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Carissa Orlando Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The September House (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Carissa Orlando
Carissa Orlando has got her doctorate in clinical community psychology and she specializes in work with adolescents and children. In her “day job” she works to improve the quality of and access to mental health care for kids and their families.

Before her career in psychology, she studied creative writing during college and has written creatively in some form or another since her childhood. It was just a matter of time before Carissa, an avid horror fan for the majority of her life, merged her understanding of the human psyche and deep love for storytelling into a piece of fiction.

Carissa wishes her inspiration for “The September House” was something profound, but that’s so rarely how she operates. Instead, the inspiration came when she was standing in front of her mirror, getting ready to go to work. She was struck with this simple thought about somebody living in a haunted house and was totally fine with it?

This idea stuck with her and began taking shape over the following several weeks, evolving into the story it wound up being: a story about a woman, named Margaret, who’s found a way to live somewhat peacefully in a totally haunted house. Despite all of the dangers and horrors. And the vanishing husband.

Carissa initially wanted Margaret’s house to be the most haunted of haunted houses. Every possible way that a house can be haunted, she wanted it to happen in this house. So she threw pretty much every single haunted house gimmick that she could think of at Margaret, just to see her roll with it.

She refuses to be driven out of her home by these paranormal pranksters and has, over time, developed this series of functional yet not totally foolproof rules for surviving in this house unscathed.

This story came out of her fairly rapidly. She had the initial idea during the early fall of 2019 and began writing it before the year had ended. She had a first draft completed by around March of 2020 (right in time for the pandemic to start), edited into something that was readable, and began sending queries out during the summer of 2020. Her querying process lasting around a year, and she was picked up by her wonderful agents at Folio during the summer of 2021. they helped find a home at Berkeley only a few months later, and the book was out by September of 2023.

The story has evolved quite a lot from the silly single sentence idea that she had while she was getting ready into the book it’s become. The meat really filled in around the bones, and (thanks to her lovely characters) wound up telling a far more complex and rich story than she ever could’ve imagined.

She found it to be both fun and rewarding to see the book take opportunities to write itself. Carissa has always been a bit of a planner, and she typically will not begin writing a project until she has a pretty comprehensive outline.

Even though this one still had an outline, she gave herself some freedom, and it was fun to see things evolve in the moment, allow the characters to tell her how they’d handle a given situation, and allow her tiny writing choices to turn into the meaningful aspects of the story. It also helped her, when it became time for her to begin her next project, not feel so beholden to her outline and, instead, be more willing to see where the story wanted to take itself.

When Carissa began developing her plan for this story, it had a totally different yet not all that satisfying ending. Partway through, she had this idea for an even better ending, even though that didn’t even exactly hit the right notes once it was all said and done. After support and feedback from a bunch of people came in, she was able to get to the ending that readers will see when they read the book, which she enjoys the heck out of. She remembers being physically excited when she wrote the first draft of what’s essentially the current ending: giggling, heart racing, and excited, and this was when she knew that this book would end in a place that was both memorable and satisfying.

“The September House” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2023. A woman is bound and determined to remain in her dream home even after it becomes a haunted nightmare in this layered, compulsively readable, and twisty debut novel.

Margaret and her husband Hal bought the huge Victorian house on Hawthorn Street, for sale at a surprisingly reasonable price, they could not believe that they had a home of their own, finally. They then found out about the hauntings. The halls drip blood every September. The ghosts of the former inhabitants appear, and each one of them are horrified of something which lurks in the basement. Most people would just flee.

Except Margaret is not most people. Margaret is staying, because it is her house. However after four years Hal cannot take it anymore, and he leaves abruptly. Now, he is not returning calls, and Katherine (their daughter), doesn’t know anything about the hauntings, and she shows up, intent to search for her missing dad. Making things worse, September has just started, and with every effort that Katherine and Margaret make to look for Hal, the hauntings only grow more harrowing, since there are some secrets that this house needs to keep.

This is a wholly satisfying and rich haunted house novel all about dark family secrets and patterns of destruction. It’ll charm and terrify you and break your heart, often within the same sentence. Carrissa takes the reader on a journey which moves from horrifying to savagely funny with the turn of a page. This is an unflinching exploration of the dark things that we don’t talk about, and it’s a must read for horror fans. This is a genre blending masterpiece which is part psychological suspense, part horror, and part dark humor, all of which gets tied together with Carissa’s beautiful prose. It creeped readers out in the best possible way.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Carissa Orlando

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