From that day in first grade when words began to emerge from the jumble of letters on the page, I knew I wanted to write. My father raised me from the age of six, in Lancaster, PA, the setting for The Haunting of Aaron House. He was a voracious reader, so I became one. This was the 1930’s and 40’s when television, Internet, and Xbox didn’t exist. We got our information and entertainment from movies, radio, and reading. Folklore, superstition, and the supernatural were accepted as facts of life in this then rural community. My paternal grandmother was a folk healer, or Pow-Wow Woman, or sometimes witch, as they are called. She could cast spells. I listened to many frightening stories as a child--of ghosts and supernatural happenings--so I developed a natural interest in the subject, and later, while growing up, began a reference library. My prize possession is John George Hohlman’s, Pow-Wows, Or the Long-Lost Friend, a compilation of spells to heal and ward off spirits, published first in 1830. I use the book a lot in Aaron House. The exorcism at the end of the book is from here.
When I was ready to become an author, I decided my first novel would be about an unsuspecting family haunted by ghosts who need their energy to become strong enough to destroy each other.
The main protagonists in Aaron House are Paul and Samantha Barlowe, and their son, Andy, who come to Lancaster from Chicago to shoot an historical documentary film. They temporarily reside in Aaron House as guests of the local chamber of commerce. Immediately upon their arrival the haunting begins. Your first hint is in the novel’s prologue. My characters know nothing about ghosts, and have a lot to learn about the awful dangers of ghostly possession. If you don’t believe in ghosts now, you might when you finish reading the book.
You’ll discover there are seven classifications of ghosts, according to their power. Most Western religions teach that man is two beings: the physical, which dies, and the spirit, which lives on, encouraging the idea of life after death. Thus, right after death there is Stage One, or the memory impression. Many of you have experienced this, but ignored it. This is the sense you get in a space when a presence lingers, but is not visible.
This happens often at historical sites in Eureka Springs, especially at our local cemetery, and some of our local hotels, but most visitors are not open to the idea, so don’t feel it. As the spirit lingers, instead of passing on, usually because of some unfinished business or violent death, it becomes stronger with time, taking the form of a mist, and gradually grows in strength until there is form. This is the way Amalie first appears to Sam and Paul. Older spirits can transmit thought, and move objects. Finally the last, Stage Seven, is achieved. This is the most dangerous and powerful.
Phineas is here. He has form, can enter bodies, and take over completely. He can kill. It takes years, and feeding on the energy of many humans, to reach this strength. Amalie hates Phineas and needs all of Samantha to reach level seven, so she can destroy him. When she enters Sam, flashbacks to earlier times in Amalie's life begin, and Sam experiences some of the early American history of the region. Paul refuses to believe this can happen until Phineas invades him, during a very inopportune moment.
If Paul, Sam, and Andy are going to survive, they need the wisdom of a Pow-Wow Woman to succeed. Let the fun begin.