Today I’m thrilled to feature a guest post from USA Today Bestselling Author DelSheree Gladden! DelSheree has several bestselling young adult series, including Invisible (which I absolutely loved and highly recommend, and which was part of the USA Today Bestselling box set, Pandora). The Date Shark Series is her first contemporary romance series, and her first book in her upcoming new adult series, The Ghost Host, will be releasing 2015.
DelSheree Gladden was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.
Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing, and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
Here’s a description for The Ghost Host, and check out that cover! I LOVE the creepy house.
Everyone thinks Echo Simmons is crazy, but being The Ghost Host isn’t just a YouTube hoax like people think. It’s the only way to control the ghosts haunting her…at least until the FBI shows up asking questions.
The first eighteen years of Echo Simmons’ life have been less than ideal. On more than one occasion her parents have considered committing her. They don’t believe she sees ghosts or that they harass her on a daily basis. So when a rogue ghost begins tormenting her, they’re the last people she’s going to tell. Her best friends Holden and Zara are doing their best to help, but ghost attacks are only the beginning of Echo’s problems.
Handling the ghosts by giving them a voice on YouTube through her webshow has been her saving grace—even if her parents think it’s all a hoax—but that gets a little complicated when the ghost of Madeline Crew reveals a little too much about her previous life and the FBI shows up at her door wanting to know how she gained access to long-buried government secrets.
It just keeps getting worse from there. Madeline’s message to her great grandson sparks a strange connection between Echo and Malachi, which leads to Georgia, secrets, mistakes, love, lies, and life changing revelations.
The scariest story I have isn’t very scary. I was home alone as a teenager—I think my parents were out of town for a few days—and they had asked some friends of ours to check in on me. My friend’s dad loved to pull pranks and scared me half to death when he snuck up next to the living room window where I was watching TV and started whispering in Spanish and tapping on the window. I’m a big fraidy cat even on a good day, so I freaked out. When he started laughing and knocked on the door, I almost didn’t answer it even though the laughing was a clue I’d just been punked. I laughed later and he apologized for scaring me so badly and we still laugh about it now.
Even though I’ve never experienced anything supernatural, I grew up in an area that is absolutely rife with myths and legends that will keep you looking over your shoulder. To be more specific, I grew up just outside of the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. We lived on the “rez” for several years when I was little while my dad was working at the hospital there before moving to a nearby town. New Mexico has a fascinating mix of Native American and Spanish culture and stories. Every few years the news will report about people seeing Chupacabras…as a real news story. There are usually pictures, even. Less publicized are stories of Yee Naaldlooshii, or Skinwalkers.
There’s a reason stories like this don’t end up on the news, and that’s because they really freak people out around here. Navajo friends I had growing up would barely talk about skinwalkers, even the adults. Every once in a while these creatures will pop up in movies or literature, but often it’s not a very accurate portrayal because it’s tough to get people to talk about them or their encounters. Why? Well, when you believe something evil is real and could come after you, you don’t talk about it, right?
So what are skinwalkers? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve always loved scary stories and this is what I’ve learned growing up and hearing stories about them.
Skinwalkers are evil, products of black magic and not so nice intentions. They aren’t creatures, like a Chupacabra or Big Foot. Creating a skinwalker requires someone capable of using dark magic and a person willing to do what it takes to take on the form. Many Native American traditions believe certain people have the ability to utilize power from a spirit animal, but this is a little different. Some stories say the witch, or practitioner of the Witchery Way, needs to actually cover themselves in the pelt of an animal to shape change, and other stories say this isn’t a requirement. It’s believed by some that high level practitioners of the Witchery Way must commit evil acts and cultural taboos that strip them of their humanity before they are able to fully use their power. Seen as a perversion of their cultural and religious beliefs of beneficial magic meant to help the Earth, these witches are greatly feared and despised.
While skinwalkers are usually seen in the shape of coyotes, wolves, crows, eagles, and such, they can take on any shape depending on what skills you need to “borrow” from the animal form. Navajo culture rarely uses pelts of these types of animals because of their fear of what they might be used for. Mimicking animals isn’t the only thing skinwalkers can do, either. Many believe skinwalkers can copy voices of family members to lure people out, and even steal faces. Sometimes they look more human than animal, though never completely human. Looking into a skinwalker’s eyes may even open the window to them stealing your image, power, or energy.
What can skinwalkers do that scares people so much? Using their animal abilities they can go after enemies with unstoppable strength, speed, and agility. They are relentless, impossible to capture or kill, and may attack houses and cars, though they aren’t supposed to be able to enter a house without invitation. Many sightings of skinwalkers are of them watching a person or home, waiting for a chance to attack. Others are seen running alongside vehicles, even at high speeds. If they can’t accomplish their purpose by attacking, they can also utilize their magic and charms to harm their enemies, such as using corpse dust to poison victims. Practically unstoppable and difficult to identify, it’s no wonder nobody likes to talk about them, especially at night.
So, now that I’ve thoroughly creeped myself out, I’d love to hear what cultural myths and legends you grew up hearing, and which ones you’re still afraid of as an adult! And if you have any good ghost stories, please share! My newest project is a supernatural new adult mystery called, The Ghost Host, and I’m all about spooky, ghostly things lately.
Thanks DelSheree! I’m a little freaked out myself, but what a fascinating post. I appreciate you sharing about skinwalkers and your wonderful books! Want to find out more about DelSheree’s work? You can connect with her on:
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2015