Humor Meets Horror: Diane Tolley and Ghost of the Overlook

dianetolleyghost4cropped-1Diane Tolley is our latest Humor Meets Horror Author. I am a huge fan of Diane’s blog On The Border where she shares wonderful stories of her family in Alberta, Canada.  Check out Diane’s many books on Amazon and this excerpt comes from her children’s book Ghost of the Overlook

Diane’s bio:

Diane Stringam Tolley was born and raised on the great Alberta prairies. Daughter of a ranching family of writers, she inherited her love of writing at a very early age. Trained in Journalism, she has penned countless articles and short stories. She is the published author of twelve novels. Her thirteenth, Daughter of Ishmael is due to be released soon. She and her husband, Grant, live in Beaumont, Alberta, and are the parents of six children and grandparents of seventeen-plus.

“Diane lives in the past. It’s peaceful there.”

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Book description:

Are you afraid of ghosts?

When her father takes over the management of a graceful old hotel, Tabby Pillay is forced to uproot, leave all her friends, and relocate to a town far away.

Her life, at the age of eleven, is over.

Then Tabby discovers the hotel isn’t quite the boring old building it appears to be, but is in fact famous for the small, shrouded figure that haunts its ballroom and, periodically, sends guests screaming in terror.

A figure that, from the moment Tabby enters the building, follows Tabby’s every step.

Is it a spirit simply seeking help?

Or is something darker happening?

Excerpt: That evening, Tabby was sitting quietly on a bench just outside the door of the ballroom, listening to the music.

Until a few minutes before, her parents had been sitting there with her, but the music had proved too tempting and they had ducked into the ballroom for a quick waltz.

Tabby sighed. The orchestra was good. In her short eleven years, she had heard enough of them to know. She leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes.

Very good.

The music stopped and Tabby could hear someone speaking on the mike.

Star Clipper
Star Clipper

Two couples came out of the room.

Tabby opened her eyes and watched them walk past.

“She looks just lovely,” one of the women was saying.

“Oh, I don’t know. I really don’t care for her gown,” the other woman said. She turned to her companion. “What do you think, Rob?” she demanded.

He looked at her, surprised. “Oh—umm—she’s the one wearing the white dress, right?” he stammered.

“Good answer,” the other man said.

The four of them laughed and disappeared up the stairway.

Tabby felt a presence beside her and turned, thinking her parents had returned. She felt the blood drain from her face.

A figure about Tabby’s size, its face and body hidden beneath a long, white cloth, was sitting on the bench. Tabby could see the stripes of the bench upholstery through it.

“Oh!” Tabby slapped both hands against her mouth and instinctively slid sideways off the bench, landing with a thump on the thick carpet. Then she scrambled awkwardly to her hands and knees and started crawling frantically away.

Oh, please don’t go!” the ghost said. There was something desperate in the words. “Please. I so need to talk to you!

The voice was a whisper of sound. Faint and hollow as though it came from the bottom of a barrel. But it echoed through the great room and wrapped itself around Tabby until it seemed to be coming from every direction at once.

Tabby slowed. Then finally stopped and turned her head to look back.

The ghost had remained sitting on the bench. “Please,” it said again, holding up a pleading hand.

Tabby scrambled to her feet. “But you’re a—you’re a—you’re the—” Tabby couldn’t get the words out.

The ghost,” it said, sadly. “Yes. I know.”

Tabby rubbed her eyes, hard, with the heels of her hands. Then she dropped them and looked again.

The ghost was still there.

Please talk to me,” it said again, patting the bench beside it.

Tabby looked at it. “You’re not going to—scare me, are you?” she asked.

Not intentionally,” it said.

Tabby could see the faint lines of a mouth curve into a smile beneath the cloth as she slowly approached her seat.

The ghost patted the bench again. “Please.”

Tabby perched carefully on the edge, as far from her luminous companion as she could get. She took a deep breath. “Okay,” she said nervously. “Talk.”

The ghost laughed. “Well, it’s not quite that easy,” it said. “You can’t just order one into speech and have them comply.”

“What?” Tabby saw the mouth curve again.

What I meant to say was that I must gather my thoughts.”

“Okay.” Tabby waited as the silence stretched.

“Are you sure you know which car is theirs?” It was a man’s voice.

Tabby looked up.

A large, happy group of people had come out of the ballroom. They glanced at Tabby and smiled, then continued on.

“Of course,” another man in the group said. “I paid the best man a hundred dollars to tell me.”

“Oh. Right. Like that’s a guarantee.”

“You guys have no faith in me!”

“Years of experience have taught us–”

“Never mind. Let’s go.”

The group disappeared through the front doors.

“Huh,” Tabby said after they had gone. “They didn’t even seem to see—” She glanced at her companion, but the ghost had vanished.

Tabby got to her feet and looked around. Then she dropped to her knees and looked under the bench.

I wish they wouldn’t do that!

Tabby jumped and hit her head on the solid bottom of the bench. “Ouch!” She sat back on her heels, rubbing the spot.

The ghost was once more sitting where it had been before the interruption.

“Do what?” Tabby asked, still rubbing and feeling just a bit irritated.

The ghost glanced toward the outer door the group of people had used. “Turn up without warning.” It looked at Tabby. “It scares me.”

Tabby almost laughed. It seemed funny, somehow, that a ghost could be startled by the living.

“Where did you go?”

I left. I—don’t like crowds.”

“So you don’t like to be seen by large groups of people?” Tabby asked.

The ghost seemed to shiver. “That’s right,” it said. “It makes me feel–exposed.”

“But from the stories I’ve heard, you’ve appeared dozens of times in rooms filled with people,” Tabby said.

The ghost lifted a transparent shoulder. “I just can’t help myself when there is music playing,” it said. “I so love music. And dancing too, if I knew how.”

Tabby smiled. “I know what you mean,” she said. “My parents are like that.”

Are your parents the couple that was dancing one afternoon?”

“Yes. Dad was humming.”

Oh, they are exquisite!

“I’m going to pretend I know what that means,” Tabby said.

They dance beautifully!”

“Yeah, I think so, too,” Tabby said. She looked at the ghost. “So what did you want to talk to me about?” she asked.

Well, it’s difficult,” the ghost said.

“Shoot!” Tabby said.

Excuse me?

“Go ahead.”

Oh. Of course. I’m not used to your modern forms of speaking.

“Yeah.” Tabby grinned. “Well, there’s a lot of times when I don’t know what people are saying, either.”

This is going to sound rather strange,” the ghost said.

“Sitting here, talking to a ghost doesn’t seem strange to you?” Tabby asked. Then she shrugged. “What am I saying—?”

Again, she saw the faint smile. “I do understand,” the ghost said. “It’s just that–I’ve never asked for help before in all of the years I’ve been here.” It turned toward Tabby. “But there’s something about you. Something about the way you feel.”


Yes. I feel as though you are the one to help me.”

“Why me?”

I don’t know.”

“I’m only eleven,” Tabby said. “I can’t – you know – drive. Or do much.”

You will be able to help.”

“Okay. Shoot.”

The ghost smiled again. Then, abruptly, the smile vanished as it looked steadily at Tabby.  “I need you to find me.”

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