Click to see the Spooky Legends Master List with links to all the previous posts and giveaways
Today’s Spooky Legends guest is Amanda Stevens, author of the Graveyard Queen paranormal series from Mira. The story begins with THE RESTORER (already available), and continues with THE KINGDOM (available on March 20, 2012). Our story is written in the voice of Ree Hutchins, and features The Jefferson Davis Hospital urban legend. Want to win your own copy? Check out the giveaway details below.
The Legend of Jefferson Davis Hospital
My name is Ree Hutchins and I’m a graduate student in the field of developmental psychology. Ever since I was a child, the dark history of my profession has fascinated me and I find myself drawn to the shadowy hallways and dank basements of long-deserted asylums.
Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston, Texas, is just such a place. An abandoned psychiatric facility, it was once considered one of the most haunted places in America.
The facility was built over an old city cemetery where thousands of Civil War veterans, former slaves and yellow fever victims were buried. That alone was sufficiently creepy to send a shiver up my spine, never mind the boarded up windows, the ominous smokestack rising over the rooftop and the records of deceased patients marked for the crematorium.
In the months leading up to a renovation, I traveled to Houston to tour Jefferson Davis for one last time. As always, the thing that struck me first was the absolute stillness of the place. Even though the building had been abandoned for decades and basically left wide open, there were no animals on the premises. Not a single bird, rodent or stray cat. A neighborhood dog chased my car right up to the property line and then abruptly turned back.
Inside, the place was strewn with harrowing reminders of the hospital’s troubled past—rib spreaders, reels of X-rays and film, padded rooms, gurneys and a lone wheelchair, circa 1940.
In the hospital’s original incarnation, the pharmacy and clinic were located on the ground floor. The second floor housed the men’s ward, the laboratory and housekeeper’s quarters.
The third floor—the women’s unit, obstetrics and the psychiatric ward, including a caged area for the dangerously psychotic.
As I slowly walked up the stairs to the third story, the sickly sweet scent of anthesia filled my nostrils and more than once, I heard the squeak of a phantom gurney and the swish of a startched uniform.
The hair at my nape lifted and I could feel a draft down my spine even though it was warm outside. The chill followed me down a long hallway and I gave myself a pep talk as I approached the caged area. Opening the gate, I took a tentative step inside.
As the door clanged shut behind me, I heard a sound that might have been a whisper, and suddenly I had a very clear vision of being in that room. An image formed in my mind…a young woman strapped to a gurney with electrodes attached to a metal apparatus fastened around her head. A long needle was inserted beneath one of her eyelids. And then her screams became incessant.
I awoke to sunshine streaming in through the bars at the windows. Down the hall, I could hear the squeak of a gurney, the murmur of voices. A man approached the cage and inserted a key into the lock. He wore a white lab coat and his smile made me shudder.
“Hello, Ree. The nurses said you had a restless night. Have the nightmares returned?”
Silently, I pulled my knees to my chest and turned my head toward the sunshine.
Amanda Stevens was born and raised in the foothills of the Ozarks, an area known for its lakes and mountains, arts and crafts, and—more important to Amanda’s journey—folklore and superstition. She learned from an early age to fear black cats, ladders, and broken mirrors. A risk-taker, she now resides with all three. Amanda has always been drawn to the dark side. Ghost stories remain her passion and she plans a book in the not-too-distant future about Ozark witchcraft. In preparation, she’s started an egg tree.
After high school, Amanda moved to Memphis where she learned two things: 1) despite growing up in a town of just under 800 people, she was a big city girl at heart, and 2) being a tax examiner for the IRS was akin to languishing in a coma. Thankfully, the job was seasonal and finding herself with a traveling husband and a lot of alone time, she became an even more voracious reader—devouring as much science fiction, fantasy, and horror as she could lay hands on while nurturing a burgeoning affinity for romantic suspense.
The eighties brought a move to Texas, enrollment at the University of Houston as an English major, big hair, and the publication of her first novel, a Silhouette romantic suspense titledKilling Moon (inspired by the haunting Echo and the Bunnymen tune). The second book,The Dreaming (™Kate Bush), sold a short while later, and then with the birth of her twins came a four-year hiatus from writing.
After a decade at Silhouette writing for the Intimate Moments, Desire, and Shadows lines, Amanda moved to Harlequin Intrigue where she spent another (very exciting) ten years before the publication of her mainstream psychological thriller, The Dollmaker by MIRA Books. Two more thrillers followed and then another break to figure out, after more than twenty years and fifty books, what the heck she really wanted to write. A Google search for unusual occupations inspired the concept for a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts and voila! A hybrid paranormal/mystery/romance evolved. The Restorer, the first book in The Graveyard Queen series, will hit shelves in May, 2011.
Meanwhile, simmering on the backburner—a paranormal mystery series about a funeral videographer who reanimates corpses, a young adult series that mixes teen angst with anarchy and soul jumping, along with an odd assortment of short stories, online serials, and blog ramblings.
Amanda is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and the Depeche Mode Fan Club. She is a two-time Rita finalist and the recipient of career achievement awards in Series Romantic Suspense and Series Romantic Mystery from Romantic Times Magazine, as well as a citation presented by her peers in recognition of having traveled the farthest to her class reunion. She remains a voracious reader, an Internet junkie, and a bedazzler extraordinaire.
Want to read more from Amanda Stevens?
This giveaway is provided by Amanda Stevens
One winner will receive a copy of The Restorer (The Graveyard Queen) by Amanda Stevens
Available on April 19, 2011 from Harlequin/Mira
About the Book:
My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer—and to his other victims—lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
**Don’t forget to visit All Things Urban Fantasy today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Shona Husk and a chance to win a copy of THE GOBLIN KING**
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.