These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has passed the halfway point! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!
eSpec Books interviews Caroline Flarity, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.
eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?
CF: My story is inspired by the infamous Old Hag Syndrome, a form of sleep paralysis usually reported by men who claim that an evil old hag sits on their chests and tries to smother them in their beds. I wondered, who is the “old hag”? The story is told from her perspective.
I first heard about the Old Hag Syndrome listening to a paranormal show on Coast to Coast AM, back in the day when legendary broadcaster Art Bell hosted. This show and others on the subject of sleep paralysis fascinated me because I experienced sleep paralysis as an adolescent. There were plenty of nights as a teen when I lay terrified and unable to move in bed, my mind awake, my body numb, and felt the presence of something malevolent in the room.
eSB: Is your story a part of a greater uinverse stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?
CF: This is a stand-alone story told from the perspective of a ghost, a widow who died shortly after the end of WWII.
eSB: Do you foresee writing more stories with this character or in this world? Whichever your answer, why?
CF: No, this is a one-off. I think the ending is the spookiest part, and what happens to the ghost next is best left to the reader’s imagination!
eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?
CF: Yes, I believe consciousness survives the death of the body. I believe in ghosts. I had a friend who lived in Santa Cruz, California. When visiting her house, I often felt uncomfortable walking down a mirrored hallway that led to the bathroom, but didn’t think much of it. During one visit, her son was not home and she invited me to sleep in his room. I lasted about five minutes in that kid’s room once the lights were out. I felt like an invisible presence was two inches from my face, glaring at me. I left and slept on the living room couch, waking up in the middle of the night in a state of high alert. Something was buzzing in my ears. I was flooded with adrenaline, my heart shrieking, hoping it was a bug. The blinds stared rattling, but the windows were closed. The buzzing began to sound like something trying to form words. I bolted into my friend and her husband’s bedroom and slept on the carpet at the foot of their bed! The next day she told me that her late mother was a witch who used to practice the dark arts with her peers in the Santa Cruz mountains. For most of my friend’s life, she’d felt the protective presence of what she called “The Watchers.” And her children now felt the same presence. I never went back.
eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?
CF: My first novel The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter was published in 2019. Supernatural meets Mean Girls in this YA horror debut for older teens. Anna is the grieving daughter of a paranormal investigator with a hoarding problem. When a parasitic evil invades her town (and mind), she must harness its power before it destroys the only family she has left. To do so, she’ll have to keep her increasingly dark urges at bay. The story is relentless and creepy but ultimately uplifting.
eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?
CF: Other horror and dark speculative fiction writers are a great source of support. Sometimes I find that attending writing workshops with people who don’t appreciate horror is counterproductive. Not always, of course!
eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?
CF: Read as much as you can in your genre and be kind to yourself. Find joy in the process because writing is hard work that’s often unrewarded.
eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
CF: I just finished a solid second draft of my new novel Sometimes in Daylight, a psychological horror with a sci-fi element. A woman is confronted with a terrifying theory about the origins of her insomnia after locating the cousin who abandoned her decades earlier.
Caroline Flarity is a freelance writer living in NYC. Her fascination with fringe topics and scary movies led her to begin her writing journey penning creepy screenplays. Her debut novel The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter began its life as a feature script, placing in the finals of the StoryPros Awards and as a semifinalist in Slamdance Film Festival’s writing competition. The Ghost Hunter’s Daughter was named a “Best YA of 2019” listee by Ginger Nuts of Horror and won Crossroad Reviews’ 2019 Indie Book Award. Caroline is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association.
Learn more about Caroline Flarity:
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