Monday, June 13, 2011

Enchanted Book Tour Guest Post Featuring Majanka Verstraete

This month, I've had the pleasure of being a part of the Echanted Book Tour for Majanka Verstraete's novella, The Blood That Defines Us. You can find my review for the novella here. Since her book is about evil and features a creepy mansion that houses a secret room in the attic where an incredible amount of evil is inflicted, she's chosen to do her guest posts based on a theme, "haunted houses."

Because who doesn't like haunted houses and the fabulous ghost stories that come attached to them?! I know, I do. In fact, there's a huge house in the next town over from me that has a sort of a stigma attached to it and I've trespassed in it. Shh, don't tell anyone that, though. If you get caught it's like a $500 fine and the last person to own it was, I think, the fifth person to own it and they were a lawyer. I'm not quite sure now if they do still own it or not, but there's a great deal of information on it in the town's library and you can also find information on it here as well.

Anyway, one of the many stories goes, is that a Satanic cult once used to hold rituals there and that it is haunted by some of the past spirits, there's also been I think at least one or two deaths there, as well. So, you're thinking, is it haunted with ooglie booglies and all sorts of other manifestations, appararitions, ghosties, gobblins, etc.? Check out the rummor mill here for all the answers.

And after that grand introduction, a little something about the author herself, Majanka Verstraete, who is a twenty-year-old law student with a passion for writing and reading. Her favorite genres are fantasy, horror and historical fiction, although she occasionally enjoys other genres as well. The Blood That Defines Us is her first published novella. She is currently working on an epic fantasy series for young adults. Feel free to visit her website

So, I think, at this point I'll give her the floor.


Haunted Houses: I invented the local ‘haunted house’ legend. And everyone believed it.

Don’t you agree that every town in the entire world, even if the population is only 6,000 or less, should have their own local haunted house legend? I mean, what’s the fun for youngsters when they can’t have a place to go, stare at for very long periods of a time, and then decide they can’t go in because it’s just too freaking scary? And what’s the fun in not being able to tell your bratty young kids scary stories about a house nearby, where this mad doctor killed children their age whenever they were being annoying towards their parents? No fun indeed!

In my hometown, we have the perfect location for a haunted house legend. There’s this old, abandoned house in the town’s center, Victorian style, pretty huge, and it used to belong to a doctor. It looks haunted as well, which is always a bonus. And it has this enormous and super-weird willow tree in the backyard. The tree is weird because it has a very odd shape. It has the shape of an old witchy grandmother-figure. That said, old witchy grandmothers are scary because when you yawn in front of them, they can suck your soul out. Honest.

Now, anyway, we had the perfect setting, but no legends to accompany it. People just called the house ‘the old doc’s house’ and in terms of scariness, that’s pretty boring. The house itself was practically begging me to make it more interesting, to give it a higher purpose in life than simply standing there for the amusement of people who liked to reminisce about some unknown doctor who had lived there half a century ago. I was ten years old at the time but my ego was certainly great enough to make me believe I could make up an entire legend from scratch and then pretend it had been told for centuries and centuries. But that my ego was fine with it didn’t mean that anyone would actually believe me. I mean, spreading urban legends can’t be so easy that a ten-year-old can do it, right?


I had the characters: mad doctor – check, young girl who went missing roughly one hundred years ago – check, soul-sucking oldies – check, zombies in the basement – check. But I knew that having all this imagination didn’t exactly mean people would believe me. Ghosts and haunted houses are one thing. Actual zombies roaming this earth? It might work in Days of the Living Dead, but it certainly wouldn’t work in my own hand-crafted urban legend. So I scratched the zombies and the soul-sucking oldies (the world just isn’t ready for such horror yet!) and I invented a story that was partly believable, partly not, and everyone loved it. They loved it so much that they believed it.

The story went like this:

Just about one century ago, a young girl named Emily lived in town. She was a perfectly normal girl, with freckles and light-brown hair, not beautiful but rather plain looking, but with a cheerful and bright personality. Everyone loved her, from the neighbor’s dog to the old nuns in the local monastery (yes, we have one of those as well). But then, one night, the young girl disappeared from her bed. The next day, the entire town went to look for her, everyone panicky and scared. They looked everywhere, from the town’s center to the nearby forest, but they couldn’t find her anywhere. It was like she simply vanished.

