My Love Affair With Haunted Houses
Posted by Babs Mountjoy
Welcome Lyndi’s Adventurous Friend Robert Herold!
(Author of The Eidola Project)
Haunted Houses and I go way back. I used to set up a haunted house display in my parent’s garage and enlist my brothers and friends to play the roles of various monsters as I, as a mad scientist, led other neighborhood kids through the chamber of horrors. The tour would end with me dissecting a monster in a serio-comic way, removing all manner of things from its abdomen (such as a pop bottle, an old shoe, and a dirty sock). At the conclusion, the creature’s arm would swing out at the other kids, courtesy of a little fishing line, and send the frightened kids running from the haunted garage.
After college, I took a job in a nursing home as I dipped my claws, er, toes, into the writing life. At the nursing home I reprised my earlier passion for haunted houses and got other members of the staff and the management to buy into the idea of putting on a haunted house for the patients. People were encouraged to retrieve a treat from the bottom of a bowl of intestines (OK, it was pasta). There were opportunities for (geriatric) boys to meet ghouls, and gals to hang out with all sorts of unsavory monsters. The conclusion, once again, was me as a mad scientist werewolf (showing my true colors) who would operate on a monster and once again pull out various things from its abdomen (this time it included a bedpan – I’m such a wit). Since I was an adult, I also jazzed it up childhood shtick with beakers of dry ice and colored liquid bubbling away behind me on repurposed bookshelves. The pièce de résistance was me (as the ersatz wolfman/mad scientist) throwing the breaker switch (OK, it was a sponge mop handle) and causing the creature’s eyes to light up. At this point, the creature’s arm would swing out, as before (remember the fishing line trick?) and grab one of the patients. As I look back on my cavalier sensibilities, I realized I was damn lucky I didn’t cause a heart attack.
When my older son was in kindergarten and first grade I resurrected the haunted house motif, this time for my son’s birthday parties. I used all the same ideas to great success, perhaps too great. After causing one little girl to pee her pants, I realized I had ridden this horror express perhaps a little too far. My forays into this live on only in the nightmares of former kids, now adults.
The haunted house that left the biggest impression on me was as a high school student when I participated in a spooktacular haunted house that was put on by a local rock music station. I helped with the construction, mostly as a gofer, and got to be a werewolf (oh, the joy) once the place opened. This haunted house was not for kids, and had many a frightful room as we repurposed an old home before it was to be torn down. I, as the wolfman, was in a room with Dr. Frankenstein and the monster, and we’d all jump at folks and delight in their screams. Then, toward the end of the evening, in a moment of werewolf abandon, I decided to jump up onto the wall and grab the bars on a window. Much to my chagrin, and pain, the iron bars were actually wooden dowels that broke off and I crashed down onto my werewolf tailbone. I howled in pain. People loved it! I, however, too embarrassed to admit my pain and mistake, limped the three miles home that night instead of begging a ride from someone with wheels. My lesson: One must suffer for one’s art!
The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.
Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.
Will any of them survive?
Sarah retrieved the lamp and twisted the peg. The outhouse door swung open on its own, and she gasped.
“Momma?” Sarah asked as she held out her lantern. No. A ruined version of Molly stood in the doorway.
Before her disappearance, people often commented on the sixteen-year-old’s beauty, but in the last twenty-eight days birds pecked out her pretty blue eyes, and maggots now swam in the sockets. Molly’s head hung to the left at an odd angle. Her skin looked mottled with patches of gray, blue, and black. A beetle crawled out of Molly’s half-opened mouth and darted back in.
Sarah’s heart leaped to her throat, and she jumped back. She lost her footing, fell onto the outhouse seat, and dropped the lantern to the floor. She bent to retrieve it; thankful the glass globe did not break. Sarah looked up and saw an empty doorway.
Impossible, she told herself. Must’ve dozed off, had a nightmare, and woke up when I dropped the lamp. Her heart still pounded in her chest, and Sarah took a deep breath to calm herself.
Holding the lamp before her once more, she crept out…
The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since Robert Herold’s mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)
As a child, fresh snow provided him the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with his fingers as far as he could stretch. He would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)
He has pursued many interests over the years (among them being a history teacher and a musician), but the supernatural always called to him. You could say he was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, he wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea he had as a teenager.
Ultimately, he hopes the book gives you the creeps, and he means that in the best way possible.
Contact Links (list as many as you’d like):
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZovJ-MZQ5Y (17 second animated book trailer!)
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Herold/e/B07YW82TLR
Links for Purchase (use as many as you’d like):
More about me:
I wanted to be a werewolf as a child, so writing is letting me live out my childhood fantasies! I live in Seattle and have been a middle school history teacher for many years. I also play in local band called Bluetopia. My wife works with homeless women. Our two grown sons live in Portlandia. We have a chihuahua, named Jangles, we inherited from my sister when she passed away. He watches the television with us and barks at any image of an animal or animated creature (including the Mucinex monster)!
I’ve always been fascinated with the horror genre. In addition to wanting to be a werewolf, subscribing to monster magazines, and building all the Universal Monsters models, as a boy I used to construct a haunted house in my family’s garage and invite the other kids in for a scare!
I just received the contract for the second book in the Eidola Project series, currently at the editor, a sequel involving a werewolf (I know, go figure!) called, Moonlight Becomes You. I am also halfway through writing book three, where the team travels cross-country (a big deal in 1885) to solve a series of murders by a deadly shapeshifting creature plaguing the coastal Native Americans in the Washington Territory. It’s entitled Totem of Terror.
Interesting part of the story to research:
I found researching William James’s actual forays into paranormal investigations fascinating. A great resource is The Ghost Hunters—William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, by Deborah Blum
What inspired the title of the book:
The book is about a team of 19th Century ghosthunters who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house. Eidola is a Greek word for ghost, so I thought it fit perfectly.
Advice for aspiring writers:
Come up with an ending first. It will provide direction and keep you from getting lost half-way. Also, pack the inner critic away in a lock box until you’re done with the rough draft. Having a sense of the whole, however rough, rightly gives you a sense of accomplishment. When editing, only let the critic out for short periods and only if it behaves itself. Work hard to polish your writing, but don’t let it cause you sink into despair or abandon your work. If I can do it, anyone can!
Reading, watching movies and TV, taking long walks, eating ethnic, going to the theater & concerts, listening and playing music—especially jazz and classical (I play the sax and flute and I’m in a band).
My favorite quote:
“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” G. K. Chesterton, author of the Father Brown mysteries
Awards for The Eidola Project:
- Currently a semi-finalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards—Paranormal Category
- 2nd Place in The Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice Awards
- 3rd Place in The Grand Opening Awards
Posted on May 4, 2020, in book, guest author, mystery, supernatural, writing and tagged adventure, author, book, ghost, ghost story, haunted houses, Lyndi Alexander, monsters, novel, Robert Herold, supernatural, The Eidola Project, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on My Love Affair With Haunted Houses.
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