Author: Lisa Binion
Publisher: Silver Tongue Press
Publication Date: February 2013
Genre: Horror/ Novella
Purchase Link: Amazon
Guest Post by Lisa Binion
Something I’m Never Asked
People ask me all kinds of things in interviews. They are curious about how I got the idea for the story. They want to know why I choose to write horror stories. Or they want to know if my story was based on something that really happened.
No one ever asked me why I am so interested in what happens to the body after death. When I first started writing Softly and Tenderly, I had no clue I was going to have to research death. I knew I would have to look into funeral homes and stuff like that, but death? When the story opens, Lori’s mom had died and the paramedics carry her down the stairs on a stretcher. She is covered from head to toe with a sheet. Lori needed to see something during that time that would give an air of creepiness to the story, something that no one else would take any notice of. But I didn’t want it to seem too farfetched either, so I started looking at what happens to the body once it dies.
The bugs that are attracted to the body once it begins to decompose are what caught my attention. The beetles won out over the flies. I just don’t find flies that scary, and I’ve never had any creepy experiences with them. Beetles are a different story though. A beetle got caught in my hair when I was a little girl, and my stepmother had trouble finding it. She thought I was imagining things, but I could feel its sharp, pokey legs crawling around on my head. She did finally find it and untangle it from my hair. That was a creepy experience.
The addition of beetles to the story has given me ideas that will turn my novella into just the beginning of a much longer novel. My research on what happens to the body after death continues and now includes cremation. The things I have discovered will be so useful for the rest of the book. I’m not the fastest writer in the world, but the rest of the story is on its way.
Now I will tell you why I wrote Softly and Tenderly. I lost my mom when I was only eight years old. That was a traumatic time in my life. People thought I handled her death so well, but they couldn’t see what was going on inside me. I didn’t handle it nearly as well as they thought. She died in December of 1974, right after Christmas. Even now in 2013, it is hard for me to think about that time. Rebecca, a good friend of mine, said something to me one day that sparked the idea for the story, and I knew I had to write it. Writing became my therapy. Getting the words typed in my computer as I relived the morning of her death helped heal wounds that I had been carrying around since I was a little girl. Writing turned out to be an amazing form of therapy for me.
“Mom died in her sleep last night.” Those are terrifying words for a child to wake up to. The beetle that falls off the stretcher and stares at her is only the beginning one of the strangest and most frightening times in Lori’s life. Death is not a pretty thing, especially not when the funeral is to be at the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium.
Once she walks into the funeral parlor, she experiences things that no little girl should ever have to experience. No one is acting normal. No one can see what is going on. Is Lori the only one who sees the blood oozing from the pictures of Jesus on the cross? Doesn’t anyone else see the beetles? Is Lori hallucinating when she sees her mom sit up and hears her speak? There is absolutely nothing soft and tender about what happens to Lori.
From her overly morbid piano teacher to the creepy preacher and a father that just isn’t acting like himself, Lori is surrounded by people and things that hint of something bizarre. Once she leaves the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium, things will go back to normal. Or will they?
I’ll never forget that morning as long as I live. Never. Daddy crying for help as he ran down the stairs is what woke me out of a deep sleep. “Call an ambulance! Kathie id dead!” I heard him screaming.
Mommy? Dead? But I kissed her goodnight last night. She smiled at me and told me how much she loved me. The she told me to come up after breakfast, and we would work a puzzle together. She would never leave, not after making a play date with me. She never lied.
I can’t remember exactly why, but Granny was living with us at that time. Maybe it was because Mommy was sick. Anyway, I had been sleeping downstairs with her instead of upstairs in my bedroom, which was right across from Mommy’s room.
I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and walked out the bedroom door into the kitchen to see what was going on. There was so much noise, so much commotion that I didn’t understand what was happening. Maybe I had heard wrong.
But as soon as I walked into the living room, one of my brothers grabbed hold of me. “Lori, stay here.”
“But I want to see what’s going on! I heard Daddy say that Mommy’s dead! I want to go see her. He’s wrong!” I pushed Matt away from me as hard as I could, but he held me tight.
“No, Lori. He’s no wrong. Mom died in her sleep last night.” As I stared into his reddened eyes, he said, “You don’t need to see her.”
“I don’t believe you! She promised to do a puzzle with me today, right after breakfast! She wouldn’t lie to me! She can’t be dead!”
Then I heard the sirens. These men, wearing blue jackets and carrying a stretcher, knocked on the front door of our house. Daddy directed them up the stairs. Almost as soon as they went up. they came back down, but this time there was something on the stretcher. Whatever it was had a white sheet covering it so completely that I couldn’t see what was under it. But the sheet was moving. What it covered appeared to be struggling to get up! I ran toward the stretcher, so I could help and yank the sheet back, but once again my brother stopped me. This time he picked me up.
As I turned and watched the men carrying the stretcher away, this beetle fell off the sheet onto the floor. One just like it had gotten caught in my hair last summer. Mommy patiently made me sit still as she removed it.
“It will be alright, sweetie. We’ll take care of you,” Matt whispered in my ear. I wrapped my arms around his neck. I heard what he said, but my eyes were on the beetle that had stared back at me. It walked across the carpet, stopped, and looked at me before it turned to go up the stairs. It seemed to be trying to talk to me.
“Although Softly and Tenderly is a short read it gives enough information to know and understand what Lori is going through. But it does leave you at the end wondering if Lori was only imagining things or were they real? I would really love to see more of Lori story. I did enjoy Lori’s story very much indeed but I would like to know if Lori was just imagining things or if maybe she has some kind of paranormal ability.” – Nancy on Goodreads
“When most children are asked, “What are your biggest fears?” They will respond with a list that includes losing a parent. For Lori, that fear has come true. Not only has she lost her precious mother, she has entered a frightening world no one else can see. Is she hallucinating what she experiences at the Lights Out Funeral Chapel and Crematorium, or is she suffering from intense grief? Walk with Lori as she sees and feels the horrors she must face alone. Why is everyone else ignoring them? You might need the lights on for this one, but don’t let that stop you from grabbing it. It is a great read. I loved it and am hoping the author has more she will be publishing.” – Marianne on Amazon
About the Author
Lisa Binion is a writer, editor, and wife. She makes her home in the beautiful state of Kentucky. Her two children are now grown, but she has been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, Tyler and Zoey. Her family also includes four dogs, four cats, and two goats.
As the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline, she writes articles, reviews fiction books, and interviews fiction authors. She is also an editor for Silver Tongue Press and Edit 1st. In her spare time, she attempts to clean house and relax.
You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/pages/BellaOnline-Fiction-Writing/125143070846792,
http://www.silvertonguepress.com/, and http://edit1st.com/.
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Thanks so much to Lisa for the guest post!! It was both interesting and touching!!