Let’s Be Real Here

This topic comes up in just about every interview I’ve been in (whether as the interviewer or the interviewee)…

DO YOU UTILIZE REAL PEOPLE, REAL PLACES, REAL EVENTS IN YOUR WORKS OF FICTION?

Truth is there is always a figment or two (or three or four) of reality in fiction. Whether it be a location the author is familiar with, crafting a character similar to someone you know (it’s fun especially if you don’t like the person), or a message you hope to convey in your writings.

In REKINDLED PROPHECY, I’ll admit that is a lot more truth/reality than you would think in a story about guardian angels, angels, demons, shadow creatures, etc.

  1. I do believe in guardian angels, angels, demons, shadow creatures, ghosts, etc. For me as an author, my own types of characters are 100% real. While the story is a figment of my imagination, I still believe in the truth that these entities exist.

2. The locations in REKINDLED PROPHECY are all based on real places.

The country western bar in the beginning (while with a different name that I do not even remember) did really exist along the Arkansas/Tennessee border. I spent way too much time there during the early 1990s.

The Irish bed & breakfast in rural Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley 100% existed. How do I know? I was married there, underneath the same gazebo Kelly and Matthew were married under. The name was changed in the book since the inn was under foreclosure at the time and I could not get owner approval from the bank to use the name – they said to wait until the property sold and ask the new owners but that never happened.

There really was a koi pond made from a refurbished rectangular pool and the bull frogs were so loud that the innkeeper did leave ear plugs in guest rooms. Sadly, the inn is now closed and for sale if anyone is interested in retirement as an innkeeper.

Even the area of town in Washington, DC where Greylyn goes to find the psychic and battles a demon army – yep! 100% described based on real life knowledge of DC.

3. I may have based a few characters off my friends at the wedding party in the book. And yes, they were known as the “Sex and the City” girls as a joke. And of course, the lovely innkeeper was based off the innkeeper at the time of my own wedding (again, name and hair color changed). Seriously though, that sweet woman made the best eggs benedict!

4. Greylyn’s pride and joy – her 1968 British racing green Camaro? Well, I just so happen to own one. It’s currently being reconstructed from the inside out by my hubby and youngest son who hopes to one day claim it for his own. (Ain’t gonna happen, sweetie!)

Stock photo

5. The drink Greylyn prefers – the Godfather – is my hubby’s favorite cocktail and the only way I will drink scotch.


Ingredients
60 ml Whisky – Blended Scotch whisky
20 ml Amaretto liqueur

So you see, I like to include a lot of truth in my fiction stories.

For places I have not gone to, I research and even find native residents of the location to give me tidbits so I can describe the area accurately. While I have not gone to Ireland yet myself (it is at the top of my bucket list) but I was lucky enough to find a sweet lady originally from one of the areas in Book 3 of the series (which is mostly set in Ireland, and Hell but I haven’t met anyone from there yet). She spoke with me at length about Dun Laoghaire and sent me pictures of the local pier. She even suggested I add something about a 99 (which is Irish for soft serve ice cream and is sold on the pier at Teddy’s), which I did.

For me, there should always be a hint of authenticity in every piece of fiction. It makes it more interesting. So whether you are reading my guardian angel stories, or anything else by me, you can trust there will be glimmer of truth in every one.

The fun part is figuring out what’s truth and what is fantasy.

Thanks, dear friends! And I hope you have an amazing Autumn Equinox!

Location! Location! Location!

How many times did I hear that when we were looking to buy a house? But that’s not what we’re talking about today.

When it comes to my writing I’m a stickler for authenticity. Writing fiction gives me a lot of leeway, especially writing fantasy fiction. I can create whole new worlds! It’s fun and exciting. But when it comes to writing real places into my stories…I want it to be spot-on accurate so if the reader finds themselves in that particular location they will recognize it from my stories.

Let’s take Rekindled Prophecy – Book 1 of the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series. For a good chunk of my adult life I lived in Northern Virginia (metro DC). Book 1 includes locations that I am quite familiar with, including the “fictional” bed & breakfast that serves as the main location. Why? Because it was the setting for my own wedding back in 2000.

Therefore, when I wrote those scenes I was confident in my descriptions. If you drove up the winding driveway to a magnificent manor straight out of the pre-Civil War period, perched on top of a high hill, with dark green shingles and a rugged stone entranceway…you’d know you were in “Gaelic Haven”. Although the inn is now permanently closed (and went by another name – Killahevlin when it was in operation), you’d know this was the location of Kelly and Matthew’s wedding, and more importantly…where Greylyn and Kael first kissed (under the gazebo overlooking the koi pond in the back yard) — which happens to be exactly where my hubby and I said our “I Dos”.

