Friday, March 10, 2017

#Ghosts by Guest Leah St. James

I love reading stories about vampires and shape shifters, mermaids and other mythical creatures. Who doesnt!? But when it comes to writing, I tend to go with the gold standardghosts.

My fascination with ghosts started at an early age, in mystery books and TV, but mostly in my real-life ghost experiences...or so I imagined as I sat around the campfire at the Girl Scouts Camp Nomoco, deep in the woods of Central Jersey. The sky pitch black, girls faces glowing eerily in the illumination of their flashlights held under their chins, and the thought of the ghost of Mr. Nomoco himself on the prowl. Legend told  how he roamed the woods at night, searching for wayward Girl Scouts! And once he found them? ... I still shiver as I think about it! Later, after wed gone to our tents, Id invariably have to make a trip to the latrine. I remember racing through the dark woods to escape Nomocos clutches. (It was probably a distance of about 25 feet, but hey, I was 10 years old.)

For many of us, theres something fun about being scared. According to articles Ive read, you have to know that youre not in any real danger to enjoy the feeling of fright. Like when you go through a haunted house at an amusement park, you know its all staged. The enjoyment apparently comes from the kick of the flight-or-fight hormones, followed by that almost instantaneous comprehension that youre not in any real danger.

Another article I read speculated that we need that come-down effect on a psychological level, not just physical. That we push ourselves to experience fear so we can have an accompanying sense of satisfaction at having survived and vanquished that fear. Im not sure I buy that one, but I do like scary stories, and ghosts provide the perfect scare-inducing medium. (Sorry..I love puns.) Throw in a romance, and even more fun is in store.

Thats what my goal was in writing Adriennes Ghost, a romantic suspense novella about the discovery of a body in the basement of FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. I wanted creepy, suspenseful. and romantic rolled into one.  

Heres the opening scene:
Jackson Yates wasn't easily spooked, but even he succumbed to a shiver of apprehension when he stepped onto Floor 3B of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover Building. The air smelled of rotted paper and dust, and simmered with a cold clamminess that plastered an instant sheen of sweat to his neck. Overhead, a light flickered and buzzed, its life forces waning into oblivion. Somewhere in the dim depths, voices echoed, hushed and eerie.

Jack is about to find out that the body belongs to none other than agent recruit Adrienne Garza who had disappeared shortly before graduating the Academy.

Later, when someoneor some thingthat sounds just like Adrienne speaks to him in the deep, dark recesses of the echoing space, he fears hes hallucinating and calls on the help of paranormal psychologist Rachael Sullivan to help him sort fact from fiction. (Cue the love story!)

In this scene, Jackson leads Rachael to the scene of the crime.
Rachael moved to the center of the taped‑off area, closed her eyes, and waited.
After several minutes of silence, Yates chuckled and said, “Yeah, good luck with that.”
“What?” Her eyes opened to see him watching her, arms crossed over his chest, mouth twisted in a half-smile, eyebrows lifted in obvious amusement.
“You really think you can conjure up her spirit?”
Lifting a shoulder, she said, “Maybe.” Even as she admitted it, the ridiculousness of her theory struck her, and her mouth scrunched with the effort to hold back a laugh. “I'm sorry. I don't mean to make light, but I got a sudden mental picture of antennae rising out of my head.”
“Yeah, me too. Only my vision has you in costume.” His half-smile turned into a grin, and he laughed in a tone so teasing, so engaging, she shivered with the warm tingle that ran up her spine, out to her fingertips.
“Really.” She crossed her arms in a pose mimicking his. “And what would that be?”
Before he could answer, the room chilled, instantly, as if they'd passed into a freezer container. Their gazes locked, wide-eyed.
“This is it, the cold I mentioned to you.”
“Shh.” She grabbed his hand and squeezed. “Wait.” ...
An aroma of amber and musk, strong and pungent yet not unpleasant, whooshed into the room, and along with it, a humming, a kind of energy Rachael had never before felt. Like a pulse. A heartbeat. ...
A frigid tingling filled the air, hovered overhead, and settled in front of them. The energy materialized, less than five feet away. A hazy image of someone dressed in khakis and a blue polo. The image firmed, took form. A pale, oval face, skin as smooth as melted caramel. Huge brown eyes, filled with despair, and torment. The apparition reached in slow motion, its hand slender, ringless, beseeching¼

Adriennes Ghost

Do you believe in ghosts? FBI Agent Jackson Yates never had . . . until now.
Paranormal psychologist Rachael Sullivan has spent her adult years searching for the knowledge of life after death.

Joined by forces beyond their control, beyond their understanding, together they seek a killer. Together they encounter . . . Adriennes Ghost.

Leah is a worrier, a self-described neurotic who tends to imagine the worst-case scenario in response to brewing troubles. She hasnt decided if this leaning toward the dark side is what draws her to write edgy, gritty stories, or if the suspenseful mysteries and Gothic romances that filled her childhood bookshelves somehow imprinted their shadows on her psyche.  Despite (or maybe because of) this propensity for infusing her fiction with murder and mayhem, she still craves those happily-ever-after endings and the romance of everlasting love.

You can read more about Leah at

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Leah St. James said...

Thanks so much for letting me visit your blog today, Diane, and share about one of my favorite topics-ghosts!

Diane Burton said...

Welcome, Leah. I read Adrienne's Ghost before I even met you. Loved that story. Downright spooky.

(BTW, this isn't my blog, just one I organize. Sort of. LOL)

Maureen said...

I believe in ghosts but don't want to admit it to myself & never want to run into one! lol I'm a big chicken. Great post!

Diana Rubino said...

I am very much into the paranormal, believe in the spirit world, and participate in paranormal investigations. I've also written several ghost novels--so this one's for me. It's officially on my reading list! Diana

Marissa Garner said...

Oooo, this sounds so good. Combines two of my favorite topics: the FBI and ghosts. Definitely on my TBR list.

CJ Burright said...

As I was reading the first excerpt, I immediately thought 'GET THE SALT!' :) I love ghost stories, believe there are spirits, and love creeping out my husband by watching paranormal TV shows. Your story sounds great!

J Hali Steele said...

I LOVED the scenes... and I believe in ghosts too!

Leah St. James said...

Hi, Maureen - You made me think of when I used to babysit (as a teenager), and I'd be sitting there in someone else's living room, kids sweetly sleeping in their rooms, and I'd creep myself out with some story, then spend the rest of the evening terrified until the parents got home. All I kept thinking was, They left ME in charge?! :-) Luckily I didn't encounter any actual spirits...that I know of. :-)

Leah St. James said...

That must be so COOL, Diana. I've never been on a real investigation, but one time I did visit a Revolutionary War-era museum in New Jersey (an old house that served as a spy house for the colonial army and was purported to be haunted), and I KNOW I felt something there. Thanks for your kind words about the book. If ou do get to read it, I hope you enjoy!

Leah St. James said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Marisa -- I love the FBI stories, too (like your series!).

Leah St. James said...

D'oh, CJ, I forgot about the salt! What was I thinking?? I should have armed my fearless heroes with a tub of the stuff! And in all seriousness, I believe there are spirits, too! I wish I could creep my husband out, but he's into even weirder stuff than I am! :-)

Leah St. James said...

Thank you, JHali! I appreciate it. :-)