The Haunted Mansion interviews: Yvonne Navarro, Painter


Photo of Yvonne Navarro by Dolli Nickel.

Survivor of two Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreats, Yvonne Navarro lives in southern Arizona and works on historic Fort Huachuca. She’s had 22 novels and well over 100 short stories published, about everything from vampires to psychologically disturbed husbands. Her work has won the Bram Stoker Award, plus a number of other writing awards. Visit her at or to keep up with a crazy life that includes her husband, author Weston Ochse, three Great Danes (Goblin, Ghost, and Ghoulie), a parakeet named BirdZilla, painting, and lots of white zinfandel. Her most recent work is Concrete Savior, the second book in the Dark Redemption series.

Q: Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion?

YN: Yes, and it wasn’t a pleasant one, either. I fictionalized it in a story called “The House on Chadwell Drive” that I wrote for a 1997 UK anthology called Dancing with the Dark. Besides the house being haunted by a very unfriendly entity (said to be the ghost of the former owner, a vicious old woman), the scariest thing that ever happened to me occurred in that house. I woke up in the middle of night and opened my eyes to realize that everything in my line of sight was warped somehow: the window on the right wall was stretched at an angle in front of me from the lower left to the upper right. I was terrified… and paralyzed. I couldn’t move, couldn’t scream. The next thing I knew, it was morning. The last thing I remembered about the night before was babbling the Lord’s Prayer in my mind.

I lived in that house for six months and things just kept escalating. No one could stay on the second floor for more than a few minutes, dogs wouldn’t go up there, no one could go in the basement, footsteps were always overhead, on and on. It was terrifying.

Q: Did anything spooky happen to you at the Mansion?

YN: Not the second time, but definitely during the first visit. Right from the start, my husband (author Weston Ochse) and I had the door to the Murder Stairs slam shut in front of us when we were still a good ten feet away from it. I had a lot of not-so-good feelings of being watched while I was there. Then another door to a closet in one of the side bedrooms on the third floor slammed shut when I looked in the room. I investigated it anyway and discovered it was solidly bolted and blocked shut.

Q: What inspired the story you wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One?

Yvonne hard at work in her third-floor studio. Photo by Sephera Giron.

Yvonne hard at work in her third-floor studio. Photo by Sephera Giron.

YN: I didn’t do much creatively during my first visit, except take a lot of photos and write a few blog posts. The first time I saw the atrium on the third floor, though, I wished I had brought my paints. I knew that if we ever came back, I would. I wondered how the house would react to someone who wanted to do that but was being punished for it by someone else. Thus “Depictions” was born. (Editor’s note: for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, Yvonne wrote about actually painting alone on the third floor.)

Q: Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?

YN: Absolutely! Wes and I have already confirmed that we’ll be there.

Q: What´s coming up for you next writing-wise?

Photo of Yvonne by Rena Mason.

Photo of Yvonne by Rena Mason.

YN: Right now I’m contracted to write a novelette in a comic-based world, so I’ve been immersed in that up to my eyeballs. I’ve got a couple of novel pitches out in the world, and we’ll see what happens to those. I have ideas for a couple of different things that could each develop into multiple-book series. So many ideas, so little me!

Interested in the next Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreat? You can follow updates at

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, as well as a space opera trilogy. I'm also co-author of a series about a succubus and her angel. In addition to blogging at, I blog about my morbid life at
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