After Louise’s parents unexpectedly die in a car accident, she returns home to Charleston, where her plans to put her childhood home up for sale soon become complicated. There are endless things from her parents, including hundreds of dolls owned by her mother. Her estranged brother, Matt, is trying to cheat her out of her inheritance. And then there is the house itself, which does not want to let go.
Grady Hendrix, author of “How to Sell a Haunted House,” Said said her idea for the novel began during the pandemic, when many of us were becoming more aware of the mortality of our parents. Hendrix said, “One thing I realized is that when our parents die, we have to deal with all of their stuff.” “And what are ghosts but things left behind when someone dies?”
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Lewis is hardly alone in her skepticism about the house: A substantial proportion of Americans may believe that their house is haunted, too. find surveyAnd some states have passed laws that clarify what sellers do and don’t have to disclose about the alleged paranormal activityPrior murders and suicides.
I talked to Hendrix about his new novel and the subject of haunted houses and trying to sell them. Our interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Annie Nova: Recent One survey found that half of Americans believe their home is haunted. Why do you think there is so much superstition?
Grady Hendrix: I’ve just been on a book tour, and have met so many people who believe they live in a haunted house or that they’ve lived in one. To me, it’s perfectly normal. A home is where you spend most of your time. You sleep there, you go through all kinds of emotional things there. Why wouldn’t you think it’s haunted?
What are ghosts but what are the things left after someone dies?
Author, “How to Sell a Haunted House”
AN: What have people told you about living in a haunted house?
G h: Their ghosts often seem to follow their personalities. I would have people who would say, ‘Oh my god, our house was haunted. It was terrible. This ghost was attacking us and we had to break our leash and go.’ It’s a really intense experience for them, and as they tell it, they’re pretty intense. And then I’ll have someone who says, ‘Oh, yeah. Our house is haunted, but the ghost is very chill.’
AN: There are many stories about haunted houses. Why did you turn your attention to selling one?
G h: Cleaning the house after someone passes away, you’re dealing with the smell of their shampoo, the dent in the cushions of the couch where they used to watch TV. And it’s not just the physical stuff, it’s the emotional stuff: the memories, the scars, the inappropriate things you’ve always wanted to talk about but never did. Selling a haunted house was a great way to address all of these things in one easy package.
AN: When did the fear of haunted houses start?
G h: The first recorded incidents I saw were in the 1730s, and involved a drop in property values as a house was considered. But in the late 19th century, you saw a larger number of haunted houses, which coincided with a building boom in the suburbs. Suburbs really started to expand then, especially in London and some US cities, with property developers basically throwing up houses overnight.
A lot of the houses were poorly built, and would start to fall apart. You will hear mysterious sounds as your walls slowly give way. You would find mysterious cold spots because the building was not weatherproof. Then some of these houses will be unlivable, and thus you will have a block full of nice houses that will end up with a haunted looking house that was abandoned for 20 years.
AN: What usually starts people believing their house is haunted?
G h: The last time we had a really big boom in haunted houses was around the time of the subprime mortgage crisis. When real estate is busting and the economy is doing strange things, haunted houses appear. But there is no such thing as objective haunting. If you think your house is haunted, then your house is haunted, you know? Houses are haunted because people are there.
AN: One of the scariest things Louise inherited is the haunted puppet, Pupkin, who has a “layering clown face.” What are you trying to say about the downsides of inheritance here?
G h: Instead of the inheritance angle, I was really oblivious to the fact that we all have weird relationships with inanimate objects. We all have stuffed animals or blankets from childhood that we really attached to. We yell at our phones. We argue with our cars. We invest a lot of emotion in objects. With Pupkin, I really wanted an object that had so much emotion invested in it that you couldn’t walk away from it. It wasn’t letting you go.
AN: Is anything in the book based on personal experience?
G h: I’ve cleaned out houses of dead friends, and it’s one of those things that’s really hard for anyone to describe until they’ve been through it. You are dealing with such a large amount of stuff. You are under the weight of it all. It is a very strange experience.