I am very pleased to have Sue Bolich as my guest today with a ghostly post. Welcome to the blog, Sue.
Should ghosts be allowed in the house? Oh my, yes!
What is it about specters and haunts and phantasms that has made haunted houses and ghost stories such an enduring trope? I dunno about you, but I love ghosts, from the very idea of spirits to the notion that maybe, just maybe, there is a way to communicate with the dead. Ghost stories seem like the perfect way to tell Death to take a hike and fend off the only thing in life (well, except for taxes) that we are told is inevitable.
Not to mention you can indulge in some pretty fine and pleasant fantasies built around ghostly friends and lovers!
I wrote “In Heaven’s Shadow” about a year after my dad died. It was therapy, I suppose, but also my way of questioning some established conventions. In the movie “Ghost” the poor murdered dead guy has to resolve his issues and move on. I wondered…why? What if both the dead and the living are perfectly content to seize what they can instead of “getting on with their lives” (or afterlife, in his case)? Also, I had a long-running discussion with an online friend about who gets to decide whether someone is insane or simply unique in their approach to life.
Does society get the right to judge you or force you to change?
Thus was born my Civil War ghost story fantasy, with a magical heroine and a very dead husband who can’t see any reason why he should have to move on to Heaven when his wife is perfectly happy to have him around for the rest of her life. Their love is eternal, but it certainly doesn’t come without challenges, from Joab’s frustration over not being able to “do” for Lilith like he used to, to the scandalized neighbors, to Lilith’s aching desire to try her pa’s magic elixir on him and see if she might really get him back. But there are reasons she can’t risk it, so they end up tangled in moments like these:
“I reckon if a Yankee up and kilt me, I’d be mad about it too,” Lilith said into a silence that was busy swallowing up even the sound of her shoes on the floor. “But you’re here, and you ain’t going to let that happen, so’s I ain’t worried. And I ain’t worried about the wheat, or Tillie taking agin me, or whether that dadburned rooster gets me some mornin’, ’cause you come home to me, and I reckon that wouldn’ta happened if God didn’t allow it.”
Joab stood there for a few seconds, still as still, and then he shook himself like a dog coming out of the run. The darkness around him faded and the light came back into the room; the white outlines spread all over him and lit him up. His face sort of leaped out at her, so flummoxed that Lilith had to step on an unseemly urge to laugh.
“The rooster?” he asked weakly.
Lilith couldn’t help it. The laughter just bubbled up out of her and turned into a rainbow swirling around and around, stronger where the light came through the windows, sort of dim and pale everywhere else, but a rainbow. Color dripped over the floorboards and off her fingertips and painted the rocker and Joab’s chair and her plain green dress and the stained old apron. She stood there, laughing like a fool because that was the first time she’d ever made a rainbow inside the house. All at once Joab laughed too, a shout as loud as his temper had been, and took a long step to snatch her up. His hands closed on her waist, soft as kitten fur, firm as bone, and maybe it was just because Lilith wanted it so bad or because they were both thinking happy instead of sad, but she found her feet off the floor and herself swinging round and round in his arms, her arms around his neck and his laughing face close to hers and the colors blazing around them both.
“I love you, Lilith Stark!” he shouted.
“I love you, Joab Stark!”
“Ma! Ma! Miz Stark’s flyin’!”
The shrill voice from the doorway shattered everything apart. Lilith gasped. Joab’s smile froze. He set her down so fast she almost fell. He shoved her behind him and spun around, standing between her and the door in a shower of melting rainbow. Colors slid and faded and died until only the gray afternoon light remained, spilling through the door past Calvin Fox standing there with his mouth wide open and his eyes fair to popping out of his head.
I hope you enjoy In Heaven’s Shadow. I certainly enjoyed writing it. What sorts of ghost stories do you like most? Scary? Erotic? Funny? Happy endings? Poignant endings? If there was one ghost you’d like to meet, who would it be?
Thank you, Daisy, for having me on your blog today, and I look forward to a lively discussion!
“…heroine Lilith…is magical, funny, and feisty. In Heaven’s Shadow has it all, love, magic, and fun!” The Pen and Muse
“…one of the loveliest, most moving stories I’ve read in a long time. I couldn’t put it down. It’s filled with wonderful characters and delightful magic. I may just read it all over again I liked it so much.” Goodreads
A “combination of gorgeous writing, perfect setting, and character development makes In Heaven’s Shadow a winner.” Barb Taub’s Thursday Lie-Dar
S. A. Bolich is a fulltime freelancer with five books currently in print and six more due out soon. Her first published short story earned an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror; her first novel, “Firedancer,” was a finalist for the 2013 EPIC Award for Fantasy. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years. Since then she has been a regular army intelligence officer, taught web design, trained horses, spent a few hectic and thoroughly enjoyable years volunteering with the United States Pony Clubs (kids and horses, oh, my!), worked in global marketing and project management, and finally managed a long-overdue escape from corporate world to write. Read more at www.sabolichbooks.com or connect up with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sue.bolich.