Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ghosts and The Maidenstone Lighthouse With Sally Smith O'Rourke

Do you believe in ghosts? After reading this guest post by author, Sally Smith O'Rourke, you just might! Please join me in welcoming Ms. O'Rourke as she shares a very intriguing ghost story and then gives us the awesome pleasure of reading an excerpt from her book, The Maidenstone Lighthouse... There is also a giveaway...more info at the bottom of the post!

In the dim light of pre-dawn I woke up, surprised to see a woman about my age at the time (32) sitting in a rocking chair looking out the sliding glass door that led from our bedroom to a small patio. She stared straight ahead as she rocked. She was wearing a long dress. Although I could not determine what era her clothing represented, her hair was in a style reminiscent of the Gibson girls from around 1890. I woke Mike, he saw her, too. As we continued to watch her she faded away.

We’d seen a ghost, it wasn’t the first time for either of us but it was the first time we had seen the same ghost at the same time. It was kind of exciting. I tried to research the history of the house we were living in and the area but found nothing and we never saw her again.

Do you believe in ghosts? As the previous paragraphs indicate I do. Our lady ghost and my love of lighthouses were the inspiration for one of the books my husband and I wrote together; The Maidenstone Lighthouse.

Having grown up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I’m not sure whence my fascination with lighthouses comes but I’ve always loved them. After watching a television documentary on working lighthouses and hearing the history and legends that surround so many of them, I suggested to Mike (my late husband) that we write a book about a haunted lighthouse.

As with all the projects we did together no particulars were decided on ahead of time except for the basics. Being fans of Antique Roadshow we made our heroine an antique appraiser. Mike’s wonderful sense of humor created a business partner for Susan who adds fun and depth to the story.

Since lighthouses on the whole are over one hundred years old, the house in which Susan lived had to be old as well. But Susan is a young, modern woman living in New York City so we had her inherit a family home; the one she spent summers in with her great aunt. There needed to be a reason for her to leave the city to spend time in a small Rhode Island town. The loss of her boyfriend, Bobby becomes the catalyst for much of the story.

While staying at the family homestead Susan sees the ghost of a young woman she recognizes from an old family photograph, a young woman whom no one in the family would talk about and is present in only the one single picture.

Susan’s search for answers as to who, what, why and how the woman died brings her in contact with Dan, an old high school crush who is the town historian and helps her uncover the dark secret held by her family for generations.

Excerpt from
The Maidenstone Lighthouse

Dressed all in white and shimmering with a faint fluorescent glow, she stood motionless beside the casement window farthest from my bed. Her back was turned to me and she was holding aside one of the sheer lace curtains, gazing intently through the rain-streaked glass into
the black and forbidding night beyond.
At first I thought I was imagining her, the way children sometimes imagine they can see the figures of animals in the puffy white clouds of a summer’s day.
Limned by the faint blue light of the fairy lamp and half-hidden by the shadow of Damon’s wardrobe, she looked like a creature of pure imagination. The simple, flowing lines of her diaphanous gown merged seamlessly into the folds of the sheer floor-length curtain in her hand.

And she stood as still and as silent as a sculpture of palest Carrera marble.
Stunned by the eerie sight before me, I felt my mouth go dry. The blood was pounding in my temples as I slowly sat up and stared, half-expecting her slender form to vanish among the deep, lurking shadows beside the wardrobe. But she remained standing precisely where she was, one
bare white arm raised nearly to her cheek, slender fingers clutching the transparent fabric of the intricately patterned lace curtain.
Despite the dim lighting, I seemed to see her with exceptional clarity. A luxuriant cascade of raven hair interwoven with narrow strands of pink satin ribbon fell down her back to below the waist. A chain of cunningly hand-sewn rosebuds decorating the bodice of her dress precisely
matched the shade of the ribbon in her hair.
As I continued to stare at the apparition before me I realized that the garment she wore was not a dress at all but an elaborate nightgown, such as a new bride might wear to her wedding bed. And though her face was completely hidden from my view, I somehow knew that she was beautiful, and too young to have died.
Several more seconds passed and still she had not moved. I hardly dared to breathe as a frantic argument raged within my head. The logical part of my brain was insisting that there must be some perfectly rational explanation for what I was seeing. But my foolish emotional side—the part of me that regularly conjured up all of those impossible daydream fantasies of Bobby’s miraculous return—said I was looking at a spirit.
I didn’t know then whether I even believed in such things. But one can scarcely dabble in the antiques business for very long without being regaled with ghost stories. I recalled having heard somewhere that the dead most often return to places where in life they underwent some profound emotional trauma. So it crossed my mind that the spectre at the window might possibly be my aunt Ellen.

 Though she had lived her life as a spinster, I knew she had once been engaged to marry. But her fiancĂ©, a handsome local yachtsman, had died in a tragic sailing accident before they could be wed.
Had poor Aunt Ellen secretly watched and waited for her lost lover from this very room? In her grief and distraction over her loss had she donned her lovely bridal nightgown and crept up to this lonely turret room night after night? Stood by that very window, peering out into the darkness and longing to see his boat slipping safely into the harbor below? And now that she was free at last from the prison of her time-ravaged earthly flesh, had Aunt Ellen returned to resume her lonely nighttime vigil? Was she somehow trapped on this earthly plane, unable to cross over to the other side until her long-lost lover sailed home to Freedman’s Cove to claim her for his bride?
Even as those wildly romantic thoughts were racing through my mind, there was a soft swirl of motion at the window. And I found myself looking into the sad, luminous eyes of the lovely young woman in the long white gown. But it was not Aunt Ellen.
I gasped and clapped a hand to my mouth at the sudden realization that I had seen her face before, the unforgettable face of the girl in the old photo album, my disgraced female ancestor whose name Aunt Ellen had refused to reveal to me three years before.
 “Who . . . Who are you?” My voice was high and tremulous and I felt as if I might faint at any second.

The apparition at the window wavered like smoke and then she very slowly dissolved before my eyes. The soft oval of her face lingered before the window for just a moment longer than her body.
 Then it too was gone.
Below is a trailer for The Maidenstone Lighthouse. Enjoy!

Connect with Sally Smith O'Rourke:
Twitter (@Chawton1810)

Purchase The Maidenstone Lighthouse:
Barnes & Noble

Sally, I am thrilled to have you visit and share this fascinating story with us, both your story and your book! Ms. O'Rourke is kindly giving away a trade paperback (domestic only) OR eBook (international) for your eReader to one lucky winner. To be entered leave a comment telling us whether you believe in ghosts and/or if you have ever seen one! I look forward to these comments! Good luck to all. Be sure to include your email address in the comment. To prevent unwanted spam, put your email address with an (at) instead of @.  Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. Giveaway ends at midnight, July 1.


  1. I believe that 'ghosts' exist not as the dead but we see them because time has slipped, I have heard but not seen them.

    meikleblog at gmail dot com

    1. Interesting theory, Vesper. Thanks for sharing it with us. I find this quite an intriguing idea!

  2. I believe in ghosts, even if I'd like no to. I've lived in two haunted houses, and I've heard them and I've seen them.

    suenoslucidosblog at gmail dot com

    1. My, that must have been a bit unnerving! I would like to hear more about your experiences. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  3. I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to say I believed in ghosts, but there have been a few inexplicable things that won't allow me to rule them out. *shiver* I have this story so please don't enter me in the contest.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sophia Rose! I haven't read the book yet but am looking forward to it.

  4. Thanks so much for being my guest, Sally. I enjoyed your post and found it quite fascinating. In fact, I would love to hear more about your experience!