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What Renee Mallett sees as fun, some folks might see as frightening.
Ghosts, for instance.
The author of the book “Strange New Hampshire” is clearly enamored of the spirit world and believes that it isn’t just people like her – researchers or hunters, if you will – who get to see such things.
“I think part of the fun of these real life ghost stories is that they happen to average people, usually as they go about their day-to-day business,” she said in an email to The Cabinet. “I think ghosts are equal opportunity frights: Everyone has the chance to encounter one.”
Her new book looks at odd places and occurrences around the state, including cemeteries in Wilton (Vale End) and Hollis (Pine Hill Road), but what got her started was Manchester.
“I was originally interested in Manchester’s local legends because there had not been very much written about them,” she said. “While the city might get a small mention in books about hauntings in the state, there had not been one volume that looked specifically at the city’s haunted places.
“I liked the idea of unearthing a few unheard of stories to go along with some of the more famous ones, like Manchester’s River Road ghost,” she said.
A website called Ghost Hunter Store lists that ghost, along with many others in the state, and describes it this way:
“There is a ghost jogger that runs down River Road every Halloween night at 1:45 a.m. The ghost looks like a normal person. He will not look or talk to you. Good luck it’s really creepy.”
That site also lists two spots in Milford – the Burns House and Lorden Plaza – and one in Merrimack – the Hannah Jack Tavern.
All these spots fascinate Mallett and she’s not alone. Recently, she spoke about and signed copies of her book at the Toadstool Bookshop in Milford. Manager Brian Woodbury said the crowd was small but enthusiastic.
“The book is selling well for this time of year,” he said.
“This is a great state to live in because it’s full of all things strange,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s very readable and entertaining and full of ideas. If you want to go out and explore your area, there’s some place to creep you out.”
Mallett’s interest in the paranormal began when she was young “and then, like many of the things that we get interested in as kids, I completely moved away from that.”
But when she began her writing career, she did a piece about the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Massachusetts.
“It has the double whammy of having once been the location of a very famous murder and is now supposed to be haunted by many, many spirits,” Mallett said.
After writing about the inn, she was given the opportunity to write her first book.
“It was so much fun I just kept writing more,” she said.
Among them is “Ghosts of Portsmouth, N.H.,” “Fairies, Mermaids, and Other Mythical Creatures,” and “Haunted Colleges & Universities of Massachusetts.”
“Strange New Hampshire” takes on ghosts, of course, but there is more to it, Mallett said.
“It also covers interesting tidbits from the state’s history, quirky tourist attractions and other bits of folklore,” she explained.
Although she believes, as she said, that ghosts are “equal opportunity frights,” she cautions that people can’t just go looking and automatically find.
“It doesn’t mean that if you pick up a copy of my book and drive to one of the locations I write about that you are guaranteed to see a ghost,” she said. “Ghosts don’t do tricks on demand. And it does seem that some people are more inclined to see ghosts than others, but I think that just being open to having an encounter raises your chances of having one.”