A Halloween Harvest–and It’s Not Even Noon!

On this Halloween morning, I emptied the dishwasher, started a second load of laundry, and added a full and entire 15 seconds to how long I can hold a “plank.”

If that’s not scary enough, I also just completed the introduction for the next anthology from Brom Bones Books: Echoing Ghost Stories: Literary Reflections of Oral Tradition.

This anthology will be the second volume in the Phantom Traditions Library, which resurrects “forgotten” genres or sub-genres of fiction from the 1800s and early 1900s. The first volume, Entranced by Eyes of Evil: Tales of Mesmerism and Mystery, spotlights stories about the evil that emerges from dabbling in hypnotism. The upcoming volume explores a sub-genre of ghost stories: those in which the author tries to capture something of the centuries-old oral tradition of telling ghost stories. My introduction looks at the history of sharing ghost stories out loud (often by the fireside), at the shift from that tradition to reading ghost stories, and at how some authors tried to reflect the oral tradition on the page.

Mr. Rangle's Ghost Story
An illustration from the original publication of “Mr. Rangle’s Ghost Story,” a work that’s reminiscent of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street and that will be found in Echoing Ghost Stories.

The authors in Echoing Ghost Stories include names not immediately associated with ghost stories: Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin; L.M. Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables books; Mary E. Wilkins Freeman; and Edith Wharton. On the other hand, some of the authors will be recognized by fans of Victorian and Edwardian supernatural fiction: Mary Louisa Molesworth, E. Nesbit, Ambrose Bierce, M.R. James, and E.F. Benson. There are twenty stories in all–along with an essay in the Appendix that’s titled “The Passing of the Christmas Ghost Story,” by Stephen Leacock, who was an internationally loved humorist once upon a time.

Echoing Ghost Stories should be out in December, which is fitting because winter–and, starting around the 1830s, Christmas specifically–were frequently associated with that oral tradition of fireside ghost stories. I still have to add some footnotes and, of course, proofread, proofread, proofread.

For now, though, it’s fun be spending my Halloween bringing new life to old ghosts, the unofficial motto of Brom Bones Books. And I certainly wish you a Halloween just as ghostly!

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