Ghosts, and Why We Love Them
Ghosts loom large in my Celebration House Trilogy, especially in the first book, “Building Celebration House.” I think that’s why readers ask me, “Do you believe in ghosts?” Yes, I do. Have I ever seen one personally? Sadly, no.
But I’m taken with the idea of ghosts because, well, think about it! A ghost is actually a time traveler. He or she lived in their time and now, they live in ours.
An editor who helped with my book encountered my challenges with this concept. Would a ghost – a man who lived in 1800s Missouri – know what a bulldozer is? So, I played with this idea. To a man in 1850s, a bulldozer might mean a slumbering cow. Thus he asks my heroine, “How could a sleeping bull destroy my house?”
Ghosts feature prominently in a slew of movies, not just horror films. Watching Disney’s “Moana” last night with my son – for the third time – I observed that the much beloved grandmother comes back from the grave to motivate the main character.
I have a slew of favorite movie ghosts. I like the playfulness of the 1995 movie, “Casper,” or last year’s remake of “Ghostbusters.” I enjoyed the 1980s films, but I’m delighted with the remake. My husband points out that except for dropping Bill Murray from a two-story window, the ghosts actually harmed no one, besides vomiting a little slime. Those are my kind of specters. Spooky? Sure. Dangerous? Meh. Entertaining? Always.
But the king of my heart is Patrick Swayze in “Ghost,” circa 1990. I’m not alone. This film out-grossed every movie released that year with revenues of $505 million.
In my novel, “Building Celebration House,” I needed rules for my specters. Why did the ghostly Colonel Stratton frequently move household objects when the other spirits did not? Why did the colonel and his family stay rather than cross over? All questions for my heroine, who has the ability to communicate with these residents of Celebration House, though on more than one occasion, she sure wishes she didn’t.
In the second and third books, readers hear less from the ghostly residents. Carrie can no longer speak for them. It’s a little bit of a hiccup in the series; beta readers tell me they miss the ghosts. But the ghostly residents of Celebration House are always close by, ready to make their presence known when they’re needed.
When I finished writing this book in 2013, I queried one of the largest publishing houses in the U.S. An editor wrote back and said, “I like the story concept, but not the ghosts. Could you delete them and resubmit?”
Celebration House without ghosts? What a frightening idea!
Building Celebration House
The Celebration House Trilogy
Genre: Women’s fiction/paranormal romance
Publisher: Baskethound Books
Date of Publication: 3/1/17
Number of pages: 234
Word Count: 52K
Cover Artist: Elizabeth Mackey
Tagline: How can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself.
After recovering from her own heart surgery, she learns she has a special talent: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her health failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s ghostly occupants, especially Major Tom Gentry, the handsome Civil War soldier who died 100 years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Will Carrie finish restoring the celebration house or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
When Carrie opened the door and stepped inside, sunlight streamed in through the dirty windows. Even though the barn had been vacant for years, the air smelled of hay and horses.
Looking to her left, she saw a man shaving. He’d glanced up when Carrie opened the doors, but returned his gaze to the small mirror tacked to the wooden beam. He was bare from the waist up. His chest was lean and muscular, with dark brown hair from mid-chest to his waistline. His arms were powerfully built, and his right hand was steady as he scraped the white soap from his angular jaw with a razor. His dark blue uniform pants with gold braid down the side were tucked into knee-high black leather boots. He stood at least six feet tall, and though Carrie hadn’t made her living in the carnival, she guessed he was probably younger than her, likely in his mid to late twenties. He peered at the small mirror, tilting his chin to swipe away the shaving soap. Carrie waited to speak until after he’d finished with the ivory-handled straight blade and dipped it into the basin of soapy water.
“Good morning,” she said.
His expression was an equal mix of surprise and annoyance. He dropped the razor and grabbed his shirt off a nearby nail. He turned his back to Carrie and pulled it on.
“You can see me, madam?” he asked, buttoning his shirt and stuffing it into his pants.
“Yes. Can you see me?”
“I can, but I believe I have the advantage. I’m dead. You are not.” He turned and glared at her. His eyebrows furrowed as though he wasn’t quite sure how they’d arrived at the point of introductions.
“I’m sorry to intrude. I’m Carrie. Carrie Hansen.” She extended her hand.
He reached to shake her hand, but his fingers passed through hers. They both jerked back.
“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to intrude,” she said.
“You surprised me. That’s all. We seldom receive visitors, especially living ones who can see us.” He put on his blue uniform coat and fastened the long row of brass buttons. “I’m Major Thomas Gentry, at your service.” He bowed.
“I’m sorry I startled you. I sometimes forget ghosts aren’t accustomed to being seen.”
His eyes narrowed and he frowned. “How may I be of service to you, Miss Hansen?”
“Where can I find Colonel Stratton? I need to speak with him.”
His dark blue eyes showed his increasing puzzlement. “The living do not go looking for Colonel Stratton. What business have you with him?”
“I bought this house, and I intend to live here.”
“You bought Stratton House?”
“And I need to speak with the colonel.”
Major Gentry shook his head as though to sort through the details. “Please forgive me. You bought Stratton House, you intend to live here, and you wish to speak with the home’s proprietor, Colonel Stratton?”
“I thought we’d covered that,” she said. “You don’t get many visitors, do you?”
About the Author:
Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
She makes her home in Washington state. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she loves ferry rides, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.