Samhain: Summer’s End

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Hope you all had a great Halloween, whether you partied, passed out candy, binged Stranger Things, went to a haunted house or a ghost tour, marched in a Halloween parade, danced in the grove, or spent a quiet night at home. And who says the fun has to be over? You can curl up with a spine-tingling tale of the ghostly and the Gothic long after all the candy has been eaten and the zombie make-up has been washed away. Halloween may be over, but the dark half of the year is here to stay and it brings with it no shortage of superstitions or the supernatural. Continue reading

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In-Betweens, Thin Veils, and a Ghost Story or Two

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The infirmary at Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury NH, photo by Shannon Barnsley, October 2012.

“It was Gate Night, the night before All Hallows’ Eve. Distant memories of the old stories nagged at me. During All Hallows’ Eve the veil between the world of the living and the word beyond was lifted. Our world and their world all blurred together like ink running on a page in my old primer when we schoolgirls would try to run home in the rain, shrieking and splashing up mud all the way.”

– Shannon Barnsley, Beneath Blair Mountain Continue reading

Gate Night: The Veil Grows Thin

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The fairies be out that night and they would take you away with them if you were out at that evil time. It is also said that the devil shakes his budges [fur] on the haws and turns them black and according to the old people if you eat a haw after Hallow Eve night you will have no luck (qtd in “Halloween in Irish Folklore”).

Continue reading

Persephone, Lara Rae, and Other Lost Girls of the Underworld

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Much like Persephone from Greek mythology, Lara Rae Brecken, the main character of Beneath Blair Mountain, finds herself trapped in the underworld after wandering through a crack between worlds one cold October night. Irish mythology was at the forefront when I wrote this tale, but I consciously had Persephone and other analogous tales and figures in mind. Continue reading

East of the Midnight Sun, West of the Full Moon

I am happy to announce that my horror story, “East of the Midnight Sun, West of the Full Moon” will be published in this year’s Wolf Warriors charity anthology. This year’s theme was light and shadow, so I had great fun playing with that imagery (and working in all manner of Easter eggs from vampire and werewolf lore and from Scandinavian fairy tale, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”). Last year’s entry to the Wolf Warriors anthology was kid-friendly and upbeat, so I went darker and more overtly political this year. This is also the first year where I won’t have a single reference to “Little Red Riding Hood”. I suppose Red is finally passing the torch to a new fairy tale.  Continue reading

Reckless Hate and a Keening for Heroes

IMG_6154I have been having a hard time processing the rising number of hate crimes in this country. Harder still processing the seeming silence of so many, both in my own life and on the political stage. Every time an Indian American man is killed I hug my half-Indian boyfriend tighter, wondering if he will be next. Every time I text him to get paper towels on his way home, I wonder if my simple request is what will get him killed. When he wears his Sith costume to DM a Star Wars game or wears a kurta to work, I wonder if that is what will get him mistaken for a terrorist by some idiot who cannot even properly identify the people he ignorantly hates.

But this recent act of terrorism in Portland, that claimed two lives and nearly claimed a third, has affected me more than I was prepared for. After two nearly sleepless nights and a fullblown anxiety attack while watching Harry Potter Weekend, I tried to process my feelings by putting them into words. Words, whether spoken, written, sung, keened, or carved in stone on a memorial are how we process these evils. How we remember who sacrificed and for what. Stories of heroes like Arthur, Aragorn, and Harry Potter are what we need when the world grows dark and uncertain and the right path grows more daunting or harder to find.

These fictional heroes are the best of us, our real flesh and blood heroes writ large across timeless stories that are still very much stories of their times. This is why I became a writer in the first place. So I hope you will take the time to read my words. I hope that they help in some small way as we, like Theoden, wonder what to do against such reckless hate. Continue reading