Death’s Garden contributor: Francesca Maria

Francesca Maria is a member of my local Horror Writers Association chapter, but we haven’t yet met in person. I’m hoping to pick up a copy of her Black Cat Chronicles comic book at the Bay Area Book Festival in May.

Officially, Francesca Maria has been penning horror stories since she was able to pick up a pen and write, at the age of six. This fascination with horror was spurred by her insatiable need to uncover what was haunting her childhood home – a need that continues to this day. She’s the author of the Black Cat Chronicles comic. You can follow her work at francescamaria.com/.

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

I love to take in the beauty of cemeteries: the cold, inert stone structures of the various tombs, mixed with vibrant green grass, trees, and nature. It creates the perfect balance between life and death.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

My absolute favorite is Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. Not only is there incredible history buried within its hallowed grounds: Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Georges Bizet to name a few, but there lies an incredible array of magnificent tombstones, monuments, and statues all surrounded by sweeping trees and cobblestoned paths. When I meander through the grounds, I feel like I’ve been transported into another world, as if the world outside its gates no longer exists.

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

I have always wanted to check out the burial site in Graceland, home to the King of Rock and Roll – Elvis. His entire home is a mausoleum dedicated to his legacy. There’s something special, magical even, about his life and career and it would be a thrill to walk where he walked and soak in his energy.

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

I’m not your stepping stone.

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

“Pet Sematary” by the Ramones.

Loren again: The Kickstarter for Death’s Garden Revisited is winding down now. You can preorder a copy for yourself until April 16. This beautiful full-color book will be full of 40 amazing essays about why visiting cemeteries is important. Check it out here — and please share this link with your cemetery-loving friends: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries

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Death’s Garden contributor: Trish Wilson

Six years ago, Trish Wilson’s alter-ego Elizabeth Black interviewed me about about my work on CemeteryTravel.com and the Death’s Garden project I’d started putting together on the final episode of her podcast The Women Show. She went on to contribute two essays to Cemetery Travel. One of them, her piece about visiting Edgar Allan Poe’s grave as an inquisitive child, will appear in Death’s Garden Revisited.

Trish Wilson, using the pen name E. A. Black, has written horror for numerous anthologies including Zippered Flesh 2, From The Depths, Wicked Women: An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers, Teeming Terrors, The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories, and more. Using her real name, Trish Wilson, she is the Media Director for The Horror Zine. Check out her website at http://eablack-writer.blogspot.com.

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

I don’t hang out in cemeteries, but if I did, here is what I would love to do: Drink champagne with my husband and friends at night and look at the stars. It’s even better if there is a meteor shower. We’d enjoy a picnic and watch the heavens.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

Obviously, based upon my article, my favorite cemetery is the one at Westminster Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Edgar Allan Poe and his wife Virginia are buried there. It’s customary to leave a penny on the grave monument.

My other favorite cemetery is the one in Druid Ridge in Pikesville, Maryland (just outside Baltimore), the home of the statue Black Aggie. This statue is a life-sized figure (presumed to be female) of a seated woman dressed in a shroud. As far back as the 1960s (possibly earlier), rumors abound about that statue. Her eyes glowed red at night. If you returned her gaze, you were struck blind. Pregnant women crossing her shadow miscarried. If you said her name three times, she’d slash your face. Grass refused to grow around her.

I later discovered this very statue at the Dolly Madison House in Washington, D. C. She was stunning – and spooky. According to legend, if you left coins in her palms you’d have good luck. I left a coin. What is it about coins and gravestones?

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

Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. I want to see the Bird Girl statue that appears on the cover of the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I own a replica of this statue. She’s called “Little Wendy.”

I also would love to see the catacombs beneath Paris. Then there is Père Lachaise Cemetery, where Oscar Wilde is buried. I read he haunts the place. It would awesome to run into his ghost and hang out with him.

It would be great to visit the cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana, where voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried.

I live in Massachusetts where there are all kinds of burying grounds that date back to the 1600s. I’d love to make rubbings of the tombstones and their symbolic carvings.

If you have anything to say about it, what would your epitaph be?

God, this is Trish Wilson. Try to not piss her off. (Apologies to the movie City Slickers LOL)

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

I don’t have a favorite song of that sort, but I love to listen to dark ambient music, which is perfect for cemeteries. It’s also perfect as background music while I’m writing horror. I’d recommend “Stalker” and “The Place Where the Black Stars Hang” by Lustmord. I also recommend “Nostromo” by Sleep Research Facility. Redshift is more good dark ambient music. I also enjoy Philip Glass. Then there are movie soundtracks like Jerry Goldsmith’s “Alien” and Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho” and “Vertigo.” I like creepy music, which is perfect for cemeteries.

