I am now a member of a performance reading group here in town. The group originated in NYC and specializes in ghost stories, classic and new.
In a nutshell, there is a mystery author who started this group when he lived in NYC. He created a ghost host named Pugsley who presides at the events. The events are called Ghost Stories LIVE! and then whatever edition it is.
My first involvement in the group was this past October for Ghost Stories LIVE! Halloween. I was invited because I am a local author who has written three volumes of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales and happened to run into the human host of the event during another author's book discussion/signing event. He invited me to read at Ghost Stories LIVE! and I agreed. Two young men who also have written ghost stories made up the rest of the performance readers group.
The event drew a fairly good sized crowd for it's premiere occurrence here in Westfield. Pugsley the ghost greeted everyone and the event kicked off with a brief introduction and then my reading my The Hour of Phantoms, a piece about a woman who rises from her bed on All Soul's Night to allow herself to be possessed by ghosts from the distant pass who dance in the moonlit cemetery. It's a ritual of hers she performs annually. Arthur Pero and Justin Baillargeon performed their pieces, one telling f an actual ghostly encounter he had and the other reading a story he'd written while in costume, a black robed and hooded figure with glowing red eyes. Then Russell Atwood performed a classic piece about a radio broadcaster on site with a professor of parapsychology who is investigating a house where people have been haunted and driven to drown themselves in the river behind it. As the professor explores the house the broadcaster remains in a downstairs room reporting live-and gradually growing more nervous (bats and mice) and frightened (a thump upstairs, a growing stain on the ceiling, an inability to get a response from the professor), and then driven mad himself. It was a brilliant performance.
The final segment of the night is an open mic discussion about ghosts. My brother happened to be in the audience and got up to talk about the haunted apartment he lived in for about ten years.The ghost actually materialized and walked right through him!
The night was fantastic, and we will be doing another event on December 17th at the same location, Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA from 7-9PM, reading classic stories by Dickens and O. Henry and maybe a new story or two. Pugsley will be presiding, of course!
The telling of ghost stories at holiday time was popular in Victorian times when families would gather to read stories by Charles Dickens, O. Henry, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allen Poe and others. Many writers of that era had at least one or two, often more, ghost stories among their writings.
This event pays tribute to the tradition of the holiday ghost story.
I think the Halloween Ghost Stories LIVE! is on YouTube...I know it was recorded on video.
Meanwhile, we'll be planning the next Ghost Stories LIVE! event if this one is as successful as October's was!