I had the good fortune this past Tuesday to have been asked by one of my First-Year Writing students at Lehigh University to tell ghost-stories at an event at a student dormitory. This young lady is a Gryphon, or Resident Advisor, and she organized an evening of food and scary stories for her charges. I usually tell ghost stories in my classes around Halloween, so I welcomed the opportunity.
I arrived at the appointed time, and we began at 6 P.M. The event was held in a common’s area, and approximately 50-60 students attended. I also have to say that my student, the Gryphon, did an excellent job with the organization of the occasion.
In addition to teaching and writing, I also love story-telling and have begun recently to consider building this highly enjoyable activity into a small business. That is still to be determined, but this evening went very well.
I began with a reading of the first chapter of my novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Socity Book I. It is the horror novel, which I have mentioned before in my posts. I was curious to see how a group of college aged young people would respond to it, because the protagonists are in their late sixties, around their grandparents’ ages. They all seemed to enjoy it and gave positive feedback.
I then moved on to telling some of the ghost stories I have collected both from my family and from my personal experience. Unlike what many would expect of such tales, these were, on the whole, about friendly ghosts. The one that was the most effective was about a visitation from my deceased father both to my nephew, with whom he was very close and to me, while riding as a passenger in a car. Both happened within about 5-10 minutes of each other. The students looked engaged.
I ended with a ghost story I had written to take place immediately next to their dormitory. I had about two hours between my last class and this event, so sitting outside of Drown Hall (yes, that is the name of the English Department Building at Lehigh University), I wrote “The Mountain Man and the Hill” about a man in the 1700s before the University existed who vanished just outside their dorm. Now, I did make a mistake after reading this story to them. I admitted I had written it instead of maintaining the tale was true. Some of the students had believed it completely. I should have maintained a level of ambiguity about it.
I had a wonderful time, and I am grateful to my student and all those in attendance for the opportunity to tell ghost stories!
I anticipate being able to use these stories in the future to hold such events again.