Tag: Death in D Minor

Death in D Minor

Things that Go Bump in the Night

  I held a book signing last night to celebrate Death in D Minor’s official release day on July 11. Ghosts play important roles in my novels but none showed up for the party. Their loss. The shrimp and grits and the brisket were to die for. In honor of my second book’s entry into the world, I posed a paranormal question to my fellow MissDemeanors. What’s your favorite ghost/scary story?(Alternate question for those who don’t like spooky stuff: Why don’t you like spooky stuff?) Cate Holahan:First off, I will admit that I believe in spirits.  My mom is Jamaican, a culture in which the belief in “duppies,” aka ghosts, is pretty prevalent. As a result, I don’t feel that strange about it. According to family lore, I could see them as a kid (though I might simply have enjoyed telling stories, even then). Plus, I was raised Catholic and believe people have souls that pass on to another plane of existence, so why wouldn’t one or two occasionally drop in?  All that said, I LOVE a good ghost story. I read R.L Stein’s Goosebumps religiously growing up and in a Dark Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz. The one that freaked me out the most was definitely the girl with the ribbon around her neck… let’s just say I wish she didn’t untie that ribbon.  As for present day, my new favorite ghost stories would have to be yours Alexia. I like to think that if any ghost talked to me today, I’d handle it with as much aplomb as Gethsemane.(AG: I didn’t put her up to saying that) Susan Breen:My favorite ghost story is “Afterward” by Edith Wharton. I love that story so much that for years I had my students read it, though I have to confess no one liked it as much as I did, except for one woman, who became a dear friend. I’ve never seen a ghost myself, but I can believe that a person torn away from this life suddenly might leave a part of himself behind. Often I’ve put some sort of supernatural thing in my writing. Michele Dorsey:Generally, I don’t like spooky stuff. Years ago, I read ghost stories to my daughter’s overnight camp companions and scared myself more than them. Then I had the unfortunate experience of reading a very good book while I was bedridden with the flu and was pleasantly distracted by good writing and a great plot. Until I reached the last few pages and the hero walked through a door. I mean through a door. And then some weird twisted ending took place as I threw (and this time I do mean “threw”) the book across the room. I felt cheated by the author who gave no warning of this dimension of the story and it has had me creeped out about fantasy, etc. ever since. But if fairly warned, I’m okay with ghostly stories, and yours, Alexia are gems.       I admit I have had a few “spiritual” moments where I’ve felt the presence of someone no longer with us. Interestingly, the two times I have traveled to Ireland I have felt a presence when I am near ancient stone formations. Another time was during shivasana  (the corpse pose) when I was on my yoga mat. Paula Munier:I admit that ghost stories scare me. But I like them anyway. I had an idea for writing my own ghost story once–long forgotten now–and so I read several. I remember the ones that scared me the most were Stephen King’s Bag of Bones and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. So much so that I abandoned ghost stories altogether until I read Alexia’s work. Now I’m hooked on ghost stories again!(AG: I didn’t put her up to it, either) Tracee de Hahn:I’ve never liked scary stories but that may be because my early grade school baby sitter used to watch the Friday night horror movie with me. I apparently didn’t have nightmares (although there was the unfortunate one about the bodies buried under the house and the ghost looked EXACTLY like my mother. When she came in that night to check on me I was frozen with fear. I never told her since I didn’t want to get my sitter in trouble for letting me stay up late and watch TV).  Growing up I didn’t believe in the paranormal but I also didn’t object to people believing in it/them. That changed when, during a visit home from college, I saw an apparition in my childhood home and it scared me literally stiff for hours. Since then I won’t discount anything. Your Gethsemane books may convert me to being a ghost story reader…. can’t wait to dive into book two this week! Robin Stuart:I love ghost stories, reading them and writing/telling them. The Shining by Stephen King is one of my all-time favorites. I read it in one sitting when I was 12 or 13, much to my parents’ dismay – I stayed up all night to finish it, too scared to sleep. That made a huge impression on me. I wanted to be able to do that, to evoke such strong reactions from my words alone. Hunting for ghosts in machines is one of the things that drew me to cyber forensics. It often feels like a real-life episode of Scooby Doo, an early ghost story influence, where my team and I unmask villains pretending to be something or someone they’re not. What’s your favorite scary story?   

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Stormy Weather

 I’m scheduled to host a book signing today (Thursday) to promote my second novel, Death in D Minor. I’ve booked a venue and a caterer, I’ve ordered pastries from the local bakery, I have swag and gift bags. And I have my fingers crossed I don’t get washed out. Horrid, extreme weather has hit my area with the force of a crashing meteor. Flooding, power outages, early business closures. A sharknado spinning by wouldn’t surprise me. The dark clouds that rolled across yesterday’s morning sky made 9 a.m. look like 9 p.m. Traffic was more terrifying than a Doré engraving. The weather people predict more of the same for today. Please let them be as wrong as they are when they predict sun on my days off. Yesterday’s bad weather did get me thinking about weather in literature. Weather, usually extreme, often sets the scene and creates an atmosphere without which the story wouldn’t be the same. Would The Shining be as terrifying on a warm spring day? Would Cat on a Hot Tin Roof feel as sultry and on-edge in the dead of winter? Can you imagine Usher’s house falling at noon in the summer sun? Moving beyond “a dark and stormy night,” weather often plays a more pivotal plot role than atmospheric backdrop. A drought sets The Grapes of Wrath in motion. A tempest does the same for The Tempest. Dorothy needed a tornado to get her to Oz. Robinson Crusoe needed a storm to shipwreck him. Arctic cold saves the world from the Blob. Weather is sine qua non in Gothic fiction. It mirrors characters’ feelings, foreshadows events, and highlights action. Weather can even be a character. The titular tornado in Twister proves a formidable foe. What are some of your favorite works of mystery fiction where weather serves as a plot device?And, if you’re in the Lake Forest, IL area, hope for decent weather and stop by LifeWorking Coworking, 717 Forest Ave, for a book signing (and food!) between 5:30 and 7:30 pm

