Books, Horror, Interviews With Other Authors, News

Minnie Quay – The Ghost of Forester, Michigan

 July 1st sees publication of yet another spooky book by my good friend Catherine Cavendish. I asked her to come over and tell us a bit about her inspiration. Take it away, Cat!


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In my new novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.

From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls who are all apparently earthbound. Searching for something, or someone. In need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.

So it is with this account – the ghost of the lady they call Minnie Quay.

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Forester Township, Michigan is a small town of some 1100 people. It lies north of Port Sanilac, on the east Michigan coast of Lake Huron which bulges at the seams in summer when all the tourists come, gather around camp fires by the lake and share their stories. Some true – some not. But the tale of Minnie Quay is attested to by many who will swear to its veracity.

On a street in this little community is an abandoned tavern, with the date ‘1852’ above the door. It once belonged to James Quay and his wife, Mary Ann who lived there in the mid-nineteenth century, along with their children. Their eldest daughter – Minnie – died at the age of fourteen in April 1876 and it is her ghost that wanders restlessly along the shore nearby.

In those days, Forester was a busy, bustling lumbering town, used as a seaport for hauling timber to various locations on the Great Lakes. Four long warehouses and a pier (whose pilings can still be seen) saw a constant stream of traffic and sightseers, keen to see which ships had docked that day.

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There were plenty of visiting sailors and it was one of these who took Minnie’s eye. She fell in love with him, but her parents were horrified when they discovered the relationship. They didn’t want their daughter mixing with sailors! They forbade her from seeing him again.

Poor heartbroken Minnie didn’t even have chance to say goodbye to her beau. In the spring of 1876, the boat he had been working on sank in a storm. He was killed. Mad with grief, Minnie threw herself off the pier into the icy waters of Lake Huron and drowned, her only wish to be reunited with the spirit of her dead sailor. It was not to be.

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She’s buried in the local cemetery but, by all accounts, she still wanders. Weeping and searching for her lost love. But there is a more sinister side to this story. Some young women have reported that she has beckoned to them to join her in the freezing waters of the lake. One even drowned after saying she had seen Minnie’s ghost beckon to her that night. So, if you are young and female, do take care when strolling along the banks of Lake Huron alone. At night.

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A ballad was written about her tragic story. Here’s the first verse of one version (courtesy of Wikipedia):

‘Twas long ago besides Lake Huron
She walked the sandy shore.
but the voice of one sweet Minnie Quay
‘Twill echo ever more.

 

Here’s a flavour of Saving Grace Devine:

 

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Can the living help the dead…and at what cost? 

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.

You can find Saving Grace Devine in all usual ebook formats and paperback (where available) here:

 

Samhain Publishing

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.ca 

Amazon.com.au 

B&N 

Kobo

 

About the author

Catherine Cavendish is joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology competition 2013. Her winning novella – Linden Manor – is now available in all digital formats and the print anthology will be published in October. She is the author of a number of paranormal horror and Gothic horror novellas and short stories. Her novel, Saving Grace Devine, is published by Samhain Publishing on July 1st.

She lives with a longsuffering husband in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

 

You can connect with Cat here:

www.catherinecavendish.com

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

 

 

 

Books, Horror, Interviews With Other Authors

Catherine Cavendish: My Gothic Influences

Mary Shelley

 

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I have been reading horror for as long as I can remember. Can I recall the first time I read Mary Shelley’s most famous work, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus? No. It seems to have been in my life forever.

Mary Shelley wasn’t just a one book author. Following on from Frankenstein (published in 1818), came Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), Lodore (1835) and, finally, Mathilda, published after her death.

Yet she will always be identified with that one story which spawned dozens of Hollywood films and countless imitators. But, if Mary hadn’t visited Switzerland with her lover, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his friends, the infamous Lord Byron and his physician, John Polidori, the story might never have been written.

 

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Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on 30th August 1797, daughter of the famous feminist and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, who died ten days after her birth. Her mother had written and published the radical and (for its time) sensational, The Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) and her father was the philosopher and political writer, William Godwin, who was left to bring up not only his own daughter, but also his wife’s daughter, Fanny Imlay – the result of her liaison with a soldier.

The young Mary loved nothing more than to read, and made extensive use of her father’s library. She said that, “As a child, I scribbled; and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to ‘write stories.'” Her first published work was at the tender age of ten – a poem called Mounseer Nongtongpaw.

The Godwin household saw a steady stream of illustrious visitors, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, but one particular visitor – a student of her father’s – captured not only her attention but also her heart. Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley began an affair in 1814, while he was still married to his first wife. Facing extreme disapproval by her father, the couple fled England and travelled around Europe, accompanied by Mary’s half-sister, Claire, whose mother had become her father’s wife some years earlier.

