S.G. Browne is a two-time survivor of the Haunted Mansion Retreat and a contributor to both volumes of The Haunted Mansion Project. He is the author of the novels Breathers, Fated, Lucky Bastard, and I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus: dark comedies and social satires with a supernatural edge. He also has an eBook collection, Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel, which contains ten twisted tales. He’s an ice cream snob, a Guinness aficionado, and a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life. You can learn more about his books at http://sgbrowne.com.
Q: Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion?
SGB: No, never. I knew a lot of others who had paranormal experiences, even family members who had encountered ghosts, but I was still waiting for my turn.
Q: Did anything spooky happen to you at the Mansion?
SGB: This past year, 2012, I didn’t personally experience anything spooky, though I witnessed others having spooky things happen to them. But the first year, in 2010… On the first night, as I lay in bed attempting to fall asleep, the air around me seemed to grow thicker and heavier, but when I opened my eyes, there was nothing but the bedroom. This happened a couple of times. The third time it happened, around four in the morning, as I turned on to my right side to try to sleep in spite of my snoring roommate, something started shaking my left shoulder, as if trying to wake me up. I opened my eyes and saw the air in front of me shimmering.
Although the room was dark, there was enough ambient lighting for me to see everything clearly. Something was standing beside my bed. Problem was, I couldn’t look up to see if it had a face. And when I opened my mouth to call out, or just say “Hey,” nothing came out. Not even a squeak. I was petrified. Eventually, either I managed to break the spell or my visitor stopped. I sat up and looked around the room and shouted, “Mother fucker!”
Q: What inspired the piece you wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two?
SGB: I don’t think there was one thing that inspired the story (Editor’s note: It’s called “Spooked”), though I remember the fear that goes through me whenever my phone rings in the middle of the night, waking me up from a deep slumber. Middle of the night phone calls are never good. So it started with that before taking a decidedly Lovecraftian haunted house turn.
Q: Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?
SGB: That’s the plan. I think I’ll sleep in the same room as in 2010 and see if I can tempt fate.
Q: What’s coming up for you next writing-wise?
SGB: My fourth novel, Big Egos, comes out on August 6. It’s a dark comedy and social satire about identity and what happens when you constantly pretend to be someone you’re not.
You can keep up with plans for the next Haunted Mansion Retreat here: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/