Wednesday 10 April 2013

A Touch of History and the Paranormal

I'm thrilled to be chatting with a paranormal author today. Or should that be 'with an author of paranormal stories'?



Welcome to my blog, Lynne. 

Thanks Wendy, it’s really nice to be here.

I enjoyed A Hallowe'en Tale. This is a very entertaining short story with which teens will identify. In fact, your story revived a particular childhood memory for me. I relived the night a friend and I crept out of bed to peer through the window of a deserted house a few streets away. Jumping at shadows, we scared ourselves silly and didn't achieve our objective. Your teenagers did, however, and what a tale they have to tell!

Glad you liked it and that’s wonderful it stimulated you to remember something supernatural from your own past.


I had the impression that Olivia's mother wanted Olivia to get a glimpse of her history, and that's why she warned her not to go to the party via the old lane, knowing Olivia would disobey.  Am I right?


Oh yes. How many kids do you know that when you tell them not to do something they immediately do it. Yes, Cantare knew her daughter well and in telling her what not to do, she pretty much guaranteed the outcome.


How much of your inner child is in Olivia? Were you headstrong and stubborn?

Yup, I think I was a real pain in the butt for my mom. I was unbelievably stubborn and headstrong, but hey, if your kids aren’t, they end up getting bullied and other things, so I think there is something to be said for these characteristics.
My dad used to tell us almost everyday that ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are sheep, and he’d say, “Where do you fit in? What are you going to be?”
Made me think and that was probably one of the reasons why I did what I believed in and questioned things. That is what Olivia is doing in the story. She’s stepping up to the challenge, facing her fears and finding out the truth. Just think what the world would be like if we all did those things.
However, it is also nice when children obey their parents and listen to them. Parents have more of life under their belt and kids usually don’t really understand that until they, too, are grown up.


Was there 'an old lane leading through the back fields' in your youth?


Actually, I lived right across the street from a forest and when I was young, the fields to the north were totally wild and free, as well. There were partridges running around and we played games trying to touch their tails before they took off. I don’t remember anyone actually achieving that goal. I spent much of my youth running in the woods and knew every turn and nook and cranny of the forest. There are spooky things in there that sometimes jar you a little. But I survived. LOL.

We had to drive to get to the more historic things, but my parents were big history fans and so they took us to old buildings and museums and any archaeological sites that were around. I had my share of adventures. The Royal Ontario Museum was in Toronto, an hour away, and they had a huge Egyptian section with mummies and all sorts of cool things. Very stimulating for a young mind.


The mother's rocking and humming unnerved me. It served as a good means to build tension and suspense. The mother held all of the story elements together. Was this your intention?


Oh yeah. I’m glad it was effective. You never know unless someone else tells you. Cantare is a special person who can call in the supernatural world to help her. Sound is the means of creation for all beings, both in the heavenlies and on earth. Most people just don’t realize it. Cantare was creating the scenario for her daughter so that she would understand the seriousness of what had happened in the past and forget about the idea of the celebrity of it all.


The description of the fancy dress costumes seemed too real to have come from your imagination alone, in particular the one Giles designed for Jared. Without giving too much away, can you tell us if this was a costume you were familiar with in real life?


Actually almost all of it came out of my mind. I envisioned the headless horseman in Johnny Depp’s movie—which is still a favourite—to give Jared something really funky. And of course the modern teen would wear a black T shirt with a skull on it, what else? With Giles, I was thinking period costume with a little bit of English riding habit thrown in. Very noble. Perhaps the prince in Sleeping Beauty was coming through.


I particularly liked Olivia's costume. What a wonderful idea. It warmed my heart.

Did this have some basis in truth?


The outfit that Olivia wore was something I would wear, especially the turban. I love  turbans, as you can tell by my author’s picture. I love pink peonies and shawls and moccasins—I spent years wearing only moccasins—so, she was definitely in the costume I would have worn.


