Category Archives: 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die

2022 Cemetery Round-Up

The primary cemetery project I worked on last year was the Kickstarter and publication of Death’s Garden Revisited: Personal Relationships with Cemeteries.

The book was the culmination of a dream I’ve held for decades. It collects 40 powerful personal essays — accompanied by glorious full-color photographs — to illuminate the reasons people visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.

I could not be prouder of how this beautiful book turned out. You can get a copy of your own from Blurb.com.

I’ve been working on another collection of my own cemetery travel essays, a sequel to Wish You Were Here. Still Wish You Were Here will be a collection of 35 (or so) cemeteries, exploring graveyards from the California Gold Country to Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo. I’d hoped to have it finished by the end of 2022, but family trouble complicated that. The paperback will be out this summer.

Lectures:

I only gave one lecture in 2022. I presented “Using Crowdfunding to Support Cemetery Projects” during the online conference for the Association for Gravestone Studies on 6/9/22.

Short Cemetery Nonfiction:

I had a bunch of short pieces published, most of them in connection with promoting Death’s Garden Revisited.

Jennifer Brozek let me stop by her blog to tell her how I fell in love with cemeteries: http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/blog/post/2022/03/23/Tell-Me-Loren-Rhoads3

I wrote a post for E. M. Markoff’s Tomes & Coffee blog to explain some of the choices on the Death’s Garden Revisited playlist: http://www.ellderet.com/emmarkoff-blog/2022/4/6/guest-post-the-deaths-garden-revisited-playlist-by-loren-rhoads

TheHorror Addicts Guide to Life #2 republished my essay about the world’s most haunted cemetery.

I assembled a list of five of “The Best Books about Cemeteries” for Shepherd.com. Please check it out: https://shepherd.com/best-books/about-cemeteries

Podcasts/Radio:

The Curious State podcast interviewed me about “What Makes a Cemetery a Tourist Destination?” Airdate: May 23, 2022. You can listen to it here:  https://curious-state.simplecast.com/episodes/what-makes-a-cemetery-a-tourist-destination-rmU_cWWu

The podcast of The National Funeral Directors Association, Remembering A Life, interviewed me about my cemetery work. Airdate: October 12, 2022. Here’s the link: https://rememberingalife.libsyn.com/episode-23-adventures-in-cemetery-travel

Horror Addicts featured me and Death’s Garden contributors Francesca Maria, E. M. Markoff, and Brian Thomas on their season finale. Airdate: October 15, 2022. You can listen to the playback here: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2022/10/15/horroraddicts-net-217-loren-rhoads-cemetery

Marsha Casper Cook and Trish Wilson invited me to their Michigan Avenue Media podcast to discuss Death’s Garden Revisited. Airdate: July 7, 2022. You can listen to the replay here: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/michiganavenuemedia/2022/07/07/author-interviews-michigan-avenue-media

Interviews:

The Fabulist magazine did a really great interview with me, connecting the Death’s Garden project to my Morbid Curiosity magazine: https://fabulistmagazine.com/a-personal-relationship-with-cemeteries-loren-rhoads-in-conversation/ They reprinted the interview in The Pocket Pixelarium in August 2022.

Angela Yuriko Smith invited me to her Lit Up video series for one of the best cemetery conversation I’ve ever had. Check us out at https://youtu.be/U4Ziv2b2nlU or watch it below.

Lex Vranick of Write and Wine interviewed me about cemeteries and the Kickstarter: https://writeandwine.com/blog/an-interview-with-loren-rhoads

Naching T. Kassa interviewed me for the Horror Writers Association newsletter for a piece called HWA Legends: Loren Rhoads, Mistress of Morbid.

Naching interviewed me again for the Horror Addict podcast’s Chilling Chat: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2022/10/14/chilling-chat-episode-217-loren-rhoads/

Blogger Jo Nell Huff interviewed me about the Kickstarter and the contributors to Death’s Garden Revisitedhttps://coastalcrone.com/2022/04/07/deaths-garden-revisited-kickstarter-interview-with-editor-loren-rhoads/

Anthropologist and horror writer Paul Stansfield interviewed me about how Death’s Garden Revisited fits in with all my other books: http://paulstansfield.blogspot.com/2022/04/interview-with-publishereditorwriter.html

Horror author and secret romantic Robert Holt interviewed me about cemeteries and travel: https://holthorror.wordpress.com/2022/04/11/deaths-garden-revisited-interview-with-editor-loren-rhoads/

Miscellaneous Good Things:

The Association for Gravestone Studies Book Club kicked off January 2022 by focusing on 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. I was thrilled to be able to join the discussion at the end.

