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


The woman in black and the ghost of Paracelsus

Please join me in welcoming back horror author Catherine Cavendish with two true spooky tales.

I have set a large part of Waking the Ancients in Vienna, Austria, where many ghosts and restless spirits walk among the verdant parks and lavish palaces. But Austrian ghosts do not confine themselves to their nation’s imperial capital. They can be found in towns, cities, villages, and the depths of the countryside all over this beautiful land.

Salzburg may be forever associated with Mozart and the Sound of Music, but even this picturesque location has had its share of tragedies, leading to unquiet spirits who choose to communicate with the living. In this case though, the jury is most definitely out on whether the spirit is issuing a warning or delivering a threat.

St. Velt's Woman in BlackIf you drive along the Pinzgauer Bundesstrasse, which runs through the areas of Pinzgau and Pongau in the Archdiocese of Salzburg, watch out for a woman dressed entirely in black who, since 1981, has been stopping cars and asking for a ride. If you pick her up, as soon as she is in your car she will tell you, “If you hadn’t stopped and picked me up, you would have had an accident.”

She then promptly disappears. Now, whether she is a spirit capable of prescience or whether that would have been your punishment for not giving her a ride, no one knows, but she is rumoured to be the ghost of a young waitress from nearby St. Veit who was killed in a road-traffic accident on that very route at the age of twenty three in 1980. Her car ran off the road and straight into the path of a speeding train on the tracks that run parallel with it. The train dragged her car several metres before it was able to stop. Unhappily for her, the woman was not killed instantly and, according to police reports, her terrified and agonised screams could be heard coming from the wreckage. She died soon after.

Naturally, there are those who insist that anyone reporting having encountered her must be hallucinating, but it is strange that all the accounts are independent of each other and assert almost identical details. Is there something in the air of the Salzburg region? Or maybe, just maybe, they are telling the truth and the unhappy spirit still walks there.

Towering above the city of Salzburg itself, perched high on top of the Mönchsberg mountain, the Ghost of ParacelsusHohensalzburg Fortress (featured photo), built in 1077, was thought impregnable and left unthreatened for five hundred years. Today it can be accessed via a funicular railway. In 1986, an American tourist called Deb Dupre visited tand swore she encountered the ghost of the physician, alchemist, occultist and scientist Paracelsus (born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim). He was born in Switzerland in around 1493 and died in the Fortress at Salzburg in 1541.

Dupre claimed the encounter changed her life and that from then on she began to open her heart to the deep symbolism of alchemy. She started painting alchemical forces shaping her own life and also claimed to have taken photographs of the white mist that followed her around the Fortress.

Paracelsus himself is said to roam the Fortress searching for scientific papers which were taken from his room and hidden away by the Prince Bishop after his death. Are they still there? Will he ever find them? Or is he doomed to wander the fortress for all eternity?

Waking the Ancients by Catherine CavendishWaking the Ancients

Legacy In Death

Egypt, 1908

University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . .

Vienna, 2018

Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.

And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .

You can find Waking the Ancients here:

Kensington Press


Barnes and Noble




About the Author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish




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  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    I’d heard the story of the hitchhiker before and wondered where it came from.

  2. Mary Aalgaard

    Your books sound spooky. The Dr. von Hohenstein’s name is great!

  3. Catherine Cavendish

    Thank you, Mary. It is quite a name, isn’t it – especially the Bombastus bit!

  4. Ellen Jacobson

    It is hard to believe so many people would report the same thing with that hitchhiker. They can’t all be delusional, can they? Catherine’s book sounds really interesting. I was intrigued that it takes place on an archaeological dig.

  5. Liesbet

    I like reports like these, about ghosts and spirits, and hitchhikers dressed in black. It keeps the mystery alive, and I’d like to believe the stories repeated by different people. Would I pick up the hitchhiker? That’s another question. I like the story and impact of the alchemist as well. Well told, as I’m sure your fascinating book is well written, too!

  6. Birgit

    I’ve been to Salzburg 3 times and I love that city and can see the fortress being haunted. I wish I knew about that street but I would never drive in Europe so I would miss the young lady warning people. Congrats on the book and wishing you the best in sales

  7. susan scott

    Unquiet spirits … I can well believe it! Thank you:)

  8. Loni Townsend

    Dude, creepy story. I think I’ll avoid driving in that area.

  9. C. Lee McKenzie

    Independent reports and all with the same experience. Sounds like a ghost to me, unless there’s a conspiracy afoot, but to what purpose? Chilling and provocative, indeed. Thanks for featuring Catherine’s book here today.

  10. Shehanne Moore

    Another wonderful post Catherine. Don’t know how you keep finding them but then you are an amazing horror writer whose books are filled with wonderful detail

  11. JH

    Thanks for reading and leaving comments for Catherine, everyone! It’s much appreciated. She is a wonderful writer. I can recommend her books without reservation.

  12. Toi Thomas

    Wow, that woman in black story sounds crazy. The other one is okay. Waking the Ancients sounds like an interesting story. Cool post.


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