Book Synopsis for Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight, edited by Alexander S. Brown and Louise Myers: Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.
From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.
These hair-raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.
Interview with Alexander S. Brown, Editor
For Cooper’s views on the subject, see his review.
Witch South? While every story in Southern Haunts 3 has at least a character or setting connected to the Southeastern United States, the range of characters and settings is broad. For example, the central character in “Live Big” is a New Yorker who finds trouble in Key West, and “Without Xango There Is No Oxalla” haunts the U.S. by way of Brazil. Beyond character and setting, what, if anything, makes a haunting particularly Southern? What, if anything, makes a story Southern?
In reality, for the haunting to be Southern, the entity must be in the South. It is true that some spirits are travelers, meaning when they get tired of being in one place, they can attach themselves to the living and jump off at their preference. This type of attachment haunting rarely happens, as most spirits tend to dwell where they spent their life or final moments.
In a story telling sense, for the haunting to be Southern, if we were to take away setting and location, we are left with the narrator’s tongue. However, just because the narrator’s dialogue reflects Southern slang and phrases, that doesn’t make the tale Southern. Anyone from any culture can tell any story they like, but in the end, the story is its on placement in location.
For a story to be Southern, there must be Southern elements. For example: the tale must be seasoned with Southern verbiage, culture, habitat, architecture, food and drink. One could say, “I reckon Dixie is out back drinkin’ her mint julep after eatin’ that gumbo.” Without me saying the speaker or setting is Southern, the reader can identify that this story probably isn’t going to be set in Maine.
Storied Witching. The opening tale, “Granny Wise,” ends with a note about how readers can discover facts about the fictionalized Granny’s historical precedent, and the book’s “Outro” emphasizes that “tales were inspired by actual events, places, and persons throughout the South.” Within the tales, discovering and telling older tales—such as “The Untold Tale of Wiccademous”—also becomes a focus. Why do you think uncovering a magickal history is so important for the book as a whole as well as for particular stories?
When creating Southern Haunts the idea was to find true stories and bend them into fiction. The call that we had, stated, “Become inspired by an actual person, place or event and write a fictional story based on what would happen if your character interacted with that subject.” This was the premise that allowed Spirits that Walk Among Us to exist, as well as Devils in the Darkness, and Magick Beneath the Moonlight.
For this particular volume, magickal history is important to the South. The further South one goes, the richer the superstitions, fundamentals, and practice become. Any sort of history is important to remember, however, magickal history seems like it is swept under the rug more so than haunted history. Because of the masses knowing very little about iconic characters such as: Marie Laveau, Granny Wise, and the Yazoo City Witch, it is important to direct their attention to these magickal names in history, so more can be learned about them.
Bewitched Legacies. Titles such as “Vengeance” and “Cursed” make the emphasis clearest, but almost every story in the volume ties magickal events to justice or revenge. Why do you think this connection is so strong? Further, several stories place larger social injustices—particularly the legacies of slavery and lynching—behind supernatural events. With its specific histories of social injustices, is the South a cursed place? Why or why not?
Despite if a spell be casted for revenge or justice, I believe these subjects entertain the reader on a level they can relate to, but from a magickal perspective. Many persons have known what it’s like to be wronged without having an opportunity to receive payback. Because of this, I believe vigilante stories satisfy a depth of our crocodile membrane that we try to keep locked away. When reading stories such as these, it grants that dark side of us satisfaction in a healthy non-violent way. What makes these stories even more intriguing is that their weapon of choice is magick, and it provides unique scenarios that are abnormal compared to what Charles Bronson might do under the circumstance.
I don’t believe the entire South is a cursed place, however, I do believe there are cursed spots. But these spots aren’t just throughout the South, they are throughout our nation, and the world and I do believe historical actions play a big role in this. I believe this because it is simple to create a cursed object or location with one’s emotions. I also believe most persons create curses while being unaware they are doing so. For something to be cursed, ritual and prayer can play a factor, however, most cursed objects or places are born out of hatred, fear, and depression as they absorb the vibrations of the sufferer.