On the other edge of town, in a fancy mansion with large bay windows and an awkwardly-shaped willow tree in the back, a notorious doctor lived. He was a bit unconventional in his methods, but some people who were severely ill or desperate went to seek him for his aid. It was a local rumor that the doctor held crazy experiments in his basement, experiments that were against every religion and against good sense at well. But because doctors were respectable people in those days, no one dared to use this knowledge against the man. However, as Emily’s disappearance prolonged, the town’s people began to suspect the doctor. And eventually, they turned against him.

The bravest men of town broke into the doctor’s mansion at night. They grabbed the doctor from his bed, and ordered him to show them where he had hidden Emily. And that, the doctor did. He went downstairs with them, to the pitch-black basement. In the corner of the basement, one of the men could vaguely see something, but in the darkness, he was unaware of what it was. As he approached, his companion lit a match…and he stumbled back, as he was gazing upon the bodies of several dead children. Well, maybe not exactly bodies. More like, body parts. And right on top of the pile was Emily’s head, staring at him with eyes wide open and long dead.
And now, a century later, rumor is that when you go into the mad doc’s house, you can still hear Emily’s screams and the screams of the other dead children. And if you stay the night, you can even see Emily walking across the hallways, from the attic down to the basement, dragging her severed head along.

What? You have to admit that it’s kind of scary, if not a bit predictable. I mean, everyone sure thought it was scary enough. By the time I very well realized it, the story of poor murdered Emily had spread around town like a wildfire. The oddest part was that everyone believed it, as if the story had been told for several years now, rather than being made up just recently by a very creative preteen. People were saying about the ‘old doc’s house’: “Do you know, that’s the house the mad old doc killed that Emily girl!” And then someone would answer: “What Emily girl?” And the first person would reply: “From the legend…You know, about Emily getting murdered by a crazy doc? Right here? Don’t you know anything?”

In a way, it was funny that people believed the story I told so easily. I had told it to my friends, they had told it to their parents – perhaps they left the source out, or mentioned someone more credible than a young kid as the source – but no matter how it happened, the important thing was that by the time I very well realized it, I had created my very own urban legend. That proves how much people love urban legends and scary stories. Apparently they love drama, horror and hauntings enough to believe everything they hear about it.

Today’s youth still knows the story about Emily’s murder at the hands of a mad doc in that house. The garden of the house is sealed so people can’t get in it anymore, which only adds to the mystery. My younger cousin asked me about two years ago if I knew about the legend of the haunted house. I pretended not to, and let him tell it to me. The legend is pretty much the same, except that now the old mad doctor seems to haunt the house as well, as a dark and evil shadow. My cousin swears he saw the shadow of the doctor through the windows of the house one day as he was passing by, and that it scared him terribly. I couldn’t help but grin – after all, Emily and the mad doctor were creatures of my imagination, and there was no reason to believe the house would actually be haunted all of the sudden, simply because I had invented a story about it.

About one year ago, while searching the town’s archive for more information about my great-grandfather, I stumbled upon a certain Emilie Peters living in my home town approximately one century ago. She died at age fourteen. Upon looking at the records, the doctor who lived in that old scary house, died only two weeks after Emilie Peters died. Coincidence? I leave that for you to decide.

Have you ever made up ghost stories your friends actually believed? Or have you ever thought about some scary story, and then found out that there were some events described in the story that really happened? Do you believe that some people can make up stories and that they can actually become true in the future, or have happened in the past, without the person making them up knowing anything about it?

By the way, if you want to read about something really scary: an author named Morgan Robertson wrote a book called Futilityabout a ship named The Titan approximately fourteen years before The Titanic sank. A lot of details – a spectacular amount of details actually – in this book apply to the case of The Titanic as well. If you’re interested, read this article:

By Majanka Verstraete
smashwords // goodreads
Published Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Evermore Publishing
Book Format: E-book; pp 88
Age Demographic: Young Adult

Every house has its own history and its own secrets. Some secrets are just darker than others. And some are even downright terrifying.

When the Johnsons moved into their new house, they didn’t expect that weird things would start to happen, objects would move on their own, and that the house’s history would come back to haunt them.

But I did.

*Summary taken from Goodreads.

Majanka Verstraete | Sample Chapters | Smashwords | From Publisher | Goodreads | Enchanted Tours

Thank you, so much Majanka Verstraete for being such an amazing guest on my blog. I really enjoyed having you here, your novella, as well as your informative thoughts on "haunted houses." Hmm, definitely gave me something to ponder on.

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