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Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

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ev-bishop-047I’ve been friends with Ev for a long, long time–we go back to the iVillage writing forums, if anyone remembers those. It’s funny how you can know someone quite well and still not know critical things about them–it seems Ev lives in a haunted house, for instance.

Here is her story:

Q1) I’ve heard some strange things have happened in your house. Can you tell me about them?

Yes, both my house and the cabin on our property have had several unrelated, unknown-to-each-other people come to the conclusion that they’re haunted or, in two people’s words, “possessed.” I have experienced some very odd things—but nothing overtly malevolent.

For example, one night, about a month ago, actually, my husband I were watching TV (had been for a few hours) alone in our house. Suddenly there was the sound of loudly gushing water. My hubby got up and went to the bathroom, thinking the worst—a leak or something—but no, the sink tap had just been turned to full blast. “That’s weird,” he said—and yes, it really was.

Another time (going back quite a few years now), a friend who had moved away when we were little kids came to visit me when we were teens (I live in the same house I was raised in, a recent move). I was at work and when I came home she was huddled in my room in tears and insisted that the house was haunted and said she would never stay in it alone again. Apparently when she was trying to have a bath someone kept running up and down the hallway and tested the doorknob, once or twice. At first she thought nothing of it, assumed it was one of us, home early, needing the washroom—but each time she called out, she got no answer. Then she thought it was my brother trying to bug her, but she got out to investigate, no one was there. Later, when we all arrived back, it was proven none of us had been there and the doors had been locked when we left.

I too have heard people walking in the house, have found cupboards open I was sure I’d shut, have gone to greet my husband when he’s arrived home—or responded to noises I thought were my family arriving home—only to find no one there. But it’s an older home, so you rationalize sounds away, right?

Q2) Have you personally experienced any phenomena that scared you? What happened?

I was fascinated by magic as a child (an interest that lingers today) and I used to pray for magical powers. (Yes, I was sort of mixing up theologies—but I even had a bible verse that I based my prayers on, honestly believing God would answer my request.)

My aunt/best friend, who isn’t quite two years older than me, shared similar interests and most of our ongoing fantasy games outside involved us being powerful elves or witches. We had full reign (lol) of a 1000-acre realm in a very secluded, sparsely populated part of northern British Columbia. One fall afternoon, we decided to create a sacred circle and try to call something forth.

We found very large river rocks—so large we could hardly heft them—and lugged them one by one to our chosen spot. (I suspect my aunt had chosen it for a specific reason, but don’t recall what it was.) One rock was almost pure white, one black, one that blue-green you often find in riverbeds, and one was a purple-red color. We scuffed a deep circle in the dirt, and then set the rocks in a compass formation, one for north, one for south, etc. We set another stone in the center where we stood. Aloud, we named what we felt each rock symbolized.

We started to chant, sort of being silly at first, then repeating words we’d heard elsewhere, then stating who we were and what we wanted.

It was very quiet, very isolated, and there was no big noise or crazy lights or anything dramatic—but all of sudden, there was a figure of man—shadowy, like a silhouette—across the circle from us. He raised one arm and beckoned.

It was hands down one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I turned and took off running, turning back only once. The figure had disappeared and my aunt was on my heels. We didn’t stop running until we were almost back to my grandma’s farmhouse. The thing I was most alarmed by is that whatever I had expected—or not expected—it hadn’t been some man, so I didn’t know how, if it was my imagination, that was what I dreamed up.

Q3) What were you afraid of as a child? 

During the years I was nine to eleven, I frequently saw a grimacing skull in the sky outside my bedroom window (or what appeared to be a skull; it wasn’t as insubstantial as cloud, but also didn’t have completely defined edges or structure or anything). I tried to explain it away, even then, by saying it was the moon or something in a tree, etc. etc. Except there was no tree in the right spot in the yard, there was nothing to reflect anything of that nature into my window—and my room faced the wrong side of the yard for it to be the moon, ever. It never did anything. I didn’t hear noises or see movement, but whenever it was outside, I was super conscious of a horrible feeling of what I would now call evil.

Q4) You’ve written many things, primarily women’s fiction and romance. How do these creepy real-life experience influence your writing, if at all? Have you ever considered coming over to the dark side, so to speak?

They, along with other countless creepy moments, totally influence my writing. I’m fascinated by the things that terrify us, haunt us (metaphorically, for sure—and possibly literally), or motivate us to do the things we do, good or bad.

I love women’s fiction and romance, it’s true, but all of my traditionally published short stories (with the exception of two YA pieces) are speculative fiction with sci fi and/or light horror elements. I don’t think the divide between the genres is as huge as some might think. Good romance and horror stories are fueled by the things we’re passionate about and/or fear the most. The nuts and bolts of the tales look extremely different, but the driving motivations of the characters are often similar—avoid pain, survive, find love—or save/keep/protect love, etc. People can, of course, completely disagree with me. I’d love to hear supporting or divergent thoughts on the topic!

What do you think? Is Ev’s house haunted? Is there a scientific explanation for the skull she saw in the sky? Do you think the romance and horror genres are two sides of the same coin?