Good Witch, Bad Witch. The intro talks about “bad apple” witches as exceptions, and the outro mentions good and bad witches being a matter of individual judgment just like good and bad people. Your subtitle gives “magic” a friendlier, and more contemporary, “k” ending as well. “The Apartment House” and other stories demonstrate that the spiritual traditions associated with magic(k) have their own codes of good and bad. In 2016, what’s important about addressing questions of good and bad when you put together horror stories about magic(k)?
Depending on the question, depends on the answer. But to give a summary of magick and the occult in general is to remember that in every grouping, no matter what that grouping is, there will be practitioners, or persons, with good and bad hearts. Because of this, every occult practice comes with warnings, and in most cases, magickal workers are aware of the three fold, which can prevent anyone from wanting to dive into the darker side of magick.
Throughout my occult studies, I have noticed Satanism, (not to be confused with witchcraft, voodoo, Santeria, etc) even has their own set of commandments to abide by. These commandments allow them to live a fulfilling life, and suggests they respect all walks of life, as long as they are respected in return. Since most denominations of Satanic practice don’t believe in any sort of higher or lower power, their fundamentals allow some wiggle room for curses. Even with this being so, these practitioners are well aware of the repercussions of sending out harmful vibes.
Overall, the majority of the occult is a gray practice, meaning anything used for good can be used for bad. At a young age, we are taught how to pray, may this prayer be occult related or not. Once we are taught how to pray, this allows us to open up the door to ask for whatever we want to whoever we want. For those who are afraid of magick workers, I urge for you to do your research in non-fiction occult books. Once you understand the subject, your fear of all magick practitioners being evil will fade.
Witch Appetites. As I read it, your story, “Dances with Witches,” has a lot to do with appetites: a man with violent appetites follows a strange yearning that puts him in the way of appetites of another, more supernatural kind. Whether it’s based on desire for violence, power, sex, revenge, or something else, appetite seems like a source of horror in your story and throughout the book. What’s magickal—and horrible—about appetite?
We all have an appetite, and satisfying that appetite isn’t a bad thing. Such as our dietary intake, moderation is the key. Being a practitioner of Voodoo/Catholicism/Santeria I might pray to Saint Joseph to help me financially. For this to be possible, I give sacrifice (mostly fruits, sweets, or meat from the grocery). Upon asking for Saint Joseph’s assistance in my financial standing, I know to be humble in my request so that I am asking for nothing more than what I need. After asking for spiritual help, I have to also be willing to work for the money I need. It is the strength of Saint Joseph who fulfills me when I no longer feel that I have the gumption to continue. To have a humble appetite and working with spirits to satisfy that can be very rewarding and magickal.
The flip side of this is overindulgence. This is entering ritual with greedy expectations. I can’t think of too many positive entities who would answer prayers in regards to greed, as an overindulgence of anything can be hazardous mentally, physically, and spiritually. For magick practitioners who decide to turn to negative spirits to get what they want, the price can be more than what one has bargained for. Be careful what you wish for, is the best advice I can give to these practitioners. The most horrifying thing I could conceive by practicing negative magic in regards to overindulgence is the possibility of death or insanity.
Witch Direction? What’s next for the Southern Haunts series?
Southern Haunts is perhaps at the midway point of concluding. We are expecting to get Southern Haunts 4 together which will regard creatures of the South and Southwest, this one will probably be the only book that is strictly based on nothing more than Southern folklore. Southern Haunts 5 will be based on serial killers of the South and Southwest. If the fandom is still strong, we might do a Southern Haunts 6 which will be invite only where the best of the best have free choice to write about ghosts, demons, witches, creatures, or serial killers.
About the Editors:
Alexander S. Brown: Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.
He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.
Visit Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.
Louise Myers: Louise Myers was born in New Orleans and during her teenage years was uprooted from everything she knew and was replanted in Mississippi. Though the transition was difficult, she is very glad to have the opportunity to have both worlds under her belt. She says this because she knows from living in both places, they are both a world all to their own. She is the wife of a wonderful husband and mother of three beautiful children, as well as the proud parent of a spoiled mutt.
She was assistant editor of Southern Haunts: Spirits That Walk Among Us, co-editor of Southern Haunts 2: Devils in the Darkness, and co-editor of Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight.
She is a beta reader, book doctor, editor, and author. Though this is her second story in print, she has been weaving tales for many years for pleasure. She has many thoughts on several topics she’d like to write, mostly surrounding ghost stories.