The Death’s Garden Revisited Kickstarter is in its final 10 days now. After the book reached its initial funding goal in 8 hours, it’s available for preorder. This beautiful full-color book will be full of 40 amazing essays about why visiting cemeteries is important. Check it out — and please consider pre-ordering a copy for yourself: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries

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Death’s Garden Party

No joke!

Tomorrow, Saturday April 2, I’ll be hosting a party on Facebook from Noon to 3:00 PM Pacific to celebrate the successful Kickstarter for Death’s Garden Revisited.

Some of the contributors will stop by to discuss their favorite cemeteries and the stories they added to the book. There will be cemetery-focused prizes and lots of like-minded souls.

Make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of cordial and join us at the Cemetery Travel page on Facebook. Here’s the direct link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1416064368811830

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Death’s Garden contributor Rena Mason

I’m pretty sure I met Rena Mason at one of the World Horror Conventions back in the day, but I got to know her in 2012 when we both attended the Haunted Mansion Writers Retreat. I was honored to edit one of her incredible horror stories for the Horror Mansion Project: Year Two.

Rena and I both wrote f0r the Horror Writers Association’s monthly newsletter. I wrote about cemeteries, of course, and Rena wrote about her travels. The piece she has in Death’s Garden Revisited is expanded from one of her HWA columns. It’s about the Hill Church Cemetery in Sighisoara, Romania.

Rena Mason is an American horror author of Thai-Chinese descent and the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of The Evolutionist and The Devil’s Throat, as well as a 2014 Stage 32/The Blood List Search for New Blood Quarter-Finalist. She currently resides in the great Pacific Northwest with her family. Learn more about her work at https://www.facebook.com/rena.mason/

Her newest book is Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology, which will be out in July.

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

Sit on a bench.

I love that! That plays a large part in your essay. If you have anything to say about it, what would your epitaph be?

I’m to be cremated and my ashes spread in the South Pacific, but I like the quote, “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”― Carl Sagan

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

I don’t know if it’s specifically about a graveyard, but I like “The Kill” (Bury Me, Bury Me) by 30 Seconds to Mars.

I added it to the Death’s Garden Revisited playlist on Spotify.

To read Rena’s beautiful essay about Sighisoara, go preorder Death’s Garden Revisited on Kickstarter now. This beautiful book is full of 40 amazing essays about why visiting cemeteries is important. Check it out here — and please consider joining the other backers: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries

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Death’s Garden contributor Angela Yuriko Smith

I haven’t yet met Angela Yuriko Smith in person, but we keep intersecting online. I interviewed her for this blog four years ago, after her book The Bitter Suites came out. She published my story “The Arms Dealer’s Daughter” in her Space & Time magazine. Both of us write for the Horror Writers Association’s monthly newsletter. Last year we swapped columns for April Fools Day: I wrote about author newsletters and she wrote about Woodlawn Cemetery in Independence, Missouri.

That essay expanded into the lovely, fierce essay “Wedding Vailes” for Death’s Garden Revisited. It’s about the marriage she solemnized for two friends during the pandemic.

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Uchinanchu-American and an award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years of experience in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), a three-time Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist, and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020, she offers resources for writers at angelaysmith.com.

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

Eat cake, especially if I’m feeling down. Enjoying a treat with those that have passed away reminds me that no matter how big my problems seem at the moment, it’s not the end. I can recover from it. I can still eat cake.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

So many cemeteries I love… but my current favorite is Woodlawn Cemetery from my essay. It’s within walking distance from my house, so convenient. It’s a nice mix of history and mystery: there are some tombs with no identifying names. There are a few that glow in the dark—that was a surprise during my first midnight trip! There is a chicken that wanders the edges sometimes and gates that lead nowhere… we assume. But mostly I hope to one day catch a glimpse of lonely Mrs. Vaile, the Grey Lady, looking for friendship.

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

I would love to visit the turtle back tombs of Okinawa. I have family in some of them. Called kameko-baka, they are shaped like a woman’s womb because it’s believed in death we return to where we came from. Once a year, the blood relatives gather at the family tomb to honor the those that have gone before. They eat, drink awamori, and celebrate. Maybe eating cake by a grave is something I inherited with my genetics.

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

Be right back.

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

FAVORITE: grandson – Bury Me Face Down. I also like The Wytches – Gravedweller and Dead Moon – Walking on My Grave.

Loren again: I would love it if you’d check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is on Kickstarter now, available for preorder. This beautiful book will be full of 40 amazing essays about why visiting cemeteries is important. Check it out here — and please consider joining the other backers: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries

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