Sarah Thomson’s first foray into horror fiction has landed her on TV.
The Portland author will be part of the premiere episode of a new spooky-themed Travel Channel show, “Monumental Mysteries,” airing at 9 p.m. Thursday.
Thomson will be seen standing in a Rhode Island graveyard talking about Mercy Brown, the inspiration for her novel “Mercy: The Last New England Vampire.” The book was published by Maine-based Islandport Press in 2011.
Although Thomson’s book is a work of fiction, it’s based on the true story of Brown, who died in the small town of Exeter, R.I., in 1892 amid rumors she was a vampire. Locals thought that even in death, she was somehow draining the life out of others.
Thomson says newspaper accounts at the time recount how people in Exeter had a doctor remove Brown’s heart from her body, which was being kept in a crypt during the winter until the weather allowed burial.
“They found what they believed to be liquid blood in her heart, and so thought that she was unnaturally alive and drawing life from her brother,” said Thomson. “So they had the heart burned.”
One of the things that most interested Thomson about Brown’s story was that it was fairly recent — unlike the Salem witch trials, for example, it occurred a few years shy of the 20th century.
“She was not the only person to be accused of being a vampire in New England, but probably the last,” she said.
Thomson said producers from “Monumental Mysteries” heard about her book and arranged for her to be filmed at Brown’s grave in Exeter in March. She was filmed talking about Brown at Brown’s grave (technically, it’s a monument) and at a nearby home.
The new series focuses on eerie stories about places or structures, whether they be statues, gravestones, bridges or buildings. One upcoming episode focuses on the Golden Gate Bridge, where 10 workers fell to their deaths during construction in 1937.
Thomson has written several young adult books focused on fantasy or historical fiction, as well as picture books and early reader books. She’s currently working on a non-fiction early reader series about prehistoric animals.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: