Art Imitates Life, Life Imitates Art, and Like That
A good friend of mine recently read my book Haunted and one of the first things she said to me was, "How much of what was in that book was based on what happened in your house?" It was a good question and one that, funnily enough, never occurred to me.
Everyone who knows me also knows that I grew up in a haunted house on the north side of Chicago. It's in my biography. It's in my profile for this blog. I'm sure it's in several other places including one or two interviews, so I would consider it to be common knowledge. The house where I spent my formative years was haunted.
When my friend asked me the question, I was surprised. Surprised that she had thought to ask that, and also surprised that I hadn't thought of that myself. So here's what I told her: Some of the details included in the haunting Cassie experiences are based on my own reality. I know what it's like to feel something cold sweep through a room. I have heard furniture shifting in other rooms when I was the only one home. I know all about a "witching hour," as Michael rather inaccurately calls it, starting at a particular time and also ending at a particular time. Yes, my house had all that, and more.
The funny thing, though, is (and I hope this isn't a spoiler if you haven't read the book, yet) the scenes where Cassie always pauses before she opens her bedroom door, feeling as if she's going to run smack-dab into someone who has been standing just on the other side, are based on feelings I have in my current house. Only in this case, it's not the bedroom but the bathroom. I can't count how many times I've paused in opening the bathroom door because I can't help feeling that someone or something is waiting for me to do just that.
The extent of the paranormal events that Cassie experiences is not something I am familiar with, however. To come up with that I just needed to run through my personal checklist of things that would totally terrify me and then write them into the story. I certainly have no wish to run into a dead young man who is covered in blood, waiting for me outside my bedroom door. (And if you haven't read the book yet, that sentence is not much of a spoiler. But if you haven't read the book yet, well, why not????)
I will say, however, that when I am working on a ghost story, any ghost story, this house comes to life even though I am the only one in it. I'm talking about inexplicable bangs down in the kitchen, floors shifting in the hall just around the corner from my open door, the sounds of footsteps, and almost always, the sounds of someone coming into the house. No one is ever there, but the noises are plainly audible nonetheless. Good thing I write during the day!
Speaking of writing, I am spending serious time trying to recapture fear and dread in the follow up to Haunted, titled Dead Voices. It may not be quite as frightening -and according to some readers, they found Cassie's story to be pretty frightening- but it will at least be strange and eerie and involve Cassie and Michael once again getting involved with those who have already departed earthly life. The really scary thing for me is figuring out how to get this book up and running before Haunted is a year old, but that's my problem! I do hope, though, that when it hits, you all find it as entertaining and chilling as the first.