The Washington Post quoted me (and a bunch of other cemetery bloggers) in “Why We Love Visiting Cemeteries” by Andrea Sachs. https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/10/24/cemetery-congressional-woodlawn-green-wood/

The Washington Post quoted me again in “This Woman Bakes Recipes She Finds on Gravestone Epitaphs: They’re to Die For” by Sydney Page. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/10/24/gravestone-recipe-epitaph-ghostly-archive/

I was almost interviewed about cemeteries at the last minute by the BBC! It was the day after we’d moved into our new house and I didn’t yet know where my microphone was so, in the end, I was relieved that they booked someone else. I had a really nice interaction with the showrunner, though. Maybe this year?

Doing my first kickstarter this year was one of the most intense months of my life. Death’s Garden Revisited raised more than $5k. The campaign was chosen by Kickstarter as a Project We Love.

I hosted my first Ask Me Anything on Twitter. So many great cemetery questions! I look forward to doing another this year.

Dr. Sharon Pajka hosted a Cemetery Happy Hour. A handful of Death’s Garden contributors created cocktails to celebrate their favorite cemeteries. Check out this very fun and short video: https://youtu.be/H5BN8WWZq-c

Finally, the contributors to Death’s Garden Revisited helped me put together a playlist of their favorite cemetery songs. If you’d like a soundtrack to your cemetery reading, you can listen along on Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4S0255SPm7grf5NShTbLgT?si=ea4a5b5bb3d94d17

Talking about Cemeteries

It’s that time again, when everyone’s fancies turn to cemeteries. I’ve been out there, talking up the joys of visiting graveyards.

Horror Addicts focused the last hour of their October podcast on Death’s Garden Revisited. Horror hostess Emerian Rich (also a contributor to the book) interviewed me, then contributors E.M. Markoff, Francesca Maria, and Brian Thomas read tastes of their essays. If you’re trying to get in the mood for the season, check it out.

The National Funeral Directors Association interviewed me about 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Death’s Garden Revisited for their podcast, Remembering a Life.

The Washington Post asked me for some context for recipes appearing on headstones: They’re To Die For.

199 Cemeteries inspired another Washington Post journalist to begin exploring cemeteries. Along the way, she talked to a lot of taphophiles I’ve met via twitter. You have to love her headline: Why We Love a Good Cemetery.

In and around all of that, I’ve been getting the copies of Death’s Garden Revisited in the mail to the contributors and the Kickstarter backers. If you’d like a copy of your own (and who wouldn’t? It’s gorgeous!), you can click on the book cover above and be taken to Blurb.com. It’s available in hardcover and oversized paperback now. The ebook version should be coming soon.

Happy Birthday, Cemetery Travel!

I began this blog in February 2011, which blows my mind: 11 years, more than 600 posts, over half a million views ago.

In February 2011, I had already published 3 books: an anthology of political essays about North America at the end of the 20th century, an anthology of cemetery essays, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues, an anthology of essays drawn from my 10 years of editing Morbid Curiosity magazine.

For the better part of six years, I’d also written a monthly column about visiting cemeteries for Gothic.Net. By 2011, I’d put together the manuscript that would become Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and my agent was looking for a home for it. We were hobbled, though, because my agent couldn’t quite grasp why anyone would want to visit a cemetery.

While I was trying to persuade her — and waiting for a publisher to say yes — I decided to start this blog. Amazingly enough, no one had snatched up CemeteryTravel.com yet, so the domain was mine for a song. I learned WordPress, set up a website, and wrote my first post. I repurposed that as the Welcome to this blog.

The last 11 years have been a wonderful ride. I’ve met so many people through this blog — other bloggers, cemetery authors & photographers, tour guides, restorers, historians, genealogists, and more — people who have an attachment to just one graveyard and people like me who will explore every cemetery they come across.

I used this platform to research and write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and collected some of my favorite photographs into the Cemetery Travels Notebook. I’ve used feedback from blog readers to update Wish You Were Here.

Readers supported me through 2020, when two publishers contacted me about new cemetery books and both proposals fell through. (Oh, 2020, why did you have to be so mean?) Someday, I’ll work my way back around to those books and finish them at last.

Contributors to this blog will appear in the book I’m putting together now, the sequel to the original Death’s Garden published all the way back in 1995. I am so excited about Death’s Garden Revisited! The essays are funny, heartbreaking, and lovely — and focus on cemeteries all around the world. I cannot wait for you to see it.

Here’s to another 11 years of Cemetery Travel. Thank you for being along for the ride!

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die’s anniversary

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die came out four years ago today. My encyclopedia of graveyards, tombs, and burial places spanned the US and circled the globe. It never stood a chance at being comprehensive, but I tried to make it as wide-ranging as possible.

