Coast Monthly poses 10 questions to an intriguing resident of the Texas Coast.
Freelance writer and photographer Kathleen Shanahan Maca has a love for old cemeteries, architecture, genealogy and history. Maca, a Clear Lake-area resident, left the advertising industry after more than 20 years to focus on family and writing. It was one of the best moves she ever made, she said.
Maca, a graduate of Sam Houston State University, is the author of “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries” from Arcadia Publishing. And last month, The History Press released her latest book, “Ghosts of Galveston,” which explores haunted tales from the island.
A fan of ghost stories and legends since she was a child, Maca uses her experience in historical research and genealogy to add dimension to local folklore.
What inspired you to write “Ghosts of Galveston”?
I kept encountering ghost stories while interviewing subjects for a variety of articles over the past few years. Many of the popular ones were historically impossible, but some seemed plausible. So I began collecting them.
As a child, were you really a fan of ghost stories?
Absolutely. Every month at school, we would get the Scholastic book order forms, and I immediately ordered anything having to do with ghost stories.
Do you think Galveston is more haunted than other cities and why?
As one would suspect, a location that has seen as much tragedy as Galveston — hurricanes, Civil War, epidemics — would be susceptible to hauntings. They also say that places with water more easily retain energies and the island is literally surrounded.
Have you ever seen a ghost in Galveston?
“Seen” — no. But let’s just say I have my reasons to be sure at least a couple of locations are truly haunted.
What was the scariest story you encountered in your research?
The goriest has to do with a man who was decapitated by a rail car. The police accounts of the accident were excruciatingly detailed.
What is the most haunted building or area in Galveston?
There are stories and experiences all over the island, but The Strand seems particularly blanketed.
What’s your favorite way to spend Halloween?
With family and friends. I enjoy Halloween decorations, and just about everything about the holiday. It’s one of the few times that adults seem comfortable acting like kids.
What’s the best ghost movie you’ve ever seen?
Definitely “The Changeling” with George C. Scott (1980). It’s very tame by today’s standards. I’m not a fan of the blood-guts-and-gore, and this is one of the most frightening movies I’ve ever seen — and not a drop of blood. More currently, “The Others” and “The Sixth Sense.”
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
That’s difficult to narrow down. As a child, I loved the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I would recommend “Ghost Story” by Peter Straub. I’m currently reading a fun series called the “Graveyard Queen” series by Amanda Stevens.
Are you working on another book?
The History Press has contracted me to write a book about the history of the Hotel Galvez. There’s a beautiful coffee table book out on the subject, but they want a paperback that focuses more on content and is less expensive that more people might be able to afford. I’m excited about the project.