Today I'm thrilled to welcome author J.L Bryan to the blog! Mr. Bryan wrote one of the most memorable and fascinating books I read last year, Jenny Pox, and I'm very excited to be a part of the blog tour to kick off his newest release, The Haunted E-Book. In addition to this guest post, Mr. Bryan is hosting an unbelievable grand prize giveaway for the tour as well as individual giveaways on each of the tour blogs. You'll find all the details for the giveaway at the end of the guest post!
HOW TO HOST YOUR OWN SÉANCE PARTY
By J.L. Bryan
A séance party is the perfect way to get together with friends and family, enjoy a pleasant evening with wine and hors d'oeuvres, and summon the souls of the dead for some lively conversation.
The focus of a séance is talking with departed spirits, but your guests will be the ones departing early if you haven't provided for their comfort and entertainment. The following helpful hints, compiled by the editors of that wonderful (if nonexistent) periodical Ladies’ Haunted Home Journal, will make your séance party a spectral success instead of a spooktacular failure.
Invitations: Every party begins with the invites! You can go old-school with faded parchment and fine Gothic calligraphy—maybe even a gruesome blood color!--or ghostly white text on a black background. Avoid the temptation to use cartoony ghosts, as these can be insulting to your guests from the Other Side. If you absolutely must use lace-fringed invitations, old yellow lace is preferred. The dead enjoy things that are in a state of decay, like themselves.
Decorations: White, billowy window curtains and tablecloths are preferred. You'll want something lightweight, since it's easier for the ghosts to puff them out like a cold wind to let you know they've arrived. Candles are a must! Black or white, and occasionally red, are acceptable, but avoid bright spring colors. These could remind the ghosts of the lives they've lost, and next thing you know, you've got a nasty haunting going on. Your guests will run away screaming, ruining your party.
In general, keep your lights dim. Spread around a few plastic tombstones and skulls if you like, but don't go overboard. A scowling jack-o'-lantern by the front door lends a nice ambiance—and it can do double-duty by helping guests find your home!
Music: Build your music selections around the tastes of those you're trying to contact: Beethoven if you want to attract 19th-century Viennese intellectuals, David Allen Coe if you're summoning your dead Uncle Jeeter. (Tip: Mix in a little Hall of the Mountain King, and Mozart's Confutatus, as these songs make any ghost feel right at home!)
Refreshments: No séance party would be complete without spirits, and we think nothing says “ghostly” like a fine white wine. Consider serving lady fingers and other foods named after dismembered body parts. Ghosts themselves like to taste the blood of the freshly killed, so put in a call to your local slaughterhouse and make arrangements. Don't bore the ghosts back to death with chicken or pig blood—treat them to something a little more exotic, like goat or lizard blood. This could be a little more difficult to obtain, but those big, skull-like grins on your guests' faces will be worth the extra effort!
Entertainment: The main event of your party is calling up the dead, so your choice of a medium might be the most important one you make. An old gypsy woman is the classic medium, and always in fashion, but don't be afraid to branch out. It's critical to make sure your medium does look and act the part. Interview several, and whether you go with a voodoo woman from the bayou or a long-bearded old wizard, you need a medium with personality and people skills. A brusque, rude medium, or one who's always falling into speechless drooling trances, can turn off your guests, living and otherwise, and you'll be struggling to resurrect your dying party all night long.
Speaking with the Dead: The dead will be the life of your party—if you remember to treat them just like the living, and don't make them feel inferior just because they're disembodied. Keep the conversation light and moving. Avoid touchy subjects like: how they died, whether they have unfinished business on the earthly plane, and whether they feel a need for blood vengeance against any of the living. More pleasant topics include: their favorite memories from life, who they've met and mingled with on the Other Side, and how their living descendants are doing.
Wrapping up: After the séance, be sure that all of the dead have been thoroughly banished from your home. A séance can leave undesirable hauntings that only grow worse if you don't deal with them promptly. The medium should take care of this, but if you hear a lot of bumps in the night, chains in the attic or screams in the basement in the days following your party, be sure to call a parapsychologist or the religious leader of your choice to clear out those guests who just won't leave.
If you follow these simple guidelines, your séance party is sure to be a success! However, these tips can always be improved. In the comments below, let us know what you would do to make your séance party a fun and memorable experience. Don’t forget that commenting enters you to win today’s prize of a pair of ebooks (Dark Tomorrows and The Haunted E-book), plus it enters you for The Haunted E-book Tour Grand Prizes!
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He is the author of five novels and one short-story collection. His new novel is The Haunted E-book. The sequel to his novel Jenny Pox will be available by summer 2011.
As Mr. Bryan mentioned above, there are e-books of both The Haunted E-book and Dark Tomorrows up for grabs for one lucky commenter! Be sure and include your email address in your comment along with your response to the seance party prompt so I can contact you if you win. Every person who comments on the post today will also be entered in the grand prize giveaway which includes a KINDLE! There are tons of ways to get extra entries for the grand prizes, so be sure and check out Mr. Bryan's tour launch post HERE for additional details. Contest will run through midnight EST on January 27th. Good luck everyone and thank you so much Mr. Bryan!