Chilling Chat Episode 163 Theresa Braun


Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She teaches English literature, Theresa BraunCreative Writing and, in the evenings, a college writing course.  Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her work appears in The Horror Zine, Sirens Call, Schlock! Webzine, Hardened Hearts, and Strange Behaviors, among others.

Theresa is a remarkable and thought-provoking woman. We spoke of writing, travel, and her interest in ghost hunting.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Theresa! Thank you for chatting with me today.

TB: Thanks so much for having me.

NTK: How old were you when you first became interested in horror?

TB: That’s a really great question. I think I can trace it back to Sesame Street. The Count was one my favorite characters and I’m not sure that I realized he was a vampire. Then, my Scooby Doo days came along and I was a goner. When I was old enough to read I grabbed Nancy Drew and soon graduated to darker YA books from there.

NTK: Did this lead to an interest in writing horror?

TB: I don’t think I knew I wanted to write horror all the way back then. I was also very attracted to unicorns and such. But I think reading horror and watching horror movies and television shows helped to eventually steer me that direction. I’m rather happy that my generation had The Addams Family and The Munsters, as well as Elvira.

NTK: What horror movie inspired you to write? Is it your favorite?

TB: That’s a great question. I think I’d have to say Poltergeist was an inspiration, along with The Amityville Horror. There was a period in my life where I wanted to get my hands on a lot of the classics. The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby are also big influences on me. And I’m really fascinated by The Exorcist. But I also recall watching a lot of horrible B movies like Basket Case, for example.

Laughable horror is like its own guilty pleasure!

NTK: You mentioned The Munsters and The Addams Family. Are these horror comedies your favorite horror TV shows?

TB: I watched The Munsters, but I didn’t like them as much as The Addams Family—probably because they weren’t as dark as the latter.

NTK: Your stories exhibit a certain amount of darkness. Where did you get the idea for “Heirloom?”

TB: That story came from a couple of different sources. I had an idea for that grim past life the main character experiences. And, at the time I had been talking to a good friend who is a therapist. She mentioned one of her patients to me (anonymously, of course). Since she is really petite, I started to put myself in her shoes and played around with the idea of gender power play. Then I started to think how awful it would be if that client/patient was connected to her in a big way, a way that spanned several lifetimes. What kind of lessons could be learned? The mirror kind of came in last. I’ve always had a fascination with them, and with antiques. They’re like these crazy portals, according to people who believe in the paranormal. Funny thing is that my entire living room wall is a mirror. Sometimes I wonder if spirits or energies are visiting me from time to time. Hopefully, nothing like what happens to my protagonist in “Heirloom” will happen to me.

NTK: That’s awesome! And, it’s a little frightening too. You know a thing or two about spirits. Can you tell the Addicts a little about ghost hunting?

TB: Sure, that’s one of my favorite topics. I used to live in a haunted house in Winona, Fountain Dead by [Braun, Theresa]Minnesota, which is the inspiration for my latest novel Fountain Dead that comes out in November. Back then, I didn’t really have an interest in looking for ghosts. I was more concerned with ignoring the goosebumps or the feeling that I was being watched. My dreams were pretty crazy as well. I had several vivid nightmares about these water-logged women who came out of this pool outside, a pool that didn’t exist. Anyway, I’d have to say that the hobby of ghost hunting didn’t take hold until sometime in my thirties. Whenever I’d travel, I’d take the walking ghost tour. (Venice was a particularly amazing tour, by the way.) Eventually, I started getting tape recorders to capture EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and I snapped a lot of pictures of orbs and weird light anomalies. I’ve gotten some really spooky pictures and some eerie recordings. Some of them sounded rather demonic, to be honest. In Key West, I left a tape player on ‘record’ while I went to sleep. When I woke up, the device was cracked/broken. That kind of set me back a bit for a while. Now, I try to do a lot of my capturing of phenomena with apps on my cell phone, or dowsing rods. Just paying attention to vibes is another really good indicator of activity. That is the short version of my focus on the subject. I’m always on the lookout for new haunted destinations and future places to visit. The Stanley Hotel and the Winchester House are pretty high on the list at the moment.

NTK: Where do you think ghosts come from? Are they manifestations of the departed? Or are they something else?

TB: That has to be one of the deepest questions I’ve been asked in a long time. I think they come from different sources. For me, most paranormal activity is a result of either an energetic imprint of the person or their actual spirit that is at unrest. They are trapped either in a loop, like a videotape, or they don’t fully understand that they need to move on. They might have unfinished business like trying to get someone to solve their murder, or something along those lines. But, I’ve also read that some people are so psychically powerful that they kind of project things onto the physical plane. Some poltergeist activity can be that, for example. Some people think that ghosts can be a manifestation of the mind. Or maybe the spirits are able to use a person to manifest here in this dimension. I think that all of these variations are entirely possible. At a minimum, we are all made up of very strong energy. It makes sense that this has the ability to stay behind after we are gone.

To be honest, part of me regrets not having become a parapsychologist. Isn’t that a real career?

NTK: It is! (Courses are available at the University of Edinburgh.) What do you think of Ed and Lorraine Warren?

TB: I think they are really interesting. How courageous of them to go into some of the most active locations to try to find answers about the paranormal activity. There have been times that I’ve been skeptical about them, but why wouldn’t you call these experts to help you out? Although, I think that some of the Hollywood versions of them have made them look a bit like caricatures. Some have even made them farcical.

NTK: Did any of your later experiences become fodder for your books? Did you write about Venice? Or Key West?

TB: I try to weave as much of this stuff into my writing as I possibly can. I’ve used parts of the Venice experiences, but haven’t really tapped into that fully. Probably will return to it in the future. The haunted house novel is probably the experience that I’ve written the most about. It’s rather personal, since when I was writing it I had the house in mind the whole time. I was surprised at how much really came back to me. I hope readers enjoy it. As far as travels and the paranormal things I experience, I keep really detailed journals. That way I can look back at it for both the memories, and also for fiction material. A recent trip to Transylvania turned into a vampire story, for example. Even though I didn’t set out to write a vampire story, I couldn’t talk myself out of it. I’d say that trip offered more inspiration than most. The Key West trip wasn’t that eventful, paranormal wise. Other than the recorder breaking on me, not much else happened. However, the Key West ghost tour is pretty fantastic. Lots of weird stuff happens in Florida!

NTK: Are your characters usually based on real people?

TB: Not always. However, I like to look to real people to give me some material I can work with. I pay attention to the news and watch a lot of supernaturally rich reality shows. There are so many of them that are great. I do think that my most well-rounded characters have some tether to reality, though. They are either partly linked to people I know or are an aspect of myself. Write what you know, right?

I’m also not immune to listening in on strangers’ conversations in public. And I’m sure I’m not the only writer who does that.

NTK: Do you exert much control over your characters? Do they do things you don’t expect?

TB: I’m making that up as I go along, since by nature I’m somewhat of a control freak. I like to have control over myself and things around me; however, the older I get, the more I’ve had to just go with the flow often. There are times when there is nothing you can do about the traffic jam making you an hour late. I’ve had to give the same license to some of my characters. A few times I push them into corners and they scream at me—metaphorically, that is. I have a few writer friends who talk to their characters. So, far that hasn’t been my experience. Most of the time when I don’t let my protagonists do what they need to do, I hit a writer’s block that doesn’t clear until I delete the problematic scene and rework the mess I’ve gotten them into. So, they don’t talk to me, but they do throw up the red flags for me to see.

NTK: Indeed. Do you belong to a community of ghost hunters? Is there such a thing?

TB: If I had the time, I’d totally search those out. I imagine they exist. That is totally something I’d be willing to look into at some point in the future. Right now, I feel like IDead Over Heels by [Braun, Theresa ] barely have time to write.

Not enough hours in the day!

NTK: What does the future hold for you? What books and stories do the Addicts have to look forward to?

TB: One of the projects I’m looking into is putting together a collection of short stories. As my brain is recovering from finishing my latest novel, I’m wondering if I’ll write a sequel. I’ve set it up that way, just in case the inspiration strikes. Otherwise, I’m hoping that the muses have something else cooked up for me. I have several notebooks and journals I can scavenge through. To make a long story short, I’m looking forward to what story needs to be written next. It’s hovering in the ethers as we speak. I just need to tune in. It’ll probably be something ghostly. And it will probably involve a romance.

