Paranormal Party Guest – Stephanie Kuehnert

Welcome back to the Paranormal Party! We’re celebrating the release of my debut YA, This Is Your Afterlife. Are you having a good time? Have you been freaked out by some of the spooky tales we’ve shared over the past week?

I’m so lucky to be surrounded by a bunch of excellent writer friends. Today I’d love you to meet another one, the brilliant Stephanie Kuehnert!


Steph and I ‘met’ online years ago when we were both looking for critique partners. She has this amazing ability to see both the big picture and the nitty-gritty details, and I really have no idea where I’d be without her guidance. Music and cats are a huge part of her life, and those are just two of the many reasons why we get along so well. Steph’s first two YAs were published by MTV Books in 2008/2009. Keep an eye out for Steph’s upcoming memoir from Dutton Children’s Books.

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Stephanie Kuehnert

Ouija Boards & The Ghosts of Forest Park

My first encounter with a ghost was with George Washington. Like the first president of the United States, that George Washington. At least supposedly. It happened during a fifth grade slumber party at the queen bee/head mean girl of my grade school’s house where I used the Ouija Board for the very first time. There were maybe five or six of us and we were all sitting on the bed that folded out of the coach. The room was dark except for a couple of candles, most of us were nervous and giggly. I have no idea how we chose George Washington. I guess because we were eleven and no one had any dead people in their own life to call on—at least none they wanted to call on in front of everyone else—and he was a famous dead person who came to mind pretty easily and didn’t seem scary or evil.

However one of the first things someone asked him about was that cherry tree he chopped down as a child and apparently he didn’t to talk about it because suddenly the fold-out bed collapsed, we all screamed and a few people claimed to have seen a flash of green—you know like a dollar bill??? OMG—and then first Ouija Board experience was over right as it had just begun. I’m not going to lie, even though I didn’t see the green flash and I was pretty sure that the bed had collapsed from our weight, I was a little freaked out and I decided that the spirit world was best left alone… at least until I had something interesting or important to ask about.

My interest in the occult—tarot, the Ouija Board, psychic dreams, and love spells—arrived with puberty. I was thirteen, suddenly interested in boys, too terrified to actually talk to them about my feelings, so my best solution was to try to communicate those feelings psychically or magically and when that yielded no real results, I just wanted to hear what my future held. Every sleepover in eighth grade involved the Ouija Board. Instead of trying to think of some famous person to contact (though we did try to reach Sid Vicious once; he just spelled rude words over and over again, so that might have actually be real!), we decided to ask if any spirits wanted to talk to us, specifically we asked if there were any ghosts living in our houses.

I was a little nervous about this—even though my house was practically a hundred years old, I’d never seen anything spooky go down, but what if I somehow stirred up something awful and my family was suddenly living in a Stephen King novel! As it turned out, I had nothing to fear. The ghost who lived in my house was named Lulu and she was a sweet 20s flapper who was happy to tell me all about my crushes.

I’ve a few other ghostly experiences over the years, mostly in cemeteries because I had a little bit of an obsession with hanging out in them, which I wrote about in detail for Rookie magazine if you are interested. Two fun facts that you’ll learn about in that essay are that I actually named one of the main characters in I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone after a ghost from a Wisconsin cemetery and I was very excited when I bought my first house because it was located within a couple of blocks from three huge cemeteries. This was in Forest Park, Illinois, a town where the dead outnumber the living thirty to one!

There are a lot of great stories about Forest Park cemeteries. Emma Goldman and the Haymarket Martyrs are buried in one, which erm is actually the cemetery I used to go jogging in and Belle Gunness, one of the first female serial killers may or may not be buried there as well—it’s a mystery! Another cemetery is the final resting place of one of Liz Taylor’s husbands, Michael Todd, and home to Showmen’s Rest a mass grave of circus employees who were in a train crash—there’s a ghost story there, as you can imagine. And then there is the legendary Forest Park Flapper Ghost, a young hitchhiking ghost similar to Chicago’s Resurrection Mary.

