The Ghosts of Busman’s Harbor and a #giveaway

by Barb, noticing a little nip in the air as we approach Labor Day

I’m quite excited about the release this week of Haunted House Murder, which includes my latest Maine Clambake novella, “Hallowed Out.” The book also contains novellas by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis. All the stories take place in Maine during the Halloween season.

I’m always grateful when these requests to write a holiday novella come around. I love writing in the novella length (roughly a third to half the length of a typical cozy mystery) and I like being given a theme to see what I can do with it. It’s a fun challenge.

In this case, the theme given us was the title of the collection, Haunted House Murder, and that was it. My story has always come third in these anthologies, so I figure the obvious choices will have been covered by the time readers get to it. So just like I didn’t poison anyone with eggnog in Eggnog Murder, I didn’t focus on a creepy haunted house in Haunted House Murder. I doubted that would be a new setup by the time readers turned the page to begin my tale.

Instead, I wrote about a Haunted House Trolley Tour, a special offering for Halloween week in Busman’s Harbor. The end of October is often pretty yucky in Maine. The beautiful foliage is gone, as is the likelihood of warm weather. We are headed into November, which some people argue is the yuckiest month of the year. So in my story the Haunted House Trolley Tour is a part of a push to bring in tourists after the season has officially ended.

I do offer up a ghost story–three in fact. One is a story that is told originally in Stowed Away about a mysterious woman who drowns herself at Herrickson Point in the off-season. My fictional ghost story is based on a well-known local legend in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. In the real story, just as in my story, the woman’s true identity is never established. She has carefully removed the labels from her expensive clothes. For research, I relied on the book Ghosts of the Boothbay Region, by Greg Latimer, a part of the Haunted America series. If you’re interested I highly recommend the book.

The second ghost story in “Hallowed Out,” I heard from one of of my husband’s cousins. My husband’s Aunt Connie was staying with them, and she was quite superstitious. Events in the household convinced there was a ghost in residence. It seemed unlikely. It was a newly built house. Where would a ghost have come from? But it did turn out there was an explanation for the strange goings-on.

The third ghost story forms the core of the novella, the central mystery. I had established in Fogged Inn the former warehouse where Gus runs his restaurant and where my protagonist Julia Snowden lives was used as a drop for booze smuggled from Canada during Prohibition. But I didn’t know that the  handsome, Robin Hood-esque (at least in his own mind) rumrunner Ned Calhoun had been murdered there while his fiancee Sweet Sue watched in horror. It is during a reenactment of this story for the enjoyment of the customers of the Haunted House Trolley Tour that a real murder takes place.

I loved doing the research about smuggling alcohol in the 1920s. I knew liquor came over the border and into Maine, but I didn’t know Canadian distilleries and distributors anchored massive boats just inside international waters. There were so many lights out there in a row from all the big boats, the area was called, “the rumline.” The small boats that carried the booze back to Maine were faster than anything the US Coast Guard could give chase with at the time. The boats, and eventually the captains, were called “rumrunners.”

I hope you enjoy “Hallowed Out,” with its three ghosts stories and in-the-present murder mystery.

Readers: Do you have a ghost story? Tell us your story or just say “hi” in the comments for a chance to win one of three copies of Haunted House Murder.

Update: Winners have been chosen and notified.

72 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations, Barb! I remember brainstorming that novella with you and the other Wickeds on your porch in the real-life model for Busman’s Harbor, and can’t wait to read it.

  2. I don’t have any ghost stories, but I enjoy reading them! Hallowed Out sounds great and congrats on the new anthology.

  3. I enjoy reading these collections of novellas from some of my favourite authors. I am looking forward to a spooky visit back to Busman’s Harbor, one of my favourite settings and cozy series. Congratulations Barb.

  4. I don’t have a first story to tell, do I’ll just say Hi. I already have this book on my wishlist.

  5. Ok I have lived in two houses with ghosts. All activity mostly friendly except for few instances. I had just put the kids to bed , my husband was sound asleep in our bed. So i start to lay down and wham, I get shoved on my shoulders from beneath my bed once I lay down. Pushed me almost out of the bed.. Tried to lay down again, same thing happened. My husband slept through all of this. So I got out of bed and checked on the kids. Both where sleeping , no problems. Then I went back to bed waiting for it to happen again. Nothing else happened that knight. That’s just one story out of many more.

