If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, February 3, 2014

The Bunny Man: A Suburban Legend

When I was growing up in Connecticut we heard many stories of the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills (a wonderfully gothic name – sounds like something from a Sherlock Holmes tale). The supernatural dog roamed the hills, and woe to the unlucky walker who encountered him. If you saw the red, demonic eyes of the black dog, er, Black Dog, it was said you’d die in three days. This didn’t stop people from walking the beautiful hills, but it did make for good campfire stories.

My new home in Northern Virginia features its own fairly modern urban, or more precisely, suburban legend: The Bunny Man.

Gather round the fire, get your marshmallows ready….

In a rural part of Fairfax County, a country road twists through (Don’t turn to the left! Ignore those McMansions and the shopping center!) Ahem, where was I? Oh yes… the road twists past ramshackle abandoned farms and barren fields, then narrows to a single lane to pass under a decaying railroad bridge. You know the one. The Bunny Man Bridge.

Well, my friend heard from her cousin (the captain of the volleyball team) that there were these kids? And they were parking near the bridge? At midnight? When some crazy guy who escaped from the insane asylum in A WHITE BUNNY SUIT started chopping on their car roof? With AN AXE! He chopped and chopped, screaming about how he was going to kill them just the way he chopped up those other kids and hung them up on the bridge for everyone to see –
Well, you get the picture.

The Bunny Man tale features several favored horror tropes:  teens, a Lovers Lane at midnight, an axe, the insane asylum. Some versions of the story add “accounts” of murdered children and “reports” of skinned animals to the tale.

Is there any factual basis to the Bunny Man legend? I decided I needed facts, so I turned to an expert account: “The Bunnyman Unmasked: Real life origins of an Urban Legend” by Brian A. Conley, Historian-Archivist with Fairfax County Public Libraries. When reading this account of a dogged historian’s search for the truth behind the Bunny Man story, what fascinated me most was the way the story changed and grew more ornate, gory, and supernatural. The story grew from minor but real events to the point that the story was filmed for a ghost-busting television show in the 90s and was made into two indie horror films that were apparently as bad as you think they’d be. The versions of the story multiplied like, well, you know.

What I had been calling an Urban Legend is actually referred to in academic circles as an Urban Belief Tale. Urban Belief Tales like The Bunny Man take place in an urban setting and have elements that have appeared in print as truth. Some scholars add that these tales reflect community morals and concerns, thus acting as cautionary tales for teens who would frequent Lovers Lanes. We all know how well they work.

So, was there ever really a Bunny Man?

Conley found police reports in the Washington Post of a man with an axe threatening developers who were building the huge tract neighborhoods that sprang up around Washington, DC in the 1970s. Someone calling himself The Axe Man called a builder to complain about construction debris, and a few days later a man in a bunny suit was seen chopping at the columns on a newly built house.

At about the same time, a young Navy cadet was parked with his date on a secluded Lovers Lane near the bridge when they were accosted by a man who told them they were trespassing. As they drove away, the man threw an axe through the car window. The axe element, plus the young woman’s description of the man’s white headgear – she thought it looked like bunny ears - were the link in the two tales. Thus were planted the seeds of the Bunny Man Legend, which today is a gothic horror tale complete with children and/or teen sweethearts strung up from the railroad bridge by an axe murdering bunny-suited man/extraterrestrial/psychopath/cannibal/zombie (take your pick) with supernatural powers.

In my short story, “Disco Donna,” I invented my own urban legend, the story of Disco Donna, a wild high school girl too hot to care about her bad reputation. The story goes that Donna was strangled in her bed on Halloween night, her body found the next morning clutching a single red rose. The details – some say the murderer was the high school football captain, some say it was an escapee from a psychiatric hospital one town over – change depending on who tells the story. The elements of a sexually active teen, roses, and Halloween night are typical embroideries to these campfire stories.

What’s your favorite urban – or suburban - legend?

