31 Ghost Stories by Jeff Provine
Happy Halloween! Since it is Halloween, this week’s Tuesday Treat is all about spooky stories in 31 Ghost Stories by Jeff Provine. This continues with the theme of interviews with horror authors this month.
Use 13 words to describe 31 Ghost Stories.
Thirty-one urban legends come to life in creepy tales told with chilling illustrations.
Now with more words, what is 31 Ghost Stories about?
The title says it all: thirty-one tales of the macabre, each of which pulls from a different urban legend. Some of them are very familiar, such as a stain reappearing on the wall over and over again, hinting that a body is hidden within. Many, like the haunted college dorm room, are based in historical cases, as in the case of Room 428 of Ohio University. Others are a little esoteric, such as the Nordic legend of the vardoger, a spirit-double who arrives at your destination before you do. Each story is illustrated in shadowy inks by Oklahoma City artist Ellis Goodson to give them that extra spook factor.
What got you interested in writing stories?
31 Ghost Stories began as a writing exercise in 2015. The goal was to do thirty-one pieces of flash fiction, each about a ghost, all through October to Halloween. The stories were so much fun that I went back through them to expand and polish them. Then I teamed with Ellis to illustrate them, and we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016 to do a print run. Now 31 Ghost Stories is available through Amazon in both print and ebook.
What inspired 31 Ghost Stories?
I grew up in a golden age of scariness for kids with piles of Goosebumps books and shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Eerie, Indiana on TV. My absolute favorite was reading the classic Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, written by Alvin Schwartz with illustrations by Stephen Gammell. Most everyone remembers those drawings, so mesmerizing, so terrifyingly beautiful. As I grew up, rereading and rereading those stories, Schwartz’s dedication to research and retelling tales that have been part of human culture for centuries sunk into me. When I realized how strongly that was coming through in my own writing, I wanted to do something to pass it along to the next generation, and thus the project for 31 Ghost Stories began.
What would you do if you were being targeted by a group of zombies?
My first step would be asking, “What kind of zombies are these?” Pulling from “Zombie Day,” one of the lectures in my World Mythology class, we have at least four kinds of zombies: the historical Voodoo zombie, the stumbling witless mob of Romero zombies, the talking zombies of Return of the Living Dead, and the infected modern zombies like those in Resident Evil. If the first, all I need is some salt to reverse the spell. If any of the others, find a defensible spot on some high ground and ensure I have plenty of ammo for headshots.
What would you do if mysterious blood stains starting appearing all over your place?
Ever since beginning to collect ghost stories, I’ve been adding to my list of “ghost repellents.” I’d start burning lots of sage and cedar incense, get a whole bunch of aloe plants, read from the Bible aloud, ring some bells if I had to… and probably get a lot of bleach to clean up those blood stains. Eventually, that house would go on the market, too, if I was sure it wasn’t going to follow me!
Where is a good place to hide bodies in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma has a lot of wide open spaces, so just about anywhere, really. To ensure that body stays disappeared, you can’t go wrong with the “feed ’em to pigs” idea proposed in Snatch and other films. I suppose one of OK’s pig farms or the wild herds in the southeast might be best.
Any warnings for people before they read 31 Ghost Stories?
The tales in 31 Ghost Stories run the gamut. Some of the stories are very creepy, one or two perhaps even a little gross, which are balanced with plenty of funny twists. One, the last one, always makes me cry with just how sweet it is.
Anything else you want to say or let people know?
Ghost stories have been a big part of my life ever since I began collecting them about central Oklahoma. It began with a charity ghost tour at the University of Oklahoma in 2009, and now I also lead tours of downtown Norman and OKC. I’ve collected four books of history and ghost stories about Oklahoma: Campus Ghosts of Norman, Haunted Norman, Haunted Guthrie, and Haunted Oklahoma City. It seems that everyone has a ghost story, something they have experienced or heard from friends or relatives with their own experiences. We don’t talk about them every day, but, once the ball gets rolling, people are eager to share.
In the mood for some short horror movies? Check out Quarter Minutes.