During our recent extended trip to Michigan, I was excited to find that there was a tour of the asylum that one of my earliest books, Shears of Fate was set in. I was also prepared, with notebook and pencil, for the history tour, because my next work, Forget Me Not Blue is also set in the asylum's walls. (Keep your eyes on my IG and blog for details about the publication date for that-I'm aiming for December.)
Anyway, the tour took you inside the asylum's not-yet-renovated wards, into one that has been renovated, and through the tunnels beneath the asylum that were used in the wintertime for nurses and doctors to get quickly from one end of the asylum to the other. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable, if not long-winded, and the tour itself was fascinating. The buildings reflect so much of the best intentions of the time that they were built, the hope of recovery for the patients--or at the very least the hope of giving the patients a place to belong. The run-down buildings were eerie though, and definitely, chill inducing.
When asked if it was haunted, the tour guide didn't blink or hesitate. "Absolutely". He said. No doubt. It made me think about the characters of the books I have written that are set in the asylum. Sometimes people bring their own ghosts to places like this. Terrence had said the first time that we ever visited, that the whole place "felt sad. Something happened here, definitely." and I think he's right. Not because the patients themselves were sad in this place, I think for most of them it was a relief. Not to be hidden away in an attic or a basement any longer, able to find purpose and work and live in what basically appears to be an American castle with marble floors and pianos and lush gardens and orchards to walk through.
No, the sadness here is different. It is a sadness that only comes with madness, and confusion and loneliness. And if there are ghosts, then that sadness is part of them, and it lingers there still.
Check out Shears of Fate on Kindle or paperback. It's a novella about a patient held in the asylum during the 30s. My next asylum work, Forget Me Not Blue has no definite release date yet, but pre-order will begin in late November. Keep your eyes peeled for updates and excerpts (and giveaways!) before the book comes out.
If you're in the Traverse City area and are interested in the tour, click the link: The Village at Traverse Commons Tour
Or, if you're in Traverse City area and want a signed copy of Shears of Fate, go to Horizon Books on Front Street!