Thursday, February 8, 2018

They See Dead People

One of the coolest things I get to do with my job is interview interesting people, and what I learn shows up in my books. I'm careful to research certain details when I write because I know that nothing is as annoying as finding a mistake in a novel when it relates to a subject I know something about. (I've never quite forgiven a particular author for her use of the misnomer "judo chop.") Details, right or wrong, can strengthen or derail an author's credibility. So I find people to talk to.

Some of the people I talk to see the dead. I ask them lots of questions because what Michael Penfield is able to see, or what Cassie Valentine is able to glean from the departed, is crucial to my stories. Since I like tales that have to do with the paranormal, this is one of the more enjoyable aspects of my work. On the other hand, it can be a little unsettling.

One gentleman I know was driving to his lady friend's house one night and as he was pulling into her driveway in back, he noticed that she was standing on her back porch, clad in a long, white nightgown. I'm sure I hardly need to continue this story but here it is for your verification. He got out of the car and she was no longer on the porch so he went around to the front door, the path he usually took when he arrived. She let him in and he looked at her. "What happened to the white nightgown?" he asked.

"What white nightgown?" She was bewildered.

"The one you were wearing when you were standing out on the back porch a minute ago."

She looked at him like he had sprouted another pair of ears. "It's winter. Why would I be standing on my back porch in a white nightgown?" Because, of course, she hadn't been.

I have to admit that I am glad I don't have the ability to see random ghosts. I don't know that I would handle it as gracefully as my friends. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't, given what happened over the summer! But they seem to take it very much in stride.

Another gentleman I know joined me for a book signing in my home town, since he is also a writer. After our three-hour stint of meeting people and selling our wares, I walked with him to the parking lot behind the store and asked him about seeing dead people. He told me it was something he has always been able to do. He didn't always like it, but there it is. He explained how he sees entities in people's houses, or in random buildings. He even explained that ghosts don't always appear the way one might expect. "There's a house down the street from me that's haunted by a young girl, maybe seven or eight years of age. But I know that she was in her nineties when she died. She just likes to project that image of herself." I had never heard of such a thing before that conversation, but have since run into that aspect of a haunting at various locations; he was just the first person to tell me that such a thing might happen.

We chatted a little longer and then decided we should part ways, since he had about a two-hour drive to get home from the bookstore. But he stopped for one last moment and said to me, just before he left, "You know, there's a dead guy watching us from a window in that building across the street." Then he grinned at me and went to his car.

I looked at the building in question and I didn't see a thing, but I would never look at it the same way again.

But...round about that time, Michael Penfield gained his ability to see the dead.

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