When La-Tessa asked me if I would like to write a post for her blog, I said yes. One, it’s La-Tessa so . . . of course. Two, her blog is dedicated to “enchanting love stories, with a touch of sass,” and I’m really comfortable with that oeuvre. Three, it’s late October, and I have a novel with ghosts.
Hi, I’m Sally (Hi, Sally!) and I like to write about unconventional heroes: preachers, farmers, and, of course, funeral directors. I’m originally from West Tennessee, and I set all of my stories (so far) in a fictional town called Ellery. I plopped it down in the boondocks near where I actually grew up. I live in Marietta, Georgia now, and there are too many people here. Maybe that’s why I write about small towns: there’s no traffic—fictional or otherwise—in my stories.
Better Get to Livin’ is my third novel from Kensington. I like to think of it as It’s a Wonderful Life meets the Sixth Sense in a funeral home. Kensington likes to think of it as “delightfully upbeat,” which is a phrase I’m thinking about adding to my business cards. The gist is this: Declan Anderson works in his family’s funeral home and is suffering from burnout. Presley Cline is a failed actress who has to lie low after a bit of a Hollywood scandal—oh, and she sees dead people. It was absolutely my goal to put the “fun” in funeral home with this story of two people trapped by their respective parents’ ambitions for them.
In the course of my research I read all about the funeral home business. Then I took a little tangent through cemetery management. Finally, I read all about ghosts and people who can commune with them. If you want to see the books I read for research, you can find a list here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3680419?shelf=better-get-to-livin-research
In honor of Halloween, I’m going to tell my own ghost story, and I’d love for you to do the same. I know it’s not quite as cool as a full-size candy bar, but I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Better Get to Livin’ to one of my lucky commenters. If you don’t have a ghost story or if you think the whole thing is hogwash, feel free to tell me your favorite Halloween treat instead so you can still be in consideration for the book.
Here’s my ghost story, one I’ve never told on the Internet before. My Aunt Dot and my Aunt Fairye lived next to each other out in Texas. I don’t remember all of the details, but Aunt Fairye and her husband, Uncle Marlin, both passed away pretty close to one another. For some reason —probably to sort out possessions or look for family keepsakes—Mom, Aunt Dot, and I were all next door in Aunt Fairye and Uncle Marlin’s trailer.
I remember that Mom and Aunt Dot were in the kitchen. I was wandering around, just looking. Being nosy, probably. When I got to the doorway of the master bedroom, something stopped me dead in my tracks. It was as though I couldn’t walk through that doorway no matter what. So weird to be able to see inside the room, but not be able to cross the threshold. Physically I could, but I was frozen in place. I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t hear anything. But I felt a presence that did not want me in that room, a presence that wouldn’t hesitate to be a little rough if I tried to go through that doorway.
Wide-eyed, my teenaged self practically ran back down the hall to where my Aunt and mother were. My heart pounded, and all of the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone at the time because I was afraid they’d thing I was crazy, but I still remember an aura of malevolence.
So that’s my ghost story. As for the ghosts I write? They’re not that scary at all. Most of them are kinda funny, really. I’d watch out for the Colonel, though—he’s not a nice man. If you want to find out more about Better Get to Livin’ or any of the other novels I’ve written, you can find out more at www.sallykilpatrick.com.