NTK: As you know, season 13 of HorrorAddicts is CURSED! Do you have a favorite curse? If so, what is it?

TB: Ah, so many curses to choose from! Those Egyptian pharaoh stories are pretty intense. Imagine discovering a tomb and thinking you hit the jackpot, only to die a short time later? And, who would think that would really happen to them? Although that is scary, I think that the more mundane curses can be the worst ones. What I mean is that whatever we say to another person can have a lifelong effect, and if negative, can curse a person to suffer with those words. Someone’s life may even fulfill a negative prophecy as a result. I tell my students to always think about that when they speak, especially when it comes to bullying. We also discuss that in literature, too. When Mercutio dies and curses those two houses that has a detrimental effect on Romeo. It can be that simple. I heard on the radio that a woman told her kid that words are like toothpaste out of the tube. You can’t put it back, once you’ve spoken. Therefore, we need to be careful when wielding our words.

I’ve played around with this idea in some of my stories. Dialogue can get rather interesting from time to time. Muhahahahahah!

NTK: (Laughs.) Thank you for chatting with me, Theresa! That was fascinating.

TB: This has been a lot of fun! Thanks so much for this!

Addicts, you can follow Theresa on Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.


David’s Haunted Library: Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist



When you were a kid did you think monsters existed? Well they do exist and they’re everywhere, there are too many stories about monsters to think otherwise. The preface for  Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist edited by Mr. Deadman and Theresa Braun tells us that . There are 14 tales here about monsters that some believe really exist. I loved all the stories in this collection and couldn’t decide what to focus on since they all fit so well together so I decided to give info on each one:

Master Vermin by Wallace Boothill: The city of Baltimore has some dark places and there is a rat king that rules the night. I loved the idea of the characters trying to stop a low-income apartment from being destroyed and then finding a more sinister force at work.

Legend Trippers by Theresa Braun: An urban legend about a goatman and a man trying to escape the past. Great build up til the end and I liked the reality tv show crew looking for answers.

The Murder Of Crows by S.J Budd: Great little story about the goddess of death. Great twist in this story, loved the idea of what makes a serial killer.

Wicked Congregation by Gary Buller: Great storytelling here on the legend of faeries and what it takes to keep them from killing us all.

Playing Dead by S.E. Casey: This one is about a giant monkey and a strange little carnival. Loved how we find out what is really going on and how the main character feels about it.

Lake Monster by Mr. Deadman: This one combines a couple of legends, every forest has a legend, if the creature in the woods doesn’t get you the lake monster will.

Never Sleep Again by Calvin Demmer: Possibly my favorite in this book, half detective story and half horror story focusing on the monster under the bed. Loved how the monster looked and how he got around from bed to bed, love to see this one expanded to a longer piece.

The Voice From The Bottom Of The Well by Phillip W. Kleaver: Great story about a little girl with insomnia and what she is willing to do to keep the monster at the bottom of a well quiet. Sacrifices must be made and its a surprise who she chooses.

Eclipse at Wolfcreek by Sylvia Mann: This one looks at two kinds of monsters, one is the mothman and the other is something much scarier. I love the beginning of this story and seeing how the main character comes out of it stronger than before but still damaged.

No. 7 by William Marchese: Government experiments and conspiracies play a role in this one along with one terrifying monster. A creepy story with a good mystery.

Criatura by John Palisano: This one is about a bigfoot type creature living in the desert. Love the description of the monster in this one and what the monster seems to want.

Bitten by Christopher Powers: Great storytelling about a giant Spider and what it does to catch its prey. I liked the idea of two men sitting and one telling the story and the other not believing it, this one had a campfire tale vibe to it.

Kelpies by Leo X. Robertson: Good story about what happens if you are not loyal, the kelpies have a nice under the sea set up.

Bloodstream Revolution by M.R. Tapia: It’s a mystery who the monster is in this one, is it the warlords fighting over land or the chupacabras? It’s hard to disagree with the main character’s decision at the end.

