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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, October 24 2015
Ghosts, goblins and spirits in the stories we love

The topic of this month's Blog Hop, very appropriately considering how close Halloween is: Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? Have you used them in your own stories. 


Some years ago I was sitting in a college library scouring a number of promising books for an illusive detail I needed for a story I was writing and not finding it. As I sat there daydreaming or maybe brainstorming an entirely different plot came into my head. I jotted down a few notes, but then went back to work on the current project. The idea featured a writer, like me, sitting in a similar library when a book was placed on the desk in front of her and a man said, “Maybe this is what you’re looking for.” The writer looked up into the face of a man who looked like he might be a professor, dressed in jeans and a sport jacket over a turtleneck jersey. She looked back at the book he’d offered her and began to thumb through it, then realized it was the personal journal of the very man she had been researching. But when she looked back up to thank the man and ask him where the journal had come from, he had disappeared. As I fleshed out this plot later, I saw scenes in my head of this same man, sometimes in jeans, but more often in a kilt and occasionally in an old fashioned army uniform. Since that time, I’ve written four, almost five contemporary romances, two historicals and one mainstream, but you might say that this piper, for that’s what I’ve determined him to be, has haunted me and one day soon, I’m going to write his story.


    It's a Wonderful Life                         Ghost               Somewhere in Time             Brigadoon

In the meantime, I love stories that encourage a leap of the imagination. Stories that include ghosts or spirits and angels, or time travel, especially into the past. Who doesn’t love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, featuring Clarence the angel desperate to keep a disillusioned and discouraged man from taking his own life and thereby earning his wings? Or Ghost with Patrick Swayze with the haunting music and love that doesn’t die? Another movie that I have always loved was Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. When an elderly woman presses an old pocket watch into a young man’s hand, then disappears, that sends him on a journey of discovery, first to the hotel lobby where he finds a portrait of a young woman and eventually back in time to meet the woman in the flesh and fall in love with her. And my favorite stage play was Brigadoon with Gene Kelley. The mythical town that woke up for only one day every hundred  years, but came to life just at the right time for Kelly’s character to fall in love with a local lass.


I’ve read a lot of books featuring spirits that meddle in the lives of the living. Some folks enjoy the more macabre, but I like stories like Vickie Hinze's Seascape series set in a bed and breakfast on the coast of Maine. The inn was run by a widow, but the spirit of her dead husband lurks about determined to be a matchmaker for lonely hearts who come to the inn, sometimes to forget, sometimes to heal, and sometimes just to be vacationing in a picturesque old bed and breakfast at the beach.


But of all the ghosts I’ve met in books, the one that haunts me the most is the one that appears in the very first chapter of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. The ghost of Jamie Fraser, who stands in the dark, in the rain, gazing up at Claire Randall illuminated in the window of the bed and breakfast where she is staying. At that point in the story, you don’t realize it’s a ghost, or who it is. It’s only as you near the end of the story that you realize that it was Jamie come from the past to see, if only briefly, the woman he loved with all his heart. It’s a time travel novel of course, but the image of that lonely man pining for the woman he loved across time was an image I have never been able to get out of my head or my heart. And I wasn’t disappointed when that scene was included in the series made for TV on Starz and it was exactly as I’d pictured it all these years since the book first came out.

Now that I've shared some of my favorite tiime travel and ghost stories, why not visit some of these other authors and see what kind of spirits appeal to them and what or who they've put into their own stories.

Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Heather Haven
Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Hollie Glover
Rachael Kosinski
Connie Vines
Rhobin Courtright                                  


Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
I've also had characters who have haunted my mind. It is an interesting event. I've also enjoyed many of the same films. Thanks for the interesting post.
Posted by Rhobin on 10/24/2015 - 10:04 AM
Hey Skye, I would say that you definitely need to write that story! When your muse hands you such a great plot, you have to do it. Besides, that man is waiting for you to bring him to life, so he can live in the minds of your readers. Do it!
Posted by Fiona McGier on 10/24/2015 - 08:28 PM
Great post, and I love all the movies you referenced as well as the books.
Posted by Beverley Bateman on 10/25/2015 - 12:33 AM
Rhobin, Thanks for the interesting post. I'm off to check out Vicki Hinze on Amazon.
Posted by Margaret Fieland on 10/25/2015 - 04:07 PM

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