Ghosts – do you believe in them? I certainly do. So when I came across DELIA’S SHADOW which features a young women in San Francsico, in the early 1900’s that can see ghosts! – Of course I had to swoop in on that action. Plus I live right down the road from the city and I love reading about places that are near me.
Today Jaime Lee Moyer is here to give us her own version of a Field Guide to Ghosts
My review of book 1: DELIA’S SHADOW – coming this week!
My review of book 2: A BARRICADE IN HELL (which just hit shelves a few days ago) – Coming next week!
A Field Guide to Ghosts
You’d think that a field guide to ghosts would exist somewhere, right?
Ghost stories have been around virtually forever. People have always warned each other away from places the shades of long dead warriors were said to walk, told tales of sad phantoms roaming the corridors of sleeping castles, or of waking to find the shade of someone long dead standing at the foot of the bed.
Haunted woods, haunted moor and houses; ghosts have always been part of our folklore and stories. We’ve all heard them, or told stories of our own on cloud streaked, full moon nights. Mythology dealing with ancestor ghosts is found in almost every culture around the world.
But when I went looking for lists of different kinds of spirits and haunts, phantoms and garden-variety ghosts, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to adapt for Delia’s Shadow or A Barricade In Hell. Ghosts seem to vary depending on the observer, or the part of the world the story came from, and don’t follow any one set of rules. Even poltergeists behave differently from one report to another.
After hours of research and consulting every reference I could find, I came to the conclusion there was only one thing I could do: Follow the time-honored writing tradition of making stuff up. I wrote my own field guide to the ghosts of San Francisco.
Most of what I made up involved explanations for why these ghosts looked a certain way, and reasons for how they acted. Once I set the rules, I had to stick to them in both Delia’s Shadow and A Barricade In Hell.
Thin, tattered ghosts are fading from memory and losing their ties to the living. They might be the oldest ghosts, or they might be the spirits with no one left to mourn them. The more faded the ghost, the closer it is to disappearing forever.
Solid looking ghosts, the ones who look most as they did in life, have the strongest ties to the world of the living. These are the strongest ghosts, often recently dead, or with lots of people to mourn them. They are also often very aware of people, reaching out to touch them or trying to be seen.
Strong ghosts can also be the most dangerous haunts, refusing to move on or fighting the person trying to banish them. These ghosts are often focused on one goal, and try to force a living person to finish a task left undone in life. They might not be evil per se, but they have no regard for the living. Possession, or madness, is a real danger with these spirits.
I made other stuff up too, which is the best part of writing for me. You might find ghost eaters in these books, or spirits seeking justice and a champion to find it for them. Guardian spirits may have snuck in, or ghosts who wait to guide loved ones to the spirit realm. It’s possible you could find ghosts who don’t know they’re dead, or who relive their last day again and again.
You might find almost anything.
Jaime Lee Moyer lives in San Antonio, land of cowboys, cactus, and rhinestones. She writes books about murder, betrayal, friendship, magic, and kissing, an activity her cats approve of (even the kissing).
Her first novel, Delia’s Shadow, was published by Tor Books September 17, 2013. The second book in the series, A Barricade In Hell, comes out June 3, 2014, and the third book, Against A Brightening Sky, in 2015.
Jaime’s short fiction has appeared in Lone Star Stories, Daily Science Fiction, and the Triangulations: End of the Rainbow, and Triangulations: Last Contact anthologies. She was poetry editor for Ideomancer Speculative Fiction for five years and edited the 2010 Rhysling Award Anthology for the Science Fiction Poetry Association. A poet in her own right, she’s sold more than her share of poetry.
She writes a lot. She reads as much as she can.