Every story in Deadman’s Tome: Monsters Exist are fast paced and never leave you with that “When will this end feeling.” It’s a quick read with each tale grabbing you by the jugular and not letting go til the blood soaked end. This book is a horror fan’s dream which will give you nightmares for weeks.

David’s Haunted Library: Dead Over Heels

David's Haunted Library

33115353Veronica is looking for true love, it hasn’t been easy and now she thinks using a little magic may help. It works in the form of Sebastian and they hit it off instantly. Their first date is in a haunted restaurant and as luck would have it their romantic dinner is the scene of a supernatural encounter. They notice a young couple dining, but no one else does, and Veronica along with an apprehensive Sebastian decides to investigate further. They discover that they have a connection to the couple in question and they may be the only ones who can set the ghosts free.

Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun is a paranormal love story with  elements of horror and mystery. There is a lot going on in this book in a short period, and I loved how the story begins with a little foreshadowing to let you know this love affair is not your average affair. Everything was described in great detail from the characters emotions to the various settings.

I enjoyed how the couple’s relationship developed from the description of their first date to the point of when they realize that something strange is going on in the restaurant. My favorite part was when Veronica sees a couple very much in love and wishes that someday she can have something like that, not knowing what’s coming to her. There was also a scene where Veronica compares being abandoned to putting on a worn pair of jeans. With this line, I felt fully invested in this character and was hoping for a happy ending.

I loved how the author got you to like the two main characters before anything bad happened. During the second part of the book you get to witness the two changed by a paranormal revelation and they realize nothing will ever be the same. My one problem with the story is how it ended, without giving much away, it felt like there was no closure.  With that said, the writing was very good and I like how what happens in the past affects what happens in the future, showing that some things and people are connected. This is a good little ghost story and I would love to read some longer works from Theresa Braun.


Guest Blog: For Sale or Rent Book Review by Theresa Braun


The story opens with a housewife going through her mundane routine. There’s a vague sense that something is amiss in her life, but what is really of utmost concern is the dilapidated and overgrown property across the street that is “For Sale or Rent.” Both the protagonist and her husband remain nameless throughout the piece, creating a disconcerting effect. I also got the sense that the setting could be anywhere in the United States. The neighbourhood details are descriptive, but general enough for the reader to assume it could be his or her own block.

Prompted to investigate the source of an unnerving sound, the protagonist crosses the street and peeks into the house in question. She finds that there is more going on there than the abandonment of a property, a piling up of dead bugs, and a jungle of a front yard. Once she meets the realtor, things start to take an ominous turn. Not only is there something off about his appearance, but the predictions he has for the housewife are enough to have anyone running for the hills.for sale or rent_

The suspense keeps building until it’s confirmed that the main character’s husband is one of her threats. Around that time, the whole neighborhood seems stuck in some kind of bad dream. What exactly has moved into the house?

Things aren’t what they seem, and the housewife begins to question her sanity. Her world spirals out of control and eventually she has to surrender to the inescapable madness around her. The last stretch of the story is rather frightening, yet some of my questions about what was going on in the spooky structure are not answered. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the nail-biting ride.

My favorite character would be a tie between the realtor, the old neighbor, and the person on the other end of the phone when she calls 911.

My favorite scene is one toward the end where the protagonist is at the height of her threatening situation and she calls 911. For me, things got a whole lot scarier at this point.

Best line:  “His features became liquid, sliding over the bones of his face until only a blank flesh-colored mask remained gasping around a horrible toothy maw.”

What was best for you as a reader? The story’s gradual reveal of details and the build-up to the closing lines really worked. I’d have to say that Madron preyed on my personal fears. The idea that the world could suddenly change and not be what it seems is rather terrifying—especially when the people who are supposed to be closest to you turn out to be your enemy. Questioning reality and my sanity would scare me senseless. There’s not much you can do if you’re mind becomes your prison, or if the world at large wants to devour you, literally.

