I have a thing for ghost stories. I love them. And I especially love them in October. I watch horror movies all month long, and the ghost stories are my favorites. I really miss the Ghosthunters series that used to be on the SyFy channel. (I understand it’s back on A&E, but I haven’t been able to catch it yet.) As silly as it was, I enjoyed virtually wandering those houses and buildings in the dark with the team to see what they might turn up. There are other paranormal reality shows, but I haven’t found any I like as much as Ghosthunters. The others all seem to rely on jump scares, creepy reenactments, and just plain shrieking. (Please. Stop the shrieking. If there was an actual ghost in the building, you idiots would be scaring it into permanent hiding.)
Last night’s ghostly selection was the movie Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke as a writer who moves his family into a “murder house” to write about the mysterious killing of its last inhabitants. And right away, you know that’s not going to go well. Did this author learn nothing from The Shining? It makes you wonder if writers are particularly vulnerable to the ghosties. I mean, maybe we’re downright haunted, as a group. From Edgar Allen Poe to Shirley Jackson to Stephen King, being haunted (especially while writing) is obviously something that’s on a lot of authors’ minds. I was thinking to myself as I watched it, though, that I would probably stay in a murder house if given the chance. (Because I clearly do not make good life choices and have no more sense than most classic horror movie characters.)
|The Rosenheim mansion—the Murder House from American Horror Story Season 1|
Personally, I have never been haunted—though I’ve felt a couple of unusual things that I couldn’t explain—but I’m fascinated by the concept of hauntings nonetheless. The protagonist of my current work in progress (an urban fantasy that is so far just flirting with being a paranormal romance) is a woman who can communicate with the dead—seeing visions of their deaths as she tries to solve a horrific crime. She also has a near-death experience that may have been “nearer” than she thinks and which may or may not have enhanced her natural ability to see through the veil between the living and the dead. This is about as close as I’ve come to writing a “ghost story.” I had one other character—Phoebe Carlisle in Waking the Serpent—who could hear the dead. But the paranormal abilities of both these characters is secondary to the relationships in the story and the crimes they’re trying to solve.
With as much time as I spend every autumn watching horror movies, though, I think I’m really going to have to write my own ghost story one of these days. I don’t know if it will actually be horror (because I love happy endings way too much to really fit the genre) or if I might write a character in a romance who somehow is a ghost—or maybe a ghost hunter? Hey, how about a ghost hunter who falls in love with a ghost? But since I tend to get a little carried away with research, like the time I lived in Russia for a month to get the flavor for my Anastasia-inspired Arhangel’sk books, I wouldn’t be surprised if I do end up staying in a murder house—or actually buying one (bad life choices, remember?)—at some point. Let’s hope it turns out better for me than it does for those hapless writers in the movies!
How about you? Would you ever buy a murder house or stay in one? Maybe if somebody offered you money? How much would it take?