Here There Be Ghouls: A Teaser from Paranormal Parlor

Creatures of mist, half credited;

Our faint form flings

No shadow in moonlight on the bed

We visit; noiseless is our tread,

Who come from deserts of the dead,

Where no bird sings.

—Anon, 1887 (from Ghost Stories and Presentiments)

Here There Be Ghosts

I have never met a ghost story I didn’t like. Whether it ends in a ridiculous joke (the wrapping paper in the closet the source of the phantom “rap, rap, rapping”) or lingers long enough to make you jump at the shadows, I find the genre and all of its many incantations delightful. But nothing quite gets me going like the story right from the mouth of babes: when a first-hand experience is recounted to me (preferably in the dim light of the fire on a dark and stormy night). When I began writing this book I put out a call for stories among my people: the midnight podcaster, the horror novelist, the paranormal lovers and those whom the paranormal seem to love. While my original intention was to create one opening chapter chock full of as-told-to-me tales, as I gathered them they found their own way into the manuscript. In later chapters, you’ll find the case of the haunted tarot deck and the pot-smoking Ouija board user and even a haunting from the catacombs of Paris. In this chapter, many of the stories I wanted to tell from my own experiences include the child ghost that I lived with for a number of years. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with a kid apparition. In addition, you will find the unnamed Lovecraftian thing that moaned in the woods and other horrifying joys. Read on, my friends, read on.

—an excerpt from Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor: Ghosts, Seances and Tales of True Hauntings

Available June 1st on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & IndieBound and wherever books are sold.

image credit: Jordan Jansen via Unsplash

 

Happy New Year & An Annoucement

Happy 2018 you delightful devils! Let’s hope your celebrations (and libations) didn’t take you too far off the path. We all know how those Pookas can appear when you least expect them…

2017 was a big year for me personally: it saw the publication of my latest book, Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complet Guide to the Wild & Wicked Enchanted Realm in April. By the fall I had completed the manuscript for my next book, Varla Ventura’s Paranormal Parlor: Ghosts, Seances, and True Tales of Hauntings (available for pre-order on Amazon, IndieBound or B&N). And in October, with the talents of Bo Luellen, we launched a new podcast, Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange: Season One–Strange America

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, Bo is no longer able to do the podcast. I am indebted to him for motivating me to think outside the book and he and I will remain forever friends. But this means that 2018 will have me reinventing the Podcast just a lil’ bit, and I will be learning some new skills (uh, mainly podcasting…know any good books on the subject?). For those of you who noticed nothings doin’ in the podcast realm, bless ye, for you are paying attention.

There are currently 3 episodes live and episodes 4 & 5 awaiting my nimble fingers but I’ve booked several guests that I can guarantee will delight you. So please bear with me as I try new things, take the reigns and make Tales of the Strange my own.

In the meantime, please enjoy the current episodes, tune in for upcoming interviews where I am the guest and take a peek at my books!

May 2018 bring you the vision of starlight, the creative genius of 10,000 novels and one more for the road.

 

 

Arkansas- Strange America – 4

Greetings friends of the bizarre! We proudly present to you, our Arkansas episode of Tales of the Strange!!

Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange: Strange America—Episode 2—Arkansas

We interview with Cryptozoologist of the Year 2017, Seth Breedlove.

Host: Varla Ventura

Co-Host:  Bo Luellen

Guest Website: Smalltownmonsters.com

Arizona—Strange America – 3

Greetings all you wicked weirdos and friends of the bizarre! We proudly present to you, our Alaska episode of Tales of the Strange!!

This episode we interview Stephen Hall, the curator of the History of Pharmacy Museum in Arizona. He talks to us if poison bottles, the pharmacy at Disneyland and John Dillinger’s chewing gum, among other highlights!

Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange: Strange America—Episode 3—Arizona

We interview the curator of the History of Pharmacy Museum, Mr. Stephen Hall.

Guest Website:  Pharmacy Museum

Host: Varla Ventura

Co-Host:  Bo Luellen

Alaska – Strange America – 2

Ladies and gentlebeans, wicked weirdos and friends of the bizarre! We proudly present to you, our Alaska episode of Tales of the Strange!!

Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange: Strange America—Episode 2—Alaska

We interview Neelie Ravenclaw of the IOPIA (Investigation of Paranormal in Alaska)

Host: Varla Ventura

Co-Host:  Bo Luellen

Visit:  IOPIA website

Is That ME in Your Pocket? Or Are You Just…

NOW ON ITUNES, PEOPLES!!

I am terribly excited to discover that our BRAND NEW podcast, Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange is live and now available on iTunes. Oooooh! That means you can just log in and subscribe and every time a new episode drops, bam! I’ll be right there, waiting for you. In your pocket.

Oh, okay or in your purse. Just plug in, tune in. Now you can listen easily while scrubbing away those mystery stains (is that blood? honestly!) or walking your wolves around the lake.

And I’m not above begging, so please, please, if you like it, subscribe and give us a happy little rating. The first episode, Strange America: Alabama is up. Coming soon, Alaska’s most famous ghost hunter and UFO-ologist and Small Town Monsters filmmaker and mastermind, Seth Breedlove.

Download me, darling. You know you want to.

 

Alabama – Strange America – 1

Ladies and gentlebeans, wicked weirdos and friends of the bizarre! We proudly present to you, our first episode of Tales of the Strange!!

Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange: Strange America—Episode 1—Alabama

We launch our show with a great look at the State of Alabama’s haunted history and a great UFO story.

Host: Varla Ventura

Co-Host:  Bo Luellen

Recommended further reading: Field Guide to Haunted Graveyards by Troy Taylor, Encylopedia of Haunted Places by Jeff Belanger, Beyond Bizarre by Varla Ventura

In Praise of Vampires: Living Vamps FAQ

In Praise of Vampires

Although some of my exes may disagree, I am not (at least not last I checked) a vampire. However, I do identify with much of what the current living vampire community represents. And am, of course, quite interested in vampire lore, mythology and culture, pop and otherwise. After all, I wrote a book called Banshees, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Creatures of the Night: Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts.  I am frequently asked about vampires: Are they real? Am I one? How does one become a vampire? Do vampires drink blood?

If you’ve heard me on Coast to Coast, you’ve heard me patiently answer: I know many living vampires, people who self-identify as vampires, and I have found them to be empathic, courteous, thoughtful and gentle people. One of my favorite pals is Father Sebastiaan. He is a Fangsmith, founder of Vampire World and founding father of vampire community. Along with the charming Victor Magnus, they put on vampire balls and events around the world. In response to the most common, frequently asked questions about vampires, Father Sebastiaan and Victor Magnus have put together an excellent Q & A on their website, Vampire World. They are far more qualified to talk about real, modern vampires than I am. Below, you’ll find the first of many questions. Click this link to learn more (reprinted with permission)

From VampireWorld.Com 

Are Vampires Real?

Yes, but not in the ways you may think.  Living “Real” Vampires are human beings with a higher energetic need for vital life-force (Chi, Prana, Mana, Ki) than the average human.  If this Need goes unfulfilled, the Vampire experiences lower states of spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing.  In order to sate this need, one must learn ethical techniques of gathering excess energy (called “feeding”).  Vampires are usually divided into psychic (energy) and sanguine (blood) categories, but this often leads to misconceptions. A better terminology separates them into awakened and unawakened.  All Vampires can practice just energy feeding. “Lifestylers” may practice a philosophy or employ the imagery, but are not all energetically Awakened. We also recognize Sympathetic Psychic Vampirism, a temporary Need resulting from a donor being depleted after being fed upon too much and for too long.

 

Read all of the FAQ and find the fascinating answers on VampireWorld!!

 

Fairy Tale Contest First-Place Winner: A Pooka

First place winner, Barry Huddleston.

I was a bit startled by the response when I first got it in my inbox as I was not expecting a poem as the fairy tale. But I couldn’t help but love this take on the fairy tale, and the inherent talent Mr. Huddleston obviously possesses. I also loved the idea that someone’s guilt, the fear, anticipation and possible sin of meeting her lover would cause hallucinations. Hey, we’ve all been there, ammiright?