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In 1815, Mary and Shelley had a baby girl who tragically died a few days later. In 1816, she, Percy and Claire met up with Lord Byron and John Polidori and stayed at the Villa Diodati in Geneva. It was there, on a rainy evening, that Byron entertained his guests by reading from a collection of ghost stories and then set each of them a challenge – to come up with a horror story. From those early beginnings, two notable works would eventually emerge. In addition to Mary’s Frankenstein, John Polidori produced his classic work (often wrongly attributed to Byron), The Vampyre.

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Poor Mary didn’t have the easiest of lives.  Later in 1816, her half-sister, Fanny, committed suicide and soon after, the same fate befell Shelley’s wife. The two lovers married in December 1816 but suffered the loss of two more children before Shelley drowned in The Gulf of Spezia, leaving Mary a widow at the age of just 24.

Mary herself died of brain cancer, on 1st February, 1851, aged 53. She is buried, with the cremated remains of her husband’s heart, in St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth, alongside her parents. Nearly a century passed before her novel, Mathilda, was published. This dealt with themes of incest and suicide – not topics we generally associate with the era of Jane Austen!

Mary Shelley was a woman ahead of her time. Frankenstein’s timeless quality remains a landmark of Gothic literature and one that has formed part of the foundation for countless horror writers down the years. I have no reason to assume that will ever change.

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Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:

 

Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body? 

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.

Linden Manor is available from:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com.au
Kobo
B&N

About the author

Catherine Cavendish
Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and mildly eccentric tortoiseshell cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid 18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Catherine enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

www.catherinecavendish.com

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

 

 

 

Horror, Interviews With Other Authors, News, Products

Your Furniture May Be Haunted!

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So comes the warning from writer of spooky stories, Catherine Cavendish. Her latest novella, The Second Wife,  is out today – so I asked her to come over and tell us about it. It’s not Cat’s second coming, she’s been a regular here as she’s been pretty successful in getting published over the last year. Welcome, Cat!

 

Catherine Cavendish
Catherine Cavendish

 

 

Buyer Beware! Your Furniture May Be Haunted!

 

In my latest paranormal novella, The Second Wife,  my main character, Chrissie Marchant, is haunted by the unquiet spirit of her husband’s first wife. A chair and a stunning photograph of the lady in question feature strongly. But is this all pure fiction? Or should you think twice before buying that antique chest or bedroom suite? Here’s a sample of artefacts that should probably never again see the light of day…

 

The Haunted ‘Conjure’ Chest

 

Conjure Chest

 

Over 150 years ago, an African American slave called Hosea was ordered by his master, Jacob Cooley, to build him a chest to be used by his first-born child.

Hosea created a fine carved chest but, for some reason, it did not please his exacting master who beat him mercilessly until he lay dead.

Hosea was mourned by Cooley’s other slaves who vowed revenge on their terrible master. Together with a ‘conjure man’, they sprinkled dried owl’s blood in the chest which they then cursed. They didn’t have to wait long for their first result, as Jacob Cooley’s beloved first-born son perished in infancy.

To date, a total of 17 deaths have been attributed to this piece of antique furniture and, even though legend states that the curse was eventually removed, the present owners have stored it in the Kentucky History Museum. The only thing the chest contains is an envelope. Stuffed with owl feathers.

 

 The Mysterious School Desk

 

haunted school desk

 

For this next artifact, I am indebted to http://www.johnzaffisparanormalmuseum.com/#!

John is an avid collector of allegedly haunted items. One of the items in his collection is this ordinary looking, old-fashioned school desk. Nothing remarkable about it, you would think. But you wouldn’t have thought it so ordinary if you had been there on the day it was transported to John’s museum.

Its former home was a college campus, but its presence unnerved some of the students. Before it could be moved, and during John’s paranormal investigation of it, the desk suddenly slid across the floor – while someone was actually sitting in it!

 

The Ghostly Bedroom Suite

 

haunted bed

 

Not content with one piece of haunted furniture, Sarah Forbes had an entire bedroom suite that she put up for sale because it gave her the creeps. “It has been in my family for about 200 years. There are multiple spirits that come through it. They touch you, wake you and move your things. You can see faces in the wood…” As a child, she says she thought nothing of the strange figures who would mysteriously waft in and out of her bedroom at night.  You can read more about her strange story at

http://www.ghoststudy.com/new2/furniture.html

 

You’ll find many more mysterious stories like this on the internet. But now, I’ve got you in the mood for ghostly tales, here’s the blurb for The Second Wife:

 

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Emily Marchant died on Valentine’s Day. If only she’d stayed dead…

 

When Chrissie Marchant first sets eyes on Barton Grove, she feels as if the house doesn’t want her. But it’s her new husband’s home, so now it’s her home as well. Sumptuous and exquisitely appointed, the house is filled with treasures that had belonged to Joe’s first wife, the perfect Emily, whom the villagers still consider the real mistress of Barton Grove.

