Inspiration for The Haunting of William Gray

It’s October.


Although the temperatures where I live have maintained unseasonable highs until yesterday, they are now beginning to dip a bit lower.

The holidays loom: Halloween, Thanksgiving, then…gulp…Christmas.

Leaves are changing from their summer green to their dormant shades of gold and red.  Some appear nearly purple.  While parts of my state have experienced flooding recently, we’ve remained dry in the mountains.

This lack of moisture has made the leaves more brittle.  They eagerly release in the first wind, filling porch corners and even the garage if we fail to shut the doors.

Fall festivals are dotting towns with carnivals, hayrides, trucks loaded with pumpkins, haunted houses.


Haunted houses?  Yes, many of us love to be frightened.  We adore a good ghost story.

In the South, ghost stories are prevalent.  Perhaps it is the heat and the haze, that undulating steamy air that can’t be contained in our hands, but can be seen shifting on the horizon.

Maybe it’s the dripping Spanish moss, lonely forested roads, large abandoned houses missing windows in shapes of eyes, and doors looking like mouths frozen in silent screams.

Whatever the reason, every family seems to have their own ghostly ancestor.  Although I named my main character after one of my ancestors, the plot and the setting came from a place much further south.


I know what you’re thinking…that suburb of Washington, D.C.? 


Georgetown, South Carolina.

I wrote a post for my publisher’s blog back in May of this year.  Given the season and the many reasons this makes a good ghost story…in  my opinion…I thought it worth a second look.

Click here for the full article.


Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and two very spoiled German shepherds named Hansel and Gretel.



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  1. I really enjoyed “The Haunting of William Gray” and am delighted to find out what your inspiration was for the story. It sounds like an intriguing place to visit. Georgetown, South Carolina will go on my list.

    1. Thanks Andrea. I’m glad you enjoyed the ambiance of this piece. It intrigues me to discover what inspired other authors to pen their novels, so I thought it might add some weight to this haunting novel and its setting.

  2. I personally think you captured the heart and mystery of the south in ‘The Haunting of William Gray’. I really enjoyed your book and wish you had a series of haunting novels.

    In your post for your publisher’s blog, you said, “It is my hope that readers will not only enjoy the unlikely romance, but will be swept away in the ambiance of Georgetown’s harbor life, superstitions, and the possibility of spirits existing amongst the living in ways both dramatic and subtle.”
    In response, I say to you, take a bow, mission accomplished. ~applause~

    1. Oh, E.C., this is marvelous. Yay! First, thank you for reading it, and second, thank you for the kind and generous comments. You’ve captured exactly what every writer longs to hear…mission accomplished. You’ve made my weekend.

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