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5/07/2005  

Interview with S.E. Schlosser, author of the Spooky series by Globe Pequot Press.


Question: Why “Spooky?”

Answer:
I love the term “spooky” because it is a broader term than “scary” or “haunted”. Spooky stories range from terrifying to humorous. Within the Spooky series, there are scary tales like the White Lady in Rochester who hates men; the vampire hermit of the Adirondack Mountains; the Hairy Man who stalks a young man in the South; and a Colorado miner who keeps courting the ladies of the town long after he is dead. The books also contain funny stories like Pecos Bill and the Haunted House; Tug-of-War, in which a ghost and an unbeliever fight it out in a haunted house near Albany, New York; and the fighting Frogs of Windham who created havoc one night in a New England town. There are even a few miraculous stories in the series; tales like that of the sainted Lady in Blue who appeared to Native American tribes in the seventeenth century Southwest and that of Mary’s Flowers, in which the Virgin Mary helps a poor woman in Massachusetts. For me, anything that gives me goose-bumps or deals with the supernatural fits under the “spooky” label.



Question: How do you find the stories in your Spooky books? How do you do your research?

Answer:
I have a Masters in Library Services, so by profession I am a researcher. I have used many sources for the Spooky books. Some of my major resources include out-of-print folklore collections dating back to the early 1800s, present day books about ghosts and spooks, interviews with people local to a state or region, online sites featuring ghost stories and urban legends, UseNet’s, forums, blogs, and research contacts within state and federal libraries.


Question: How long does it take you to write a book?

Answer:
I wrote my first book, Spooky New England in four weeks in order to make a September 2003 publication date. That pace is a little faster than I enjoy. The other spooky books have taken about 2 months to research and 3 months to write. This is a fairly leisurely pace for me, which is essential since I work full-time during the day and have to write the Spooky books at night.


Question: Do you believe in ghosts?

Answer:
I very much believe in the supernatural, but have not personally met a ghost. I have friends and relatives – very credible people – who have personally encountered apparitions, and I myself have had one supernatural experience that was down-right scary!


Question: What is your favorite “spooky” story?

Answer:
There are many spooky stories that I like and I can name one or two favorites from each state or region about which I have written. But my all-time favorite spooky story – and I have no idea why I like it so much, except perhaps because when I read it aloud it scares the dickens out of people – is “Tailypo”. Tailypo is one of the 30 folktales published in Spooky South and it features a terrifying but tiny creature that comes out of the swamp to seek vengeance against a trapper. In a high-pitched, squeaky voice, it chants over and over: “Tailypo, Tailypo. All I want’s my Tailypo,” thus sealing the doom of the old man.

Spooky New York Pirates and ghosts and witches, oh my!
If you have ever felt a chill as you walked past a graveyard, or stopped by a small country inn for the night and knew there was something watching you, or felt an unseen hand brush against you in the dark, you will love the Spooky series by S.E. Schlosser.


Spooky New England
Spooky South
Spooky Southwest
Spooky New York NEW!






5/06/2005  

Tall Tales

Tall Tale: An extravagant, fanciful or greatly exaggerated story. Usually focuses on the achievements of the ultimate hero.


I love tall tales. The taller the better! There's nothing like an evening spent around a campfire trying to one-up everyone else with your outrageous stories! In Mississippi, this tradition of telling whoppers is known as "Callin' the Dog". How did that that saying get started? Well, it seems that one night, a group of Mississippi men gathered in their favorite tavern and started swapping tall tales. One rich landowner offered a hound dog pup to the person who could tell the biggest lie. His offer began a contest that lasted all evening. The crazy stories started rollin' in, each one bigger and harder to believe than the one before. Now, the last man to talk knew he didn't have a chance of winnin' that there pup on account of all them tall-tales the others told was so good. So when his turn came, he jest said: "I never told a lie in my life." There was a stunned silence in the room for a moment. Then the owner of the hound dog said: "You get the pup!" And everyone else agreed with him.



A topic that gets even the most straight-laced people telling tall tales is the weather. Michigan has some pretty good stories about their wind, which gets so fierce that it knocks mountains right over! California boasts of its sunny climate, where some folks find it just too darn hard to die! (A longer version of this story appears in Spooky California.) But Arizona weather beats them all in my book. It's so dry in Arizona, they have to take their frogs to the pool to teach 'em how to swim. However, there is good news. Not only does Arizona have great air, but ever since they started shippin' in ice from California, their hens don't lay hard boiled eggs no more!


So I state again -- I love tall tales. The taller the better! Got one to swap? Email me at: webmaster@americanfolklore.net


5/05/2005  

Folklore definitions: Myths, Legends, Fables, and more

So, what exactly is the difference between a myth and a legend? A folktale and a tall tale? Where do you draw the line between a fable and a fairytale? What is the difference between a normal legend and an urban one? For those of you who have spent many a sleepless night pondering such mysteries, I have written up a quick folklore vocabulary list to help solve the murky intricacies of folklore and allow you to sleep at night.


Folklore definitions.


Folktale: A story or legend forming part of an oral tradition.


Tall Tale: An extravagant, fanciful or greatly exaggerated story. Usually focuses on the achievements of the ultimate hero.


Myths: Traditional, typically ancient stories dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people. The purpose of myths is to account for the origins of something, explain aspects of the natural world or delineate the psychology, customs, or ideals of society.


Legends: A traditional tale handed down from earlier times and believed to have an historical basis.


Urban Legends: Apocryphal stories involving rather fantastic contemporary incidents which have a tantalizing bit of plausibility to them. Urban legends contain many folkloric elements and are disseminated through mass media.


Fable: A short narrative making a moral point. Often employs animals with human characteristics (powers of speech, etc.) as the main characters of the story.


Fairy tale: A fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children.



Sources Used:
Dictionary.com. URL: http://dictionary.reference.com. Accessed 5-5-05.
Axelrod, Alan. 2000. The Penguin Dictionary of American Folklore. Penguin Reference: New York.



5/04/2005  

What is Folklore?

The New York Folklore society defines folklore in the following manner: "Folklore and folklife (including traditional arts, belief, traditional ways of work and leisure, adornment and celebrations) are cultural ways in which a group maintains and passes on a shared way of life. This "group identity" may be defined by age, gender, ethnicity, avocation, region, occupation, religion, socioeconomic niche, or any other basis of association." (http://www.nyfolklore.org/resource/what.html)


Dictionary.com has three definitions of folkllore (listed at http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=folklore):

    1. The traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a people, transmitted orally.

    2. The comparative study of folk knowledge and culture. Also called folkloristics.

    3. A body of widely accepted but usually specious notions about a place, a group, or an institution: Rumors of their antics became part of the folklore of Hollywood. A popular but unfounded belief.


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