Book 2 of the series has a number of familiar locations too — a club in downtown DC that I frequented TOO much as a young twenty-something; the National Cathedral; etc. But there were also places I have never been – for instance (while trying not to give out too much information since the book isn’t released yet): Mount Kailash. Never been there. Probably never will as my bucket list does not include climbing incredibly tall mountains in blizzard conditions. Also, I have a fear of heights so no mountain climbing in my future. But I wanted it to be authentically described so I researched sherpa villages in the Tibetan mountains. Since I’ve never been to one myself, if you have and you read the second book of the series and find discrepancies…please contact me so I can fix it.

For Book 3 (currently under major revisions because I decided to break it out into two books) I drafted the story which takes place almost entirely in Ireland. My lifelong desire is to visit Ireland and the more I research for the book, the more I want to go.

Quick fun story connecting Book 1 and Book 3 – no spoilers, I promise. The inn in Book 1 (real name was Killahevlin). When I recently put in a search online for Killahevlin, I was brought to Killyhevlin – an actual inn in Ireland AND it happens to be EXACTLY the place (county, town, on the same lake) as where our heroine, Greylyn, originally rose from the grave and presumably lived her human life. Coincidence? I knew nothing of the actual Irish inn until this point and now my future vacation plans include staying at Killyhevlin.

Now, where was I? Oh yes! Book 3 locations. I got amazingly lucky to find someone over social media who lived twenty years in the same town that takes up the beginning of the book (not Killyhevlin, someplace else). When I initially wrote the scene it came off more “Coney Island” than what it really was. My informant was able to correct all my nonsense so now the scene is more authentic and that makes me happy. Thank you, Laurine! You’re an angel!

I may write fantasy, but my stories still need to hold their own truth. And part of that lies with LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!


BUT WAIT! There’s more!

You love fantasy fiction, right?
Then you must check out the latest from Katherine Gilbert!
Cursed in White

*****

A lost girl desperate for safety, a wary boy with uncertain loyalties, and comrades who seem more like enemies–can they work together to avoid a paranormal disaster?

When Evan Brendan is forced to chase an escaped gryphon to an island occupied primarily by clueless tourists, a famous lighthouse, and the occasional giant teddy bear left on a motorcycle, he discovers a scared runaway teenager with lightning powers she can’t control. Despite her objections and his better judgment, he takes his father’s advice and recruits her for The Will, the secret organization he’s reluctantly been part of since birth. But what terrible secrets from her past might he be bringing into his well-ordered world?

Suddenly finding herself in a parallel dimension in a mansion complete with a cryptic gryphon, a silent revenant, a disturbing, too-pretty boy who smells like cinnamon, and his quirky feline familiar, Carrie Summerland has to learn to cope with her little-understood powers. But after a nightmarish initiation into this highly-dubious supernatural organization, can she trust these seeming new friends–or her own emotions?

Amid the haunted landscape of Jekyll Island, Georgia, where ancient oak trees drip with Spanish moss and hide the island’s dark past, Evan and Carrie must discover the secrets that The Will and Evan’s father are hiding and dig into the truths of Carrie’s past. With the help of the parkour-loving and occasionally pirate-garbed vampires of Savannah, Georgia, and hindered, helped, or confused by Evan’s past inamorati (a gamine tree nymph and a much-too-flirty succubus), they must find the source of a growing vampire madness and stop whoever is using it to try to take over the world.

On a Katherine Gilbert wackiness scale of 1-to-10 sarcastic talking cats*, this one is a 7.

*Warning: Not all stories contain talking cats. Wackiness may take other forms.

The More in Heaven and Earth series is all set in the same magical universe filled with angels, witches, werewolves, demons, vampires, ghosts, and many other supernatural creatures. They can be read in any order or as stand-alones and will introduce you to a variety of fascinating characters, as they take you to various parts of this unusual earth.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08521TP88/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

For more from Katherine Gilbert, you can find her at the below sites:
Website: http://katherinegilbertauthor.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katherine-Gilbert-Author-102573417043950/
Amazon author’s page: http://amazon.com/author/katherinegilbert
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/katherine-gilbert
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18141907.Katherine_Gilbert
AllAuthor: https://allauthor.com/profile/katherinegilbert/
Love Romance Reads: https://www.loveromancereads.com/katherinegilbert.html

************
Until next time…Virtual hugs to all!
KC

Spookiest Cemetery — Stull

Stull-Cemetery2

It’s October, so you know what that means…SPOOKY STORIES! In honor of the final season premiere tomorrow night (10/10/19) of my favorite show, SUPERNATURAL – here’s another article I wrote earlier this year for an online paranormal magazine, Paranormal Rag (sadly, it is no longer in circulation).

***

My biggest pet peeve with television shows and movies is when they don’t follow the
book or super-stretch and twist folklore, myth, or facts for so-called dramatic effect. This
happens most of the time when it comes to horror movies, sci-fi, and fantasy stories, but
especially anything to do with the supernatural. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to learn something recently that put my favorite television show in even a more favorable light.

