MRS. MURRAY’S GHOST
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever. As well as being a fun read for young readers, the story gives an historical perspective to childhood, as it dates to the 1960s. It also deals with some very current issues, specifically bullying.

EXCERPT
“Did you leave any lights on downstairs?” he asked as he seated himself at the table once again.

“No,” Mom answered. “I turned everything off.”

“She did,” Mary added. “I made sure.”

“The lights were all on in the kitchen,” Dad said. “Some of the cupboard doors were wide open. I closed them.” At that, the banging doors started up again.

“I guess it’s official,” David announced. “We have a ghost.” He made his move and passed ‘Go’. Holding out his hand to the banker (who was always Dad to ensure some modicum of fairness in the game), he demanded, “Two hundred dollars, please.”

“Sounds to me like the ghost is checking us out,” Dad said, handing over the Monopoly money. “It’s not hurting anyone, so let it be.”

“Spoooooky!” David howled, laughing.

Mary didn’t laugh. She wasn’t sure why they thought it was funny, but if no one else was afraid, maybe ghosts weren’t scary.

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GUEST POST

MY INSPIRATION?
I GREW UP IN A HAUNTED HOUSE!

My brothers would tease me relentlessly. They loved to sneak up on me and poke me in the back, usually shouting, “boo”, in the process. I jumped, of course, which made their sport so much more fun. For them. They didn’t believe in my ghost. Even though they heard the banging kitchen cupboard doors each night just like I did. In fact, no one really believed me. The ghost often stood at the foot my bed in the quietest part of the night, watching over me, particularly when I was sick. At first, I was frightened. Especially when things went missing, the floors creaked and the lights went on and off all night long. While other members of the family slept, I listened and watched.

Gran told me I had a vivid imagination and it was my imaginings that created my ghost. I think Mom believed me, though. Sort of. Later in life, when I married and had children of my own, we would return to what was then called Grandma’s house by my children and their cousins. And things would happen. If one of the grandchildren misbehaved, a clock would mysteriously fly off the wall. No one was ever hurt, but the message was clear. The ghost wanted the children “to be seen and not heard” – an old Victorian adage. It was a Victorian house, after all. And it made sense that the ghost was Victorian and strict in her beliefs of the position of children in the household.

The ghost was my inspiration. The house was my inspiration. And my vivid imagination and the dreams I had were my inspiration. My sister encouraged me to write stories about growing up in a haunted house. So, I did. And I’ve enjoyed every step of this journey through memories and fantasies.

My journey with “The Piccadilly Street Series” begins in Book 1, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, with my memories of moving into this old Victorian mansion in 1967. I was ten, just like Mary in the story. And I was so overwhelmed with the fixtures, the wooden floors that creaked, the old 1920s telephones that connected to several rooms throughout the house, and, of course, the space. In my young eyes, the house seemed massive – like a castle.

There are three more books to this series, all which combine actual memories, dreams and that vivid imagination that Gran always told me I had. Book 2, “Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure”, explores the theory I shared with my siblings that, being an old house, there must be a hidden treasure. We did find the odd old coin buried in the garden. Certainly not a fortune. Book 3, “Mrs. Murray’s Home”, challenges the ghost and the other characters to define what and where they believe their home is. This is something my Gran and I always discussed. For me, home was always that grand old house. For Gran, having left Scotland as a child, part of her thoughts of home remained in her childhood memories and a place across the ocean. Book 4, “Mr. Murray’s Gun”, takes the adventure even further with the discovery of a vintage World War I gun and ammunition in the attic. I remember when we found that gun, something that was forbidden in our home. Mom was terrified that we would accidentally set it off. Dad called the local police and had it taken away. My vivid imagination, even as a child, had the gun marked as a murder weapon.

The house was such a big part of my life. As was the ghost. It was only a matter of time before the ghost became the subject of a big writing project. My inspiration!

ABOUT EMILY-JANE

An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.

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