the main, possibly only, economic activity.
Ghost Mine debuted on SyFy on January 16, 3013. For two seasons (18 episodes), Doyle, along with investigator Kristen Luman, searched for answers deep within the mine, while a group of burley miners searched for gold. Doyle and Luman respected the miners and their boundaries. The investigation uncovered a lot of fascinating evidence and data. Unfortunately, SyFy opted not to renew the series for a third season. Instead, Doyle penned his book.
This book is a journey. Doyle views investigations like a science experiment. Peppered throughout are definitions and explanations and very few conclusions. But that’s not the point. Doyle’s writing is reminiscent of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, also developed from traveling field notes. Doyle offers up unanswered questions, and his commentary is humble and honest. The vagabond lifestyle ended decades ago; however, readers still yearn for an armchair adventure. This one involves the paranormal. Doyle’s book is a great gift for anyone interested in the paranormal. Add this one to your para collection!