Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Collecting Acorns

Halloween is a time of ghosts and burning leaves, vampires and dying trees, and unwrapped candies accompanying creepy stories.

I remember three distinct details from my childhood. The first two are homework and snow days. Oddly, they complement one another in that one always intends to catch up on homework during a snow day. However inclined, the snow beckons and while one is creating angels in the cold, white winter dust, the dreaded schoolwork is not only pushed aside but forgotten until the sun sets and signals the migration to the house and the restoration of the memory.

The third thing I remember from childhood is akin to the world of endless snow days. It has nothing to do with hot cocoa, television, or the internet. It comes from the history of Beowulf and the bard. This third memory is that of the oral storyteller.

I come from a family tree laden with storytellers who drop acorns upon unsuspecting relatives. These "acorns" or "stories" are always told in the first person and relate true narratives of the supernatural, macabre, and unexplained.

As a child I remember sitting by the wood stove and listening to the ghoulish tales of my grandfather being confronted by an evil hitchhiker and my grandmother's home being guarded by more than one dead individual. I recall my mother telling of her escape from a flying entity, my cousin relating her firsthand experiences with the supernatural, and my aunt sharing her cerebral storehouse of family lore.

Intrigued by these stories as a child and later as an adult, I set about collecting the acorns of my family that dangle from a tree of half-forgotten memory. After emptying the sack of acorns, I ground them into a fine powder of daunting yarns entitled Haunted Voices from My Past: True Narratives of an Ohio Family. My new book is a tribute to my ancestors and their lives, a look at my own fragile experiences with the unknown, and an echo of the haunted voices that once shared their stories with the hope that they would be respected, retold, and preserved.

Thanks to all of the readers who made my new book a success last week, my family's ghost stories have been heard. Take a moment to shake your family tree and tell me some of your true ghost stories in the comments section below.


As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line. In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling. It’s contagious.


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