The opening of the story was a little slow for me (although I was happy that I hung in there). When I went back to read the first few pages again, it was apparent that Madron planted some intentional details that were well thought out. However, I was anxious to get the horror party started. On another note, not everything has to be answered for me when I read a story or see a movie. Some of the best plots have left me hanging. That said, there are a few questions I had after putting this particular piece down. I wanted to know more about what was taking over the neighbourhood (trying to be vague here as to not spoil anything) and what the sound was that the housewife investigated at the beginning. Furthermore, why would an evil force out to destroy you give you psychic predictions regarding your fate—unless it was an intentional tactic to drive you out of your wits? A little more elaboration on this would have been welcomed, for me.

Because this story tapped into my personal fears, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. There’s a bit of a Lovecraftian vibe, so if you like his stories, you will enjoy this one.



Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame. Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and her latest short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine.


Guest Blog: The Box Jumper Review


Guest Blog : The Box Jumper Review

by Theresa Braun

Plot: This story takes place in the mind and memory of Leona, Harry Houdini’s onstage assistant, or box jumper. The protagonist’s dreams and memories also jump through the span of the magician’s career in America during the early 20th Century. It is worth mentioning that Mannetti’s thorough research of Houdini and his world is beautifully evident in the narrative.

Hypnotizing images and emotions are expressed by Leona as she recounts her bittersweet connection with Houdini that transcends the conventional relationship. As the novella progresses, I became immersed in the passion that plummets into a haunting possession, and even heart-breaking madness. Without realizing it, I found myself unable to put the story down because I was so emotionally invested in Leona’s journey.

Houdini passionately wants to debunk spiritualists swiftly acquiring notoriety for their outrageous séances. He uncovers all sorts of hidden secrets behind their chicanery, all with Leona’s help. Together, they navigate social scandal to uncover the charlatans in their midst. We are left wondering if he will escape from his enemies as easily as escaping from one of his illusionist stunts. In addition, Leona begins to wonder if there are dark supernatural forces at work, leading to the tale’s shocking conclusion. It was one of the best endings I’ve experienced in a long while.


My Favorite Character: Although my first reaction would be to reiterate Leona’s likeability as a character, I have to say that Mannetti’s love for Harry Houdini and the compassion for him as a person is wonderfully portrayed through the eyes of Leona. We really get a sense of how complex he was as a person.

Favorite Scene: By far my favorite was the final one. It kind of snuck up on me. I felt like I was following Leona off a cliff. Before I knew it, I was dangling in mid-air, about to drop to my death. And then she was gone. I can’t say anything else without giving it away, but the conclusion delivered.

Best line: “The shadow shot filthy black tendrils that swept the very air aside, sinking downward like corpses hurled into the sea—and, stunned, with my mouth gaping, I felt the stinging vine-shape hurtling down my throat and anchoring deep inside me.”

What did you like best as a reader: Mannetti’s writing is mesmerizing. Her sentences are powerful and gripping. Part of what kept me flipping the page were her descriptions and words choice. She is a must read for that very reason.

What did you like least as a reader: The novella’s narrative construction is not for everyone. It’s told in a stream of consciousness, which always left me asking if it was the past, present, or future. Then, I began to wonder what was real, a dream, or if the memories Leona shared were mere fabrications. That is precisely the author’s intent, since Leona is an unreliable narrator. I will tell you that if you stick with the story and just keep reading, things fall into place. The pieces will make sense. Just be warned that you will be giving your brain a workout.

Rating : 4 out of 5 here. There is definitely a dark tone throughout much of the story, woven into this historical fiction. For me, it’s the descent into madness and the flirtation with the spiritual realm earn this “scare score.” Although the extreme terror doesn’t hit until the final portion of the story, I feel the build-up is definitely worth the wait. It’s a satisfying read that will leave you deliciously disturbed.


Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame. Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and her latest short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine.

Contact info: Twitter: @tbraun_author  Facebook

Guest Blog : 9 Fears that Loom in The Shining


9 Fears that Loom in The Shining

By Theresa Braun

I finally read Stephen King’s The Shining. Why have I waited so long to read a book that came out in 1977? I blame Stanley Kubrick. The movie was so masterfully done and was so scary that I remember not being able to watch it when I was home alone. Suddenly, all the mirrors in the house seemed like they’d show me some horror I’d rather not face. I worried blood might start flooding the hallways, or I might hear an axe coming through the front door.