PS Readers of fellow blogger Gloria Alden’s Bigfoot post will be relieved to hear that the Urban Legend of the Capture of Bigfoot by a man claiming he lured the creature with $200 worth of ribs has been debunked by Snopes. No surprise for those of us at WWK. We all know from Gloria’s blog that the real Bigfoot can only be lured with pizza.


Barb Goffman said...

Shari's new story "Disco Donna" will be available for your reading pleasure this fall in the upcoming anthology Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. And yes, the story does have a reference to the legend of the Bunny Man. Bwah ha ha.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I think it’s a great idea to make up your own Urban Legend – well done Shari - and congratulations on the upcoming publication. I have either led a sheltered life or forgotten any legends that I grew up with. My loss.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Barb - I am glad you stopped by (said in Vincent Price Voice - Bwah ha ha!) You remember my story better than I do!

Jim - There must be some wonderful legends in the UP! You can have Seamus McCree stumble upon one in the next book.

E. B. Davis said...

I guess I deal mainly in "island" legends, Shari. My current WIP, which I'm desperately trying to revise, seeps in Blackbeard. I've done my research, but of course, except for the last three years of Blackbeard's life, little was and is known about him. I'm not happy with books that change or augment a real person's life. Changing reality to suit a plot seems a cheat to me. So, I've created an afterlife for Blackbeard. What might have happened had Blackbeard become a demon.

Can't wait to read your story. Of course, my short story, "Compromised Circumstances" set on President's Day will be contained in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holiday, too! The more the merrier, and the more pre-publicity the better!

Anonymous said...

I frequently drive over a covered bridge not far from where I live. It is the Tom's Creek Bridge on Jack's Mountain Rd. A ghost lives under it. Many years ago, someone was returning home from town, drunk, when his horse shied at something on the approach to the bridge. He fell off into the creek and drowned. Now, on stormy nights, he can often be seen stnading next to the town-side approach to the bridge, trying to get you to stop. He especially targets drunks, since they are more likely to be sympathetic. If you stop, however, he will knock you into the creek and hijack your vehicle. Since he is drunk, and doesn't know how to drive, he will probably crash your vehicle very quickly along Jack's Mountain Rd.

Warren Bull said...

When I lived in North Carolina mother used to warn their children about wandering around alone because "Bloody Bones" might get them. Apparently he was also know to snatch bad children in Ireland and Scotland. Maybe he came over on the Mayflower.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, there was the story of a child who was sent to the store to buy liver for his family's supper. However, he lost the money or something, so passing a cemetery with a new grave, he dug up the body and took the liver from it. That night as he was lying in bed, he heard steps on the stairs. With each slow step he heard a voice say "Give me back my liver." Finally, when so many steps had gone by and those listening to the story in the dark were tense, the teller would grab the person next to them. Caused a lot of screams.

There were other stories about a crazy man with an ax, who attacked young couples who parked on back roads to make out, too. I never heard of the Bunny man.

Gloria Alden said...

One more thing, I'll have to buy a copy of that Chesapeake Crime anthology at Malice to read your story and Elaine's, too.

Shari Randall said...

Thanks, everyone for sharing your scary stories!
EB - your Blackbeard story sounds cool. Pirates are always a plus for me!
Warren - funny how those stories follow us - even across oceans.
KM - The "drunk" ghost is a new spin on urban legends. Remind me to stay away from Tom's Creek Bridge ;)
Gloria - I think I've heard the one about the liver! Those creeping up the stairs parts are great for storytellling.

Kara Cerise said...

Mothman, a man-bird creature, in West Virginia is the only urban legend that comes to mind. He was described as being seven feet tall with wings that folded behind his back and glowing red eyes. It seems Mothman was sighted for about a year prior to a bridge collapse in 1967 that killed forty-six people.

Congratulations on "Disco Donna" being selected for the anthology, Shari. Congrats to E.B., too.

Barb Goffman said...

Gloria, so nice for eager readers! But Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays won't be released until autumn. Sorry for the wait, but it will be worth it.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kara,
I've actually heard of the Mothman. It's funny how bridges play a part in so many of these urban legends too...something primeval with water, maybe...or just that bridges are such landmarks. And thank you for the kind congratulations :)