• Lee Murray

Venturing into the World’s Most Haunted Forest

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

Today, I'm delighted to feature an interview with my super-talented friend and colleague, Return to Daylov Pass author J.H. Moncrieff, who talks about her newest release, the suspense-thriller Forest of Ghosts.



Q. What inspired you to write this book?

A. In 2015, I was lucky enough to participate in a horror writers’ workshop in Transylvania. Before heading home, I took the time to explore Hoia Baciu, otherwise known as the world’s most haunted forest. My experiences in the forest were so unnerving that I knew I would write about them one day. As Bram Stoker can attest, there’s no better location for an eerie book than Romania.


Q. Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

A. Jackson Stone is a lot of fun to write. He’s a strong-willed, outspoken guy who’s never afraid to stand up for others. Though he’s sarcastic as hell and has a gift for putting his foot in his mouth, he’s very protective of those he cares for and is extremely loyal.

Where Jackson is fire, Kate Carlsson is water. A gifted medium, she’s the cool head that prevails whenever Jacks gets himself in trouble. Her diplomacy, ability to read people and situations, and tendency to think before reacting are great balancers for Jackson’s emotional personality. Since Kate is a medium, spirits are always affecting her in one way or another, which makes her interesting to write.

Q. If your book were made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

A. I’ve yet to find an actor that would make the perfect Kate, but Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out would be awesome as Jackson. I should be so lucky!

Q. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns?

A. My characters always hijack it, which is fine by me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their story—I’m just along for the ride. Besides, I like it when they surprise me. If I knew everything that was going to happen in advance, it would be pretty boring.


Forest of Ghosts required me to have more faith in them than usual, because we ended up in an impossible situation near the end of the book that I had no idea how to resolve. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to writer’s block. But I forced myself to write through it, and everything eventually worked out.

Q. What did you edit out of this book?

A. Originally, Forest of Ghosts had a much darker ending. With everything that’s been going on in the world, I probably wasn’t feeling that optimistic, but this is what great editors are for. Mine called me on it, and I rewrote the book to end on a more positive note. It was the right choice. Even though I write dark fiction, it’s important to leave readers with hope.

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J.H. Moncrieff’s new release, Forest of Ghosts, was inspired by her real-life experiences in Romania, including Hoia Baciu, the world’s most haunted forest.

Jackson Stone is sick of ghosts. With his love life in shambles, he heads to Romania for a horror writers’ retreat, hoping it will be a break from the supernatural and breathing space from his relationship with medium Kate Carlsson.

But as his fellow writers begin disappearing or losing their minds, he realizes he needs Kate’s help.

When Jackson loses his own memory, Kate’s love is the only thing that can bring him back. But she’s falling for the man responsible for the evil in Romania. A man who claims to be her soul mate. Will this master of wraiths forever break Kate’s bond with Jackson?

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J.H. Moncrieff's City of Ghosts won the 2018 Kindle Book Review Award for Best Horror/Suspense. Reviewers have described her work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure.

She won Harlequin's search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. When not writing, she loves exploring the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

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© 2018 by Lee Murray