Do ghosts exist? For some they do. 

The main character in Marcelle Dubé´s novel, Shelter, moves into a haunted house in a small town in Ontario.

Dubé started the story as a gothic novel and in the end it became a ghost story.

Marcelle Dubé is well known in the Yukon and she usually publishes one or two books a year. One could think that she is a writer who works fast, but not this time. Lately she had to suffer what all writers have to go through from time to time: writer`s block. A writing workshop helped her to get out of it.

“I could not write a word – for months. I thought that was it for me. But something that happened in the workshop kept coming back to me — a ghost experience, of a sort,” she says.

In her blog Dubé tells about her ghost experience. During the workshop, she stayed at an old hotel, which was haunted. Two people she knew well, who had also slept there, told her they had seen ghosts there. Friendly ghosts, who would show up, but were harmless, they said.  

Dubé´s first reaction was to laugh, she tells in her blog article. She sees herself as a rational woman, even though as a kid she had returning dreams of ghost and monsters. She outgrew them and is using her imagination about them in her writing.

Dubé didn`t see a ghost in this hotel room, but she was scared at night, she writes. Back home she would wake up at night, wondering if there was somebody or something in the darkness.

“The experience bothered me, as I am not subject to those kinds of fears, so finally I decided to write about it, as an exorcism. “And once I started, I raced through to the end. It was most satisfying,” she says about the writing process of Shelter.

Shelter is a story about Ash, a woman who’s fleeing domestic violence and abuse. She is already exhausted and scared, and now she has to deal with a ghost.

Reading the first chapters, one can feel pity for Ash, who is wounded by her past. Dubé writes very well and empathically, but she switches perspective quite often. The reader jumps from Ash`s perspective into the head of her realtor Maddie, who is showing Ash the haunted house. It can be tiring for readers to switch perspectives after one page. Some readers might wish to stay longer in Ash`s head and get to know her better. But as the story unfolds, Dubé catches her readers with suspense.

Why did Dubé decide to write about domestic violence? It is not an easy topic.

“I have no idea how Ash came to me, or why she was running from an abusive situation. It’s not anything I have ever experienced, and I had to rely on experts to (hopefully) get the details right,” the author answers.

The whole story came to her as the cure for writer`s block. Also during the writing process she lost her fear about ghosts: “It worked. I’ve just returned from the haunted hotel I was at a year and a half ago, and I am happy to report that I slept very well.”

Do ghosts exist? They do in Dubé`s novel Shelter, a good read for spooky Halloween night.