EvBishop_Hooked_800pxEv’s latest book, Hooked, is the second in her River’s Sigh B & B series. No worries if you haven’t read the first, Wedding Bands. Each novel totally stands on its own.

Sam Kendall gives her baby up without regrets. Years later, her daughter tracks her down—and what does Sam do? Falls for the kid’s adoptive father. Talk about stupid! She and Charlie are complete opposites—but he’s also everything she never knew she wanted. What on earth should she do?

Get Hooked: Amazon iBooks Barnes & Noble  Kobo

Ev Bishop is a long-time columnist with the Terrace Standard, and her other articles and essays have been published in a variety of magazines and journals across North America. Storytelling is her true love, however, and she writes fiction in variety of lengths and genres.

Some short story credits include: “Not All Magic is Nice,” Pulp Literature Magazine, “The Picture Book,” Every Day Fiction Magazine, “Riddles,” 100 Stories for Queensland, “On the Wall,” Every Day Fiction Magazine, “My Mom is a Freak,” Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls, “HVS,” “Red Bird,” and “Wishful,” (available through Ether Books).

She has two novels published through Winding Path Books: Bigger Things and Wedding Bands (Book 1 in the River’s Sigh B & B series), with a third (Hooked, Book 2 in River’s Sigh B & B) due out May 2015. She also writes under the pen name Toni Sheridan (The Present and Drummer Boy, White Rose Publishing).

Visit Ev online at www.evbishop.com, join her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. She’d love to connect with you!

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31 Comments

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    I would’ve run after seeing that figure as well.
    I’ve only had one encounter I would say was with a ghost, and it involved knocking. They sure like to make noise.

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, what is it with the knocking, I wonder? I had that happen with a Ouija board as well, and during my most freaky encounter with a ghost.

      Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Yeah, the knocking is strange–and the most common “contact” it seems. Maybe it’s just that it’s the easiest sound to have break through to us or something?

      Reply
      • Ev Bishop

        Thanks for commenting, Alex. And thank you for not just writing me off as a loon re: the figure. It’s not a story I share a lot because of the negative responses I sometimes get. (I understand skepticism but not unkindness. :)) And here, almost thirty years later, I still remember it so clearly. It was beyond strange and terrifying.

        Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for commenting, Anna!

      Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Nice to meet you too, Anna! Thanks for the luck. 🙂

      p.s. Your website is wonderful–and new to me. I will visit lots. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    Just reading the part about the friend taking the bath, hearing footsteps, the doorknob turning gave me the creeps! Shudder!

    Very interesting point about good stories, no matter the genre, being fueled by essentially the same things – passion, motivation, love, survival. I bet if I went back and studied my work – the lighter and the darker stories – I’d see a lot of the same driving forces.

    Great post, JH and Ev!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Madeline. I’m trying my hand at a new genre these days, and am finding it surprisingly easy to write, even though I never thought I would get into this in a million years.

      So I’m inclined to agree with Ev too. Plus, there’s so much crossover work these days that the lines between genres are getting fairly blurred.

      Reply
      • Ev Bishop

        A new genre, Holli? Exciting! (And I’m so glad to hear the writing is going well.)

        >>>Plus, there’s so much crossover work these days that the lines between genres are getting fairly blurred.<<<

        Absolutely!

        Thanks so much, again, for inviting me to your wonderful blog!

        Reply
        • JH

          Any time! I was happy to do it. Thanks for playing along with my theme.

          Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Thanks so much, Madeline. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      (And yes, re: my poor friend–a shudder evoking experience to say the least. She was actually a bit traumatized.)

      >>>I bet if I went back and studied my work – the lighter and the darker stories – I’d see a lot of the same driving forces. <<<

      I think you would too. If you're anything like me, you probably have your own "obsessions" that sneak into work, regardless of genre or conscious intent. 🙂 If you do look for reoccurring themes throughout your body of work–and find them–I'd love to hear about it.

      Reply
  3. Chrys Fey

    I read Alex’s comment…maybe knocking is the easiest way for a ghost to get our attention?

    I completely agree about the genres and how they both involve our passions and fears.

    I sure can’t explain that skull…

    Reply
    • JH

      As for knocking, that could be. It certainly seems to be a common theme. Maybe ghosts are harkening back to the good ol’ days of seances when everyone wanted them to knock once for yes and twice for no.

      Yeah, that skull is pretty creepy. I’m not sure what I would have done in that case.

      Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Thanks so much for reading/commenting, Chrys.

      I hadn’t read your comment re: Alex’s comment on knocking when I replied to him, but I totally agree with your thoughts on it.

      >>>I sure can’t explain that skull…<<<

      I know, right? Me neither.

      Reply
  4. Cherie Reich

    Those are some scary encounters! I definitely think romance and horror are two sides of the same coin. Both genres relate to passion and fear. I even hear there is erotic horror out there, although I haven’t read any.

    Reply
    • JH

      There definitely is, Cherie. And paranormal romance. And dark romance. Lots of crossover genres now.

