Chris Marrs lives on the West Coast of British Columbia. She tends bar during the day to keep her kids fed, watered, and sheltered, then spends the nights writing, usually accompanied by copious amounts of coffee and sometimes a little wine. In 2012, Chris had three pieces of flash fiction published and one short story. Early 2013 saw the release of Deep Cuts, an anthology she edited with Angel McCoy and Eunice Magill to honor women in horror. The stories for the book were selected during the 2012 Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chris.marrs.14 where she sometimes “likes” more than posts or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Chris_Marrs.
Q: Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion last year?
CM: Yes, I had a couple of experiences one may classify as paranormal, but—with the exception of one—they could be explained away. The one that couldn’t occurred when I was still married. My then-husband and I had recently moved into a new house and were sitting on the couch watching TV one night when we caught movement in the hallway. We looked over and saw a little boy in black pajamas lurking there. Our son was four at the time, so I assumed it was him and told him it was too late for him to be up: “Head for bed.” The boy disappeared. I turned to my husband and frowned, then got up to go check on our son and tuck him in, if he needed it. Once I entered his room, though, he was flat on his back, sound asleep. He was wearing white pajamas with little red cars on them.
A couple of weeks later, I was talking to the neighbor and she asked all the usual “getting to know a new neighbor” questions. Through the conversation, I learned a family with three boys had lived there before us and one of the boy’s friends was always coming over. It was like a second home for him. Unfortunately, the friend had been killed when a negligent bus driver pulled away from the curb as the boy crossed the street. The driver couldn’t stop in time. From what I gathered, the boy still came to the house on occasion to “visit” his friend. We weren’t the only ones to see him.
Q: Did anything spooky happen to you at the Mansion?
CM: Ah, our haunted shower curtain—which is not very spooky, but was definitely entertaining. I roomed with Angel and Eunice and access to one of the communal bathrooms was through our room. The bathroom had two metal shower-stalls sitting side by side, with those plastic shower curtains on little metal hooks.
Anyway, I’d been standing at the sink, washing my hands, when I heard a “clink-clink” behind me. I turned around and the shower curtain on the right side was a quarter of the way open. Weird, I thought, since I knew it’d been closed all the way. I shut it and went out to tell Angel and Eunice.
Shortly after, Wes came in to use the washroom and we told him. He kinda scoffed, then carried on. A couple of minutes later, he came out and asked me to tell him, again, what happened. I did, then asked why? He said he’d just experienced the same thing—was it with the shower curtain on the right? I laughed and said, “That’d be the one.” It became a bit of a running joke for the rest of the weekend, one of those slightly uneasy jokes.
Q: What inspired the story you wrote for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two?
CM: There wasn’t any one thing that inspired “A Prisoner in the Spaces between Time,” more like a bunch of little random thoughts that came together. One was a voice on an EVP recording that said, “Get the chains!” Also, I wondered what if they—the ghosts—are stuck in time and can hear us: how would they react? Would they think they’re going insane? Do they know they’re dead?
The atmosphere of the Mansion was very inspirational. I’d walk through it alone and wonder at all it had seen and heard throughout the years.
Q: Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?
CM: I would love to be able to attend the next Haunted Mansion Retreat. It was a wonderful experience and gave me the freedom to write without having to worry about kids or a day job. We’ll have to see if I can swing it.
Q: What’s coming up for you next writing-wise?
CM: I’m working on a novella for JournalStone’s Double Down program. Gene O’Neill asked me to participate and our novellas will be paired together. I’m very excited to be working with him, as I’ve long admired his writing. I have a few short stories coming out as well. “Paper and Pencil, Skin and Ink” will appear in A Darke Phantastique, edited by Jason Brock. “How to Save a Life” will come out in Nightscape Press’ Best of Volume One, and “Twisted Sister” has been accepted for an upcoming issue of Dark Discoveries magazine. My novella, Everything Leads Back to Alice, is coming soon from Bad Moon Books.
You can follow the unfolding plans for the next Haunted Mansion Retreat here: http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/.