Something twisted in the shadow of the trees as she made her way down the woodland path. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew she was being watched. In the far distance, beyond the dusky silhouettes of trees she could see the inky blackness of a pond and beyond that,  the castle lights. Suddenly, she felt something grab at her ankle. Stunned, she turned and saw…

A paw, a white paw, it was a rabbit and nothing more
or so she told herself as she dashed to her bedroom door.
A glimpse of white or was it the evening mist?
Was it the fear of a rabbit or the fear of her tryst?

Again she drew up her courage and sought out her rendezvous
in the cool misty forest where the apple trees grew.
Was that her lover among the greenwoods or a Pooka in disguise?
She couldn’t tell and discretion belongs to the wise.

Once again she dashed for the safety of her room.
Was she afraid of a rabbit, the forest, or the gloom?
Pooka was that you, are you testing or tormenting me?
Did you place fear in my heart and cause me to flee?

A whisper replied in the still of the night,
“don’t seek out love until you feel it is right.”

copyright Barry Huddleston, 2017. Re-publication requires express permission of the author.

Fairy Tale Contest Second-Place Winner! Hungry Woods by Nicole Williams

Second Place: Nicole Williams

This beautiful story came in early on in the contest and stood out right away as one of my favorites, even after reading so many amazing entries. Although the first paragraph was part of the contest entry, I believe that Ms. Williams could easily out-write my intro any day. When I read these words, “With hellhounds and red caps beneath, they rode upon the night” I knew I had found a beautiful writer and a kindred spirit! Enjoy her gorgeous fairy tale, dear reader, with the light on. 

Hungry Woods 

Something twisted in the shadow of the trees as she made her way down the woodland path. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew she was being watched. In the far distance, beyond the dusky silhouettes of trees she could see the inky blackness of a pond and beyond that, the castle lights. Suddenly, she felt something grab at her ankle.
Startled, she turned and saw that it was only dry bramble. She giggled and began tugging upon the clothing that was caught by the fingers of the underbrush. Stubbornly refusing to release despite her efforts, she reached to untangle her skirt and gouged her arm upon a thorn.  Beads of blood welled from her torn flesh and trickled down her hand to the ground below.
 

Suffering from an intense drought, the ground drank the life giving force as quickly as it landed.  Above her, the trees began to rage as if a storm has suddenly come, yet the sky was clear. She laughed anxiously at the turbulent canopy above and was surprised to hear an echo from behind her. She turned quickly to glimpse a menacing figure watching her from the shadows. Paralyzed with dread she could not move however her heart raced, beating like a trap bird within her chest.  The creature only stared, slowing inhaling through his gaping mouth as if tasting the air, or her fear.   Upon its head sat a jaunty cap, soaked in blood. A rivulet of the viscous fluid dribbled into its open mouth and the creature smacked its lips, its grotesque flesh trembling with delight.  Its voice was like rocks grinding upon themselves as it pointed to her and growled, “We…Hunger.”

Snatching her gown from the clutches of the greedy brambles, she ran faster than she had ever before, leaving the creature’s laughter to reverberate through frightening forest. As she approached the pond, she looked behind her to find the creature scuttling along beside a hoard of black hounds.   Their teeth gleamed in the moonlight as saliva rained into the dry grass beneath their immense claws.  She stumbled upon loose debris and caught her palm against a sharp stone as she fell. It bled into the earth. Holding her hand to her chest, she picked herself up, and ran towards her salvation while the beasts gnashing at her heels.  She would be safe within the illuminated protection of the castle, if she could make it there. 

With labored breath and tired limbs, she struggled around the curve of the dark pond.  As she passed, a ripple disturbed the surface and from its stagnate depths, a dark horse materialized. Upon its back a man of shadows rode. She struggled in vain, as he took her into his fatal embrace.  Unable to speak, she mewled in terror.

“What beautiful sounds you make.” He stroked her hair. “But regrettable, you are not for me to keep.”  

With hellhounds and red caps beneath, they rode upon the night mare to the heart of the land.   His breath was warm upon her face as he smirked. “The woods my dear, they must eat.”

Mistaken for the wind whistling through trees, the locals welcomed her shrieks.  They dance and sang throughout the dark, celebrating the end of the terrible drought.  And the laughing girl who wandered into the hungry woods, she laughed no more that night while the forest feed- feasted by ancient rite.   

—copyright 2017 by Nicole Williams. Re-publication requires express permission of the author.