“The Whisper Jar” is Carole Lanham’s debut collection of short stories, released last year on October, 31st by Morrigan Books in electronic format. Today, “The Whisper Jar” is released in print as well and on this occasion I have the opportunity to host Carole Lanham as my guest for a post on the blog.
How to Save Your Secrets in Glass
by Carole Lanham
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could whisper something you regret into the mouth of a jam jar, screw on the lid, and put that dark bit of history behind you forever? The stories in The Whisper Jar collection all have one thing in common – secrets. Not the sorts of secrets that incite giggles though. Dark, treacherous secrets, the kind that tangle you up the more you try to bury them. No ear may be trusted with the likes of these unsavory slips in good judgment. Only a jar with a very tight lid will do.
By my experience, few things have the power to shape our souls or twist our hearts more than the things we hide. Unexplained bumps in the night don’t scare me much. The thought of being haunted by the ghost of a black deed, however, leaves me shaking in my boots. One might assume then that I'm a woman with a guilty conscience, and rightly so. We’ve all done or said things we wish we could take back. The unsettling feeling that comes with keeping a secret is a universal one. Needless to say, when it comes to regret, I much prefer the fictitious variety.
For the shear reason that it adds an extra level of squirminess to the mix, the characters in The Whisper Jar are all, by necessity, heartbreakingly young. Don't expect Wisdom to come galloping up on a white horse to save the day. Any and all Mistakes must be sorted out with sticky fingers, and Innocence quite often plays the villain.
Likewise, gardens, orphanages, and nurseries are particularly terrible, mysterious places. More often than not, Bad Seeds win the day. For the record, I don’t believe teenage girls are evil, although The Whisper Jar may seem to imply otherwise. They do hold lethal sway over the boys who admire them. That’s just the honest truth. If one were to take undue advantage, the results could be devastating. It could even result in the making of a secret and who knows where the suffering of a secret might lead...
Be forewarned, The Whisper Jar is not for people who are made uneasy by children who do sneaky and/or dreadful things. Please avoid the book if you don’t find the idea of young boys building a museum dedicated to torture devices to be an absolute delight. Likewise, an appreciation for the questionable charms of locked rooms, blood-sucking sisters, and dirty book clubs is highly advised. If you’re on board with all of these, please do stop in at Amazon and buy the book. Feel free also to steal its handy suggestion for safe secret storage.
The instructions are easy: Simply pour out those olives that have been hiding behind the maraschino cherries in the back of the frig for some five or six months now and rinse thoroughly. Next, take your clean Whisper Jar in hand and level your mouth over the opening. Whisper the words softly and clearly into the glass, making certain to seal well after finishing as it's vitally important that nothing foul be allowed to escape. If done correctly, you should be able to store all those horrible little nasties away and move forward with a lightened heart. Now don't you feel so much better?
Beginners Tip: To avoid shattering or snooping by family and friends, mind where you put your jar.
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead…
The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham
The first time my sister did it to me, I was twelve years old and it hurt like Hades, even though she said it wouldn’t. “Lie down, Gidion, and don’t move. I promise it’ll be okay.” She put her hand in the middle of my chest as if I would jump up and run. And I might have. I wanted to.
“Good God, your heart,” she said. Her eyelids fluttered in a way that told me she wasn’t so sure about this whole business either. When she pressed my wrist against her mouth, it jerked away all by itself. “Don’t be afraid now, Giddy.”
In this collection of award-winning short stories by Carole Lanham, a boy struggles to deal with his sister's murderous affections, a dangerous friendship forms around a love of books, a student learns more than she was ever meant to learn in school, and the door to a mysterious room unbolts to reveal a terrible truth.
Brian Hodge, author of Picking the Bones has said of The Whisper Jar, “Carole Lanham is made entirely out of awesome. The Whisper Jar is packed to the lid with dark magic and whimsy, while bearing an ominously old-fashioned touch that might make Edward Gorey feel right at home. It deserves to be ranked as a modern classic.”
Open The Whisper Jar with great care. You might just find your own secrets hidden in there.Available May 31 from Morrigan Books at Amazon.com & https://www.createspace.com/3662961
Carole Lanham is the author of 24 short stories and one novella. The Whisper Jar is her first full length book. She lives in the St. Louis area with her wonderful, supportive family and a very large collection of aprons. If interested, please visit her at carolelanham.com, horrohomemaker.com, Facebook, or Goodreads.