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Party at the Deer Path Inn

 Yesterday was book launch day or, as I prefer to call it, book birthday for Death in D Minor, the second book in the Gethsemane Brown series. Thank you to my fellow Missdemeanors for hosting a blog party. I was in meetings all day at my, to borrow a phrase, daytime situation so I appreciate their help making the day a success.
After work, I celebrated my new novel’s release at one of my favorite places, the Deer Path Inn. This historic inn opened in its current location in 1929. Architect William C. Jones of Holabird and Root fashioned it after a Tudor manor house in Chiddingstone, Kent, England so it looks as if it came straight out of an Agatha Christie mystery. When I arrived at the inn, after a hearty “Welcome back” from several staff members (yes, I visit a lot), I headed for the White Hart Pub. I started with a new (to me) cocktail called The Chancellor, a slightly sweet, completely delicious concoction of Balvenie 12yr scotch, 10yr tawny port, and campano vermouth. I followed up with the charcuterie (a French word that, a friend explains, translates to “big ole pile of cured meat”) tray and topped the evening off with coffee and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. Then I went home and slept until around 1 a.m. when lightning flashed so close it illuminated my bedroom and thunder boomed loudly enough to shake the house. I interpreted these as a celestial fireworks show celebrating my new book instead of harbingers of the power-outing, stoplight-frying, flood-inducing storm that’s created a Chicagoland traffic nightmare this morning.

What places do you frequent that transport you into your favorite mystery? 

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It's only for research purposes

 My second novel, Death in D Minor, officially premieres tomorrow, July 11. I’ve been busy revising the third book in the series, A Killing in C Sharp, so I haven’t had time to freak out about release day for my sophomore effort. I resisted the urge to repeat my debut novel swag buying frenzy. With Murder in G Major, I put my book cover on everything—hats, t-shirts, posters, calendars, tote bags, mugs, pens, stickers—you get the idea. For Death in D Minor, I limited myself to pens, postcards, bottle opener key rings, and combination flashlight/laser pointers. I’ve scheduled a book signing on July 13, my first official book signing not associated with a conference panel. Stop by if you’re anywhere near Lake Forest, IL. I’ve also been doing research for future novels. When you write about ghosts, research consists of streaming episodes of Ghost Adventures on Sling TV, listening to paranormal podcasts on Stitcher, and—my favorite—listening to M. R. James’s ghost stories on Audible. Montague Rhodes James, a respected medievalist scholar, college provost (King’s College, Cambridge and Eton), and museum director, wrote the most disturbing ghost story I’ve ever read—”Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad.” The. Most. Disturbing. Ever. I had issues with bed sheets for months after I first read it. (No spoilers in this blog. You’ll have to read the story to see what I mean.) James possessed a gift for turning the disarmingly bucolic English country village into the scene of your darkest nightmare. Think Jane Austen tossed with Stephen King, seasoned with a dash of razor-edged satire on the English academic establishment. And a sprinkling of golf jokes. James pokes fun of golfers a lot. His biography attracted me to his ghost stories as much as his writing style. I’m looking at a photo of the man as I write this. He looks like you’d expect an antiquarian scholar/college administrator to look: conservative haircut, receding hair line, wire-rimmed glasses, appropriately stern look. The son of Anglican clergy and a naval officer’s daughter, he had what sounds like a well-adjusted childhood, an excellent education, and a satisfactory career. He never married, spent most of his adult life in an academic setting, and won an Order of Merit. No reports of family dysfunction, childhood traumas, scandals, nervous breakdowns, or any of the other drama so often associated with authors of dark fiction. The mind that translated the Apocrypha and, according to Wikipedia, wrote a Latin hagiography of Aethelbert II of East Anglia also penned dozens of tales featuring cursed objects, demonic creatures, and horrible deaths. The normalcy of the man who wrote such paranormal tales makes the stories seem all the creepier. Still waters run deep.  The best thing about James’s stories? He read them aloud as Christmas presents to friends and students. Christmas presents! No socks or puddings from Professor James. Oh no. How about a demonic painting found in an old book in a church library? Field glasses made from human bones? A killer ash tree?This aspect of his stories—their oral presentation—inspired me to take the advice given in the introduction to a volume of his collected works to experience the stories the way they were meant to be experienced and listen to someone read them. I started with You Tube where I found a surprising collection of audiobooks. Then I discovered Audible. With Audible, I could not only listen to James’s stories, I could listen to them read by Derek Jacobi and David Suchet. And never again look at the English countryside—or a sedate college don—the same. (Images public domain from Wikimedia Commons)

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