As the nights grow longer and colder and the autumn leaves perform their colorful swan song, a lot of us are looking for some spooky fun to while away the nights. And though a horror movie marathon is always a classic way to spend any October evening, there are still those of us who feel like Halloween isn’t complete without a scary story to destroy any hope we had of sleeping. Sure, you could crack open a tried and true Stephen King novel, but why not try something new? A group of local authors have just the book for you.
An anthology series titled Southern Haunts began in 2013 and features short fiction from Southern authors. The latest offering is Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moon edited by Alexander Stephen Brown and Louise Meyers. I was able to sit down with Brown, as well as two authors featured in the anthology, Jen Mulvihill (who co-edited the first book in the series with Brown) and Melodie Romeo, to talk about what makes their anthology unique.
Brown’s enthusiasm for the project is nothing short of infectious.
“Southern Haunts is what expanded my profession from not only being a writer, but being a writer and an editor,” Brown said. “Composing an anthology is something that Mulvihill and myself decided to do. Throughout the years, it has been an experience that has been fun and difficult. It’s been fun because I get to read stories. It has been difficult because of the extensive work that comes with creating an anthology.”
Mulvihill believes that there are several ways in which their anthology separates itself from the herd — the primary being its talented writers.
“The editors and publishers are very particular about the authors and picking very skillful wordsmiths,” said Mulvihill. “All the stories are based on real events or real folklore which makes for riveting stories.
It’s all about the south. People love to read about southern folklore and Southern Haunts has exactly what they want. The combination of all of these elements has created one of the best selling anthologies of this genre.”
Brown notes that the Southern landscape itself lends a special appeal to stories of the
“I believe the South is interesting for horror stories, due to our history and our
rich folklore,” he said. “For example, one would be more likely to go to New Orleans to see the grave of a famous voodoo queen versus seeking out that same attraction in a Northern state. Setting wise, what I feel makes a good Southern horror story, is the history of the land. Of course, the dialogue, culture and atmosphere do play a great deal in crafting a tale of horror; however, it is the land itself that holds all of the dirt.”
Melodie Romeo, whose work includes the historical horror novel Vlad, agrees with that
“The South is a rich canvas upon which to paint a horror story. The setting alone — huge live oaks, bows dripping with Spanish moss; insufferably hot temperatures with suffocatingly humid air; swamps, bogs and bayous no one living today has ventured into — makes for a delectably chilling backdrop for the characters and action,” Romeo said. “Next is the history of the South. With Native American lore, lost Spanish treasures, voodoo and hoodoo, slavery and the Civil War, there is so much material to work with, and not just for historical writers like me.”
Romeo went on to reflect on the universal power of horror fiction.
“As a youth I was fascinated with Poe’s examination of the dark side of the human psyche, being both horrified and mesmerized by the haunting acts we humans are capable of committing. I think many people like to be scared in a controlled situation, such as reading a horror story unfold within the safety of its pages because we can experience the same adrenaline rush as the characters without any actual danger to ourselves personally.”
So, if you’re on the hunt for a fun read that doesn’t skimp on thrills and chills, Southern Haunts: Magick Beneath the Moonlight (not to mention the previous volumes) will be well worth
Copies are available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions. For more on Southern Haunts or other works, check out seventhstarpress.com.
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