In one five star review, the reviewer commented that A Hallowe'en Tale 'contains far more than meets the eye'. Can you explain this multi layering? Would you say a teenage reader would pick this up or be satisfied with the adventure in the story?


Yes, there are quite a few layers to the tale. We have the simple Hallowe’en Party and friends going out for fun. We have a teenage girl who is trying to make herself feel a little more important by making sure her friends know that her family had a link to the place where they were going. We have a history lesson about something that happened in our past.

Artist F.T. Merrill 1886

This illustration depicts the execution of Ann Hibbins on Boston Common in 1656.

There were real people hurt in the witch trials that occurred all over the world for varying reasons. In the Wiccan world those events are referred to as the Women’s Holocaust, even though many men were killed as well. Then finally we have a paranormal event which leaves everyone thinking and scratching their heads.

To answer the second part of the question: I think most teens would get the layers, not necessarily consciously unless they were pointed out.


Do you call on your own memory when writing stories, or are they mainly pure fiction?

They are always a mix of fiction and reality. They say the best way to write convincing fiction is to pull it out of your own life and make it unrecognizable. I like to come up with characters who have connections to my world, whether past or present, plus I like to create people and scenarios that I wish were real.

I think that’s how the future sometimes comes about. If we look at some of the great sci-fi authors we see our present in their writings from the past. So who’s to say what a writer can do if they are convincing enough.

That is also a reason why all writer’s need to be cautious with their tales. What we write as thrilling or scary or a perfect murder, can be fuel for someone else’s actions. I was involved with Law Enforcement years ago, and you see scenarios acted out daily which have come directly from fictional sources or the publication of real events that are often horrific. When the abnormal mind gets stimulated by these kinds of things, it can get pretty hair-raising, so we as writers have an obligation to censor ourselves sometimes for the good of the general population.

I’m probably in the minority with that belief. Most people think they should tell all and the public has a right to know, but I taught kids for almost thirty years and most kids and adults, can’t handle the truth. It can be quite traumatizing. If I had seen what the teens in my story saw, I would have been terrified and there is no way I would have done what Olivia did. I would have turned the other way and said, “See you.” Maybe later I might have wished I’d checked it out, but I am not traditionally one of those people who goes into a dark alley without lots of back-up. LOL


You say form and punctuation are just other ways to make words sing. How do you bring out the music in your writing?

It’s the way you put it on the page. Every punctuation mark has a sound with it. If you put in a comma, you hesitate slightly but the pitch stays at the same level. If you put in a period, you stop, but your voice falls. A question mark makes you raise your voice and an em dash also makes your voice go up but in a different way. There is a hesitation that lifts and then makes you fall into the next word, like you just came over the other side of a hill and you are now on the way down. Italics on a single word add emphasis so you automatically say the word a little louder.

Separating a single sentence or a couple of words into a paragraph all by themselves, really makes you stop. It headlines the presentation. So format can be intrinsic to your scenario as well.

I always read everything out loud, both my own writing and the manuscripts that I get to edit. There is a certain rhythm that needs to be in a sentence. And when you end a work, it is really important that the music of the words also brings you to a close. Writing an ending of a story is like writing the end of a sermon. If the preacher doesn’t get it right, everyone just sits there and looks around the room like they’re saying, “Hmmm, what do we do now?”

A good ending will bring you to your feet with cheers, or make you cry, or at least stop and stare off into space. All that is done with the sound of the words and how they are connected or brought to a close.

 Important editorial tips here, Lynne. Thank you.

As an editor with MuseItUp publishing, you must read many stories with your editorial eye. Do you have trouble turning off your inner editor when writing your own first drafts?

Yes, and thank God for that. The last thing I want to do is turn it off in that situation. It makes me constantly check myself so my own editor doesn’t want to kill me.

Where the desire to edit drives me nuts the most, is when I am reading a newspaper or watching a movie or TV with the captions on. Then I am in real trouble because I see every error and can’t concentrate on the task at hand. I try to remember that most captions are probably done with Dragon Speaking Naturally and so that is why they sometimes look like a foreign language.


