Friday, October 16, 2015

Scary October: LaLaurie Mansion

In celebration of my favorite month, October, I'm featuring a different scary story every Friday. This week I'm telling you a story I heard a decade or so ago. I never forgot it--it was that disturbing. It's a story about Madame Delphine LaLaurie, who lived in New Orleans. This is Madame LaLaurie:

She was played by the very talented Kathy Bates on American Horror Story: Coven.

When I saw the first scene on American Horror Story, I realized this was the story...the one that had been so disturbing. Few people in history have been as evil as Madame LaLaurie. She was a wicked, sadistic person who locked slaves up in her basement and physically abused them. Pure evil.

It's important to note that ghost-hunting tours and the screenwriters of American Horror Story have taken many dramatic liberties with their tales of torture. The facts, as they stand, can be traced back to newspaper accounts at the time. What we know today is that in 1834, a fire broke out at Madame LaLaurie's mansion. A judge ordered her husband, Dr. LaLaurie to free the slaves that neighbors knew were chained in her basement. Dr. LaLaurie told the judge to mind his own business.

LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans

The judge ordered the doors to the basement be broken down and, according to the newspaper, the rescuers found, "seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated … suspended by the neck with their limbs stretched and torn from one extremity to the other.”

Neighbors were reportedly so outraged, they ransacked the house and destroyed everything they could. Madame LaLaurie is said to have escaped to Paris. Some say she returned secretly at some point, but there is no evidence of any of that. This copper plate, found in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, indicates that she was buried in Paris in 1842:

Today you can find a wax depiction of Madame LaLaurie in the Musee Conti Wax Museum, but only until January of 2016. The museum is closing its doors.

The LaLaurie Mansion, meanwhile, is said to still be haunted. For some reason, Nicolas Cage bought it in 2007 and let it go into foreclosure in 2009. If you take a New Orleans ghost tour, you'll likely find yourself standing outside of it, listening to numerous exaggerated tales about the torture that happened inside.

But you won't be able to set foot inside the house. The home was restored in 2013 and there were rumors it would be turned into a haunted bed and breakfast, but the home remains closed to the public.

Come back next week for the next stop on my ghost tour:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

She Just Disappeared

There's something about the disappearance of a person that is so haunting. How does a human being just one minute, gone the next?

I'm fascinated by a now-ended TV series on Investigation Discovery called Disappeared. The series told the stories of the many, many, many people who have just vanished without a trace over the past few decades.

Out of hundreds of episodes, one haunted me. It was the story of a 21-year-old college girl named Maura Murray.

Maura got in her car one day and started driving toward the White Mountains. She wrecked her car in a snowbank at this spot on Route 112 in Woodsville, New Hampshire:

She was last seen standing by her wrecked black Saturn. A bus driver stopped to ask if she needed him to call the police. She asked him not to call the police and said she'd already called AAA. (No cell phone service is available in the area, so that couldn't have happened.) The bus driver got home a few minutes later and called the police. When the police arrived at the scene three minutes later, they found a locked, empty car and no sign of Maura.

The story has stuck with me for several years. Occasionally, I'll check to see if they've found her yet and find nothing. But my most recent check found that there's now an entire podcast dedicated to solving Maura's disappearance:

Turns out, that Disappeared episode haunted quite a few people. Since it aired in early 2010, the Internet has been buzzing about the case. Amateur sleuths everywhere are working hard to solve the case...probably harder than the detectives being paid to to do it. Maura wasn't perfect. In fact, she got into a little trouble before disappearing. This is a shot of her taken by the police after she illegally used someone's credit card to buy food:

There have been stories that her body was buried beneath a local guy's house. There have been questions about whether she started a new life somewhere. There have been all kinds of rumors, innuendo, and facts...all of which are brought out and dissected on the podcast. What will really be amazing is if the Internet can actually solve this case, once and for all.

Did Maura run from the scene and start a new life?