When I heard about the Forest Park Flapper, I thought of my first ghostly friend, Lulu. Since Lulu lived…er, rather, resided, in my childhood home in a neighboring town, I started to fantasize that maybe my flapper ghost was the flapper ghost. I’d thought about writing a ghost story starring Lulu and when I was invited to contribute to Month 9 Books Very Superstitious charity anthology (which benefits the SPCA), I finally got the opportunity. It’s my first—and so far, my only!—piece of supernatural or paranormal fiction. I had a blast writing it, so it is my honor to give away a copy of this anthology in celebration of Vanessa and This is Your Afterlife!

– Stephanie

Steph, I’m honored to have you with me on the blog! Thanks for sharing these fascinating stories. I’m so glad Lulu was well mannered compared to Sid Vicious!


  1. Enter my Rafflecopter giveaway HERE to win a Kindle copy of This Is Your Afterlife and a $50 Amazon e-gift card!
  2. Leave a comment to win a copy of Stephanie’s Very Superstitious anthology. If you could have a, um, conversation with a dearly departed historical figure, who would it be?

Tomorrow, join us for the final day of the epic Paranormal Party and the arrival of RITA-nominated author Tina Ferraro!

This Is Your Afterlife (Bloomsbury Spark)



19 thoughts on “Paranormal Party Guest – Stephanie Kuehnert

  1. Hi Stephanie! Hi Vanessa! Stephanie, congratulations on your success! If you’re a cat fan, I can definitely see why you and Vanessa are such wonderful friends. I loved your piece about your paranormal history – Sid Vicious sounds, well, VICIOUS!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why, hello, lovely Anna! Stephanie and I are cat people, this is true.

    I keep saying to Steph that I’m convinced the sweary spirit really was Sid Vicious! Either that or the ghost was a punk fan when s/he was alive.

    Thanks so much for coming by and for your amazing support over the years! Mwah!


  3. Stephanie, thanks again for being my guest today! Sounds like Forest Park is chock-full of fascinating ex-residents and a bit of a goldmine for story ideas. Living near a cemetery isn’t all that bad…is it? I imagine it’d be a quiet, peaceful neighborhood! Except maybe at Halloween or on Friday the 13th or when there’s a full moon.

    After having one freaky experience with a Ouija board, I’m never touching one again! It just seemed to have a power that I didn’t understand. All I knew was that it scared the living daylights out of me. However…I have no problem with consulting psychics, tarot readers or astrologers! Sometimes I’m just curious about what the future might hold.


    1. Thank you SOOOO much for having me, Vanessa! I am so proud of your debut and so excited to be here! And I totally know what you mean about that weird Ouija board power. Haven’t touched one in years because of that. But yes, I do want to know what the future holds!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Stephanie, hi Vanessa. It was fascinating reading this. I admit I’d never thought of being excited because my house was near a cemetery – it’s a whole new take on life – or afterlife. I love the sound of a flapper ghost too!

    I confess to never trying a Ouija board. But I’m happy to read about others’ experiences with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Annie! Thanks so much for visiting! The flapper ghost sounds interesting, doesn’t she? Makes you wonder what’s keeping her on earth. Looking for the next party? The next *paranormal* party???

      Were you brave enough to check out some of Steph’s links? I’m still covered in goosebumps after reading about the hitchhiker ghosts!

      I do think it’d be peaceful to live near a cemetery, but my imagination would definitely go into overdrive on dark and stormy nights!


    2. Glad you enjoyed the read, Annie! I quite enjoyed living near a cemetery. I would go on a tour of one of them around Halloween every year and they reminded us that cemeteries were originally envisioned as parks because people would travel a long way to visit their deceased loved ones. That put it in a whole new perspective for me that was way more peaceful… though I still love the spooky side of cemeteries too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, Steph, I didn’t know that about cemeteries being envisioned as parks. That’s a nice idea, really. When I was a kid, Mum used to take us to cemeteries on Sunday drives. I didn’t understand it at first, but then I realised my mother liked to do that because all her family members are buried in other countries. It was her way of visiting and remembering them.


