On Writing

As I finished up my fifth short story collection, I was asked for the umpteenth time where I get my ideas for my stories. Most of my stories come from past experiences in my life. One very keen example of this is “The Dream House” which is actually based on actual events. In the summer of 1982, I saw an advertisement for a house for rent in a very good part of town. My mother was still living at the time and my son was 13. We went to an open house and fell in love with the house. A huge two story, four bedrooms, two and a half baths with family room, dining room and sunken living room. For $599 a month even in 1982 and in its location, it was bargain. But what was most attractive they were not asking for a deposit or even first and last month’s rent. That should have been a red flag but at the time I just thought it was the deal of the century.

We moved in the first of August and from the first night weird events occurred. Lights went on and off by themselves, doors slammed, objects floated in mid air or were laid face down on the furniture. Moving boxes lining the walls in the garage would be piled on top of my car in the morning. Then my son woke us in the middle of the night screaming that there was a shadow of a man in his room. After that he refused to even go in the room again.

I was locked in the shower one night and I would continuously come home to find my shoes in a pile on the closet floor. My mother would feel someone sit down on the side of her bed at night.

The worst things were the shadows and figures we could see at night in the mirrored closet doors. I finally covered them with butcher’s paper. At night the bedcovers would be pulled off of us and the water in the downstairs bathroom would be turned on over and over. It became impossible to get any real sleep and my entire personality began to change.

Being a good Catholic girl, I didn’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural. I could not consolidate what was happening in the house with the philosophies I had been taught. As the haunting continued and events in the house escalated, all I wanted was out of the house.

We moved out three days before Halloween. But those brief three months, which actually seemed to last a lot longer, changed my life forever. Because of the events that took place, I became a recovering Catholic, a spiritualist, an occultist and a witch. My entire outlook on life, religion and especially death did a one eighty. And the memories of the events in the house are seared into my psyche forever.

Many of my stories have their beginnings in events such as that above, maybe not as exciting or strange, but definitely the events spark my imagination.

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