• Veronica Cline Barton

On the Topic of Ghosts…Does Aunt Pippa Really Roam the Rooms of Cherrywood Hall?

OK it’s kind of a trick question since both Aunt Pippa and Cherrywood Hall are fictional manifestations of my writer’s mind. I thought about this topic for a long time though—should I have a ghost in my almost royal cozy mystery story? Genre-ly speaking, it may not be the proper thing to do for books written for cozy mystery/suspense storylines. I knew I was opening myself to criticism, especially as a newly published author ( I can just see Dame Agatha’s literary eyes roll now—that’s kind of spooky).

I haven’t had a ghostly manifestation of Aunt Pippa (yet) in the storylines—but her pictures are just about in every room in Cherrywood Hall, and those logs dropping in the fireplace seem to give us an indication of what she thinks about the current situation at hand. I like the idea of an ancestral ghostly being hanging around, whispering to our harried heroine “to hang on” in times of peril. It comforts me to think we have some ghostly forces watching over us, especially some beloved family members (I would prefer if they stay as watchers—I don’t care much for surprises I can’t explain…).

There are a variety of ghostly entities floating around in the pages of written words that aren’t exactly friendly. One of my early favorites and intro to the haunted mind was reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (original movie was good as well—I think ghost stories are better seen in black and white don’t you?). Ms. Jackson wove the dark tail brilliantly, taking us with a woman on the brink of sanity—pushed over the edge by some not so nice spirits. Or were poor Eleanor’s evil spirits just in her head? This book also introduced me to the world of ESP and paranormal experiences, an eye opener for a girl growing up in the 60s and 70s in Kentucky. I read as much as I could on the topics, and they have intrigued me to this day…if rocks start pouring out of the sky over our house, I’ll let you know.

I have to say the most evil of ghosts I’ve read are the ones in Stephen King’s The Shining. Once again a troubled man is driven over the edge of sanity by the ghostly beings who did some pretty horrible things when they were in human form. Just typing this now, thinking about the isolated, stately hotel built on hallowed Indian grounds, twin girls appearing in the hallway, and the outdoor maze where mother and son try and outrun the evil, gives me goosebumps. The evil spirits Mr. King created seem to need a human host to re-charge their evil powers. They know who to pick on with their evil seductions. Are they looking for a kindred evil mind, or do they prey on those easily manipulated because due to alcohol or drugs? One thing I do know, I’m checking the history of any hotel we book in the future.

Speaking of giving me goosebumps, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps ghost stories have thrilled children for decades. I wish this series had been available to me when I was young, I know I would have gobbled up each volume. I was lucky to read many of his books once my son had finished reading (I had to give them back though). It’s never too early to start your ghostly education in my mind—and if you’re a parent, take some time and read some of these jewels. It’s never too late to give a little boo to your inner child.

My all time favorite ghost story is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  I have read this book many times and love it more with each reading. The story to me is one of great hope, that even those of us who have not been the kindest of human’s can have a major re-alignment for the good. The enlightening ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future give us all a lesson on living. We can’t relive the past, all we have is today, right now. Our future will be built on what we do with the day, so make it count. This book is so inspirational for me that I named my little black kitty Ebbie, in honor of Ebenezer. She has the sweetest heart, and will show me her paws if she thinks I’m up to no good 🙂 .

I think I’ll continue to have the spirit of Aunt Pippa be a presence in the storyline. She still cares for her family and intervenes when she thinks it’s proper to do so (and I’d bet on her anytime against any evil ghosts). Gemma believes in her and I think the others at Cherrywood Hall do as well. She may decide to physically manifest herself someday, but for now it’s comforting to know she’s watching over my shoulder as I write. I have a feeling she will let me know if she doesn’t like what I’m writing. Do you have a favorite ghost story? Dying to know, Aunt Pippa would approve.

Crown’s and Kisses,

Veronica

P.S. To all the Ma-mas of the world, Happy Mother’s Day in advance! A ghostly reminder, I will be posting on Tuesdays and Thursday starting next week through the summer as I write book 3 of the series. Stay tuned, lots of twists and turns are on their way… 🙂

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