Haunt on the Hill

What do you think? Is this the haunted house on the hill, the “I dare you” stop for trick-or-treaters? Will tiny costumed visitors venture up the darkened path, surrounded by ghostly pines? Trees that look as if they might bend and snatch. Is the reward at the door worth the risk?

Well, I guess it depends on how much you want that Snickers bar.

My turn-of-the-century craftsman makes good use of its hilltop location. The house tends to draw its share of comments, and for one night a year, we are the haunted house cliché. What can you do? On Halloween night, we’d be the haunted house on the hill if we decorated for Easter. Of course, it doesn’t take October 31st for most people to ask, “Is it haunted?”

Haunted is not the adjective I’d use. Is the house electric with spiritual presence? You betcha. It’s a question that came up before I ever wrote the Ghost Gifts series, novels centering on psychic Aubrey Ellis and her never-ending ghostly encounters. It’s now a fact that ties back to the books in ways I never imagined. The series of events below explains the ghostly muse in residence.

The house was originally owned by a woman named Anna Rathbun. She was responsible for the photos you see here. Take a close look. Not only are the photos a stunning depiction of early 20th century life, they tell you a lot about the owner of my hill side home. Anna was quite Bohemian for the era, a woman with eclectic tastes, a love of art and books—a poet, or so we discovered after learning her personal history. The nude sketches pinned to the walls are an edgy décor choice for the era. Anna was someone who relished creativity, expressive with her ideas no matter what society might have deemed appropriate.


Here’s the mind-blowing part of Anna’s story. I didn’t learn those facts from photos or archived history—not initially. I learned it from an acquaintance who has her own psychic gift. My phone rang one morning, not long after Ghost Gifts was published. My online friend apologized for the curious, out of the blue call, but went on to explain that a spirit had been pounding at her brain for days. The friend wanted to tell me about a woman named Anna, who’d lived in my house a century ago. She conveyed the above information in eerie detail. I listened, fascinated, but not entirely sure I believed everything she said. Admittedly, I felt like a disbeliever from my own novel. How could someone really know all this? The last thing my psychic friend said was that Anna didn’t want me to “know about her or the photos until now.”

What photos?

Birch Knoll, 2017

At the time, the psychic friend had no answer for that—it was just information she insisted was being conveyed to her. That’s where we left it. A few days passed. Again, out of the blue, another friend, who happens to run our local historical society, contacted me. A Boston museum had reached out to her. They were in possession of a 100-year old photo album they were trying to place. The name of our town was embossed on the leather cover. Could my friend see if the photos matched any local historical homes? Immediately, she thought of my house.

As you can see from the present day photo and the Birch Knoll photo, circa 1900, the properties are one and the same. This is the house in which Anna Rathbun lived and those are the photos I wasn’t supposed to know about—not until then. Not until an inexplicable phone call from a friend, who was being nudged by a spirit, one who wanted her story told.

I know. It’s a little mind-boggling.

Reading novels like Ghost Gifts and Foretold fits into the current season of ghouls, but a good ghost story works well anytime of year. That said, how did a standalone story, like Ghost Gifts, become a trilogy? Find out by listening to my podcast interview with AuthorBytes Café and learn how my spiritual muse and I turned one ghostly tale into three.


  1. Susan Peterson on October 29, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Just wow…..

  2. Vivian Payton on October 30, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    What an amazing story Laura. I’m a true believer. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Constance on November 20, 2017 at 4:37 am

    I want to thank you for some great down time .reading your books

    • Laura Spinella on November 20, 2017 at 8:46 am

      You’re very welcome, Constance! The pleasure is all mine!

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