Death’s Garden contributor Mary Rajotte

Although we’ve never met in person, I was introduced to Mary Rajotte through the Horror Writers Association several years ago. I really love her ability to spin a story. When I asked her to contribute an essay to Death’s Garden Revisited, I wasn’t sure what I would get.

“Ebb and Flow: Finding My Way Back to Family,” the essay Mary sent, is a touching meditation on the way that cemeteries can bring a family back together, flowing together and apart like waves on a shore. I cannot wait for you to read it.

Officially, Canadian author Mary Rajotte has a penchant for penning nightmarish tales of folk horror and paranormal suspense. Her work has been published in a number of anthologies and she is currently compiling her first collection. Sometimes camera-elusive but always coffee-fueled, you can find Mary at her website http://www.maryrajotte.com.

Are you a fan of nightmarish tales? Mary’s zine FRIGHTMARISH is your invitation to stories of a darker nature.  Each quarterly issue contains short folklore-inspired fiction, Gothic poetry, puzzles, activity pages, and creative nonfiction. To find out more about Frightmarish: a Gothic LitZine, visit Mary’s blog.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

I’ve only been there once, but I was immediately smitten with Mount Royal Cemetery in Montréal when I visited there in 2016. The trek up the mountain really introduced me to the grand opulence of the iconic entrance gates of one of the oldest rural cemeteries in North America. Being able to see Montréal from the panoramic lookout was incredible and really offered such a stark contrast to the cemetery’s tree-lined trails and lush gardens filled with songbirds. It’s such a massive place but it’s very serene and welcoming. I didn’t see everything I wanted to, so I’m planning to go back in the near future so I can study the incredible mausoleums and statues more, and maybe even bring my oracle cards along to do some readings while I’m there.

What is your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?

I’ve been enamored with tarot and oracle cards for a long time, but only recently started to explore the medium more deeply. Although I don’t have any ancestors in nearby cemeteries, when I’m able to revisit their resting places again, I plan to take offerings and spend time sitting with each gravestone to reconnect with my long-lost family.

Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?

As an author of Gothic stories, sometimes set in the Victorian era, I’ve always wanted to visit Highgate Cemetery in London, particularly the Egyptian Avenue, the Terrace Catacombs, the elaborate sculptures, the natural setting that has inspired so many writers and artists. It seems like a place one can easily get lost. Its lush surroundings seem like the perfect place to inspire my next story.

If you have any say in the matter, what would your epitaph be?

I was dropped from moonbeams and sailed on shooting stars (one of my favorite sets of lyrics from Radiohead).

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

Little Grave by Chelsea Wolfe.

I made a Death’s Garden Revisited playlist on Spotify, if you’d like some cemetery songs to listen to.

Also, please check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is for sale at Blurb.com. The book is really beautiful and Mary’s essay is lovely!

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Death’s Garden contributor: Rain Graves

I met Rain Graves x-many years ago through the World Horror Conventions. She told stories at several of the Morbid Curiosity open mics and had an essay in Morbid Curiosity magazine, too.

In 2010, Rain invited me to the first Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat, which literally changed my life. I edited The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two, thanks to her.

Rain’s essay in Death’s Garden Revisited is about her first visit to Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. Recoleta is where Evita Peron is buried. I’ve always wanted to see the cemetery for myself. Rain makes it come alive.

Officially, Rain Graves is a two-time Bram Stoker Award winner, legally ordained Priestess, and retired Argentine Tango dancer/instructor. Publishers Weekly cited her poetry in Barfodder as “Bukowski meets Lovecraft” in 2009. She lives and writes in Houston. Approach with caution and blue lotus offerings (Nymphaea Caerulea). You can catch her at raingraves.com.

What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?

Have a picnic.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

My favorite cemetery is the one I wrote about in this book, La Recoleta, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?

The Tombs of Cleopatra VII and Mark Anthony (undiscovered as of yet).

What would your epitaph be?

Love is a Phoenix; Rise and be free.

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

“Dreams of Wounded Knee” by Bill Miller, “Cemetery” by The Headstones, “Pet Sematary” by the Ramones.

I made a Death’s Garden Revisited playlist on Spotify, if you’d like to check it out.

Also, please check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is for sale at Blurb.com. The book is really beautiful and Rain’s essay is spooky!

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Free Spooky Halloween reading

I’m doing my first reading of the year on Monday, October 24, at noon Pacific. Join me via Zoom — for free — hosted by the Berkeley Public Library.

I’ll be reading “In the Pines” from my story collection Unsafe Words. After I read, there will be a Q&A. Come ask me your questions about horror, cemeteries, and writing.

The library let me choose which author from the past I wanted to read with, so I chose Shirley Jackson. Come listen to the first chapter of The Haunting of Hill House, as read by David Warner!

Here’s the link to register for the event.

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Death’s Garden contributor: Brian Thomas

Brian and I have known each other since high school. We wrote Star Wars fanfic together. We wrote Lost Angels and Angelus Rose — the novels about Lorelei and Azaziel — together. I’ve had the pleasure of publishing Brian’s essays in the original volume of Death’s Garden and in most issues of Morbid Curiosity magazine. Despite what he says about himself below, he’s a born raconteur.

His essay in Death’s Garden Revisited is about his adventure in Venezuela. He was in-country working on a low-budget movie, but he took a day off to visit a graveyard. It was a life-changing experience.

You can get a taste of him reading it on the most recent Horror Addicts podcast.

Brian Thomas writes when there is no way of avoiding the task. Over half a century, he’s explored more than his share of burying grounds, at all hours of day and night. He observes every Memorial Day by cleaning of family grave plots and endeavors to clean or uncover at least one neglected grave marker each occasion.

What’s your favorite thing to do in a cemetery?

To look a bit closer for something I’d most likely miss.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

Forest Lawn Glendale. I never go back to Los Angeles without stopping by for a drink at Errol Flynn’s graveside (I also do my best to visit & toast the Fairbanks (père et fils) and Ty Power at Hollywood memorial (née Hollywood Forever).

Is there a cemetery or gravesite you’ve always wanted to visit?

Charles de Batz de Castelmore D’artagnan.

What would your epitaph be?

“Thought I’d be dead by thirty, but things didn’t work out.”

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

‘Cemetery’ by the Headstones

Loren again: I would love it if you’d check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is for sale at Blurb.com. The book is really beautiful!

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Death’s Garden Revisited is on sale now!

I’m so excited to announce that my next cemetery book is available now.

Death’s Garden Revisited collects 40 powerful personal essays — accompanied by 80 full-color photographs — to illustrate why people visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.

Genealogists and geocachers, travelers and tour guides, anthropologists, historians, pagan priestesses, and ghost hunters all venture into cemeteries in these essays. Along the way, they discover that cemeteries don’t only provide a rewarding end to a pilgrimage, they can be the perfect location for a first date or a wedding, the highlight of a family vacation, a cure for depression, and the best possible place to grasp history. Not to mention that cemetery-grown fruit is the sweetest.

You can see a preview below:

You can order your copy of the book in paperback or in hardcover directly from Blurb. The ebook is coming soon.

Contributors and Kickstarter backers: The books arrived earlier than expected. I will get those into the mail to you as soon as I can!

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