Then, someone told me to get on Netflix and rent the documentary Room 237, which analyzes some hidden gems in Kubrick’s film. It was then I realized I wasn’t the only one obsessed with the movie. Stumbling through some online resources, I discovered that Manny MassGrave Serrano wrote an incredible article about Kubrick’s masterpiece. ( But, I digress—back to King’s version.

Stupidly, I was afraid that the novel wouldn’t live up to what I experienced in the motion picture. However, I’m so thrilled when I finished King’s original work. So much more is present in the complete telling of the story, as is always the case. But many of you have probably read the book, so I don’t want to rehash the spooky plot details. What I do want to discuss is what it is that makes this book so terrifying. What fears does King tap into? After all, he’s known as the master of horror for a reason.


Significant Fears The Shining Reveals to Readers:


Nature & Isolation: As humans, we have an innate awareness that nature is a bitch and should be feared. Throughout the novel, we are reminded the elements have the upper hand as the wind is whipping and howling at the windows. Combine that fact with the terror of isolation. There’s a reason that solitary confinement is a punishment in prison. We need other people around us to remain sane. Even though the Torrance family has each other, that becomes less and less comforting. King plants that in our minds from the beginning, as Wendy thinks about the Donner Party and what shocking things isolation drives people to do. So when Jack destroys the CB radio and throws the part of the snowmobile’s engine into the snow, we freak out because he is intentionally keeping them captive at the hands of the hotel. That isolation in the midst of not knowing exactly what they are up against is freaking bone chilling.


The Supernatural: We assume the hotel is merely haunted by ghosts of the past. The idea that there are entities that can appear out of nowhere, talk to us and touch us from beyond the grave—that is enough to give someone a heart attack. However, there is something more menacing plaguing the entire grounds. Inside, inanimate objects move on their own, like the fire extinguisher hose. And things materialize out of nowhere, as in the party favors in the elevator, or the martinis Jack pounds back at the bar. Outside, the hedge animals come alive and there is something dark looming at the playground. Obviously, this supernatural phenomenon is more than a regular haunting. That evil force is so powerful that it gets into the heads of all the characters. Something that invades the very essence of ourselves is truly horrifying. The fact that the hotel can do this cranks up the fear factor. And, it also has the power to influence the characters’ actions, particularly Jack’s. This evil is referred to as the manager, which has this vague and powerful sound to it—but who or what is the manager? Is it a demon, the devil himself, or some primitive spirit that has been part of the land since the beginning of time? We aren’t exactly sure. King leaves it that way to make us wonder what diabolical entity is in charge of the Overlook. The not knowing is extremely unsettling


Murder/Violence: Probably the most obvious sign of evil in our midst is the killing or harming of human beings. And, that threat is present throughout the novel. The Overlook’s past is steeped in blood baths, the most notable is the mob slaughter in the Presidential Suite, but we know there has also been the last caretaker who murdered his family and then himself. Jack also embodies this. We see it in the very beginning when we find out he has broken Danny’s arm in a drunken rage, and later when he attacks a student. Sober or not, Jack has violent tendencies. So, it’s not that hard to see him making that final shift to the dark side because he is familiar with it. The hotel takes him one step further, urging him to kill his own family. That frightens us as readers since none of us want to become acquainted with such heinous behavior.


Others/The Ones We Love: We should never fear the ones we love or who love us. That is exactly what Wendy and Danny struggle with regarding Jack. When Jack’s tender and romantic with Wendy and when he’s sensitive and is bonding with Danny, we pray the good in Jack is stronger than the dark. Unfortunately, Jack represents the fact that we need to be afraid of those we love the most. We can’t control how they think, feel, or act. That feeling of helplessness is a very scary thing—especially when it’s at the hands of someone who is supposed to care for us the most.


