I finished the cover for Guilt Is a Ghost: A Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery, the second book in the series. This novel is the “synquel” to Help for the Haunted — not a prequel or a sequel because the two overlap in time. Perhaps they should be thought of as “companion” volumes. With that in mind, I did my best to make this new cover look similar to — but just different enough from — the previous one.
That hunched ghost with the big eyes has a role in the story. This image of it came from my fiddling with an illustration I found in John Kendrick Bangs’ The Water Ghost and Others. And the two books in front of the ghost are John H. Ingram’s The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain and Violet Tweedale’s Ghosts I Have Seen: And Other Psychic Experiences. Several real books are cited in the Guilt Is a Ghost, though neither of these are. They just happened to be on my bookshelf.
Speaking of bookshelves, while finishing this manuscript, I began to wonder what books might have been consulted by ghost hunters like Vera Van Slyke. I decided to compile a bibliography of such books, and I call it the Victorian Ghost Hunter’s Library. Technically, the Progressive-Era Ghost Hunter’s Library might be more correct, given that Guilt Is a Ghost is set in that phase of U.S. history (the 1890s to the 1920s). Indeed, the novel’s haunting occurs in Boston, Massachusetts, and there are references to the aftermath of the American Civil War and the Salem witch hunts. However, I suspect most of Vera’s ghost-related library originated in Britain, and so the “Victorian era” (1837-1901) is applicable. Certainly, her beloved The Night Side of Nature, by Catherine Crowe, fits this description.
This new bibliography is a work in continual progress — as are the others on the Brom Bones Books site — but I’ve been digging into ghostly topics from the 1800s for quite a while now. I doubt that this one will grow too much longer, in other words. If you’re intrigued, take a glance at The Victorian Ghost Hunter’s Library.
And give me another month or so before the release of Guilt Is a Ghost: A Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery. Hey, that might be just enough time to read Help for the Haunted!