I’m not sure if it’s obvious to anyone but me, but 199 Cemeteries is my most intentionally political book. From the start, I didn’t want it to be a collection of stories about dead White men, so I knew I would include Black History, Native American heroes, and Suffragettes. The real turning point for me, though, came the morning after the 2016 election.

Powazaki Cemetery of Poland, whose records were destroyed during World War II

In the fall of 2016, I joined a group called Shut Up & Write that met on Wednesday mornings at the Borderlands Cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District. We sat down at the big tables in the back of the cafe and everyone said their name and what they intended to work on that morning. Then we put our heads down over our own writing and silently worked for several hours.

By November, I’d learned most of everyone’s names and their recurring projects, but I hadn’t really gotten to know any of them. We were pleasant acquaintances, nothing more. Still, when I’d gone to bed on election day, Hillary Clinton was winning. When I got up the next morning, I could not believe the news. I thought about taking the day off but, to be honest, I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to bury myself in work. And, election or no, I had a deadline to complete 199 Cemeteries by the end of January. I couldn’t afford to get depressed.

The Jewish Cemetery of Chernivitsi, Ukraine

In a daze, frightened for my kid and my friends, I packed up my laptop and notes and went to Borderlands. Z’ev, the cafe manager, was kind. I settled at the table in the back and watched the other writers drift in. We all talked briefly about our disappointment and shock, our sense of betrayal by the rest of the country. I discovered how much more we had in common than just our creative pursuits.

As the writing session progressed, people wept silently. We passed a box of tissues back and forth. Some of them were simply journaling. Others were writing letters to the editor or outlining articles or penning essays. I sat there with my cemetery notes, wondering how I could possibly make sense of what had just happened…and became increasingly angry.

The Soul-Consoling tower at the Manzanar concentration camp.

My inclusive table of contents morphed. I believe fiercely that humans have more in common than we have differences. I believe that we are all in this together, all of us around the world. We have to get along right here, care for each other right here, and care for the earth. We have one planet. There is nowhere for us to go.

So my table of contents expanded. I wanted to include the Islamic prophets and the artists of Russia, the Apartheid martyrs of South Africa, the world’s indigenous cultures, if they welcomed visitors to their burial grounds. I wanted to examine the legacies of genocide and racism and war. I wanted to make the point — 199 times — that we are all going to end up dead. What matters, what will be remembered, is what we do right here, right now.

My contribution to making the world a better place, as small as it might be, is 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die.

Monument to the Native warriors killed at the Little Bighorn National Monument, placed more than a century after the battle.

Cemetery Press in 2018

Considering I didn’t have a new book out in 2018, I was pleased with the attention that 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to draw. It opened doors for me to speak at a bunch of new (to me) venues last year, too. Hopefully, I persuaded some new people to check out the beauty of these fragile historic places.

Book publications:

I put a collection of my cemetery essays up on Wattpad in July and August. Graveyard Field Trips: A Memoir gathers essays I published on Gothic.Net and GothicBeauty.com, along with the introduction to the original edition of Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries.

At the moment, I have a proposal out for my new book, The Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area, and another proposal for a nonfiction book with Lisa Morton, president of the Horror Writers Association, that I’m excited about.  Hopefully those books will find homes in 2019.

I’m not sure what cemetery project I’ll work on after those are done. Maybe I’ll finally finish the second volume of Death’s Garden.

Short Nonfiction Publications:

Four Graves for Harvey Milk” appeared on The Cemetery Club  to kick off Great Britain’s Gay Pride Month.

10 American Cemeteries to See Before You Die” appeared on The Daily Beast in April 2018. My collection of cemeteries to see in springtime was illustrated with images from 199 Cemeteries.

I wrote 9 cemetery columns for the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter about the histories of burial and cremation, cemetery ghost stories, and gravestone iconography.

The Madam’s Haunted Tomb” served as part of the Ghosts in the Graveyard series on Roxanne Rhoads’s All Things Halloween blog. I talked about a ghost legend centered on New Orleans’ Metairie Cemetery.

Here on CemeteryTravel.com, I was proud to put together a two-part series on the “Resting Places of Horror Icons.” Here’s part one.

Lectures:

At Cypress Lawn in Colma in September

I spoke to Angela Hennessy’s “Over My Dead Body” class at the California College of the Arts in February. My lecture, called “Memento Mori: Even Graveyards Die,” covered the demolition of the historic cemeteries of San Francisco.

In April, for the “Memento Mori” evening of the Reimagine End of Life week, I talked about the dismantling of “Laurel Hill Cemetery: San Francisco’s Garden Cemetery” at the Swedish American Hall.

I talked about how I came to write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at the Association for Gravestone Studies conference in Danbury, Connecticut in June.

In September, I showed slides of my favorite cemeteries from 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.

