Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I was sitting alone earlier this evening wondering what to blog about, and the things that gave me chills over the years starting coming to mind. I shall tell you about them here so you can share in the nightmares I may be setting up for later this night.

My grandparents lived in what was once a Colonial home. At he top of the central stairway was a door which used to be the outside door on the north side of the house. It had a single panel on the bottom and 20 panes of glass. One of the glass panes was broken. It had a large, wicked hole a person could put their hand through. I hated that hole, and had nightmares about it when I was young. My grandpa was not fond of me, so the glass went year after year unrepaired. Many years later, my grandmother disclosed that my father had broken it when he was a child, and it had remained that way for half a century! I replaced the glass and never had the nightmare again.

I can’t explain exactly why a broken window should be so scary, but it was. How do I know I’m not just crazy? Because filmmakers use these kinds of “scary” images to give us the creeps in their films—even though it would be hard to define why certain things make our spines tingle. I present some examples:

Anna Mobley, in the movie “Ghost Story,” when she is standing on the deck facing the ocean and says “I want to see the life run out of you.”

The ordinary Honeywell thermostat in “The Sixth Sense” which drops fifteen degrees just before the ghosts appear.

Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” leering at the model of the hedge maze in the Overlook Hotel… and seeing his wife and child running around in the model.

The bleeding walls of “The Amityville Horror.”

The bullet holes in the swimming pool of the “Ghost Ship.”

Carrie White’s hand reaching up from the pit where her house once stood, which is part of the sole survivor’s dream at the end of the film, “Carrie.”

The 1930s electrical fixtures in the Dark Castle remake of “The House on Haunted Hill.” Even the intro to the movie is a creep-out.

The images collected in the deadly videotape, central to “The Ring.”

Are there oddball things like this that give you chills?

Monday, October 8, 2007


I just came back from a fun weekend at the annual West Texas Book and Music Festival in Abilene, Texas. Looks like ghost stories are pretty popular!

On the left side of the picture is author Olyve Hallmark Abbott (what a great name!) Her new book is “A Ghost in the Guest Room,” featuring 57 haunted Texas inns, bed-and-breakfasts, and hotels.

On the right side of the photo is author Elaine Coleman, who wrote two books I already owned: “Texas Haunted Forts” and “Louisiana Haunted Forts.”

Behind me to the right (where you can’t see) is author J.A. LeVitt, whose young adult novel “Ghosts of Whitner” is reviewed in a previous blog entry.

I, Byron C. Justice, have my table in the background on the right (look for the orange “clouds” on my display easel).

Out of less than 200 authors, four of us presented books about ghosts. Take heart, ye lovers of the spine-tingling tales—you are not alone!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I met this author last weekend at the West Texas Book & Music Festival in Abilene, TX. She had won a publishing package from WordWright for this book.

I read the book that evening at the Abilene KOA. As it is just 76 pages written for young adults, it took me less than forty minutes.

I LOVE this story! Arthur has my dream job. He researches the history of ghost towns. One summer, he takes his mother, his 11-year-old daughter Josie, and his 7-year-old son Ron to live in the abandoned iron-smelting town of Whitner, Alabama, while he studies the town’s sudden, unexplained demise.

It isn’t long before Josie finds out they are not alone among the derelict buildings. We know right away that Josie’s new friend Lucy is a ghost, but it will be several more days before Josie figures that out.

GHOSTS OF WHITNER is, in many ways, a mini version of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Author J.A LeVitt has done a wonderful job of weaving a message of friendship, forgiveness, and family into a story that is surprisingly suspenseful and scary. In spite of the simple language she uses, detailed images pop right into the mind. The ending left me quite satisfied, unlike so many other young adult titles in this genre (like the Goosebumps books) which discredit their own plots by attributing the ghostly events to dreams, pranks, or other convenient coincidences.

Yes, there is murder behind the downfall of Whitner. The kids witness death there, too, and approach a murderer in an attempt to right some very old wrongs. If that makes you nervous, treat yourself to this fun little book before you pass it on to your 9-year-old!