The next contestant in what has become the “Haunt Jaunts Talking with…” series is Jessica Penot from Ghost Stories and Haunted Places. I know a lot of you already follow her fantastic blog. I’m enthralled with it because it’s all about the topic I love most: Haunt Jaunts!
Jessica’s answers reveal the story behind her blog’s story…and then some. (She’s got some neat things happening in addition to her blog that I was really excited to find out about.)
I hope you’ll enjoy Jessica’s answers as much as I did, and find some new things to appreciate about this talented blogger.
Why Ghost Stories and Haunted Places? What is it that drew you to the supernatural/paranormal? And what made you want to blog about it?
I’ve always had a secret love for the haunted places in my life. There’s an old house that has been in my family for over 150 years that I loved. It was completely haunted and I used to wander the house talking to the ghosts. I did my internship at a place called Searcy in Southern Alabama. It was beautiful and had a long and tragic history. It was a mental institution that had once been a fort and a prison used to hold Geronimo on the trail of tears. I fell in love with Searcy. I wrote a fiction novel set there that will be coming out in July 2010. I began ghost stories and haunted places to find other places like this. I wanted to find more locations I could fall in love with and get lost in their history.
Oh! A fiction novel. Wonderful! I’ll look forward to that, but I think I also read something about you’re working on another kind of book –one that’s possibly about haunted places? (I hope! I may be assuming, and we all know how dangerous that can be, but that’s the gist I got. Very excited if it’s true!)
I’ve actually been very lucky with my blog. I still can’t believe how lucky I’ve been. Shortly after I started writing ghost stories and haunted places I was contacted by an editor from History Press who asked me to write a book for him. I’m working on Haunted North Alabama as part of their Haunted America series. It’s been a lot of fun!
Wow. That’s like a Julie & Julia story come true. How exciting! So what’s the best Haunt Jaunt you’ve ever taken? (Whether it’s related to the book or not.)
The best haunt jaunt I’ve ever taken was to Selma, Alabama. My family and I got to stay alone in The Saint James Hotel where Jesse James used to live with his mistress. The hotel was stunning, very haunted, historically accurate, and we were all alone there! We got to wander the hotel in utter silence and the night desk clerk showed us ghost pictures and let us go into every room in the hotel. He was thrilled to be our guide and to tell us all the ghost stories and the history of this wonderful hotel.
I remember reading about your Haunt Jaunt to the Saint James Hotel –and thinking you have some good Haunt Jaunting luck to check-in at a time when you could have a whole haunted hotel to yourself! Okay, so that’s your fave. What’s your dream Haunt Jaunt?
I like castles and I love medieval history. I would love to go to The Tower of London. The amount of history and tragedy there is so deep and so thick you could cut it with a knife. I would also like to go to Vlad the Impaler’s castle in Transylvania and Monte Sainte Michelle in France.
Cool, cool. I’d like to make it across the pond to any of those period! On the topic of traveling…what’s something you absolutely DO NOT travel without?
My camera. I’m terrified I’ll miss a picture and my words won’t do the situation justice. A picture truly does speak a thousand words.
I hear you, but taking pictures to capture a story is also an art form. One I’ve noticed seems to come as naturally to you as painting a story with words! And speaking of your words, what are your five favorite blog posts? (That you wrote.)
This was the hardest question you gave me.
- The first I loved because I love Mayan history and mythology is the story I wrote on Chichen Itza.
- The second was the story of my mother’s childhood. My grandmother used to force her and her little sister to talk to her ghost lover using an Ouija board every night. It’s creepy and sad and I feel really bad for my mother.
- The next one I wrote about the history of Searcy. I love Searcy and I love its history and it was wonderful to be able to write about it!
- I loved my story of the disgusting history of ectoplasm because it shows the bad side of those involved with the paranormal and it’s an interesting historical story.
- My final favorite post was the one I wrote about the castle we rented in France. This was another love story for me. I fell in love with this castle and by the time we left I was trying to con my husband into buying it and moving to France.
I distinctly remember the excitement that flooded my heart when one of your posts about your Haunt Jaunt through France popped up in my Google Alerts one day. I held my breath as I clicked through and found that, YES!, it really was about a haunted place in France. That was all it took. I was instantly smitten and immediately popped your blog into my RSS. And now here we are…
Jessica, thank you so very much for taking the time to talk Haunt Jaunts with me like this. I greatly appreciate it.