Supernatural follows the adventures, or rather misadventures, of demon hunting brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester. Being a fictional television show means they make up a lot of stuff. However, they – at least on the surface – try to keep things straight. Such was the case in Season Five, episode “Swan Song” where Sam essentially challenges Satan to an old-fashioned cage-match of the mind. As Lucifer quoted, “…a fiddle of gold against your soul cause I think I’m better than you.” Satan won round one and booked his forked tongue and tail down to a little boneyard a few miles outside of Lawrence, Kansas for the ultimate championship bout with his archangel brother, Michael. The location? Stull Cemetery.


Now this didn’t mean anything to me when I first saw the episode, but a few weeks ago I
picked up a magazine with a list of the most haunted places in the United States. Smack in the middle of the country was a little dot marking Stull, Kansas that caught my attention. Turns out the creators of the show hadn’t just picked a fictional cemetery. They chose the site for Armageddon carefully because Stull Cemetery has quite a history as the place Satan shows up to party two nights of the year – Spring Equinox and Halloween.

Kudos to the writers at Supernatural for this nugget of ingenuity! The show creator even
admitted in a 2006 interview that he chose Lawrence, Kansas as the demon-hunting brothers’ hometown precisely because of its proximity to Stull Cemetery.

Stull Cemetery is super-creepy and with good reason. Even if I had a loved one buried
there, I don’t believe I could muster up the nerve to visit their gravesite. It’s THAT creepy. I’m all for haunted houses and such, but who would intentionally tread on the same ground as Satan himself?

Turns out…quite a lot.

So many show up in the tiny town of Stull that they now post police to guard the
cemetery on the nights of Lucifer’s supposed risings. It was even banned to visit the graveyard after dark when in 1988 over 500 bystanders showed up hoping to see the Devil and caused a lot of property damage. Trespassing on these unhallowed grounds could now burden you with up to $1,000 fine and sixty days in jail. No thanks!

Interesting enough, on Halloween night 1998, permission was given to the Lawrence
Journal World and the Sunflower Cable Station Channel 6 News to stake out the cemetery. However, around 11:30 pm, an unnamed representative of the cemetery requested they be removed – just thirty minutes before Satan’s expected arrival.

Nothing to see here, folks!

More power to you brave people if you decide to attempt trespassing at Stull Cemetery. If
you get past the security fence and see Satan partying down on the smoldering ruins of the old stone church or amongst the dilapidated tombstones, please send me pictures!

Stull Cemetery has been crowned the most evil graveyard in America. But how did a
small cemetery in the middle of nowhere earn such a reputation?

Even since its creation in the 1850s by German settlers (the town went by the name of
Deer Creek until 1857), the graveyard has seen a plethora of paranormal activity – ghost
sightings, demon sightings, occult and satanic worship, witches, and reports of human sacrifice.

No wonder folks believe Satan pops up twice a year to stretch his legs and do the “Macarena” (or maybe he prefers the “Chicken Dance”).

The first reported incident was of a stable hand stabbing the town mayor on cemetery
property, precisely in an old barn that was converted into a church in 1867. However, the story doesn’t account for the fact there has never been a mayor in Stull so that’s a bit suspect.

According to legend the church sits atop a gateway to Hell created by Satanists after the
building was abandoned in 1922. Although burned by a mysterious fire (some say by the
community in an attempt to seal the door to Hell), and the roof missing since the 1920s, the stone building was finally torn down in 2002, but the owner claims to have not authorized its demolition and no one has taken credit for it.

Ghostly tales were handed down over the years since the town’s inception, but none were documented until 1974 when the University of Kansas student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, ruled that Stull was deemed “haunted by legends of diabolical, supernatural happenings.” The article was the first to claim Satan paid visits to the small boneyard twice a year. As a result, over one hundred and fifty people overran the property on the Spring Equinox of 1978. The Kansas City Times published an article in 1980 that further fed the urban legend by reiterating the claim that Satan rose on Halloween every year in two places on the planet – one of those places was Stull Cemetery.

Whatever government office that assigns zip codes didn’t help matters when they inserted the cemetery into Topeka’s zip code which starts with…you guessed it…666, even though the town of Stull itself is 66050. Other geographic “evidence” is that the road leading up to the cemetery was named Devil’s Lane until 1905.

People have reported seeing smoke rising from the carcass of the old church. Others
insisted that an old wooden cross inside the church turns upside down by itself. Most interesting, and if I could get up my courage I’d check it out, is the story that when it rains, no rain falls inside the church even though it is missing a roof.

