Wednesday 23 December 2020

The Many Ghosts of Waverly Hills

Image: Junko – pixabay

Who doesn't love a ghost story at Christmas?, and if it concerns strange goings-on in the shadowy halls of an old sanitorium, what could be better to start the fingers twitching and the toes curling?

Anyone who has ever spent any time in hospital knows they can be scary places. It’s hardly surprising since most of us end up there during times of trauma – from our first breath outside our mother’s womb through accidents, life-saving surgery, palliative care, and, ultimately, our final moments. Along the way, life hits us with all sorts of difficult challenges – and, inevitably, some of these will result in hospital visits, short, or long, term stays. 

In my new novel – In Darkness, Shadows Breathe – I have created a fairly modern hospital built on grounds once occupied by a much older structure where practices were carried out which we would abhor today. Admittedly, in my case, these practices were aided by demonic forces, but to read some accounts of similar establishments in history, the truth was sometimes often not all that far removed from my fiction.

Image: Tama66 - Pixabay

Take the Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Louisville, Kentucky. Originally opened in 1910, it as designed to provide safe accommodation and care for 40-50 tuberculosis patients. In those days, a diagnosis of TB (also known as consumption) signalled a death sentence. There were no anti-biotics and no effective treatment of any kind. Any help given was purely palliative, designed to fend off the inevitable demise. Little was actually known as to the cause of the disease although it was believed that rest, peace and tranquillity in rural surroundings, with plenty of fresh air proved beneficial (doesn’t it to everyone?) so sanitoriums such as Waverly Hills were built in isolated countryside, frequently on hills where the air would be fresher and cleaner. No one, at that time knew that tuberculosis was an airborne disease. 

In the area it served – Jefferson County - cases of tuberculosis grew until the disease seemed to be on the rampage. The original building soon proved inadequate and became overcrowded. It was clear a much larger facility was needed and, in 1926, the enlarged Gothic revival style building which still stands today opened for business. Capable of housing over 400 patients, Waverley Hill became its own village, complete with shops. Once you entered Waverly Hills, you became a resident for life. TB patients could not live in the community – although guests were allowed. They would make their way up the hill, visit, and then go back home, taking whatever germs they had collected with them.

Image: Adina Voicu - Pixabay

In its time Waverly Hills was considered one of the most modern and well-equipped facilities of its kind. It continued to operate as a tuberculosis hospital until 1944 when the development of a drug – streptomycin - which successfully treated the disease rendered the need for such institutions obsolete. Gradually, the building emptied until it closed in 1961. Thereafter, it became Woodhaven Medical Services – a geriatric facility - before closing its doors in 1981.

The building fell into severe decay until it was eventually bought by Charlie and Tina Mattingly who formed the Waverly Hills Historical Society and have worked tirelessly since 2001 on a massive programme of restoration. They must also have realized that throughout their efforts, they w ere never entirely alone in that building and now visitors can come along to organised events where they may be lucky – or unfortunate – enough to witness some of the residents who refuse to leave Waverly Hills. Or maybe they can’t. There are plenty of sightings. Among the most memorable:

Image: robinsonk26 - pixabay

The Louisville Ghosthunters Society paid a visit to the kitchen and were astonished to find it wrecked – broken crockery everywhere, tables and chairs upended. They turned to leave but were stopped in their tracks by the sounds of a door swinging shut and the smell of baking bread. But there was no one there to bake it.

True Ghost Tales recounts the story of a group who were visiting the sanitorium and made their way up to the roof only to be scared out of their wits by seeing moving shadows, They fled from the scene but the shadows pursued them. Doors slammed. Mysterious footprints appeared in puddles. They fled from the building in terror.

Then there’s the old woman who roams the corridors, her hands and feet bloodied from the chains she is shackled in. If anyone approaches her, she runs away screaming.

A frequent sighting is that of a little boy called Timmy who, it is said, died in Waverly Hills of TB. He seems unable to leave but does enjoy playing ball with visitors.

At the other end of the spectrum is the notorious Creeper whose appearance is the darkest of shadows slithering along corridor walls and imparting the deepest, blackest feeling of gloom on anyone who comes near it.

Waverly Hills is also home to the phenomena known as Doppelgängers (literally ‘double walkers’). Visitors and guides have reported seeing themselves – sometimes performing acts they would never perform. Sometimes they see an exact double of a relative doing something that would be total anathema to that person (such as a cat loving sister strangling a pet cat). The doubles are identical save for the blackholes where their eyes should be.

Image: Lario Tus - Shutterstock

Finally, beware of Room 502 – it has such a sad history. On September 10th 2006, Tim Halstead of Missouri Paranormal Research took a photograph of a ghost who looked much like a young woman called Mary Lee. It is believed she was either a nurse who committed suicide in that room, or the daughter of a doctor who contracted TB herself from prolonged exposure to the disease and who died as a result. Another connection with Room 502 is that of a nurse who worked there, found herself pregnant and unmarried and then threw herself off the roof. There is a lot of sadness in that room and it remains there. 

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and Happy New Year

You’re next… 

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…

For more information on Waverly Hills Sanitorium: 

Louisville Ghosthunters Society investigation:

The Graveyard Shift:

Waverly Hills official website:




Tuesday 15 December 2020

Get Ready For... The Tomes of Terror

My lovely publishers, Crossroad Press, have put together a perfect storm of Christmas Crackers for you - and I am lucky enough to be included, but more of my contribution later.

Here's what to expect:

'From ghosts to werewolves to haunted houses, this collection of ten complete, unabridged novels of the occult and supernatural is full of unending terror ready to be unleashed on fans of both classic and modern horror fiction.

* Enter a mysterious house where a multiple murder has been discovered

* Run with a family of werewolves as they hunt a runaway from their pack

* Discover the evil that grows on a fog-enshrouded lake

* Cross the barrier of the living and enter a dimension ruled by the dead

* Encounter an ancient supernatural force that has returned to prey on the living

* Meet a mysterious lady who offers protection at the cost of one's soul

* Beware the unknown that strikes with razor-sharp teeth and paralyzes with eerie golden eyes

* Follow a werewolf who is a cop by day and a hunter by night

* Try to survive a crippling blizzard while attempting to stop an unimaginable evil from fulfilling a horrific destiny

* Hide from the beast that silently stalks the streets at night, leaving death in its wake

At your own peril, read these tales of the macabre, these... TOMES OF TERROR.'

Novels included in this box set:

Songs of Dreaming Gods - William Meikle
Shadoweyes - Kathryn Ptacek
Wolf's Trap - Bill Gagliani
Moon Lake - Stephen Gresham
Wilding - Melanie Tem
The Nestling - Charles Grant
Manhattan Grimoire - Sandy DeLuca
Dead Time - Richard Lee Byers
Dark Avenging Angel - Catherine Cavendish
The Nightwalker - Thomas Tessier

I am so fortunate to be included with these amazing authors and can't wait to catch up with some stories included here which I have yet to discover. That's my reading sorted for Christmas - how about you?

Before I go though, here's a little of what you will find when you turn the (electronic) page and encounter:

Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

Available on Kindle, here's the link: