Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Prepare to be HAUNTED. A real-life haunting in Beijing. Three Halloween blogfests.

Hello everyone!

Well, it's October which means all kinds of awesomeness. It's the month where writing prompts abound with the theme of haunting. Halloween or All Hallows Eve, isn't much of a deal in Australia, but it is gathering momentum. What better way to celebrate than to write ghostly stories, or to post stories about ghostly happenings?

I was intrigued by a story I read in a newspaper today and I'll share it with you. For those who have entered a haunting blogfest, it may give you an idea...

Chaonel No 81

It happened in 1949. The Communists had just defeated the Nationalists in the Civil War in China. Legend has it that in the rush for the losing army to evacuate to Taiwan, a high-ranking Nationalist official based in Beijing abandoned his wife, leaving her to fend for herself as the Communists marched on the city. This was a bloody time in China, perilous if you did not belong to the Communist Party. 

Understandably, the wife was terrified--it is rumoured she was a Concubine--she chose suicide over her well-founded fear of being slaughtered by the communists. She hung herself from the rafters of the three-story French-Baroque style home. 

Locals say the spirit of the spurned woman haunts the mansion to this day. With its floor-to-ceiling cobwebs and crumbling floorboards, Chaonel No 81 certainly seems like the perfect breeding ground for paranormal activity. 

"Always, people thought the house was haunted," claims Li Yonjie, who grew up in an alleyway behind Chaonel No 81. "As children we would play hide and seek in the house, but we didn't dare go inside by ourselves." Li claims the Red Guards who used the house during the Cultural Revolution got scared and left. I wonder what scared them?

Despite the building's location in the centre of Beijing where a small courtyard home sells for several millions of dollars, there are apparently no official plans to do anything with this abandoned building. The building is on the historic list, so cannot be torn down, but can be renovated. There are no prospective buyers rushing to buy the home, which may be due to the Chinese tendency to avoid all things related to death. Who wants to live in a haunted house? Not too many of us.

The local police and the Catholic diocese (the owners of the building) reject the ghost tale, claiming there is no Kuomintang official living there.

There are conflicting histories regarding the building's provenance, but the most popular is that it was built in 1910 for a French manager of the company that built the railway between Beijing and Hankou. Whatever the history, locals are convinced it is haunted, so it sits there, crumbling, unloved and abandoned, much like the Concubine who hung herself in 1949.

You know what they say...truth is stranger than fiction...

Here are three Halloween bloghops I know of. Perhaps one entry could suit all three.
First, if you would like to post something just before Halloween (October 30) you are welcome to join my Write...Edit...Publish blogfest---theme--HAUNTING. Francine Howarth is donating a Kindle book to a random WEP entry and I am donating a $10 Amazon Gift Card to the most captivating entry.

Francine Howarth is running her own Halloween blogfest, where authors, writers and readers will be TRICK or TREATING. 

Devin Berglund has her own Haunting October Blogfest. Each day she posts an image to stimulate your writing juices. Go to Devin's blog to learn more. 

You can sign up here for the WEP blogfest in my right-hand sidebar and visit the other ladies to check theirs out.

I'd like to recommend an excellent book I bought on writing ghost stories--Ghost Stories and How to Write Them by Kathleen McCurl.


  1. What an amazing story! When we lived in Hawaii, all of my neighbors were Chinese American, except for one house. When it went on the market, with magnificent views of Diamond Head, I thought it would sell in a snap. But it didn't. I learned it's considered bad luck to buy a house where a street ends. The house eventually sold, but for a greatly reduced price to a young Japanese American couple who couldn't resist the price.

  2. Wow, that was interesting, Denise. Being in the path of a marching army is never good for a woman. Might as well make a tourist spot of it if no one wants to live there.

  3. Awesome that it's October there already. I don't think I'll ever get used to that. A month to think about it? Sounds like a good challenge to me. :)

  4. They might not believe in ghosts, but the owners need to realize that the locals do - and that house isn't likely to sell to one of them.

  5. That was very spooky...I don't know if I believe in ghosts or not, but I just freaked myself out thinking about it so I'll stop now. I scare easily. LOL

  6. Interesting story. I took my daughter (adopted) to Beijing last December on a heritage tour. It might have been cool to see this house. And spooky.

  7. I love ghost stories. In my travels I've come across a few cool haunted houses, mainly in Europe. I even had an unnerving ghostly encounter in Scotland.

  8. sounds like some creeeeeeepy bloghops going on!

  9. I just signed up for Francine's Blog Hop. I'll have to skip Devin's as I don't have time to write a short story. Trying to finish up the MS in progress.

  10. Well, the house seems to be doing a good job of scaring people away. Who knows, eh?

  11. So many blog hops and so little time! I'm doing my own thing with authors and a Halloween interview, but I will show up for W E P!

    Great story!

  12. What a sad story! And shame on that man!! I'm with Alex. They could fix it up and advertise about it. There are people out there with the money and means and look for places with strange histories. It looks like it was once quite beautiful...

  13. There is lots on at the moment!

    That haunting would be great inspiration for a story.

  14. Hi Denise .. so interesting to read - as I'd have thought they'd have no qualms and just get rid of it ...

    Inspiring as you say .. for Halloween writing .. poor woman otherwise .. cheers Hilary

  15. Hi Denise,

    Thanks for the link to the book. Getting it. What a chilling post.



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