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Lit.Org I always like to start off with the standard "tell people who you are" question. Gives you a chance to introduce yourself and let the readers get to know you. Where are you from? What's your background?

Mary Ann Mellen When I was a child I turned to writing to escape an unhappy childhood. My father was abusive and a very irate person. I spent my childhood staying away from him as much as possible. My sister, Pauline, and I would take turns staying awake at night to listen for our mother's safety. I don't sleep well even today. My brother, Bobby, joined the service right out of high school to get away from his deranged stepfather. I didn't think I was going to be able to live long enough to become an adult. My father's madness left an upraised bone on my forehead from a garden hoe he used. My sister and I did make it somehow and now the past is what makes us what we are today. I am happily married now to a wonderful man, Jim, who showed me what love really means. We have three grown children, two sons, Ricky and Randy, and a daughter, Tina. My son-in-law, Ricky, is a good husband and wonderful father. My daughter-in-law, Julie, is a beautiful girl who has brought a lot of happiness to our family. Jody, Julie's younger brother is like another son to us. Randy and Julie have a son, Randy Jr. that I call little guy. Tina and Ricky have two boys, Allen Michael, I call precious, and Billy, I call tiger. I also have a constant companion that is really a human with fur…a red miniature Doberman pincher, named Dobie. He stays at my side and follows me everywhere. He loves me unconditionally.

Lit.Org You've described yourself as a "Ghostwriter", writing tales of Ghosts and Haunted Mansions. What drew you to Ghosts? And do you like horror in general, or just a good Ghost story?

Mary Ann Mellen I've always been fascinated by ghost stories. I believe there are spirits around us, some are guardian angels that appear from nowhere to help us when we might be in danger. I know I had one help me one time. My family and I were in New Orleans one year for New Year's Eve. We were in the middle of a crowd of people. Wall to wall bumping and noise. In the midst of the hundreds of people a young man hurried over to me. He leaned close and spoke in my ear. He told me that three more steps and I would come to a big drop off from a curb. He told me to be very careful. He said that if I fell the crowd would trample on me. My husband asked me what the man said to me. I told him and he told our three children in a row. The young man disappeared somewhere among the noisy crowd. Sure thing…three more steps I felt with my feet and then there was the deep drop off. I stepped down carefully and then my family. I know if I hadn't been told by this guardian angel about the danger, I would have fallen and been seriously hurt by the active crowd.

I had a spirit form come to me when I was a child. I was very sick with kidney problems. My mother gave me medicine day and night. I was about to be put in the hospital. One night I remember I was feeling so bad. All of a sudden my dark bedroom had a soft glow come into it. The shimmering light formed into a person image. The spirit glided to my bed. I was so frightened. I couldn't see the face but I felt the warmth and love. A hand reached out and touched me gently. Then I saw the image turn and glide away into the mists of pale light and vanished. Then my bedroom was dark again. I recovered after that and was well. I told my mother about the incident but she said my fever was so high that night I must have been hallucinating…I know better.

I like all kinds of ghost stories. From supernatural beings to paranormal activities. Anything unusual catches my attention. If I hear a stranger talk about ghosts, I have to get nearer so I can hear the whole story. I keep a note pad and pen with me. I'm always jotting down notes and ideas.

Lit.Org I grew up in a neighborhood full of ghost stories and tales of haunted houses where slain victims still walked the old creaking halls. I know those folk tales have inspired me on many occasions. Where do you get your inspiration for ghostly tales?

Mary Ann Mellen I go wherever ghosts are or unusual people. I've been inside a rundown old mansion where part of the staircase was broken away. In this once beautiful mansion where cobwebs of memories still lingered, I watched while a person drew a pentagraham on the wooden floor. Black candles were placed on the star points of the pentagraham. It was getting nighttime and hard rain was pouring outside. I held a metal device in my hands to feel any spirits that might be in the room. As bright lightning came through the broken glass windows and the black candles flickered in the sudden breeze, this person chanted words to make the spirit appear in the middle of the pentagraham.

