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On a darkly intriguing episode of After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted Radio — Thursdays 9-11pE with hosts Joel Sturgis and Eric Olsen — we welcome author, traveler, explorer of the esoteric, Vanta M. Black, who will talk about her epic historical/paranormal novel OUBLIETTE – A FORGOTTEN LITTLE PLACE and the real life events and experiences that inspired it. Vanta will join us in the 10pE hour – in the 9pE hour Joel and Eric will review the hottest paranormal news and all the madness afoot in the world.

In OUBLIETTE, a paranormal and historical fiction novel that consists of seven interwoven stories that revolve around a French castle, readers are transported to an ancient Pagan ritual, Roman-ruled Gaul, the bloody Inquisition of the Knights Templar, France as it’s ravaged by the Black Death, the duplicitous Reformation, the Paris Catacombs, and the gory French Revolution.

Personal experiences with entities known as “shadow people” were a key motivation for Black to pen the book. “These specters—I don’t know how else to explain them—tormented me at night. I assumed they were just bad dreams. Then someone else witnessed one hover above me as I slept. I don’t know what it was, but I speculated about the mysterious encounters while writing OUBLIETTE,” she says.

OUBLIETTE is also inspired by the real oubliette at Leap Castle, the notoriously haunted castle in Ireland. In the 1920’s it was emptied out, and the remains of over 150 different bodies were removed with wheelbarrows. A worker found a pocket watch in the remains, and it dated from the mid-1800s. This revealed how very recent the oubliette had claimed victims. After hearing about Leap Castle’s oubliette, Black imagined there must be a myriad of forgotten stories behind each soul who met their fate within it.

Vanta M. Black

Not only did Black visit Leap Castle, she also made jaunts to many French chateaux and the Paris Catacombs for research. Other inspirations include legends from the Knights Templar, the French Revolution, the Reformation, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Black Death. Black has degrees in English, communication, and art. She resides in Southern California with her husband and pug-mixes, and spends her time in support of causes that empower women and advance science and technology.

What is an “oubliette? An oubliette is a pit, a dungeon, inside a castle where prisoners, criminals, and undesirables were thrown and left to die. The most gruesome of punishments, some oubliettes were fashioned with metal spikes at the bottom to impale victims. The lucky ones died instantly. Most were merely injured as the oubliette was meant for torture, not as a fast, merciful death. Life in the castle continued above as the condemned agonized below. The laughter of children, joyous sermons from Sunday Mass, and the aroma of succulent food during celebratory feasts wafted down to the lonely soul who could only lament their life—for they were now dying. Forgotten and alone, bones of their predecessors—those who had perished in the oubliette before them—were their only company as sweet, soothing death slowly took control.


OUBLIETTE – A FORGOTTEN LITTLE PLACE was inspired by real events and legends – they include:

During the 1920s, the oubliette at Leap Castle — the famed “most haunted castle” in Ireland — was unearthed. Remains from over 150 bodies were rolled out in wheelbarrows. A pocket watch from the mid-1800s revealed how recent the oubliette had claimed victims.

There are many accounts of an “elemental” spirit at Leap Castle. One of the most renowned is Mildred Darby’s. Her family once owned Leap, and there she dabbled in the occult. Some say her meddling provoked the entity to appear. Her description of it states: “The thing was about the size of a sheep, thin, gaunt and shadowy in parts. Its face was human, or to be more accurate, inhuman, in its vileness, with large holes of blackness for eyes, loose slobbery lips, and a thick saliva-dripping jaw, sloping back suddenly into its neck!”

One theory claims that before Leap Castle was erected, the elemental was summoned by Celtic Druids during a sacrificial ritual. It was brought into this dimension of reality to act as their guardian.

On Friday the 13th, 1307, King Philip IV of France ignited the Inquisition by charging the Knights Templar with heresy. Leaders of the organization were pulled from their castles, keeps, farms, vineyards, and homes. They were accused of worshiping a Pagan god. Some speculated it to be the demon Baphomet, or a Muslim deity which the Templars encountered while in the Holy Land. The Templars were also accused of keeping a magical “head” that helped them fight the crusades. The mysterious relic was rumored to be the offspring of the copulation between a young warrior and the corpse of his bride-to-be.

Empress Helena was the mother of Constantine, the emperor who made Christianity the official religion of Rome. Her pedigree is veiled in mystery and some scholars suspect she had a Pagan upbringing. In her later years she traveled to the Holy Land to seek out relics associated with Jesus Christ.

In 1348 the Plague spread across France. An especially virulent strain, it ravaged indiscriminately — young, old, rich, poor, pious or heretic — no one was immune. Jews were blamed for the malady. Many were tortured and burned at the stake after being accused of inflicting the peste on society.

Absinthe was created by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire around the time of the French Revolution. Traveling on horseback, he sold the concoction as a cure-all elixir across France and Switzerland. Absinthe would go on to become the subject of much debate. Rumored to cause hallucinations and madness, laws were passed starting in 1908, banning it in many European countries and the United States.

The phenomenon of “shadow people” has been documented throughout time. Legends of the Old Hag, the succubus/incubus, and other late-night visitors who cause sleep paralysis and a sense of mortal terror, are common across many cultures.

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