Or did someone harm her?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Using Children in Adult Themes: Guest Post by Stephen Tremp

Writing for children is a huge responsibility. However, children often play a part in adult books, as well. Today, Stephen Tremp is here to discuss a pretty important topic: using children in adult-themed books. His guest post demonstrates that we all have limits in our writing--those things we absolutely will never do as a matter of principle. Be sure to stick around after the guest post to learn all about his awesome new scary book, Salem's Daughters--the perfect book for October!


Using Children in Adult Themes

by Stephen Tremp

Using kids in books. No Problem. Simple, right? Straight forward? Whoa, slow down a bit. It’s not as easy as it looks. Some of the most successful writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson and many others have no problems doing all kinds of crazy things to kids. But the material, some of which is so far over the top, I’ve had to ask, why? Was that really necessary? I know, I know, they’re merely writing about the world we live in. Okay, fine. It’s a free country.

There are three things I never put in my books:

I do not use God’s name in vain.
I do not use F-bombs.
I do not kill or exploit children in order to make the bad guy badder or progress the plot.

If other writers want to, go nuts. I’m not here to judge or criticize. There are many books and movies I have no problem with foul language: Good Fellas, Casino, and Training Day. But for me, it’s hard to stomach some of the terrible things that happen to children in books and movies.

That being said, I have a lot of kids as minor characters in Salem’s Daughters. The first family to arrive at the bed and breakfast are Eugene and Beatrice Barnett.

Bob looked at the rust around all four wheels. One of the doors was a different color than the rest of the car. The hood was held down with a bungee cord. Red duct tape covered one of the broken rear parking lights.

Bob watched as three children piled out. Triplets. Red haired, freckled faced, pasty-skinned boys all under the age of ten. Their energy demonstrated they’d been cooped up in the truck for a long time. 

They ran past him before Debbie could say ‘hi’ and into Murcat Manor. Within seconds the sound of screaming cats filled the air. Something glass broke.

The cats, terrorized by kids, have met their match. And not just the red-headed triplets of terror. Each new wave of guests bring at least a few kids who can’t resist pulling the cats’ tails and doing other mean things to them. 

“I really hate kids now,” Jacqueline said as she walked to the large arch that led to the kitchen and peered in. 

“The Barnett triplets were the worse,” Chloe said. “The ones here aren’t so bad. But that freckled faced girl at the end of the table pulled my tail again last night. I almost lost it and levitated her right out her second story bedroom window.”

Annie spoke. “I considered speeding up the synaptic transmissions in her brain receptors to the point she’d take in every piece of information her five senses detected. Give the little brat a case of sensory overload that would drive her and her parents crazy.”

“Too bad Rebecca’s not here,” Scarlett said. “She’d catch that kid’s pony tails on fire.”

“I can short circuit the thoughts of that brother and sister,” Helen said. “Make them think they’re each other. And if we see those Barnett triplets here again, I’ll rewire their brains so every month they’ll think they’re one of the other brothers. Their parents will never be able to tell which one is which ever again.” 

In my opinion, there are ways to use kids to further the plot through dark humor rather than torturing and killing them in all kinds of weird and grotesque ways.

What’s your take on using kids in mature books and movies?


Stephen Tremp writes Speculative Fiction and embraces science and the supernatural to help explain the universe, our place in it, and write one of a kind thrillers. You can read a full synopsis and download Salem’s Daughters by Clicking Here.

Contact info:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Covers Covers Covers!

Since I just had a cover reveal for Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, I'm not going to wear you guys out with yet another big cover reveal blast. Instead, I'm just rolling it out quietly.

This is Piper Morgan in Charge, which comes out in late summer 2016...

You can preorder both Piper Morgan in Charge and the first book, Piper Morgan Joins the Circus, on Amazon. The first two books come out August 6, 2016. I'm so excited! Or just look at the pretty cover and smile. Either way, I'll be happy!

What good news do you have this week?