19 October 2012

Welcome to STOP #8 of Carolee Dean’s  

Also part of A Life Bound by Books Haunted Halloween:
True Tales of the Paranormal

Author, Carolee Dean, writes YA fiction and lives in Albuquerque, NM. She also works as a speech-language pathologist at a high school where she finds inspiration from students, hallways, and large black birds.


All my life I’ve been haunted by a dead girl.
Her name is Lenore.

It started when my mother named me after the dead lover in Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven.” I always thought it a strange name for a baby. Why not Athena, after the goddess, or Elizabeth after the queen?

But no, it had to be Lenore, the dead girl whose memory haunts a young man to the point that he seeks answers from a bird that can only answer his questions with the word “Nevermore.” This turns out to be so unsettling it drives the lad to madness.

Thanks, Mom.

My name growing up was Carolee Lenore Jochens. I found this connection to Poe’s dead girl so ominous that when I married I dropped the name completely, took my maiden name as my middle name, and went by Carolee Jochens Dean. I wanted no connection to the girl in the poem. When I started writing books, I simplified further and went by  Carolee Dean.

But ravens continued to figure prominently in my life.

First of all, despite the dark connection, Poe is my favorite poet and “The Raven” is my favorite poem. I find the dark and repetitive verses hypnotic and trance inducing.

Live ravens have also come into my life recently. Two large black birds live at the high school where I currently work as a speech-language pathologist. I didn’t even notice them the first year. It wasn’t until the pigeon infestation drew them out that I even knew they were there..

My school is comprised of several free standing, two-story buildings. At the time, my office was on the second floor. To reach my office, I had to walk up a large flight of stairs to a balcony that extended the length of the building. Up in the eaves of the balcony, hundreds of pigeons began to roost. If you’ve ever had a pigeon infestation, you know it’s not pleasant. There’s a reason why people call them “flying rats.”

About this time I started to notice the blood on the courtyard below. I didn’t know it was blood at first. Despite the best efforts of our custodial staff, there’s a lot of nasty stuff, like old dry gum, permanently embedded on the quad.

It wasn’t until I walked up the steps to my office one day and saw the white feathers and the red smears that I grew suspicious. Later that day I saw our custodial foreman hosing off the area and asked him what had happened.

That’s when he told me the story of the two ravens who have lived at our school for over a decade. He said they bite off the heads of the pigeons in mid-flight. They typically avoid the courtyard when the kids are out and about, but between classes they take positions high on the lamp posts. They made a habit of hanging out on the balconies, waiting for the weaker pigeons to fall from the eaves.

That’s where I found the bully metaphor I’d been look for. Ravens now figure prominently in FORGET ME NOT, a paranormal verse novel released this month with Simon Pulse. It explores the story of a young girl, Ally Cassell, the victim of cyber-bullying, who makes a rash and desperate decision after compromising photos of her are texted around the school. She then finds herself trapped on an abandoned hallway, vacillating between worlds, with the ability to see ghosts.

While I was working on this story, I began to get the creepy feeling that the ravens were watching me. Were they really watching me, or was I self-conscious because I was now watching them? I don’t know, but I often walked out of my office to find one of the huge, black birds perched on the balcony railing right outside my door. Often, when I was walking through the courtyard alone, I could have sworn the ravens were calling to me. Then again, maybe they were just calling to each other. They make a strange sound, similar to a croaking bull frog which caused me to look up and notice them perched high above on the lamp posts.

The most disturbing event was when I walked outside and nearly stepped on the body of a dead pigeon. It’s head was missing, it’s guts were ripped open, and partially digested seeds were spilling out.

The dead bird had obviously been left there by one of the ravens, but why? Was it a threat? A warning? Were they unhappy I was writing about them?

I decided to do a little more research about ravens and discovered, to my surprise, that according to some legends, ravens protect travelers. There was even a prophet in the Bible who was kept alive by ravens who brought him food. 

