I’m the girl who sprints toward the haunted house instead of running away.
That old adage “Write what you know” can be downright dangerous when you write dark fiction.
Venturing inside Hoia Baciu in Romania, often referred to as the world’s most haunted forest, resulted in a blinding migraine and powerful stomach cramps. (The forest tends to have that effect on people, even though extensive scientific testing has found no discernible cause.)
I risked life and limb exploring Poveglia, a deserted island off the coast of Venice that’s infamous for its haunted asylum and its gory history. When retelling the stories of the plague victims buried in mass graves and of the homicidal doctor who performed gruesome experiments on his patients, people fail to mention the gigantic holes in the floors, the crumbling ceilings, and the near total darkness.
From ancient tombs filled with mummies to churches decorated with the bones of long-dead monks, I’ve seen it all. Haunted castles, mysteriously abandoned villages, old slaver ships that were so cramped I had to bend at the waist in order to walk through.
Nothing comes between me and a good story, not even ghosts.
I caught the travel bug early on, and it was easy to see how exploring the world could enhance my stories. The devil is in the details, and it’s the tiny bits of truth that make a setting authentic. I can tell you what a Balinese cremation ceremony smells like. Or what happens when you’re creeping through an abandoned asylum and something leaps out at you.
If I hadn’t visited these places for myself, I might never have discovered the lingering superstitions of rural Romanians, or learned that farmers there keep peacocks to scare off evil beings. I wouldn’t understand the terror that the barking of dogs at night inspires.
Exploring ghostly places was a natural progression born of my innate curiosity, and it wasn’t long before these eerie experiences began haunting my writing. The entire plot of City of Ghosts came from visiting a Chinese ghost city. As I made my way through the decaying village, with its statues of the damned looming over me and rusting cable cars bearing testament to the people who had once lived there, I thought about how creepy it must be at night, after all the tourists had gone home.
What if someone got trapped here? What if they wanted to get trapped here?
As for Hoia Baciu, the time I spent exploring the haunted forest was physically excruciating. But I survived, and my experiences served as the inspiration for Forest of Ghosts, the fourth book in the GhostWriters series.
I’d say it was worth it.
Jackson Stone is sick of ghosts. With his love life in shambles, he heads to Romania for a horror writers’ retreat, hoping it will be a break from the supernatural and breathing space from his relationship with medium Kate Carlsson.
But as his fellow writers begin disappearing or losing their minds, he realizes he needs Kate’s help.
When Jackson loses his own memory, Kate’s love is the only thing that can bring him back. But she’s falling for the man responsible for the evil in Romania. A man who claims to be her soul mate. Will this master of wraiths forever break Kate’s bond with Jackson?
About The Author
J.H. Moncrieff writes psychological and supernatural suspense novels that let her readers safely explore the dark corners of the world. City of Ghosts, the first book in her GhostWriters series, won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for Best Horror/Suspense.
The latest book in the series, Forest of Ghosts, was inspired by her experiences in Romania, including the world’s most haunted forest.
To get free ebooks and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.