When the World went to War

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Did you know that many West Virginia coal miners volunteered for WWI because their life expectancy would actually go up? 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

St. Paddy’s Day Fiction, Pagan Authors, and YOU.

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Photo by Devyn Leone Photography

It’s Irish History Month and Women’s History Month, so come join an Irish American writer (who also happens to be a woman) talk historical fiction, Irish folklore, and whatever else you want to know. And it’s on Facebook. So you don’t even need pants. Continue reading

National Tell a Fairytale Day


Apparently, it’s National Tell a Fairytale Day. I don’t know who decides these things, but Beneath Blair Mountain volunteers as tribute. While set in 1910s America, this book was inspired by Irish tales of the Sidhe and Icelandic tales of the elves/Huldufolk. At their roots, both of these traditions, like the fairytales canonized by the infamous Brothers Grimm, lean more horror than fantasy. Expect no Disney fare here. Continue reading