A.F. Stewart joins us today to discuss ghost stories, a Halloween tradition that we both love. She even includes a couple of stories from her native Nova Scotia.
To me the ghost story is the one horror tradition for Halloween that is essential. From tales around the campfire to classic icons from literature—such as the Headless Horseman or the Canterville Ghost—spooks haunt Halloween to perfection.
So what makes the eerie ghost tale so appealing to me?
Ghost stories are, in essence, born from tragedy, the need to remember those lost. They are the emotional resonance of those haunting memories on human consciousness and the ultimate in psychological horror.
Nova Scotia, where I live, has a long tradition of ghost stories. Most every town has a tale, from Alexander Keith, a brewmaster that still haunts his original brewery, to the spectral lady of Peggy’s Cove, or the ghostly tall ship that sails the Northumberland Strait from beyond the grave. You cannot grow up in Nova Scotia without hearing a ghost story or two, or three. They are bound up in our seafaring tradition, our folklore, and in the very fabric of our culture and history. They are real life misfortune woven into tradition, belief, and heritage.
So I thought I’d share two of my favourite local tales.
The Ghost Ship of Mahone Bay
Privateers are another bit of Nova Scotia history as more than a few scoundrels and scallywags plied their legal pirate trade in and around our seas. One such ship, was the Young Teazer, out of Maine, who made the mistake of sailing north in 1813 to tangle with the British. Unfortunately, outside Mahone Bay they met their match and were on the losing end of a skirmish with a British ship and their cannons. To avoid capture, the crew set the Young Teazer on fire, but compounded their problems when their gunpowder exploded. The ship went down in a flaming blaze and sunk beneath the waves.
Yet, you can’t seem to keep a privateer down, as several sightings of a ghostly ship burning in the Mahone Bay waters have occurred. Some have claimed to have even heard the screams of the crew. Visions of a flaming ship shimmer on the horizon and then vanish. It seems the Young Teazer may still be trying to escape the British and go home…
The Face in St. Paul’s Window
On December 5, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbour, one a relief ship and one, a munitions ship stockpiled with explosives. The resulting explosion devastated the city of Halifax and killed over fifteen hundred people. It also left a legacy of ghosts. The window of St. Paul’s Anglican Church is one. As the story goes, an organist was caught in the blast, decapitated, and his head smashed through a church window. And the silhouette of his head is said to remain etched in the glass to this day, despite the window glass being replaced at least three times. It appears a piece of the poor man’s soul still lingers in the place where he died…
If you’d like to know more about Nova Scotia ghost tales from a master storyteller, check out these books:
The Lunenburg Werewolf and Other Stories of the Supernatural by Steve Vernon
Where the Ghosts Are by Steve Vernon
And if you like a few more classic ghostly gems in books and movies this Halloween season, check out these recommendations.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Shining by Stephen King
The Sixth Sense
Stir of Echoes
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A.F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She favours the dark and deadly when writing – her genres of choice being dark fantasy and fiction – but she has been known to venture into the light on occasion. As an indie author, she’s published the Saga of the Outer Islands trilogy, as well as various novellas and story collections, with a few side trips into poetry.
Saga of the Outer Islands series
Saga of the Outer Islands 1: Ghosts of the Sea Moon
In the Outer Islands, gods and magic rule the ocean.
Under the command of Captain Rafe Morrow, the crew of the Celestial Jewel ferry souls to the After World and defend the seas from monsters. Rafe has dedicated his life to protecting the lost, but the tides have shifted and times have changed.
His sister, the Goddess of the Moon, is on a rampage and her creatures are terrorizing the islands. The survival of the living and dead hinge on the courage and cunning of a beleaguered captain and his motley crew of men and ghosts.
What he doesn’t know is that her threat is part of a larger game. That an ancient, black-winged malevolence is using them all as pawns…
Come set sail with ghosts, gods, and sea monsters.
Saga of the Outer Islands 2: Souls of the Dark Sea
From the depths, darkness is rising…
Something ancient and powerful stirs beneath the sea of the Outer Islands. A creature strong enough to challenge Captain Rafe Morrow, Gods of Souls, for control of the dead and the survival of the living.
Still reeling from the aftermath of his battle with the Goddess of the Moon, Rafe and the crew of the Celestial Jewel finds a mysterious shipwreck and strange tales of bones. Tasked by a new ally to find answers, Rafe stumbles on long-buried secrets shrouded in the shadows of the Nightmare Crow.
Now armies of the dead ascend from the ocean. And their master is not far behind.
Set sail on a new adventure with ghosts, gods, and sea monsters!
Saga of the Outer Islands 3: Renegades of the Lost Sea
A god, his mother, and a Nightmare Crow.
Old enemies surface once again and undead pirates roam the seas. The man he killed, Black Axe Morgan, has returned for revenge on Captain Rafe Morrow, while from the shadows the Nightmare Crow reveals his true self. The two form an alliance and bring mayhem to the seas, all to draw out Captain Morrow and his crew.
Yet, this time, Rafe doesn’t face his enemies alone. Death walks the Outer Islands to save her son and the Sovereign of the Gods leads Captain Morrow past all the lies to the truth. The fate of Chaos and Harmony itself hangs in the balance of this fight.
Will centuries of schemes and plans reforge the bond of the realms, or will the Seven Kingdoms and the Outer Islands fall?
Can the God of Souls find his destiny before it is too late?
The endgame of gods begins…
Killers & Demons
Sometimes the villains win…
This time the heroes don’t rise, there are no knights in shining armour, and good doesn’t triumph. It is time for the villains’ story.
Craving a little blood or perhaps some horrific death? Slake your gruesome thirst for vicarious thrills with five chilling stories that go inside the twisted lives of serial killer and beyond to the dark, disturbing company of demons.
Craving a little blood or perhaps some horrific death? Slake your gruesome thirst for vicarious thrills with five chilling stories that go inside the twisted lives of serial killers and beyond to the dark, disturbing company of demons. Turn the pages and delve into the dark and murky world of evil.
A woman wakes up afraid, alone, and in complete darkness.
A collector of hearts stalks Valentine’s Day.
One man on the edge of being London’s most famous serial killer.
Hell has a bounty hunter.
Demon vs. knight with one soul as the prize.
Killers & Demons, where the macabre murderers don’t get caught and evil triumphs. Come watch the blood drip slowly, sweetly from their fingers.
Killer & Demons II: They Return
Evil is back, with a greater appetite for death.
They lurk forever in the shadows, smile at you in the morning, and haunt your dreams at night. You can’t hide, you can’t run, and there’s no escape. You can only scream when they come for you.
Killers & Demons II: They Return is a collection of thirteen tales, blending short stories and flash fiction, tales where the blood lingers on your tongue or spurts quickly from the swift cut.
The Villainous Roster:
Wade, every parent’s nightmare.
Hannah and Mr. Greeley. Who is the victim and who is the villain?
Simon and Zoe, a married couple who are dying to be single again.
Norman and his “cookie” of a wife, Mabel.
Millicent and Jane, a delightful duo you shouldn’t invite to your Regency tea party.
Amanda, who literally has a skeleton in her closet.
Balthazar, the demon bounty hunter on the hunt once more.
Sarah, a young woman going through some changes and craving new tastes.
Emmeline, hanged as a witch, now back from the dead for revenge.
Gabrielle, a woman haunted by shadows.
The Dollmaker, she showers death, and an umbrella won’t help.
Nightmare Demons bent on driving a town insane.
And then there’s Alice, a little girl locked in the basement by her Daddy…
Together they form a spine-chilling cadre of predators. Who will survive and who will fall?