  5. Stephanie,
    I love the idea of the flapper ghost. As for the Ouija board, I can listen to your story, but I’ll never touch one again. I’ve made all five of my kids promise to never touch one in our house. I tried for the promise of never touching one…PERIOD, but that didn’t work with my oldest. Eight grade sleepovers…ugh. I had a bad experience in fifth grade (at a birthday party) where the thing caught on fire. Yes. On fire. The planchette kept circling the board, picking up speed. At first we all thought someone else was moving it, but soon, one frightened girl after another took her hand away completely and leaned back. Until nobody was touching it. A couple seconds later the thing caught fire. WITH NOTHING TO IGNITE IT.
    So, I didn’t touch one again–EVER. I did, however, witness another experience my senior year of college. I refused to go into anyone’s dorm room who was using one, and I wouldn’t let my roommate let anyone in ours with that thing either. But one day, I happened to be comfy in my friend’s papasan chair, studying, when several of the girls from my dorm came into my friend’s room. They were in the other room, but I could still hear them. I debated about leaving when I heard the tell-tale working of the Ouija board. At first it was standard questions. Then the girls asked about Angela’s wedding date (which was supposed to be in the summer, but hadn’t been finalized yet), and the planchette apparently pointed to NO. The girls asked if that meant she wouldn’t be getting married. It answered YES. Then they asked why. It spelled out D-E-A-D. Less than an hour later, the phone rang, and Angela’s fiancé had crashed into a tree and died on impact. FREAKY!
    So, yeah. I’m never touching one again. They freak me out.

    Vanessa, I love these paranormal posts! Nothing like breaking out on goosebumps before I’ve even had my morning coffee. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, GOD, Kim! Angela’s story is too horrible for words. I’m about to turn in for the night — I’m going to have nightmares about burning Ouija boards and car crashes! I won’t let those boards into my house again. Ever.

      Thanks for dropping by and giving me another batch of full-body goosebumps, Kim — um…LOL?


    2. OH MY GOD, KIM!!! That is such a sad, sad story about Angela’s fiance. And the Ouija Board catching on FIRE! All of this points to exactly what Vanessa said about them having a strange power. I haven’t used one in years either because of that!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lulu the Forest Park Flapper — LOVE THIS. I’m sold just by the name alone, Stephanie! Will have to get my hands on the anthology and read this!! Thank you for sharing your stories with us. And OMG, the Ouija board! These stories (yours and Kim’s) are CRAZY! I’m pretty sure there were Ouija boards at the grade-school slumber parties I went to, but I never participated (yep, a scaredy cat even then), and now I’m glad I didn’t. Poor, poor Angela from Kim’s story – how awful is that?!
    Vanessa, the stories from this Paranormal Party are filling me with enough creepy for a YEAR!! I’m so so glad that Jimmy is way more cute than creepy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Pintip! What I love about Steph’s anthology is that not only do you get to read good n’ spooky stories, the proceeds go to an animal charity.

      I’m glad you think Jimmy’s more cute than creepy! That’s a major selling point — ha ha! I’d really love to delve into the real Lulu’s history. Who was she? Why was she so good at doling out advice about potential boyfriends for Steph? I’m so fascinated by all this! But…maybe not so fascinated that I’d try to reach her through the Ouija board. #scaredycat


  7. Hi Vanessa and Stephanie! I’m giggling at your story about the ouija board, Stephanie, though it must have got your heart thumping at the time! But Kim’s story had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end! Frightening!

    I’m off to check out all your links about the Forest Park cemetery and to your ghostly experiences, Stephanie – sounds fascinating.

    Enjoy your celebrations for your fabulous book release, Vanessa! I’m loving your parties!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sharon, thanks so much for dropping by! Just warning you that you might want to read Steph’s links about hitchhiker ghosts in full daylight and when you’re not alone. Still, they’re really fascinating and makes me want to go to check out Forest Park. In full daylight. With a busload of people.

      Gotta say Kim’s creepy stories are still freaking me out.


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