When Sarah May was 12 years old, she became convinced of the existence of the paranormal after an experience at her grandmother's house in Val Caron.
It was early in the morning, and May had just woken up when she heard a command in her head that said “look up.”
“And when I did, I saw a man's face,” she said. “It was not a full-figured apparition, but just a man's hollow face in the space between the ceiling and the top of the door.
“He looked at me, and I looked at him. There was a connection there. There was eye contact. I was terrified, because I had never seen anything like that before.
“I got out of bed, and I slowly inched my way out of the room, all the while maintaining eye contact. Nothing else was said. There was no further event. It was just seeing this face.”
Inspired by this childhood experience, May put together a self-published book, “Haunted Sudbury,” featuring local stories about the paranormal.
While there's actually already a book about this topic out there — “Spooky Sudbury” by Mark Leslie and former Northern Life reporter Jenny Jelen — May said hers is a bit different.
“('Spooky Sudbury') was more in my opinion investigative journalism and just basically a history of Sudbury and the paranormal within Sudbury,” May said.
“'Haunted Sudbury' is a lot different than that. It is just 101 stories, true accounts put together as an anthology. There is no explanation.”
This is May's first book. She's also currently writing a book about local unsolved crimes, as well as a sequel to “Haunted Sudbury.” When she's not writing, May works in retail.
In researching “Haunted Sudbury,” May came up with some interesting stories.
She said the owners of the HourGlass Restaurant in downtown Sudbury had referred to a grisly murder that had happened in the building years before.
“I've always been interested in true crime, and I felt in the HourGlass restaurant a presence when I would go to dine there,” May said.
“It was specifically the presence of a woman. I felt that a death had taken place. Of course, I did not expect this entire, grisly story.”
May went through local newspaper articles until she found out about the 1957 double murder of Gerard Castonguay, a teacher at Sudbury High School, and his wife Jeanne D'arc Castonguay.
They were killed by their tenant Walter Lanneoja, an Inco labourer who was renting an upstairs room in the building that now houses the HourGlass Restaurant.
Fittingly, May will be holding a book launch for “Haunted Sudbury” starting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the HourGlass Restaurant, on the 61st anniversary of the murder of the Castonguays.
Participants will hear the story of the double murder and subsequent paranormal activity in the building, followed by a "house reading" by local psychic Jay Lane.
There will be refreshments and a cash bar. May will also be signing her books.
“Haunted Sudbury” is available for purchase as of Feb. 1 for $20 at the book launch, as well as at Coles in the New Sudbury Centre, Jan Browning Boutique, Sudbury Paint and Custom Framing, One Sky, Bay Used Books or at hauntedsudbury.ca.