Monday, November 13, 2023

What’s a Nice Catholic Like You Writing a Paranormal Like This? by Catherine C. Hall


It’s the Golden Girls meet the Ghostbusters when four women find themselves in an unlikely career: Southeastern Paranormal Investigations. Ree Lane, a stylish widow, is more cynic than true believer, while her childhood chum Elle Harper has a knack for getting sensitive info with the help of her homemade pies. The preacher’s wife, Betsy Jones, can’t be seen with SPI unless she’s in her disguise as Nora, a psychic-in-training with a gift for Tarot. And the recently-returned-home Gillian Buchanan is a whiz at technology, especially of the supernatural sort. Their first case lands on the doorstep when neighbor Doris Tucker is sure her prized vintage dolls are haunted. But there’s hardly time for ghost-hunting when the bank director’s wife mistakes SPI for a private eye venture. Now they’re also hot on the trail of a misbehaving husband. It’s a wild ride as the sixty-something sleuths start digging into the past. But have the Ladies of SPI gone too far? And how far will Sutter go to keep its secrets dead and buried? Purchase a copy of Secrets Laid to Rest on Amazon. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.


What’s a Nice Catholic Like You Writing a Paranormal Like This? 

I suspect that most people reading Secrets Laid to Rest put me in Ree’s shoes. And yes, like Ree, I’m a bit of a merry widow. But Betsy, the preacher’s wife who dresses in a disguise as Nora, a Tarot card reader and wanna-be psychic, definitely holds a piece of my heart. She’s the character that allows me room to wander among the supernatural as well as my faith. 

Growing up in Savannah, Georgia put me square in the middle of priests and the paranormal. I attended Catholic schools, and all of my friends were Catholic, too. It would seem a somewhat insulated upbringing but because Savannah is such an old city, I was exposed to all that history, much of which included spirits and hauntings. There I was, learning my catechism, while my mother pointed out houses in downtown Savannah that had purported haunting activity. “The people who live here,” she’d say, “hear glasses clinking, voices, and laughter. And when they get up in the morning, chairs are moved around!” Wow! I was totally hooked on those real ghost stories. 

I still love a good ghost story, the kind where spirits roam old haunts; I never met a ghost tour I didn’t like. But I also love to hear the stories about loved ones who visit, the times when the supernatural intersects the everyday. And you would be surprised how often regular folks have real ghost stories to tell. Long before I wrote Secrets Laid to Rest, I wrote a young adult novel about a girl who’s psychic. It wasn’t uncommon, in talking about the book, that someone, somewhere would tell me about their own paranormal happenings. Once, sitting in my hairstylist’s chair, she said, “I grew up seeing ghosts all the time.” She was a psychic herself; the gift ran in her family, but she no longer “welcomed” spirits. Every time I got my hair cut, I’d get a spirited story! 

Of course, there are all kinds of supernatural experiences throughout the Bible and faith itself is believing that which we cannot see but know to be real. So even though the nuns would not have any nonsense, like students entertaining the class with ghost stories, we certainly loved hearing about angelic intervention and miracles! So I explore, in my stories, my lifelong interest in the paranormal. And I also pray regularly for loved ones who I hope are enjoying themselves in heaven. And if ever I wonder if my searching or beliefs are crossing a theological line, I’ll ask my cousin, the priest. He’s always happy to talk it out (or set me straight). Except Ouija boards. No good Catholic girl goes near that! 


About the Author

There’s a great song, I’ve Been Everywhere, made popular by Johnny Cash (and a couple commercials). If you put the song in Georgia, it would be about Catherine C. Hall, starting when she moved to the Peach State at eight-years-old. She grew up in Savannah, Georgia, where you can’t throw a stick without hitting a ghost. Even when she was a little girl, Savannah was known for its haunted history, and she was hooked! Broadcast Journalism hooked her as well, so she studied at Valdosta State University way down in South Georgia where it is the heat and the humidity. She worked in a few radio stations, but it was WNEX Radio in Macon that turned out to be life-changing. She met a cute deejay from Sandersville, Georgia, and married him a year later.

They moved above the Gnat Line (Oh, it’s real) to the Atlanta area, where they grew their family to two boys and a girl, and she took a turn in the teaching world. And then whoosh! She met the half-century mark wondering what to do. Maybe it was the merlot talking but after years of reading mysteries, Catherine thought it was high time she wrote one. And she did; it was awful. (And way too short. Who knew readers expected 70, 000 words?) So she learned her craft, starting with flash fiction, then moving on to short fiction, where she won a few awards. She wrote essays that ended up in books like Chicken Soup for the Soul. She penned assorted humor columns and continued to freelance. And then one day, she wrote another story that wasn’t exactly novel length but it wasn’t a short story, either. It was a children’s book.

She joined SCBWI, the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and had a wonderful career in children’s writing, including publishing six books. But in the midst of her last two book contracts, life changed unexpectedly when Catherine’s favorite deejay up and died. When at last she wanted to write again, she heard four women of a certain age, each seeking purpose and joy in where they found themselves, which for them was a small town in Georgia called Sutter. For Catherine, it was at home, still in the Atlanta suburbs, revisiting the ghost stories of her youth, and finally getting that mystery written. All 70,000 words of it!

You can find Catherine online at:




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