New ghost story set in Elora

The village of Elora is the setting of a ghost story in which all children, except for their shoes, mysteriously disappear on Halloween in Larry Rodness’ new novel. 

October 32 is a fictional story about a disappearance that plagues the town during its annual Halloween Scare Fair, a village festival.  

Following insurance agent Alexander Malefant, who arrives in town on Oct. 31, the story involves mysterious accidents with a boy nearly drowning while bobbing for apples and children being attacked by crows at the annual Halloween celebration. 

After the mayor and constable both ignore warnings of an “odd ball” resident whom  some folks believe to be a witch, all the children seem to disappear from the school gym, where the Halloween dance is scheduled to take place. All that’s left are their shoes.

The story that follows delves into the children’s disappearance, who’s to blame and what underlying secrets the townspeople and Malefant are hiding. With the bridges to the town closed, the adults have no choice but to work through the mystery of the disappearance. 

“The reason I’ve called it October 32 is because it all begins on October 31st and then when sundown comes all the kids disappear and it’s dark outside and the dark never goes away,” said Rodness, a Toronto-based author.

“The rest of the entire story is told in the dark so that it feels like, to some of the people, that either time has stood still and it’s still October 31st or it’s bled into a supernatural day being October 32 and nothing is resolved until the end of the story and the … following day the sun eventually rises after everything’s taken care of.”

Rodness originally visited Elora a number of years ago because of a recommendation. 

“The way it started was somebody had mentioned to me that I should go up to Elora during Halloween just to see the way they’ve decked out the town,” he explained.

“So I did and I was really amazed by all the efforts and the creative aspect of the town they put into it, so by the time I had travelled back to Toronto … little seeds were germinating in my mind and I was just kind of inspired to write a story with that kind of feel.”

Rodness said he visited Elora close to seven times while working on October 32 so he could get a feel for the village, including features like the Elora Gorge, the Elora Quarry and the Tooth of Time. 

“It’s got such interesting topography that I utilized as much as I could to give people a sense of the lay of the land and what it looks like and all the features of the village,” he said.

“I’ve centred this story in a realistic setting as much as possible, but of course when you write a story you have to give allowances to make things work.

“But if people go into Elora after reading the book they’re going to recognize a lot of these features.” 

However, he purposefully avoided basing any of the characters on actual people. 

“I took care not to interview anybody in town,” Rodness said. “I didn’t want to tell them about the story and I didn’t want them to offer anything because I didn’t ever want them to think, anybody to think, any of the characters were based on them or any of the history was based on them.”

He also did extensive research into the supernatural aspects of the novel using aspects of the Wicca religion throughout.

He said he included a scrying mirror in the story, which is used to reflect inner personalities and witch balls, which are glass orbs that defend against evil. Another supernatural element weaved throughout the entire novel is the myth of crows.

“Hopefully it gives people a unique look into this and also makes it sound as if it’s possible this could happen,” Rodness said. 

Though October 32 deals mostly with adults in the town, the story itself is appropriate for anyone above the age of 14. 

Rodness has scheduled a book launch at Ashanti Café  in Elora on Oct. 31. He will be giving a reading at noon and another at 4:30pm, followed by a question and answer period. 

Though the book will not be released until Halloween, October 32 is available for preorder on Amazon and through Deer Hawk Publications.

There will also be copies available at Ashanti Café before and after the launch event on Oct. 31.