I remembered living in the country when my children were young. Our cat often left dead rabbits and mice on our doorstep and our dog once brought us a cow skull. Many species share their kill with their pack, including the humans they live with. I began to wonder if the ravens felt a kinship to me and were leaving me food as an offering of friendship.

That’s when I started to see ravens in a different light, not just as a symbol of death but as a symbol of hope. The raven was the first bird Noah sent out from the ark. Valkyries, taking the form of ravens, were believed to escort dead soldiers to the afterlife. Odin, the Norse god of death and poetry had two ravens for his closest advisors. He sent them out into the world to report what they saw.

I changed the name of the town in my book to Raven Valley, and the school to Raven Valley High. I also created an entire history about settlers who nearly starved to death one winter and were kept alive by ravens. The book now contains a spoof of Poe’s poem featuring the ghost of 2Pac as a substitute teacher. I have found myself fascinated with this highly intelligent and mysterious bird.

As I get older, I become more and more aware that things are usually not black and white, good or evil, true or false. There are many shades of grey. There are even shades of black. I’ve learned to embrace the light with the dark. I’ve even taken a special liking to my name, my whole name... including Lenore.

Sometimes I even consider using it as a pseudonym like Cher or Madonna. So if you ever come across a story written by Lenore, check it out. It might be by me.

Then again, it might be written by a dead girl.

Title: Forget Me Not
Author: Carolee Dean
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 384 Pages (October 2nd, 2012)
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis: From the author of Take Me There, a fast-paced novel in verse about a girl caught between life and death—and the boy who will do anything to save her.Ally is devastated when a scandalous photo of her is texted around school. With her reputation in shambles and her life essentially over, she hides out in a back hallway, trying to figure out where everything went wrong.

     Elijah has spent time in that hallway too. He landed there after taking a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Now he can see ghosts, and he knows what Ally has yet to suspect—that she’s already half dead, and one choice away from never coming back. Elijah has loved Ally for years and would do anything to save her from the in-between place. But if she’s going to live, Ally must face her inner demons and find the will to save herself.

     Told in interwoven verse narratives, this crushingly honest and poetic exploration of pain and redemption will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins.

Find Carolee Online:

Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Order Carolee's Books Online:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

The Necklace you can win!

You can win this FREE YOUR MIND necklace created especially for the blog tour and other cool prizes by visiting GHOST TOUR CENTRAL. The Giveaway is hosted on Carolee's website, so >>>CLICK HERE<<< to enter! Don't forget to check out all the other awesome prizes she's giving away & enter today! Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the Rafflecopter contest. Find out more about raven trivia and watch the ghost hunter video.

And don’t forget to read about the making of the book trailer and watch the video >>>HERE<<<

Carolee, thanks for helping out with Haunted Halloween and in turn asking me to be part of the Ghost Tour! Loved the story and am excited to read Forget Me Not!

Don't forget to stop by and check out who Jessica is featuring today for Haunted Halloween!

REMINDER: *If you are interested in the COMMENT CONTEST, remember to include your email address with your comment for an extra entry.
Please ready full entry rules >>>HERE<<<

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  1. Oooh, this is a first I've heard about Forget Me Not! Sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing =)

  2. My cats leave me "goodies" at my front door. I am glad she was able to find the good parts of the ravens. I think all people and animals have a mix of good and bad in them.


  3. oh that necklace is gorgeous! Love it!!!! And now another book to add to my TBR list... which is overflowing lol :D

    Thanks for the post and giveaway!


  4. OOoh creepy! And pretty necklace!


  5. Forget Me Not sounds fantastic! I'm following Carolee's blog now too!

    Thanks so much!
    mmafsmith AT gmail DOT com

  6. Very fascinating!! I have an obsession with all things Gothic.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  7. Forget Me Not sounds very good!! I also really like that cover :)
    Per the raven - creepy, didn't know they bite off pigeons' heads like that mid flight :P *erk*
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail dot com

  8. I haven't heard of this book before now - thank you for getting it on my radar!! Definitely adding it to my TBR!



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