Three Hauntings

Please welcome special guests Cindy Brown and Alexia Gordon! Last year, unbeknownst to us at the time, all three of us were writing books set in theaters. Not just theaters but specifically opera houses. And not just opera houses but haunted opera houses. We must have been plugged into the same cosmic channel while we were drafting…or perhaps the spirits had a little something to do with it. Today, we’re pulling back the curtain on each one.

Cindy Brown: The Phantom of Oz (Ivy Meadows Mysteries #5)

“Any theater worth its salt has a ghost. There are famous ghosts, like “The Man in Gray,” who’s made his home in London’s Theatre Royal since the eighteenth century; “The Most Beautiful Girl in New York City,” a Ziegfield Follies showgirl who haunts NYCs New Amsterdam Theatre; and even Judy Garland, who’s said to appear at the Palace Theatre on Broadway. But in general, the ghosts are known only to those of us who work in the theater, who are there when the lights are off and the stage is dark and the dressing room doors creak open by themselves.” — from The Phantom of Oz


I’ve never worked in a theater that didn’t have a ghost. Ghost lights still burn at night in most theaters, although people like to say they’re lit for safety as opposed to superstition (I’m betting on a combo of the two).

Phoenix’s Orpheum Theater, which partly inspired the theater in The Phantom of Oz, is haunted by several spirits, including a cat that leaves tiny footprints backstage. Most of the stories in Phantom are ones I’ve been told, and I may have experienced a few of them myself. Okay, okay, I did experience some of the ghostly goings-on in the book. Does that mean I believe in ghosts? It means I’m not going to discount their existence, and if it’s up to me, the ghost lights will always be lit.

Alexia Gordon: Killing in C Sharp (Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #3)

A soft adagio, notes so low that Gethsemane strained to hear them, intensified into an eerie allegro, reminiscent of a danse macabre. Gooseflesh pimpled her arms. She shivered and tried to convince herself the faint strains of Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” that played somewhere deep inside her head weren’t warning her of impending disaster as they competed with Aed’s ominous melody.

Aed shifted back to the bone-chilling adagio, then stopped. “The overture.”

“Good Lord, Aed.” Riordan, pale, pulled a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped his forehead. “If the overture’s that unnerving, the rest of the opera must be positively demonic.” –from Killing in C Sharp


I write a paranormal mystery series starring Gethsemane Brown, an amateur sleuth who’s also a classical musician so a haunting in an opera house made sense. The theater world is notorious for paranormal associations, from cursed plays—you know, the Scottish one—to performers’ ghosts returned to the stage for a final curtain call. An opera seemed a perfect vehicle for a curse, as operatic scores overflow with lust, unrequited love, murder, and revenge—prime ingredients for a proper hex. I read an Eastern European legend about a bride who was immured in a castle wall after being tricked by her brothers-in-law who sacrificed her to ensure successful construction. The story disturbed me. The bride had no say in her fate. She wasn’t even walled up as punishment for some crime. She died only because she brought her husband his lunch. I thought the murdered bride deserved her revenge. Why not have an opera based on her tragedy be the catalyst for her ghost’s retribution?

Cynthia Kuhn: The Spirit in Question (Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries #3)

“Did you hear anything? Any footsteps? Or catch sight of anyone?”

“No. Not a sound. I know it sounds crazy but I’m positive there was no one else on the stage. It was empty. Except…we do have a ghost here. I mean, that’s been proven.”

I didn’t know about the proven part. “It’s certainly been repeated as a possibility.”

He rearranged the skull-patterned scarf around his neck. “Well, I don’t know how else to explain it. I’m an open-minded man. And even Sherlock Holmes recognized that sometimes the truth can seem improbable.” — from The Spirit in Question


I never set out to write a (slightly) paranormal story. When I began The Spirit in Question, all I knew was that it would involve Tolliver Ingersoll, a character with a big personality who had been cut from the first two books. My editor had been right about that—he didn’t serve any necessary purpose in those stories, but he just kept walking into scenes while I was drafting! So I decided to give him his own book.

Since Tolliver is a playwright, the book needed to center on a play. As I began to imagine the theater in which it would be staged, I remembered a tour I’d taken years ago at the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colorado. It was the kind of unsettling visit that sticks with you. As soon as we entered the theater, my senses went on high alert. Although it is a beautiful space, the shadows loomed and the air was charged. And when we went below the stage, all I can say is that it was full of presence. Instant goosebumps. Ice-rolling-up-your-spine type of thing. Creepy. Weird. Uncanny. Wonderful. So of course that’s what emerged in the book too…in the form of a haunting.

Have you ever been in a haunted theater? Or…what is your favorite theater? Your comment will qualify you to win an ebook from Cindy, Alexia, or Cynthia. Winners will be announced tomorrow here in the thread.

