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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When the dead aren't dead

Like probably more people than are willing to admit, I have had several experiences throughout my life which could be classified as "paranormal"--things and events which simply cannot be explained away logically. At one point I had my own personal ghost--a most pleasant fellow who's name, I knew without knowing, was Robert, who was fond of bedrooms, classical music, and hiding things. (Something would be in plain sight one minute and gone the next, to appear sometimes weeks later in some totally unexpected place.) Robert has come and gone several times since I first met him, and while it's been a while since I last heard from him, it's always fun when he shows up for a visit.

After writing ten or eleven mysteries in the Dick Hardesty Mystery series, I thought it might be time to try something a bit different--to perhaps alternate the series with another, and the thought occurred to me: "What would happen if a regular guy who doesn't  believe in spirits meets a spirit who believes in him?" And thus was born the Elliott Smith paranormal mystery series, featuring a Chicago building restorer and his non-corporeal friend John. Together, they help spirits who died under mysterious circumstances find the answers to exactly what happened to them or who was responsible for their deaths.

There are now three Elliott Smith mysteries: His Name is John, Aaron's Wait, and Caesar's Fall. I've just finished Dante's Circle, the fourth book in the series, and am preparing to send off to the publisher.

His Name is John introduces the series and the character of John, who first appears as an unidentified gunshot victim...a "John Doe"...who dies next to Elliott in a hospital emergency room, and whose amnesiac spirit subsequently seeks Elliott's help in determining his identity and who killed him.

Aaron's Wait is Elliott and John's second collaboration when Elliott restores a building which is inhabited by a spirit who knock on the building's doors looking for his missing partner, and refuses to leave until he is found. It's up to Elliott, with John's help, to find him.

Caesar's Fall finds Elliott befriending Bruno Caesar, the winner of a $57 million lottery, from the circling sharks out to scam him out of every penny. When Caesar tragically dies, his spirit seeks Elliott and John's help in finding out what happened to him.

Writing paranormal mysteries has certain advantages over regular mysteries in that while the rules of mystery-solving apply, the paranormal element opens new vistas of potentials and possibilities, and allows both the writer and reader to engage in speculation of subjects not normally addressed.

Like Elliott Smith, I've grown quite fond of John, and feel like an adventurer in a strange land. It's been fun watching the developing relationship between John and Elliott, and especially so since Elliott has taken up with the very much alive Steve. I think every writer is surprised to discover, in the course of writing, that he/she has rather strong previously unrecognized ideas and opinions. I find this true in the Elliott Smith series--and particularly so as an agnostic who is extremely uncomfortable with organized religion.

Writing--and reading--is always a journey, and hopefully a pleasant one. To write/read of spirits/ghosts/non-corporeal beings not as vampires, ghouls, werewolves or violent and evil beings, but rather as normal people who just happen to be dead can be a most entertaining and challenging experience I recommend highly. Whether you are a devoted fan of the paranormal or if it is terra incognito to you at the moment, I'd be pleased if you might consider taking a look at the Elliott Smith series.

You can read the first chapter of each of the books on my website,  All my books are available in or on order from any bookstore as well as Amazon and all online booksellers. Aaron's Wait and Caesar's Fall are available in Kindle format.

My thanks to Carson for giving me the chance to talk with you. I do appreciate it.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the premise of your paranormal mysteries! Very clever. I'll check them out.