Guest Author : Mark Spencer
How often have we said, “I would never do that . . . or say that . . . or believe that,” and then we find ourselves doing, saying, believing?
My nonfiction book A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House evokes the history of the rundown 1906 Victorian mansion I bought in 2007, a history fraught with the poignant mystery of a previous occupant’s suicide. On Christmas night 1948, Ladell Allen, a daughter of the wealthy entrepreneur who built the house, excused herself from her mother’s annual Christmas party, went upstairs to her bedroom, and consumed mercury cyanide. No one could understand why. After all, she had friends, money, leisure time—and at least publicly, a cheerful disposition.
In the wake of Ladell’s suicide, reports of paranormal activity on the property became common. Ladell hovered about, sometimes a dark shadow figure, sometimes a woman in white, opening doors, closing doors, crying out in the night, her footsteps ringing clearly on the hardwood floors. Such were the stories.
When my wife and I moved to town and started expressing an interest in buying the Allen House, many long-time locals advised us not to—because it was haunted. I was flabbergasted that so many people seemed serious about something I thought absurd. Ghosts? Don’t be silly. I would never believe in ghosts.
But I did become a believer, and my journey toward belief is, in large part, the subject of my book, as is the intertwining of that journey with my solving of the mystery behind Ladell’s suicide, the pivotal event occurring one Saturday morning when I awoke feeling compelled to go to the attic. At first, I resisted the compulsion, but then following it, I found myself kneeling before a small opening in the attic floor, from which I retrieved approximately 90 love letters written in 1948.
For three decades I had been writing and publishing fiction. The day I discovered those letters I knew that I would be writing my first nonfiction book, that I had no choice. Ironically, my fiction had always been grounded in everyday “reality” with no hint of the paranormal, but now here I am with a nonfiction book full of ghosts and in which I describe my awe at having this new dimension opened up to me in such an intimate way by a spirit bent on finally having her story told.
Still, my aim in A Haunted Love Story is not necessarily to persuade anyone that ghosts float, tread, or hover among us. I am convinced they do, but I know that many or most people are unlikely to believe in ghosts until they experience them—see them, hear them, feel them—for themselves. A Haunted Love Story is not just a real-life ghost story but also a history of the Allen family, the story of a mystery that engaged the imagination of a town for six decades, a portrait of my own family and our uncanny experiences in a new home, and ultimately the story of a tragic love affair that reflects the poignant divide separating private lives from public facades and the demands of society in conflict with personal desire.
Browse the book ” A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House” at
Author bio :
In addition to A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House, Mark Spencer is the author of the novels The Masked Demon, The Weary Motel, Love and Reruns in Adams County, two collections of short stories, and a history book. Over 100 of his novellas, short stories, and articles have appeared in a wide variety of national and international magazines. His work has received the Faulkner Society Faulkner Award, the Omaha Prize for the Novel, The Bradshaw Book Award, the St. Andrews Press Short Fiction Prize, and four Special Mentions in Pushcart Prize. A Haunted Love Story is the basis for episodes of the TV shows My Ghost Story (Biography Channel) and A Haunting (Discovery Network) and will be the focus of two shows on SyFy later this year. He has been Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Arkansas at Monticello since 2005.