A Good Read for Halloween Night

From What’s Up Yukon, October 26, 2016, reprinted with permissionshelter-sw-cover:

Yukoner Marcelle Dubé´s newest book is a ghost story

by Elke Reinauer

Do ghosts exist? For some they do.

The main character in Marcelle Dubé´s novel, Shelter, moves into a haunted house in a small town in Ontario.

Dubé started the story as a gothic novel and in the end it became a ghost story.

Marcelle Dubé is well known in the Yukon and she usually publishes one or two books a year. One could think that she is a writer who works fast, but not this time. Lately she had to suffer what all writers have to go through from time to time: writer`s block. A writing workshop helped her to get out of it.

“I could not write a word – for months. I thought that was it for me. But something that happened in the workshop kept coming back to me — a ghost experience, of a sort,” she says.

In her blog Dubé tells about her ghost experience. During the workshop, she stayed at an old hotel, which was haunted. Two people she knew well, who had also slept there, told her they had seen ghosts there. Friendly ghosts, who would show up, but were harmless, they said.

Dubé´s first reaction was to laugh, she tells in her blog article. She sees herself as a rational woman, even though as a kid she had returning dreams of ghost and monsters. She outgrew them and is using her imagination about them in her writing.

Dubé didn`t see a ghost in this hotel room, but she was scared at night, she writes. Back home she would wake up at night, wondering if there was somebody or something in the darkness.

“The experience bothered me, as I am not subject to those kinds of fears, so finally I decided to write about it, as an exorcism. “And once I started, I raced through to the end. It was most satisfying,” she says about the writing process of Shelter.

Shelter is a story about Ash, a woman who’s fleeing domestic violence and abuse. She is already exhausted and scared, and now she has to deal with a ghost.

Reading the first chapters, one can feel pity for Ash, who is wounded by her past. Dubé writes very well and empathically, but she switches perspective quite often. The reader jumps from Ash`s perspective into the head of her realtor Maddie, who is showing Ash the haunted house. It can be tiring for readers to switch perspectives after one page. Some readers might wish to stay longer in Ash`s head and get to know her better. But as the story unfolds, Dubé catches her readers with suspense.

Why did Dubé decide to write about domestic violence? It is not an easy topic.

“I have no idea how Ash came to me, or why she was running from an abusive situation. It’s not anything I have ever experienced, and I had to rely on experts to (hopefully) get the details right,” the author answers.

The whole story came to her as the cure for writer`s block. Also during the writing process she lost her fear about ghosts: “It worked. I’ve just returned from the haunted hotel I was at a year and a half ago, and I am happy to report that I slept very well.”

Do ghosts exist? They do in Dubé`s novel Shelter, a good read for spooky Halloween night.

 

Ghosts and the rational woman

 

boldtcastle_rotundaroomWhen I was little, I had a recurring dream. I was inside a huge, sunlit room that was crowded with furniture. As I threaded my way across the room, long, scaly green arms with clawed hands reached out from under the furniture to grab at me. I eventually outgrew the dreams. And the monster under the bed, and the one in my closet. Not to mention the one in the basement.

I am now a Rational Woman. Despite this, I am willing to admit that not everything in life can be explained rationally. But since childhood, I haven’t encountered any situations that couldn’t be.

Then last spring I stayed at a hotel where I’ve stayed many times before: a funky older hotel with tons of character and charm.

And ghosts, apparently.

In all the times I had stayed there, I’d seen no evidence of ghosts or felt anything “weird.” The possibility of ghosts never even occurred to me. This last spring, however, another guest casually mentioned that the hotel was haunted. I had a good laugh (at the person’s expense, I might add) and carried on. Then that evening, I repeated the story to someone who is familiar with the hotel and for whom I have a lot of respect.

She told me it was true. She told me that she seen the ghosts, too. And she had been with someone else at the time, someone whom I also respect. They’d both seen the ghosts.

I must have gone a little pale because she assured me that the ghosts were absolutely harmless, even when they appeared at the foot of your bed.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Or the whole time I was there.

There I was, a grown woman, intelligent, mature, experienced—freaked out at the thought of ghosts in my room. And I never even saw one! I didn’t need to. I actually wanted to change hotels, but I wasn’t about to admit to anyone why, so I stayed. Even after I got home, I still felt creeped out by the whole situation, waking up in the middle of the night and wondering if there was someone—or something—in my room…

The only reason I admit to this now is because I finally got over the irrational fear. I decided to face it in the only way I, as a writer, know how. I wrote a ghost story.

The novel’s almost finished. It started out as modern gothic, but now, I’m not too sure what it is. It doesn’t matter. Somewhere along the way, after scaring myself silly with some of the scenes, I got over my irrational fear.

I’m going back to the hotel in the fall. I am myself again, a modern woman with a (mostly) logical mind and an appreciation for the rational.

And if I sometimes feel someone watching me when no one’s around…? Well, that can be our little secret…

Originally published at Not Your Usual Suspects on March 23, 2016.