As the self-proclaimed Queen of Halloween, I’ve always been drawn to the Grim Grinning Ghosts that reside in the Haunted Mansion, so when I heard that Disney Press was releasing an original novel inspired by the attraction, I was thrilled! As if that wasn’t exciting enough, Claudia Gray, who has previously penned “Star Wars The High Republic: The Fallen Star” among other smash hits, is the talented author bringing the story to life.
I was given the opportunity to chat with Claudia about her upcoming book, and I am delighted to share some spoiler-free tidbits about the novel.
Q: Claudia, we can’t wait for your take on the Haunted Mansion! It’s always been my favorite attraction at the parks, but what about it inspired you to write an original YA novel centered on it?
I’ve adored the Haunted Mansion since my very first trip to Walt Disney World back when I was 9 years old. But the real inspiration came when I realized that the Disneyland Haunted Mansion is canonically located in my very own city of New Orleans. This is a magical place with its own folklore (more houses haunted per capita than anywhere else in the country, I think?), and such a perfect setting for a Mansion story. Of course it would be here! It’s not hard to imagine that you might find it if you just turn the wrong corner.
Q: Without giving too much away, can you tell us about the story, specifically our protagonist, Audrey?
Audrey has just moved into the city from the suburbs, and so she’s having to adjust to a new school (with the world’s worst uniforms), new friends, and a not-quite-long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Chase. This would be tough for anyone, but Audrey has also been dealing with terrible anxiety attacks. Therapy is helping, but guess what’s right down the street in her new neighborhood? And just when she thinks the Haunted Mansion is as terrifying as anything could ever be, Audrey realizes that even the Happy Haunts can get scared….
Q: If you had to play favorites, which of the 999 Happy Haunts do you like best?
Oh, no no no no. Do you think I would ever risk ticking off the other 998 Haunts by not picking them? Then what happens the next time I’m on the ride? My lips are sealed.
Good call Claudia! I hear the ghosts are always looking for a reason to follow visitors home, we don’t want to give them any ideas! That said, if you’d like to experience all the frights and fun of the Haunted Mansion from the safety of your own home, “The Haunted Mansion: Storm & Shade,” is available wherever books are sold on Sept. 5, 2023. Preorder it now and check out the hauntingly beautiful cover, illustrated by Mark Chiarello, below!