      Thanks for visiting my blog! That’s awesome of you. And best of luck with your new release–I’ll definitely check it out. It sounds like my kind of book.

      Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Thanks so much for commenting, Cherie.

      >>>definitely think romance and horror are two sides of the same coin. Both genres relate to passion and fear.<<<

      Yes, that's what I've always felt too. 🙂

      Erotic horror, hey? I admit (for myself) I'm not sure if that would work–as when scared I definitely have the fight or flee impulse, but interestingly the third F of the four survival responses would fit erotica. 😉

      Also, I looked for news re: your new release on Holli's blog, but didn't see it (I am sleep deprived right now, however). If you'd care to share a link here in the comments, I'd love to check it out.

      Reply
  5. Stephanie Faris

    How fascinating! I’ve always been interested in ghosts, but the dark, scary, demonic kinds aren’t good. Sounds like this isn’t that kind of haunting. Still, it’s one thing for me to say it would be cool to live/stay in a haunted house and quite another to actually be in one. I’ve never seen any evidence of a ghost whatsoever, so I have no real explanation for why they fascinate me so much!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • JH

      I don’t know about that, Stephanie. That story your mom told about your childhood “friend” was totally creepy! Maybe you have residual memories from when you were little. 🙂

      From my own limited experience with ghosts, I can say I’m happy to live in a mostly spiritless house. My cats are always staring at something on the stairs, but that’s as creepy as it gets around here. And for that I’m thankful.

      Reply
      • Ev Bishop

        Oh, cats really can be a bit freaky, eh? I’ve always wondered *what* they see–or if they’re just messing with us.

        My dog has, on occasion, GONE CRAZY barking and growling at *nothing. * It’s really intimidating (and beyond startling!) when it happens.

        Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Hi, Stephanie! *Waves* Thanks for commenting.

      The whole topic of ghosts really is fascinating, hey? I think it’s because despite the wide range of experiences across the globe and throughout history and the common threads that run through a lot of reported events–by people who have no connection to each other, there’s still nothing absolutely concrete to base our thoughts/feelings about the subject on and we want there to be. Inquiring minds and all that. 🙂

      >>>but the dark, scary, demonic kinds aren’t good. <<>>Sounds like this isn’t that kind of haunting. <<>>Still, it’s one thing for me to say it would be cool to live/stay in a haunted house and quite another to actually be in one. <<<

      I don't mind, though sometimes I'm tempted to talk to my house and feel like a real weirdo. 🙂

      Reply
      • Ev Bishop

        Not sure what happened with my formatting there, Stephanie. Sorry.

        I agreed with you re: “dark, scary, demonic kinds” not being good and said THANK GOODNESS that my house moments haven’t seemed like that.

        Reply
  6. Ev Bishop

    Sorry for my tardy responses to the much appreciated commenters! I was unexpectedly called out of town.

    Reply
  7. Michelle Manly

    Having also being a past living in a haunted house dweller myself, it’s truly interesting how sometimes ‘the dead’ can leave us feeling so much more ‘alive’ and how some homes/building/places really do give you a sense of protective, warm and good feelings or complete back of the neck hair raising, cold, get the hell out of her unwelcomeness!! Thankfully many of my ‘spiritual’ experiences have been harmless, and by the way, I’d love to read a ‘spooky’ story from you Ev! Thank you for the link to J.H. Moncrieff!!

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome to the blog, Michelle! Hope to see you here again.

      I definitely agree that most places have their own energy, whether good, bad or neutral. I couldn’t live in a place with a strong negative vibe, although I did once rent one that had a creepy feeling in the basement. My roommate wanted the bedroom down there, which was a good thing, because it made me extremely uncomfortable.

      Reply
      • Ev Bishop

        Holli,

        Re: “My roommate wanted the bedroom down there, which was a good thing, because it made me extremely uncomfortable.”

        And that’s another thing that’s always intrigued me . . . how some people will sense things or pick up vibes that other people seem completely oblivious too. How long did you manage to stay as a renter there?

        Reply
        • JH

          One year. My cat freaked out down there too.

          Reply
    • Ev Bishop

      Hey, Michelle! *Waves* 😀

      Thanks for commenting. I’m so glad I could introduce you to Holli. You should visit her blog often. It’s always fascinating!

      Re: “It’s truly interesting how sometimes ‘the dead’ can leave us feeling so much more ‘alive’ and how some homes/building/places really do give you a sense of protective, warm and good feelings or complete back of the neck hair raising, cold, get the hell out of her unwelcomeness!” TOTALLY–and what always intrigues me is how if you look said places up or ask around, even if you’d never heard any lore before, there are usually similar stories/experiences.

      And you want a spooky story, hey? Be careful what you wish for, heh heh. Just kidding–but I do suspect you’ll get your wish one day. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Mary Aalgaard

    I suppose you can weave themes of romance, horror, etc. into most genres. We write about the things that evoke emotion. We need suspense, action, and things that make us go, Hmm. Great interview. How crazy that you evoke that ghost by making your four directions. Maybe he was from a native tribe?

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for commenting, Mary. That’s a great theory! You never know…

      Reply

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