I grew up in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. My family lived in an old house on an even older property, and every October we haunted the place with homemade decorations, spooky stories, and jump-scares. By a happy coincidence, I was born into my ghost-loving family on Halloween. My childhood consisted of birthday parties where my friends and I were the victims of my family’s backyard haunted trails, and my young adulthood consisted of me taking my turn behind the masks to scare the younger generation. But when we weren’t haunting our home, someone or something else was.
Several sheds dotted the acre behind our house. Strange things happened in more than one of these old buildings over the years, but most of the spooky encounters were concentrated at the one on the very back of our lot. We referred to this structure as “the ghost shed” for good reason. Spooky noises, unexplained shadowy shapes, items going missing and turning up later in unlikely places… these were the types of occurrences you could expect around the ghost shed in October, sometimes even in late September.
When I was a kid, my friends and I would wait until the sun went down and then psych ourselves up to sneak out in the darkness and throw rocks at the ghost shed to try to make the ghost come out. I feel bad about this pastime now. Throwing rocks at anyone, living or dead, isn’t nice. I wouldn’t have blamed our ghost if it had swooped out of the shed and stolen our obnoxious little souls away. But the deceased must have the patience of saints because he never did that. Mostly he ignored us, choosing to make himself known on his terms and at his convenience rather than ours. Once in awhile, he let out a creak or sent a black shadow rising out of the ground or tossed a pebble or two back at us. Any one of those things sent us screaming back to the safety of the house.
Recently I’ve been thinking about our ghost again. One reason he’s been on my mind lately is because I was hired to write a fourth book in Arcadia’s Spooky America series: The Ghostly Tales of Dallas. I loved working on this project. Although I had my own ghost to play with when I was a kid, I didn’t know about most of the other spirits haunting the towns nearby. I enjoyed learning about the graveyard ghosts, haunted hotels, and other spooky sites surrounding Dallas.
For instance, did you know that Old City Park is haunted? I certainly didn’t when I went on field trips there in elementary school. And more than one nighttime driver has been lured in by the Lady of White Rock Lake. And McKinney has more ghosts than you can shake a stick at. (But I don’t recommend shaking sticks at ghosts.)
Another reason why I’ve been thinking about restless spirits is because I moved back to my hometown of Richardson last summer, and I’m renting a house that backs up to my parents’ property where I grew up. Which means, I currently live right behind the ghost shed. As I sit on my back porch, sipping my coffee and reading my book, I can’t help but wonder… is the ghost still there? Does he remember me throwing rocks at him? I hope not.
I no longer throw rocks at ghosts, but I’m still just as curious about them. I’d love to share what I’ve learned about the spirits that haunt my hometown. The Ghostly Tales of Dallas comes out on May 1st. You can purchase it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Arcadia’s website, but if you’d like a signed, personalized copy, you can buy one directly from me. Just contact me. You can pay via PayPal or Venmo or mail me a check, and I’ll send the book(s) directly to you. If you’re a teacher or librarian in the Dallas area and would like me to come do a writing workshop or author reading for your students, let me know! I have a variety of presentations available for 5th-8th grades and am happy to work within your school’s budget.
Spring may seem like an odd time for the release of a book of ghost stories, but I think it’s perfect. If you pick up The Ghostly Tales of Dallas in May, you’ll have plenty of time to read it and get to know the area’s ghosts before you go sightseeing this fall. After all, you don’t want to wander into the Dallas Arboretum or Adolphus Hotel during October without knowing what might be waiting for you there… right?