This is the last of the Haunted Mansion interviews, so I’m going to interview myself here. Pardon me if I slip daintily into the 3rd person…
Loren Rhoads survived both Haunted Mansion Writer’s Retreats by being convinced she was the Final Girl. She was honored to be asked to edit The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two and follow in the footsteps of E.S. Magill. Loren’s ghost stories have appeared in the books Sins of the Sirens, Demon Lovers, and The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One. Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, a collection of her cemetery travel essays, just came out from Western Legends Press in May.
Q: Had you ever had a paranormal experience before you came to the Haunted Mansion?
LR: My friend Blair died at home, in his bed, after a horrific struggle with AIDS. Blair was a very strong-willed man who swore he could come back, if at all possible. It wasn’t a surprise that his husband saw shadows and felt phantom drafts after Blair’s death, but I never expected to see Blair myself. I was in their house alone one day, hanging out with their cats, when I saw Blair. He lay in bed, ankles crossed, hands behind his head. He wore black jeans, a red flannel shirt, and the biggest grin. He knew he’d startled me.
I never saw him again, but I didn’t doubt ghosts after that either.
Q: Did anything spooky happen to you at the Mansion?
LR: The first year, a ghost touched my hair just before I drifted off to sleep. I wrote the experience up for The Haunted Mansion Project: Year One.
In 2012, I got chilled on Thursday night and just could not get warm. By dawn, I ended up wearing all the clothes I’d brought for the weekend. I don’t know if that chill had a supernatural cause, but that was one of the longest, most miserable nights of my life.
Q: What inspired the pieces you wrote for the books?
LR: “A Curiosity of Shadows” in Year One was inspired by the range of entities that inhabit the house, from the malevolent shadows that shook people awake to the angry ghosts who seemed to take pleasure in shouting at the GhostGirls to the gentle touch I felt.
My new story, “Here There Be Monsters,” came from something the caretaker said. When someone asked if he was ever afraid of the things in the house, he said, “No. The really frightening things are outside, in the woods.”
Q: Do you expect to come back to the next Haunted Mansion Retreat in 2015?
LR: I hope to. I treasure the friendships I’ve made at the Mansion, and the solitude and the inspiration. The nights are hard, though. The things that happened to Dan last time really frightened me.
Q: What’s coming up for you next writing-wise?
LR: A collection of my memoir essays called This Morbid Life will be out later this year from Renaissance Books. I’ve also just signed a contract for my first novel, co-written with Brian Thomas, to be published by Black Bed Sheet Books in November. It’s called As Above, So Below. You can keep up with my adventures here on this blog.
You can also follow the plans as they unfold for the next Haunted Mansion Retreat at http://hauntedmansionwriters.blogspot.com/.