Would you like to add anything else?

Well, just that I appreciate the chance to come aboard and chat. It’s been fun. Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk more about the story, certainly the historical aspect of it.

There’s an amazing series of three films that the National Film Board of Canada made on this topic. One is called The Burning Times. You can watch it for free on the site. Just google it. It is really amazing and enlightening. You will be shocked and saddened by what you see.

 It's been a lovely chat, Lynne, I wish you much success with this thought provoking short story A Hallowe'en Tale. I enjoyed it very much.

 You'll find VL Murray here

 V.L. Murray web page




A Hallowe'en Tale is available from  

MuseItUp Book page.    Read the back of book BLURB and a STORY EXCERPT here.




Rosalie Skinner said...

Great interview. Sounds like a fascinating short story.
Another terrific post Wendy, V.L. Murray thanks for sharing so much about A Hallowe'en Tale.

Pat McDermott said...

What a comprehensive interview, ladies! Multi-layered and entertaining. The illustration of the Boston Common execution chilled me, since the Common was part of my childhood stomping ground. And of course, I loved Lynne's editorial insights. She was my editor for my YA, Glancing Through the Glimmer, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conspiracy :-) Lynne, I wish you all the best with A Hallowe'en Tale, and with all your writing!

Wendy said...

Thank you Rosalie, I'm looking forward to chatting with you soon Be afraid, be very afraid. hehehe.
I read Lynne's A Hallowe'en Tale and in a word 'atmospheric'.

Hi Pat, how interesting that the Common brought back memories of your childhood. I didn't know Lynne was the editor on your novel. Thank your for stopping by.

Margaret Fieland said...

Thanks for the terrific interview, Wendy, VL, your book needs to go on my TBR pile.

VL, do you KNOW you're putting in the layers, or do you look back and discover them? A combination of both?

One of the reasons I ask is that when I finish the first draft, I often discover things I wasn't aware I was putting in {wry grin}.

Wendy said...

Hi Margaret, so good to see you.
Isn't it fantastic when you discover those extra layers. One of the 'goose bumps' joys of writing.

bookwormvlm said...

Hi Rosalie, Thanks for reading the post. Hope you like the story.

And Pat, that is really nice of you to remember our moments together. Interesting that you grew up around the Common. I can only imagine what it might have been like a few hundred years ago, eh? Thanks for the support. I must admit I love your work. Been a longtime fan since first we got together.

Hi Margaret, Actually regarding the layers, I kind of knew I was putting them together. I think that is just something that evolves in anything paranormal. There will always be a least two layers in that kind of book. But I like adding more and more colour. It's like writing a fugue. You just keep blending. I think that you are correct in that the stories seem to write themselves, often, and you go back to a re-read and blow your own mind at the depth. or someone else reads it and starts telling you all about this other thing they saw and how cool it was and you didn't have a clue. LOL Such is the nature of the beast. I used to laugh when Nancy Bell--of Muse-- my writing partner, editor and best bud, would say, "Well I didn't want to go there, but my characters just decided that was what they were doing." For awhile I thought perhaps she was a little 'tetched' you know? And then I really started to get into fiction writing and voila, the little blighters just do what they want.
Hope you enjoy reading the story.

Thanks again Wendy for your hospitality and a great set of queastions. I had to sit down and really think. Cheers,Lynne

Edith Parzefall said...

Another great interview. Very interesting. I grew up very much like Lynne, fields and woods around the village, and one day a friend and I ventured deeper into the forest then before. We were thrilled and slightly scared to find a castle there. We thought we may have entered Fairy Land. Then Mom said, "Oh yeah, that's the old hunting castle of prince Thurn und Taxis. Very disappointing that she knew all about it. ;-)

Wendy said...

Hi Edith,
I can imagine your excitement finding that hidden castle. What a downer to discover it wasn't really hidden. I have a suspicion that the castle, romanticized, has found its way into one of your novels.