Other reports of paranormal activity stem from an old tree rumored to have been used to hang witches back in the day. One of the witches had quite a reputation as she was proclaimed to have been Lucifer’s lover and bore him a child. An old tombstone with the name “WITTICH” has been speculated to be the resting place of the witch-turned-lover. Personally, I feel bad for the poor woman, Anna A. Andrews Wittich (1832-1910) if she is innocent of these charges. Who wants “Satan’s Slut” as their family legacy? The rumored child was presumed to be born deformed and died shortly afterwards. However, he is said to stalk the cemetery as a ghost with a werewolf-like appearance.

After a particular hanging of witches from the tree on the Spring Equinox (remember this is when the devil shows up for his famous bi-annual rave), a man from the town went missing and was later found hanging from the tree. Covens visited the cemetery, and the tree, for years until the tree was torn down in 1998.

The lore gets a bit stranger as years go by. In the 1980s a group of teenagers passed
through the cemetery and experienced a strange wind gust. They ran back to their car only to find it not parked where they left it, but on the opposite side of the road and facing the opposite direction.

Even cultural icons have contributed to Stull’s story…

Now the Vatican probably will never admit it, or even acknowledge the story, but it is
reported that Pope John Paul II had his airplane diverted so as to not pass over Stull Cemetery in the early 1990s on his way to an appearance in Colorado. He claimed he could not fly over unholy ground.

Don’t give the Pope’s story any credence? How about pop star, Ariana Grande? For
whatever reason Ariana wanted to visit Stull Cemetery herself to see what it was all about. Apparently, she got the full scare-fest experience according to an article in Complex in 2013. Ariana stated that she felt overwhelmingly ill and could smell sulfur (common odor indicating demons). She and her entourage immediately left, but she apologized out the car window for disturbing the peace of the spirits there.

Miss Grande claimed to have a picture with clear “textbook” demon faces, but she
deleted the photo after seeing it took up exactly 666 megabytes. In addition, the computer folder she kept the photo in was aptly titled “Demons” and weird stuff happened until she rid herself of the photo. What weird stuff? Well, one night, Ariana closed her eyes to go to sleep only to be scared by a loud rumble right next to her. When she opened her eyes, the sound went away.  When she closed them again, she began to see disturbing images of red shapes and the noise returned with whispered voices. After moving to the other side of her bed for better cell service to call for help, she rolled up next to a black mass. Too frightened to do anything, she closed her eyes and eventually fell asleep. When she woke, the mass was gone.

Not sure I could fall asleep with a menacing black cloud sharing my bed. Some people are made of stronger stuff – or her mattress is “to die for.”

So what do you believe? So many unsubstantiated tales surround Stull Cemetery that
many dismiss the stories as simple rumors from the very beginning of the tiny hamlet of Stull up until modern times. No paranormal investigations have been conducted at Stull, the owner of the property and the town itself refuses all requests. But why exactly did the local police turn away spectators outside the cemetery just before midnight when Satan is said to make his grand appearance?

Doubts abound as to Stull’s diabolical history, but a common truth is that there is always
an element of verity in every urban legend. There’s certainly enough regarding the claim that Stull Cemetery is a gateway to and from Hell that this woman will never gather up the guts to make a visit to the old boneyard, especially not around midnight of the Spring Equinox or Halloween. But if you do, please look me up afterwards. I’d love to hear your tale.

When Fiction & Reality Collide

I am quite literally jumping up and down in excitement right now.

First, some background – the Irish B&B in rural VA where a lot of Rekindled Prophecy (Greylyn the Guardian Angel series, Book 1) takes place was actually named Killahevlin (in the book, it’s called Gaelic Haven). The inn has since closed down and last I checked it was still For Sale (in case someone in interested in owning a beautiful B&B).

Now, the excited part – There is an actual hotel, Killyhevlin, in the exact county in Ireland, overlooking the exact lough (lake) mentioned throughout the series as where my protagonist (Greylyn) originally came from.

There are glimpses into County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland starting in Book 2 and basically all of Book 3 is situated there and in Dublin.

How I did not know this before now, I have no idea! Seriously, that is fate!

This is the inn in Front Royal, VA where most of the story takes place in Rekindled Prophecy.
This is the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, overlooking Lough (Lake) Erne.
I foresee some updates to Book 2 and Book 3 to add in more about this place. Originally, I had Greylyn (the main character) arriving back in Ireland at a small inn overlooking Lough Erne but I believe she deserves a serious upgrade in accommodations.
To put things in perspective why I’m so thrilled about this revelation…I was married at the VA B&B, Killahevlin, back in 2000. I didn’t start writing Greylyn’s story until 2016 or so (with kids and all the other chaos of running a household of eight people, writing was first done in fits and starts and stops and repeat cycle). Today (9/16/2019) I find out that the B&B where I was married (name changed in the book to Gaelic Haven) was named for an actual luxury hotel and resort in the actual location where Greylyn’s story originates – Ennishkilllen, County Fermanagh, overlooking Lough Erne.