I went to another strange house during a thunderstorm to follow up on a bizarre situation I heard about. To begin with, the woman of the house was a practicing witch. As I walked cautiously into the dim lit living room with all the curtains drawn tight, I saw a cage punched up high in a corner by the door that held a large hairy black tranchela spider. As I eased past it, I came across a meat-eating lizard thankfully locked in a cage on the dinning room floor. The laundry room held cages of white and dark mice. I thought they were pets but I was told the dark mice were food for the meat-eating lizard. I would have to ask what the white mice were for! She told me the white mice were treats like desert for the lizard! When I turned around the woman was in back of me wearing a giant boa constrictor around her neck. After I caught my breath, she asked me if I wanted to touch it? I thought this would be my only chance to do such a thing. So…I reached out my hand and touched the cold rubbery thing. In return, the boa looked around at me with its glassy eyes. With wobbly legs I followed the woman back into the living room where her husband was lying on the sofa with a large yellow corn snake crawling all over his body. I sank down into a nearby chair thankful it was empty. A baby was sitting on the floor playing with a rubber ball. The husband got up and placed the heavy snake around the small shoulders of the child. In shock I watch the two-year old boy laugh as the huge snake made him roll over in the floor.

I met with a Satanist to get the story of his life. He was dressed in costume with a frightening painted face. I kept my distance being alone with him at night on a deserted dock on the river. I had my tape recorder and camera ready. Before the interview he asked if I would mind if he said a prayer to Satan first? I told him to go ahead. He asked if I was afraid since he was going to speak with Satan? I told him, no…since I wasn't going to talk with him. I've written a fiction novel based on this Satanist's life. WEB OF FIRE. It isn't finished yet.

When I tour haunted mansions I listen to the tour guide tell the history but I hear the unspoken stories that remain within the dusty draperies and rotting carpeted floors. When I visit a neglected cemetery I feel the loneliness and sadness of the spirits long forgotten.

Lit.Org What writers have influenced you and your writing style?

Mary Ann Mellen None. I have my own style. I really don't read much. I seldom watch television. I live in front of my computer.

Lit.Org There have been a slew of movies over the years about ghosts and hauntings. Do you have any favorites?

Mary Ann Mellen Just give me any movie with an old haunted mansion, a lighthouse, a high cliff with the crashing waves below, and I'm in heaven. Put in a ghost, stormy weather, foggy night air, I'm in paradise.

Lit.Org The internet has changed the way we communicate and talk with each other. How do you think the Internet has helped the writing community. What part did it play in getting you published and putting your book in the hands of your readers.

Mary Ann Mellen The Internet is a wonderful thing. You have the whole world at your fingertips. You can find anything you're looking for no matter what your profession. Being a writer I was able to become a published author because of the Internet. I was able to find publishing companies like Adventure Book Publishers, and others. Manuscripts can be sent easily by E-mail so there isn't a lot of papers to keep track of or trips to the post office to mail them. I can keep in close contact with my publishers and everyone I work with.

Lit.Org I've seen a few reviews of your book and it sounds like a great read. Who should read your book?

Mary Ann Mellen Older teen-agers and adults only. Because of the mature language and steamy scenes this book wouldn't be unsuitable for young children to read.

Lit.Org Many aspiring writers will be reading this interview. What advice would you give them?

Mary Ann Mellen DON'T EVER GIVE UP! What have you got to lose? EVERYTHING! My advice would be, write anything. Describe what you feel…hear…see…smell…taste. If a person keeps writing they will eventually come up with an interesting story to tell and write about. Writer's block is in your head…get it out on paper. Writer's cramp is in your hands…keep exercising your fingers on the computer keys. A writer should write for the satisfaction of writing. If we make money it is a bonus. Just the pleasure of seeing a book you wrote published is a feeling money can't buy!

Lit.Org When is your next book out? What other projects have you got going? And where can readers pick up a copy of your book?

Mary Ann Mellen PULL OF THE PAST is my first book with Adventure Book Publishers. I also have a trilogy, WHISPERING SHADOWS that will be out soon with Adventure Book Publishers. It's a mystery thriller with ghost and suspense filled. 1. HOUSE OF ALUCARD is about a vampire that falls in love and has to battle the beast inside him so he won't harm the girl he loves. 2. MASTER OF DARKNESS is about a man reading a mystery novel one stormy night. He finds he's reliving the events of the novel himself. Everything that happens to the man in the book is also happening to him. 3. GEORGETT'S GHOST is about a writer who goes to a quiet cabin in the woods to finish her novel. Mysterious things begin to happen beginning with strange messages appearing on her computer screen to coming into contact with a real ghost. She finds herself caught up in a love affair with an invisible man. She finds she has to give up her life on this earth to be with the man she loves in his world.

I have a different novel with a publishing company in California. I'm waiting to hear from them on their decision. I'm working on a new novel now and finishing up on other projects. I'm putting together a collection of ghost's stories, GHOST STORIES FOR A STORMY NIGHT. It will have several short stories perfect for a stormy night with lightning and thunder in the background.

Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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