The Spookiest Day of the Year

I’ve been fascinated by ghosts and ghost stories for a long time, in particular the efforts people have made over the years to use science to prove that ghosts exist. My interest in paranormal research has led me to write magazine articles about paranormal investigators, visit the American Society for Psychical Research offices, and edit books about parapsychology.

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So it makes sense that my first novel, The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney, is about a girl who sees — and hears and talks to and argues with — ghosts. There’s a romantic triangle (one boy is alive and one has Passed Over) that I’m sure was influenced by The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a favorite book/movie/TV show of mine when I was growing up.

As much as I like ghost stories, I’m also a skeptic, so I used both points of view when I created The Unseen World of Poppy Malone, my middle-grade series. Poppy’s parents are the kind of credulous paranormal investigators who will grab a camera and head for the swamp five minutes after a reported sighting of Bigfoot and who believe wholeheartedly in vampires, aliens, and other things that go bump in the night.

As their daughter, Poppy has, of course, taken the opposite path and believes only in what can be proven. I had a lot of fun writing about what happens when she actually meets goblins, mermaids and, of course, ghosts.

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If you, like me, enjoy spooky stories with a spot of science, check out My Philadelphia Ghost Story, a fascinating account of a visit to a haunted prison, written by Margee Kerr, a sociologist who studies fear.

Happy Halloween!

The Spookiest Day of the Year

Finding Stories Everywhere Part 2

I love reading about long-lost ruins, abandoned buildings, and rare manuscripts discovered in dusty libraries. If that strikes a chord with you, too, you probably already know that news stories tend to be tantalizing and frustrating in equal measure.

So the rare document was found — what happened next? So someone stumbled upon an abandoned building — who lived there and why was it abandoned?

Fortunately, the frustration doesn’t last long, because you can always make up the rest of the story if you want to. Like this:

  1. Find a news item about a recent historical find that intrigues you. (It may be a short item with very few details. That’s great — more room for your imagination to move around.)
  2. Start playing around with the basic facts by asking “what if?”
  3. Stick close to the facts of the story or roam far afield — your choice!

Here are a few items that recently caught my eye. Perhaps they’ll strike a spark with you…

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Haunting chalkboard drawings, frozen in time for 100 years, discovered in Oklahoma school

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Hiker discovers abandoned town inside Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Paul Revere’s work found in Brown’s rare book room

Finding Stories Everywhere Part 2