I, Michelle Dorey, have always been a HUGE fan of Stephen King, especially the stories he created involving kids growing up—novels such as Stand by Me and It. The bond of friendship is tested during a time when they transition from the innocence of childhood, while also confronting dire evil.
In that vein, I wrote Grave Conjuring. It involves two sisters, orphaned when they were pre-teens, who now live with their aunt. Aunt Claire sells real estate and she’s found a wonderful fixer-upper house which the three of them move into. While exploring the home Ashley, Maya and their friend Leah find an Ouija Board in the attic.
The girls, joined by a few other friends, decide to try using the Board to contact their mom and dad. They unwittingly open a portal and expose themselves to ghostly horror. Let the fun begin…mwah, ha, ha.
I really enjoyed writing this book, creating an eclectic cast of characters and turning up the scare factor. In fact, some of these characters, like Jake, I’ve enjoyed so much that I let him visit and partake in later tales in the series. Each book in this six book series is stand-alone.
Grave Conjuring is the second book in the Haunted Ones series. I hope people enjoy the following sample and will pick up a copy of Grave Conjuring.
If I have one piece of advice for other women who want to write horror, it would be to focus on your characters. People who read this genre love a good scare but only if you put likeable, realistic characters through it.
Authors, aside from Sam Gregory, who I enjoy reading, are Darcy Coates, Amy Cross, Shani Struthers and of course, Shirley Jackson.
“Leah! Come on!” Maya shouted from across the stairwell.
Leah grinned. “She’s not the most patient person, is she?” With that she walked from the room to join her.
When Ashley got there, Maya held a broomstick aiming the hook on the end, through the eye bolt screwed on the ceiling door. Leah grabbed the stick and together the two of them tugged it open, jumping back quickly to avoid being hit by the ladder that slid to the floor. Particles of dust flitted through the air, released along with the old wooden access.
Covering her mouth and nose with her hand, Ashley peered up through the opening. Natural light from a window at the gabled end of the house revealed thick roof joists and curtains of cobwebs clinging to them.
“Cool!” Leah grabbed the sides of the ladder and began climbing. She paused at the top of the ladder looking around at the space.
“What’s up there?” Maya was chomping at the bit to get up to the attic as well.
“There’s an old trunk and a bunch of boxes.” She scooped her cell phone out and flicked on the flashlight app. “You wouldn’t like this place Ashley, not with your asthma. You were right about the spiders.”
She aimed the flashlight around and then jerked back. “Shit! That scared the hell out of me!” She grinned looking down at Maya.
“What was it?” Maya’s grip on the sides of the ladder loosened and she stepped back.
“It was an old mirror. My light flashed in the reflection, that’s all. Come on!” Leah climbed the last few steps and then was gone.
Maya was wide-eyed looking over at Ashley. “I’m going. Are you?”
Ashley grabbed her inhaler from the pocket of her shorts and gulped a long blast of the Ventolin. It was probably the last place she should go but Maya was already climbing. Who knew what she could get into with Leah? If the floorboards up there were anything like the dock, she might go through and break her ankle.
Plus, Leah was acting kind of excited by whatever was up there, urging Maya to see it. She wouldn’t mind checking it out either.
To be on the safe side, she rummaged in Maya’s dresser for a scarf or shirt to filter the dust. She found a bandana and draped it over her nose and cheeks, tying it tight at the back of her head. She might look like a bandit but at least she wouldn’t be inhaling so much dust. Slowly, she climbed the ancient rungs of the ladder, saying a silent prayer they wouldn’t give out.
When she was eye level with the attic floor, she saw Leah and Maya kneeling beside some old wooden chest, rummaging around inside it. She glanced up at the cobwebs fluttering in the air from the commotion and the breeze funneling through the opening. If a spider came anywhere close to her, she would be out of there in a flash. All bets would be off, and Leah and Maya would be on their own.
She climbed the remaining rungs and then hunching to avoid touching anything above, she went over to join them.