Ourselves/Our Minds: Jack represents the deterioration of self-control, something that haunts us all. Will we do the right thing, or will we give into temptation? Not only that, but Jack’s journey is also about our perceptions. What are our real thoughts? What are we really seeing or experiencing? What is a dream and what is real? We see that Jack wants to be triumphant over himself. He struggles with wanting a drink for most of the novel—and he resists. He never breaks down and consumes the cooking sherry. It isn’t until he is seduced by the hotel’s liquor that he succumbs. Jack also continues to wrestle with what he sees and doesn’t see, which we notice in his denials to his family. For example, he refuses to tell them about the lawn animals or what he experiences in room 217. He denies it because he doesn’t want to believe, or maybe because he’s afraid he’s losing his mind. Either way is mortifying. None of us wants to lose our grip on ourselves or our reality.


Psychic Ability: As cool as it sounds to be able to see things no one else can, having the shining is apparently a horror in itself. When Danny starts to see all of the nightmarish visions regarding the Overlook, we are immediately afraid for him and his family. Overall, these sightings are more disturbing than they are helpful. We feel better for Danny when Hallorann is able to talk to him about his gift. Thankfully, it’s their psychic connection that saves Danny and Wendy in the end. However, Danny has to go through hell in the meantime, knowing what his father is going to do. But, most shocking of all, it’s Danny’s powers of sight that the Overlook wants. If only the hotel can keep Danny forever, it might just be able to absorb his talent and use it. In the end, it’s the shining that puts a target on Danny’s back. So, when we consider wishing for psychic powers, we quickly retract that wish—better to be in the dark.


The Past: There is a constant feeling in the novel that the collective past can haunt us. We see this when Jack finds the scrapbook in the basement with the clues to the history of the hotel. Even though Jack agrees to keep the hotel’s demons private, those demons are still in his midst while the family stays there. Not only that, but history is a constant menace, as Jack echoes the horrible crimes that Grady committed against his family while caring for the hotel. Furthermore, our personal pasts can destroy us as our minds regurgitate it over and over again. It’s always alive. This manifests in Jack. He’s riddled with his guilt over his past mistakes, mainly hurting his son and losing his teaching job. Wendy and Danny can’t forget either. The hotel knows that we can go certifiably nuts when we can’t move on from the past, so it constantly reminds Jack of his. The Overlook’s macabre mission: trap everyone forever in its past.


Being a Failure: This is probably one of the more subtle and realistic fears in the entire novel since we’ve all had it. That’s what makes it so monumental. Jack represents the fear of failure since he’s had several of them leading up to his caretaking of the Overlook. It’s his need to succeed that motivates Jack to stay. He needs to be redeemed by proving to himself and to Al that he is a reformed alcoholic who is fit to teach again. He also needs to prove to Wendy that he can be a husband and provider. If he allows the hotel to get the better of him, he has failed. He reminds us of this as the novel progresses. One of the reasons he goes into perilous situations, such as room 217, is because he says it’s his job. His future depends on the completion of that job. We cringe as his possible redemption slips through his fingers. As he fails, we are reminded of our failures.


Death: Impending death is all over this story. Jack is disturbed that he and Al may have killed a bicyclist one drunken night—so much so that he and Al quit cold turkey. The hotel itself is packed with dead people, a reminder that the Torrance family could perish at any moment. Hallorann also confronts his mortality. However, it’s the loss of Jack’s life that hits us really hard. He bashes his brains in with the mallet because he knows he’s already dead to his family and must sacrifice himself to the hotel. It’s grotesquely heroic. When he’s gone, we miss him as much as Danny does. Probably the most interesting scene is when the Overlook’s existence is put in jeopardy. The hotel uses Jack’s battered and deformed body to save itself, hoping to prevent the final explosion. But the supernatural forces are no match for the real-life machinery that dictates its imminent destruction. Death itself has the final word as Jack and the hotel go up in flames. Ultimately, none of us can escape our final end—and that is truly frightening.

One thing I’m glad King was not afraid of is a happy ending. Now, there is a tragedy at the end of the novel; however, there is clearly hope for Hallorann, Wendy, and Danny to go on with their lives. Next book on my list: the sequel to The ShiningDoctor Sleep, published in 2013.


Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame. Traveling as often as possible is one of her passions—in fact, her latest adventure took her to Romania for a horror writers’ workshop where she followed in the steps of Vlad the Impaler. She writes horror fiction and her latest short story “Shout at the Devil” appears in Under the Bed Magazine.

Twitter :@tbraun_author