  6. When I was a teenager living in southwestern Arkansas, there was a cemetery that had a large statue on one of the grave sites. It was told that it was the statue of the lady that was buried there who died under strange circumstances. They said that when the moon was right, supposedly during the same phase as when she died, the statue was seen to move and make moaning sounds. Naturally, it was a place where kids went with their dates or in small groups to wait and watch to see for themselves. There were always some that swore they had seen it. Maybe it was the desire to see it or just the cemetery setting that made them see what they said they saw. Yes, I went (more than once in fact), but I can’t say I ever saw anything.

    Thank you for the wonderful chance to win a copy of “Haunted House Murder”. Sounds wonderful and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Shared and hoping.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. Congrats on the novella, Barb! My ghost stories come from college. Rumor had it a friar died in my sophomore year room (my dorm was the building that was originally the friary). We’d get phone calls from no one. There was a cold spot on one of the walls and nothing would stick there. Nothing. He was a mostly friendly guy, though. We called him George.

  8. Love these anthologies. I’ve had this one on pre-order for a while. Can’t wait to read it.

  9. I was a nanny for two children after I graduated from high school. The family lived in an old farm house. Every time we were on the second floor, I would see a presence watching myself and the children. Later I was told the farmer’s wife had passed away on the second floor. She was barren and they had no children, I assumed this was why she was present more so when the children were present. I can’t wait to read Haunted House Murder.

  10. No thrilling ghost stories here. Hearing about the research process is always fascinating. Congratulations on your upcoming release!

  11. I love the category of this book. My Ghosty/Supernatural/Paranormal titles collection has grown over the years till they take up a full floor to ceiling bookcase of their own. Double Stacked and shoved into any space I can find. I’d be honored to add this collection to that bookcase (after reading it).

  12. I have seen the ghost of my best friends mother as we dressed for her wedding. In the door stood her re gently deceased mom all dressed up hat and all to go to the wedding. We both saw her mom.

  13. Hi–I haven’t heard or read a ghost story in years—but I bet I’d enjoy these. Thanks for the chance to win them.

  14. I love these holiday-themed books and the story within a story is so clever. Can’t wait to find out about these ghosts.

  15. No, I don’t have a ghost story, but I created one for a friend’s inn in Peru. He said all good inns had a ghost. I created a benevolent one that used the history of the land it was built on. Yeah, it was fun.

    I look forward to adding to my Leslie Meier collections especially with one of your stories included.

  16. I don’t have any ghost stories but I’m anxious to read yours and the other authors’.

  17. Hi! Sorry – I lead a very dull life on the Jersey Shore – no personal ghost stories here, but I’d love the chance to win a copy of Haunted House Murder. I’m on the second book in the series and am loving it! I have a friend who lives in Portland, Maine and I’m telling her about your books!

  18. According to family legend, my grandfather “helped out” during Prohibition while living in Detroit. I find that era fascinating!

  19. My experiences are less with actual ghosts and more with contacts or ‘messages’ that seem to come from an unknown source. I once stayed in the home of a friend whose mother had such an experience during WWII. One son was overseas in the air force, but her other one was younger and tucked in bed before she and her husband went out to a party for the evening. They were driving along to the party, and had almost arrived around 8 pm when she had a sudden feeling of terrible fear. She started crying and could not shake the feeling. She became so hysterical, begging her husband to turn around and go back home to the one son she could help, that he did. They skipped the party and arrived home to find their younger son sound asleep in his bed. She felt foolish – until the next morning when the telegram arrived from the War Office, informing them that their older son had been shot down and killed the previous night. When the details were told to them, it turned out that he had died sat 8 pm that night, at the exact time that she had felt the terror that had turned them around.

  20. I always enjoy these Holiday themed mysteries. I don’t have any personal ghost stories but there are a few in my family, much too long to go into in a comment section!

  21. No ghost stories here (yet) but I always love a (friendly) ghost story for reading. Actually, my preferred subgenre of reading is Paranormal Cozy Mystery! Would love to read more of your books, Barbara, and when ever funds come my way, I intend to purchase all the Maine Clambake Mystery series!

  22. Sorry, no ghost stories. Wish I did. I wouldn’t mind have a ghostly friend. Anybody else old enough to remember the TV show The Ghost & Mrs. Muir?
    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve recently found that the novella length to be just about perfect & hope to see more cozies of that length..
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  23. Hi! I don’t have a ghost story but I also have fond memories of watching the Ghost and Mrs. Muir. One of my favorite movies.

  24. Hello-hi!!! Congrats and excitement on your latest Maine Clambake novella, “Hallowed Out.” in the new Haunted House Murder!!!!! I love ghost stories..real or made up!!! nani_geplcs(at)yahoo(dot)com

  25. I have no ghost stories for you. I never remember stories. But I love to read them and would love a copy of Haunted House Murder.

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