Wishing you a spirited Halloween, everyone!

Cindy Brown writes the Ivy Meadows Mysteries. For more information, please visit

Alexia Gordon writes the Gethsemane Brown Mysteries. For more information, please visit

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries. For more information, please visit

53 thoughts on “Three Hauntings

  1. I can’t say that I’ve ever been in a haunted theater. I’ve actually never been in an opera house at all. But your stories behind the stories were great & add so much to reading the book.
    Thanks for the chance to win!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. How cool that you all have books with similar themes! I don’t go to the theater often enough to have a favorite, and I’ve certainly never been in one that was haunted (that I know about), but I guarantee I will be thinking about ghosts the next time I’m at an opera or a show.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This is so cool! Great minds think alike, but put their own twist in it, right?
    I love the idea of haunted theaters. Never been in one myself. Unless you count seeing Phantom of the Opera live. That counts, right?
    My favorite theater look is actually the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Colorado. My ex wanted to get married in it. For status purpose, you see. And the reception at the Hotel Jerome. Again for status reasons. Uh, no! I thought using a historical landmark like that for a wedding is tacky. It’s a place for the arts!
    A haunted opera house in Central City? I need to get out there to see this! I’ve only been to Central City in the dark, to gamble. I’m so going there the next time I’m in Denver

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, Phantom counts! 🙂 And I’ve never been to the Wheeler…going to add that to my list. Thanks for the mention. And yes, the opera house in Central City is right near the casinos. Pretty handy.


  4. I’m not sure if it’s haunted, but the Garret Theatre on my university campuse (housed in what used to be a chapel) certainly has the right atmosphere for a haunted theater. Very beautiful, but slightly creeping and gothic at the same time.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Cynthia, so glad you brought friends with you to Chicks today! Love all three of these series — and their authors! I also love ghost stories and want to believe, but so far I haven’t encountered any (unless you count light orbs in photos) in theaters or elsewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thanks so much for visiting today, Cindy and Alexia! What fabulous stories! I love the opera, and have spent many an hour at the SF Opera House, the Met, and various others around the world, but, alas, have never seen any signs of a ghost. Maybe I’m just not paying enough attention…

    And Alexia, that story of the woman being sacrificed to ensure successful construction brings to mind poor Freya in Das Rheingold, who narrowly escaped being sacrificed to the Giants so that Valhalla could be completed. (And karma did indeed descend upon the gods by the end of Götterdämmerung.)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Leslie, next time you go to the opera, you know what to do. 😉

      And I have to say, Alexia, that story in your excerpt gave me goosebumps!
      And now that I mention that, Cindy, the doors in your excerpt gave me goosebumps too.
      To recap: I have goosebumps.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Fascinating and terrifying, really. Makes me think of (spoiler alert but these are very old stories) “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe, where the wife is walled up, and “The Giant Wistaria” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, where someone is not walled up, per se, but becomes part of the house…


  7. Thanks to these 3 spirited authors for a fun post! Cindy, was the husband in on his wife’s stonewalling? Was he at least ticked off? Cynthia, I am haunted now by that opera house photo–eek! And Alexia, the Cleveland Symphony Music Hall photo eerily reminds me of the old Malice hotel.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. They all sound enticing. I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I think there have been paranormal occurrences that can’t be explained away. My family and I once stayed in a cottage in England the was several hundred years old. I felt a presence there so strong that after pulling the covers over my head, I told my husband that if our children needed anything during the night that he would have to get up to deal with it. I wasn’t leaving my bed.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Our Theater at the Univ. of North AL is haunted. A workman fell off scaffolding while they were building it. Supposedly he appears up on the Cat Walk to people. I never saw him but it did get chilly in one spot and you could see shadows…

    Liked by 3 people

  10. ★ Thank you to *everyone* for commenting and….here are the winners, selected by the random number generator!

    Hestia: please visit Cindy’s book list, then return here and tell us which book you’d like (just comment below)!

    Sandy: please visit Alexia’s book list and return here and tell us which book you’d like (just comment below)!

    Karaleigh2: Sandy: please visit Cynthia’s book list and return here to tell us which book you’d like (just comment below)!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yay me! Thank you so much! As much as I am being drawn to this particular book because I love hauntings, I think I should start at the beginning of Cindy’s series. Else I will be seriously confused. And you DO NOT want me confused!
      I choose Macdeath. Lay on McDuff! I will figure out who the killer is before the curtain falls. I Want a standing ovation!
      Thank you again, and I can’t wait to go on this adventure!


      1. Perfect! Please send me an email at info@cindybrownwriter so that I have your address, and I will send along MACDEATH. And though this book may not have a haunting, it does have a curse…


  11. It seems as if I was with you in Leadville. I can almost see the front steps as we rose up into the first room. Probably because your description matched mine. Thank you.


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