“Awww...” Maya held up an old doll, draping the lace christening dress it wore over her bare arm. One blue eye of the doll’s face was open while the other at an angle was almost shut completely. Maya adjusted the bonnet on its head as she gazed down at it. “It must have been one of their children’s dolls. The Salter family, I mean.”
“It’s creepy, Maya. Put it down.” Ashley mouth pursed tight staring at it. With the lines crisscrossing the plaster of the face, it was actually grotesque. She looked past her sister to what Leah had pulled out of the trunk.
Her friend held a school notebook thumbing through pages. Leah’s lips pulled to the side. “Grade two, I’d guess.” She tossed it back in the trunk and then grabbed a wooden truck with three wheels. “It’s just old toys and kids’ stuff. Maybe your aunt should contact the son in case he wants this crap.”
Ashley edged closer and peeked inside the box, seeing some old clothes and more books and toys. “Yeah. This stuff might have some kind of sentimental value to him.” She looked around and noticed the old mirror, which had startled Leah, propped up against a tower of boxes. She inhaled fast, trying to get oxygen into airways that were closing despite the inhaler. She’d have to get out of there soon before she had a full blown asthma attack.
Leah rose and then pried open a cardboard box next to the trunk. “Oh my...” She pulled a rectangular box from inside and held it up. “This is kind of weird to find up here. Especially for a churchgoing family.”
Maya set the doll back in the trunk. “Why? Was is it? Some kind of game?” She brushed her hands together and then sat back on her haunches looking up at Leah.
“It’s no game, Maya. This is a Ouija board.” Leah could hardly keep the excitement from her voice as she hunkered down to the floor. Lifting the lid of the box off, she continued, “This thing’s pretty old. These boards are used to summon the dead.”
Ashley grit her teeth watching her sister’s rapt attention on Leah’s words and the board. First the talk about old man Salter’s ghost and now this. “Those things don’t work, Maya. It’s just superstition and a bunch of nonsense.”
Leah shook her head. “That’s not true. They do work. A girl in my Facebook group, Cindy, used one to contact her grandmother. The old lady told her things that only she would have known. And another guy, Allen, he—”
“How does it work?” Maya picked up a leaf-shaped object with a glass circle in the center. “What’s this?”
Leah snatched it from Maya’s hand. “It’s called a planchette. This is the thing that spells out answers to questions people ask. It’s not a game, Maya. It works.”
Ashley forgot about her own discomfort and her rapid, shallow breathing. “It’s bullshit is what it is, Maya. People make this thing move. They may not consciously be aware of it but they do. I read a story where a couple girls tried it. Right after the story was an explanation of how it worked.”
“Just because you don’t believe it, doesn’t make it any less true, Ashley! That’s just a theory. There’s plenty of evidence that can’t be explained away so easily.” Leah set the board on the floor and unfolded it, showing an arc of letters of the alphabet on a golden-brown surface. A line of numbers, one to ten were above the word “Goodbye.”
Maya’s mouth was set tight when she peered at her sister. “What if it does work, Ashley? Wouldn’t you like to be able to contact Mom or Dad? I know I would! Maybe we should try it.”
Leah’s gaze flitted from Maya to Ashley. It was obvious that her friend was on Maya’s side. But of course she would be. If it was spooky, Leah was the self-appointed expert. She was even in some kooky, paranormal investigation Facebook group!
Ashley knew she’d have an adult ally in her logical-minded aunt. Claire wouldn’t want Maya buying into this and scaring the living crap out of herself in the process. “We’ll see what Aunt Claire thinks.”
Leah shook her head. “You can’t tell her. She’ll take it away for sure. I wanted to buy a Ouija board a few years ago at Halloween, but my mom threw a fit! She said it was evil and wouldn’t let me get it. Your aunt will probably be the same.” Her eyes narrowed, challenging Ashley. “Besides which, if it doesn’t work, why get all bent out of shape about it? You could at least try it once for Maya’s sake.”
Maya turned puppy-dog eyes at her sister. “What if we could talk to Mom and Dad? Don’t you even want to try?”
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”