A stunning photograph of the first Mrs. Marchant hangs in the living room, an unblemished rose in her hand. There’s something unnerving and impossibly alive about that portrait, but it’s not the only piece of Emily still in the house. And as Chrissie’s marriage unravels around her, she learns that Emily never intended for Joe to take a second wife…

 

The Second Wife is available now from:

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca  

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes and Noble

Kobo 

You can find Cat here:

www.catherinecavendish.com

http://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendish

www.goodreads.com as Catherine Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

 

My Reviews Of Other Books

Review: Miss Abigail’s Room

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Click to Buy

 

Title: Miss Abigail’s Room

Author: Catherine Cavendish

Published by: Etopia Press

 

Blurb

It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…

As the lowest ranking parlor maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence. And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. Becky wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. So when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die.

A darning needle though the heart of the gruesome doll puts everyone at Stonefleet Hall at odds. The head parlor maid seems like someone else, the butler pretends nothing’s amiss, and everyone thinks Becky’s losing her mind. But when the shambling old lord of the manor looks at her, why does he scream as though he’s seen the hounds of hell?

 

Review

Following that book description, to say any more about the plot would certainly spoil it. This is a perfectly crafted English ghost story in the Gothic tradition. What struck me was the incredibly believable sense of place created by Cavendish. I was there in that old house, could see the servants at their table, the maids scrubbing and polishing. With the recent success of Downton Abbey, I reckon Cavendish is on to something, especially among women readers who want a change from romance. Nice to see the use of a doll to invoke fear, too. Stars out of 5? It has to be worth 4 for the attention to detail and the writing.

 

 

Interviews With Other Authors

When The Butler’s Word Was Law

Today I’m stepping back and leaving you in the capable hands of my fellow author, Catherine Cavendish. Take it away, Cat…
Catherine Cavendish
Catherine Cavendish

My latest Paranormal Horror novella, Miss Abigail’s Room is set in 1896 in a large, grand (well it used to be anyway) country house in rural Wiltshire and much of the story concerns the servants who worked below stairs.

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TV series such as Downton Abbey and the original Upstairs, Downstairs have painted a rather cosy picture of servant life in the late Victorian/Edwardian eras and beyond, but the truth is often much harsher. Many of us today have grandparents and great-grandparents who worked ‘in service’ and not all of them had the kindly Mrs Bridges or the, strict but fair, Mr Hudson to turn to.

Mrs Bridges and Mr Hudson, Upstairs Downstairs

Many will tell tales of drudgery and eighteen hour days, followed by rotten food or upstairs’ leftovers, a hard bed and a freezing cold room to sleep in. Privacy was not an option, with same-sex servants sharing not only a room, but quite often a bed. As for a private life – forget it. ‘No followers’ was a frequent condition of employment and male and female servants slept well apart from each other.

Urban squalor c.1899

But for many girls and boys from large families, a life in service provided a lucky escape from overcrowding, grinding poverty and a life of crime on the streets. My main character, Becky, is just such an example. Hailing from one filthy room in a cockroach-infested tenement in Hoxton, London, she would rather do anything – even go into that evil room – rather than face going back to her childhood home.

Servants 1890s

My late maternal grandmother was in service for the local squire and his family, from a tender age (probably thirteen or fourteen at the latest) until she married the coachman in 1909. She told of a strict hierarchy and firm discipline. Below stairs, the butler ruled as King, with the housekeeper as Queen. You did as you were told and never answered back. You knew your place and you kept to it. In return, you ate three good meals a day, had clothes (all right, a uniform) to wear, somewhere to sleep and you were paid for your services (albeit not very well). In the house where my grandmother worked, the squire’s wife was most particular about ensuring the servants were well fed and looked after. Most were grateful for it and worked hard, rewarding their employers with loyalty. Given the conditions, Grandma was luckier than many in service, I know.

Nowadays, our world is vastly different from the one my grandmother inhabited. We would balk at the deferential attitude she and her fellow servants adopted towards their employers. We would sneer at the thought of referring to anyone as our ‘betters’ and we would want to improve our lot in life, rather than be satisfied with our ‘station’.

Are we living in better times as a result? In many important ways, yes, I believe we are. But are we any happier or more fulfilled? In some ways, maybe not. My grandmother said she was perfectly happy with her station in life. She never aspired towards anything else. She never had any money, but she did have a happy marriage and three children she took a pride in raising to have good values and a strong moral compass. As far as she was concerned, she had a happy and fulfilled life.

Isn’t that what we all strive for?

Miss Abigail’s Room is out now. Here’s the blurb:

It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…

As the lowest ranking parlour maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence. And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. Becky wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. So when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die.

A darning needle though the heart of the gruesome doll puts everyone at Stonefleet Hall at odds. The head parlour maid seems like someone else, the butler pretends nothing’s amiss, and everyone thinks Becky’s losing her mind. But when the shambling old lord of the manor looks at her, why does he scream as though he’s seen the hounds of hell?

Available as an ebook from:

Amazon.com 
Amazon.co.uk
Omnilit
Barnes and Noble

You can connect with Cat here:

www.catherinecavendish.com

http://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendish

www.goodreads.com as Catherine Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

http://pinterest.com/catcavendish/