What are cemeteries like in the USA where you live?
Most headstones here are rectangular, made of marble or granite. In some cemeteries, the headstones sit above ground, in others, they lie flush with the ground.
Do you know where your ancestors are buried? Do you visit their graves?
Although I know where my ancestors are buried, I do not visit their graves as often as I should, and I plan to change that.
I have an aunt who passed away as an infant and, to save expenses, was buried in the same plot as a great aunt of mine. Now that our family have the money to bury her separately, we cannot, because other family members do not want to disturb our great aunt’s final rest.
There is no headstone for the infant, no inscription, nothing. Unless word gets passed down through oral tradition to the next generation, nobody will know she is there.
How would you like to be buried?
The idea of being buried in a casket six feet under the ground for all eternity terrifies me, so I want to be cremated. I would like my ashes to be sprinkled in the oceans and mountain tops.
Have you ever been to a haunted place? What was it like?
Our town has a famous haunted graveyard: Greenwood Cemetery. People claim that ghosts still hang from trees there.
One Halloween, we took a tour of the cemetery in the middle of the night to get a glimpse of those ghosts. Did I see any? No. However, there was a creepy feeling about the place, and my senses were alert, screaming at me all the time not to look over my shoulder.
I did look over my shoulder. I didn’t see anything, but the creepy feeling never left.
What scared you when you were a child?
Dolls, especially porcelain dolls. I stayed the night at a friend’s house one night and she had a room full of them.
Four or five of us were sleeping in that room, surrounded by creepy porcelain dolls wherever we looked. We all woke up in the middle of the night at the same time… and saw that the dolls had moved! Not just one or two of them, but every single doll in the room.
They were motionless now – but they had changed their positions and locations. Their lifeless eyes and pale faces stood motionless watching us with their blood-stain coloured lips.
Had one of the kids secretly moved the dolls while the others were asleep? Naturally, they all denied it, and I believe them. How could a child move all the dolls in the entire room around, acting in full darkness, without waking at least one of us? I have no rational explanation.
I still don’t own a porcelain doll and never bought one for my children.
As a reader, what kind of short stories you enjoy most?
I enjoy horror short stories. Any kind of horror really. I appreciate it all from gothic to gory.
What do you like about the Horror Genre?
Being scared. Hands down. I enjoy that.
Who are your favourite Horror authors? What do you like about them?
Stephen King. He is able to portray the darkness of humans in his work. He focuses his work on neighborhoods where we should feel safe. He keeps us enthralled in the writing, waiting until the danger strikes.
How do you go about research for the fiction you write?
As a paramedic, I have a pretty good idea of the limitation of the human body so I apply that when writing a gory scene. If I need to know anything else, for example, how an officer would react in a certain situation, I interview people who have experienced this.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a creepy horror novel about a dark curse on a witch, inspired by a dream I had.
Do you ever wander around cemeteries, read the inscriptions on strangers’ headstones, and wonder what their lives were like, how they died, what families they left behind?
When I was a child, my mum and I used to walk around and talk about the people we thought were buried there. We were always a little sad when we read the headstones that belonged to children.
Has a real-life cemetery, grave or headstone ever inspired you to write a story?
Whenever my mother and I visited the cemetery, I was intrigued by the widow’s chair. It is said to bear a curse: whoever sits in it will die exactly one year later. I’ve never put this curse to the test, but it has inspired me to write a story about someone who is brave enough. The story is not finished yet.
What scares you?
Spiders! They are the only thing that has the power to terrify me. When I see a spider, my heart speeds up and I lose the ability to function as a normal human. What if this eight-legged creature crawls on me its tiny legs tickling my skin and its fangs feasting on my flesh? After a bite from a brown recluse spider my skin will first redden, then turn bluish black with ulcers, then rot away… The thought paralyses me with panic.
What are your literary influences?
I have always been a huge fan of Stephen King and Dean Kootz. As I ventured into short stories, I came to admire Rayne Hall and how she uses the environment around her to create stories. I never knew that Gothic Horror was a subgenre of Horror until I took a writing class and was introduced to her work.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a writing contest entry. I’m a paramedic, and I wrote my story from the perspective of a paramedic, showing how the job makes us susceptible to so many deadly things. It didn’t win, but I learned so much that I could use to improve my next story.
Describe your writing voice.
My author’s voice is creepy, thrilling, suspenseful, scary, and a little bit magical.
For your story ‘1999’ in the book Among the Headstones: Creepy tales from the Graveyard, where did you get the inspiration?
I gained inspiration from a scary story I heard as a child. The story involved a painting of a cemetery. Every time someone walked past the painting, a deceased person began crawling out of the grave. The story ends with the zombie coming through the painting.
I wanted to create a story that brought to life the idea that maybe we aren’t as safe walking in a cemetery alone at night as we think we are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Krystal Garrett lives in Midwest USA with her husband and three daughters. Her love affair with horror began as a child when the good guy doll, Chucky, graced her TV screen. She loves all things horror. She is a paramedic by day and a writer by night.
ABOUT THE BOOK
This book, edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest – and creepiest – graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.
Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.
You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.
Now let’s open the gate – can you hear it creak on its hinges? – and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.
But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.
Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones
The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2022. (After that date, the price will go up.) A paperback is about to be published.