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

Posted in author interview, Books for sale, horror writers | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in author interview, Books for sale, horror writers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

One Week into the Kickstarter

The last week has been a whirlwind! Death’s Garden Revisited went live on Kickstarter last Thursday morning. It reached its initial funding goal of $1000 eight hours later. Such a relief!

The next day, Kickstarter chose Death’s Garden Revisited as a “Project We Love,” which means it gets recommended to backers other, similar projects. That was unexpected and lovely.

Since then, backers to the campaign have funded the conversion of the black & white interior to full color, added two commissioned essays, additional photographs, and increased the payment to the contributors.

The next stretch goal is to fund a reading from the book by the international contributors. I really hope that funds because I, for one, would really enjoy seeing it.

After that, if the campaign reaches $4000, I’ll finish the sequel to my cemetery memoir, Wish You Were Here — and all backers will get an ebook copy.

There are 22 days left to go, so anything is possible.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some links.

The Fabulist magazine did a really great interview with me, connecting the Death’s Garden project to Morbid Curiosity magazine. Please check it out here.

Jennifer Brozek let me stop by her blog to tell her how I fell in love with cemeteries.

Joanna Penn gave the kickstarter and my cemetery books a lovely shout-out of her Creative Penn podcast. Joanna was the campaign’s first backer!

Image by Lex Vranick. Quote by me.

If you’re collecting the whole set, I interviewed Death’s Garden contributor Sharon Pajka over at my Cemetery Travel blog.

And just now, Lex Vranick of Write and Wine posted an interview with me about cemeteries and the Kickstarter.

If you haven’t checked the kickstarter out yet, you can preorder a copy of Death’s Garden Revisited and check out the other fun things on offer. Just click on the image below or follow this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries/description

Posted in Books for sale, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Death’s Garden contributor: Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito

I met Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito through the Horror Writers Association during the pandemic. The timeline is hazy in my mind, but her wonderful, compassionate, beautifully described horror stories still haunt my imagination.

When I asked her to write something for Death’s Garden Revisited, Frances responded with an essay about uncovering the unmarked graves of the Chinese and Chinese American pioneers who helped to build Portland.

Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito is a Chinese American writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in Nailed Magazine, Red Penguin’s Collections, Buckman Journal, Flame Tree Press’s Asian Ghost Stories, Strangehouse’s Chromophobia, and anthologies through Moms Who Write and Not a Pipe Publishing. She can be found at

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

Walk through the various plots and look for clusters of families. It’s nice to think of families and friends being able to rest together. I also enjoy looking for unusual structures or plants/trees, especially for historic cemeteries.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

My favorite is Lone Fir. There’s so much history.

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

Shirley Jackson’s gravesite.

What would your epitaph be?

Remember me by the words I left behind and the memories of how we took care of each other.

Loren again: I would love it if you’d check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is on Kickstarter now. The book reached its initial funding goal in 8 hours and is 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

Posted in author interview, Books for sale, horror writers | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Death’s Garden contributor: Priscilla Bettis

I “met” Priscilla Bettis several years ago when the Horror Writers Association put us in touch. She is a voracious reader whose blog is a fascinating record of her interests and pursuits. Her haunting novella The Hay Bale came out in January.

Priscilla contributed an essay called “Not a Tourist Attraction” to Death’s Garden Revisited, a collection I edited of 40 essays about visiting cemeteries around the world. The book reached its funding goal on Kickstarter and is now available for preorders. Treat yourself to a copy here.

Priscilla Bettis read her first horror story — The Exorcist — when she was ten. The Exorcist scared Priscilla silly and she was hooked on horror from that moment on. Priscilla is an excellent swimmer, which is good because vampires are terrible swimmers. Priscilla grew up in Alaska where her essay takes place. Keep up with what she’s been reading — and publishing — at priscillabettisauthor.com.

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

Leave flowers for a stranger because strangers need love too.

Tell me about your favorite cemetery.

The Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia, is my favorite cemetery. It covers twenty-seven acres and has vibrant antique roses next to somber Civil War graves. The contrast leaves me speechless each time I visit.

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

I think it’d be interesting to visit more small-town cemeteries. There are always historic, little facts to learn. Recently I learned about a terrible gas explosion in the little town of Ranger, Texas, in the early 20th century.

If you had a say in it, what would your epitaph be?

Priscilla doesn’t lie here because she donated her body to science.

Do you have a favorite song about cemeteries or graveyards?

I feel sorry for people whose loved ones simply disappeared due to crime or war or natural disasters. So I choose “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash for all those whose bodies don’t have a final resting place.

Loren again: I would love it if you’d check out Death’s Garden Revisited, which is on Kickstarter now. The book reached its initial funding goal in 8 hours and is 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

Posted in author interview, horror writers | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments