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Melanie R. Anderson

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

What We Are Writing About When We Write About Ghosts

Ghost stories have been with us for thousands of years. The oldest ones, dating back to The Epic of Gilgamesh, included tales of monsters and spirit beings in the underworld, ghosts who held secrets for the living.

Spectrality plays with our beliefs about time. We like to think that past, present, and future are separate from each other, but they’re interconnected. When something happens in the past, it isn’t just over and done with. Tragic events from the past still resonate in the present, which is why certain places enter into local folklore or become historical sites. After suffering a deep loss, people can become engulfed with grief and memories of a loved one. Guilt follows people to their graves. We live in a layered continuum of time, and ghost stories make this explicit. Ghosts signal memories that won’t go away; they signal the guilt of culprits or survivors; they signal an eruption of the past into our present and the dead’s future as we watch a spirit repeatedly go through the motions of a last act.

Need proof? Think of the most popular folktales and legends. The Tower of London is haunted by Anne Boleyn. Every major city in America has a ghost tour, full of stories of buildings haunted by past inhabitants. The ghosts in these stories are usually victims, whether of murder, an untimely death, or past abuse. The specters we see repeatedly are reminders of the things that we can’t yet face, but they keep materializing in front of us, especially when we try to ignore them.

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Read an Excerpt From Monster, She Wrote, a Non-Fiction Guide to the Women of Horror and Speculative Fiction

Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales.

Part biography, part reader’s guide, Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson’s Monster, She Wrote will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories. Available September 17th from Quirk Books, you can read more about three of the authors—Margaret Cavendish, Shirley Jackson, and Toni Morrison—below!

[Read an excerpt]

Five Haunted House Books Written By Women 

Summer is almost over. School is starting. We know many of you want the lazy days of summer to remain with us a little longer, but we can’t wait for the upcoming spooky season. Halloween is coming, and we want all the ghosts, ghouls, and ghastly things.

With the recent passing of Toni Morrison, of course we thought of her novel Beloved, one of the best ghost stories we’ve read. The haunted home of 124 Bluestone Road made us crave even more spectral places, like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. But Jackson and Morrison are just the beginning; we would like to invite you into a few other haunted houses built by women writers. You might see some familiar names here, but if not, you’ll definitely find some new authors to add to your autumn reading pile.

So let’s get started—don’t mind the creaky door, or the dust, or the darkness, or the screams….

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