Professor Steven Brown invited me to talk about cemeteries to his horticultural class as San Francisco’s City College on October 1, 2018.

My last lecture of the year was near to my heart.  For years, I’ve wanted to trace the development of San Francisco’s Old Mission Cemetery through tourist postcards.  I finally got to do it as part of the Odd Salon’s “Cemetery Stories” event during the Litcrawl on 10/20/18. My lecture was called “Postcards from History.”

Podcasts:

Extreme Genes, my first genealogy podcast ever, chatted with me about cemeteries on 3/25/18. My bit starts 24 minutes in:
https://extremegenes.com/2018/02/25/episode-226-black-history-month-advances-in-african-american-research-199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

Venerable goth podcast Cemetery Confessions broadcast our conversation about cemeteries on 6/17/18:
http://www.thebelfry.rip/blog/2018/6/15/cemetery-expert-loren-rhoads

Mark from On the Odd chatted with me about 199 Cemeteries on October 26, 2018: https://ontheodd.com/199-cemeteries-to-see-before-you-die/

And I talked with Timothy Renner about cemeteries for his Strange Familiars podcast, but it hasn’t been released yet.

Print/Online Interviews:

“Loren Rhoads takes us through the gates of the Cemetery” for Women in Horror Month on Library of the Damnedhttp://libraryofthedamned.com/2018/02/22/wihm-interview-loren-rhoads-takes-us-through-the-gates-of-the-cemetery/

Sonora Taylor invited me by for a Q&A on her blog in August. Mostly we talked about 199 Cemeteries, but also got into my Alondra short stories: https://sonorawrites.com/2018/08/15/ask-the-author-a-qa-with-loren-rhoads/

Erin Al-Mehairi invited me by her Oh, for the Hook of a Book! blog for a long conversation about cemeteries and more on 10/30/18: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/hookinterview-cemetery-travel-writer-and-horror-author-loren-rhoads-lohf/

Articles:

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die continued to get some press attention this year, even though the book’s been out more than a year. Most of these stories were nice surprises when I stumbled across them online.

I served as a consultant about Potter’s Fields for “State-Funded Funerals: What Happens to the Unclaimed Dead” on How Stuff Works. I’m a fan of the podcast, so this was an honor. https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/cultural-traditions/state-funded-funerals-what-happens-to-unclaimed-dead.htm

A feature story on 199 Cemeteries called “From Established to Eccentric, These Cemeteries are To Die For” appeared on Gonomad in April: https://www.gonomad.com/109276-from-established-to-eccentric-these-cemeteries

Lifestyles over 50 reprinted Larry Bleiberg’s “10 Great Cemeteries to See Before You Die”: https://lifestylesafter50.com/10-great-cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die/

Atlas Obscura did a lovely piece called “In Search of Cemeteries Alive With Beauty, Art, and History” for Halloween: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cemeteries-to-visit-before-you-die-monuments

Halloween Lifestyle cautioned readers “Don’t Die Before You see These Amazing Cemeteries”: http://www.halloween-lifestyle.com/2018/04/23/dont-die-before-seeing-these-amazing-cemeteries/

And the Steampunk Explorer put together an in-depth 3-part series of historic cemeteries that would appeal to those of a steampunk persuasion:

Part 1: USA and Canada
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-i

Part 2: Europe
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-ii

Part 3: The Rest of the World
https://steampunk-explorer.com/articles/exploring-historic-cemeteries-part-iii

Miscellaneous Good Things:

A catch-all category for things that made me smile this year.

199 Cemeteries made the preliminary ballot for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award in Nonfiction. While the book didn’t advance to the final ballot, it was still an honor to make the long list.

The podcast Two Girls One Ghost read my fan letter on air after they mentioned 199 Cemeteries in an earlier episode. Here’s a link to their Haunted Cemeteries podcast: https://audioboom.com/posts/6692482-episode-27-rest-in-peace which originally aired on 2/25/18.

199 Cemeteries made a Buzzfeed list! “30 Gorgeous Products for Anyone with a Morbid Mind”  appeared on 4/13/18: https://www.buzzfeed.com/malloryannp/gorgeous-products-morbid-mind

I came across the first edition of Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel listed on Amazon for $1200. I’d gladly set you up with one for 10 bucks.

Sonora Taylor mentioned 199 Cemeteries in her list “October Reads: Time for (More) Darkness” recommendation list on 10/5/18: https://sonorawrites.com/2018/10/05/october-reads-time-for-more-darkness/

Finally, I got to provide a cover blurb for the first time.  I am really excited about Erin-Marie Legacey’s Making Space for the Dead, which is coming from Cornell University Press in April 2019. You can preorder it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RkuyiT.