This week, I was just given the green light on a new book project. I’m very excited about this one since it takes inspiration from my “day” job operating telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Now, the book won’t actually be set at Kitt Peak. Instead, it’ll be a fictional, haunted observatory, but I’ll be able to use my experiences to give the novel a believable atmosphere.
When storms move in over the observatory, the mountain can have a distinctly ominous feeling. Winds can rip across the mountaintop at 50 or 60 miles per hour causing the catwalks that run around the outside of the domes to howl. Lightning bolts strike around the mountain. Rain can come down in sheets, banging on the metal domes, raising the noise level to a din.
Observatory buildings don’t typically have many windows. This helps to control the temperature, which is very important, but if power goes out, the buildings can be absolutely dark. The 4-meter where I spend a lot of my time was originally built to house observers and laboratories in addition to the telescope, but this was before astronomers learned the necessity of thermal control. As a result, the 4-meter is a big, mostly empty building with corridors that ring the outside and doors that go into empty darkrooms, machine shops, and storage rooms.
Astronomers have been known to entomb themselves on the grounds of observatories they have built. Although no one is entombed at Kitt Peak that I’m aware of, Percival Lowell is buried on the grounds of Lowell Observatory and James Lick is entombed under the 36-inch telescope at the observatory that bears his name. It would be easy to imagine the ghosts of these famous observers wandering the grounds of the observatories they loved so much.
I’ll keep you posted as I develop this frightening tale of astronomers, ghosts, and evil forces. I think people who like my Scarlet Order books will enjoy this new “Wilderness of the Dead” series. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a good Halloween scare this year, remember to check out the Scarlet Order Vampire novels: Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and Vampires of the Scarlet Order.