As writers we always hear, “Connect with others who share your interests.”
Everyone tells you to do it, but no one tells you how to do it. In my case, I find it hard to connect with folks in the ghost fiction genre because, well, there is no ghost fiction genre. Some ghost fiction comes to us from top-drawer masters like Henry James and Toni Morrison and are shelved in Literature. I’ve found some ghost novels in the horror genre, some in women’s fiction, some in romantic suspense, some in young adult and some in paranormal romance. Like I said, hard.
Now I’m happy to report I’ve made a mega-cool connection. It’s called Stainless Steel Droppings, and right now the site is sponsoring a reading challenge: Readers Imbibing Peril. What’s great is that I can bury myself for months with paranormal books and movies that others participating in this challenge recommend.
Check it out and join in! I’m currently pursuing the “Peril the First” level.
Read below my third book talk for the R.I.P. challenge. Caveat—this one is paranormal, but not ghostly. Go figure.
Have you ever experienced a visceral response to a book? One that changed you in some way?
In this novel, the protagonist Carol Lear suffers from debilitating hand pain. Unfortunately, she’s a concert pianist who must remain idle for months if she’s lucky; forever, if she’s not. In an instant, there goes both her livelihood and her identity. This crisis sends Carol into the arms (literally) of a mysterious hypnotherapist. Together they engage in future life progression, hoping to discover whether or not her injury will be cured.
The author depicts Carol’s suffering so painstakingly and in such exquisite detail that I felt her pain—hence, the visceral reaction I mentioned. My response began with an awareness of a stiff shoulder, then a creaky rotator cuff, and finally an achy right hand. I took lifestyle cues from the character. Luckily for me, only one hand was affected. Just the dominant one. The write hand.
Inspired by the protagonist, I began turning on lights with my left hand. I opened doors with my left. Washed windows, turned my car ignition key (after mastering body torque acrobatics), flipped book pages, coerced a friend into providing deep massage. In a moment of pure evil, I swapped my sticky computer keyboard with that of unsuspecting husband Kim. Now I even mouse with my left hand. (Kim asked me, “Are you allowed to use “mouse” as a verb?) Yes, of course, I’m a writer. But kids, don’t try it.
Talk about identifying with character. Sheesh!
But there are other characters to intrigue you in this novel: that gay housemate Jerry we all wish we had mothering us and the fascinating, dark, slippery hypnotherapist Gene. Yum. The book lit up my Kindle when either of these guys was on scene. Then there was the beautifully rendered parallel story of ethereal Andreq, Carol’s future incarnation.
Everyone pursues Carol (again, literally) for his or her own agenda. That would include power-hungry new agers and repressive Christian activists. Who even knew these volatile groups existed in the land of stiff upper lips? I didn’t, and I’ve lived in London and traveled throughout the U.K. At times, these hot pursuits became almost comical Keystone Kop Evangelicals of both persuasions. But always interesting. Each night I turned down my quilt (left-handed) with that frisson of anticipation—what plot twist will envelop Carol/Andreq tonight?
What was less successful for me was the ending. Ah, yes, the tricky ending. I had no problem with the machinations of plot. Rather, it was as if the author had run out of word count space (I sympathize; believe me, I do). Except My Memories of a Future Life was released as an e-book originally and self-published as well, so one envisions fewer word count police. Yet the ending devolved into a two page narrator exposition-cum-epiphany so that you could almost hear Scarlett O’Hara prompting from the wings, “After all, tomorrow is another day,” in a sort of post-it note memo to readers declaring, “We’re done here.”
Okay. We’re done here.