The best stories lie at the intersection of truth and imagination. The Ghost Chronicles began this way, as well. I had my ‘eureka’ moment one day while sitting on the beach in the Outerbanks of North Carolina (for those of you who don’t know where that is, I urge you to find out and go visit). At the time, I was reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Chapter Eight, The Deathday Party, deals with ghosts and what it might be like to ‘live’ in the afterlife, so that provided the spark that ignited the fire to write The Ghost Chronicles. As a flood of ideas filled my head, I scribbled down a rough outline and the book quickly took shape.
That was the imagination part, but let’s face it, we also distill our own personal experiences and our own truth into our novels. When I was seventeen I was in a car accident that was not my fault. An accident that almost took my life. The thought of ‘what if I had died’ has been one that has haunted me ever since. So immediately I knew I wanted The Ghost Chronicles to be not only a story of what it’s like to be stuck in the afterlife, but I also wanted it to be about a boy who dies tragically through no fault of his own. The kind of story ripped from the headlines about a promising young person who has their life taken away far too soon. Unfortunately we read these stories nearly every day in the newspaper or see them on TV. The kind of young person you hear has died and you find yourself thinking, What a shame. They had so much going for them, such a promising future. Why did that have to happen? For this reason, this book was the book of my heart. I wanted it to be as realistic a story as possible of what it might be like to die tragically and be trapped in the afterlife as a ghost. Let’s face it, we all have to die and none of us can say with certainty what happens when we do. It’s the biggest fear of the unknown there is! Oh, we may think we know, or may have certain beliefs about what might happen, but what if it doesn’t happen that way? What if you are suddenly and unfairly taken from this life and now you’re stuck and don’t know why? How angry would you be? What would you do? How much would you begin to question all you’ve ever believed in? It won’t be completely apparent until later in the series, but I wanted it to be a story of great hope for anyone who has tragically lost someone they love, especially someone young. I’m also hoping readers will take away the theme embodied in this quote from the book – “Cherish life, it’s absolutely precious.”
The setting for most of the story was inspired by The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that I visited several years ago and fell in love with. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The Angel of the Sea is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl did fall to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. Sarah’s character in The Ghost Chronicles was inspired by this legend. You can learn more about The Angel of the Sea by visiting their website http://www.angelofthesea.com/.
One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Michael and Sarah are lying side by side on the bare wooden floor of the attic at The Angel of the Sea, listening to the rain tapping out a spastic yet soothing rhythm on the old gabled roof above. It’s a romantic scene that I wanted to be reminiscent of the romantic attic scene in Mystic Pizza, a 1988 coming-of-age movie starring a young Julia Roberts. One of these days I’d love to see my attic scene from The Ghost Chronicles play out on the silver screen. (If you’re going to dream, dream big I always say.)
As it happens, I’m currently running a Goodreads giveaway of The Ghost Chronicles! Win one of three signed copies!
If you’ve already read The Ghost Chronicles, I hope you’ll share the news about the giveaway with your friends. And leave reviews of The Ghost Chronicles everywhere 🙂