Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ghosts of the Midwest

Kansas has its fair share of hauntings, one of the most "haunted places in the United States."
 There's Fort Leavenworth, home of the haunted military fort where a priest's ghost ("Father Fred," not the spookiest of names) roams the land. The Hollenberg Pony Express Station in Hanover, Kansas, purportedly hosts long-dead pony express riders, hootin' and a'hollerin' from the spiritual plane. My favorite's gotta be the Stull Cemetery in Douglas County, home of nothing less than the gateway to Hell!

So, Kansas is not only known for fields of wheat, sunflowers, meth labs, rednecks, guns, and stupid Toto, but lots of ghosts abound here, too.


'Cause Kansas is spooky, that's why. You try living here all your life and tell me differently. Ever since I was a kid and peeked through the windows of a supposedly haunted house in Kansas City ("Ygor's House," where it was said you could see Ygor swinging from a rope on certain nights), I've been fascinated. (Of course, at the same time, I can't wait to move out of this God forsaken state). Of course I had to write about it.

Peculiar County, my first YA book for BWL Publishing Inc., is the result. It's a ghost tale, sure, but it also encompasses nostalgia (in my opinion, all effective ghost stories should be somewhat nostalgic), suspense, romance, humor, paranormal, murder mystery, and a coming of age tale. It's also my attempt at evoking the early sixties in a Midwest small town; a turbulent time not only for my fifteen year old heroine, but the entire world.

I'm gonna get a bit writerly here, so hang on...

The year the book's set, 1965, is a metaphor for my young heroine, Dibby Caldwell. The first major shock of the sixties had happened two years earlier: the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy. The tragedy portended the end of the easy-going fifties, a time of silly, blinders-on innocence. The world wasn't adequately prepared for the radical changes of post 1963: hippies, the Vietnam War, rampant drug use, free love. Bell bottoms, for God's sake! Culture shock at seismic levels.

Talk about a nation haunted...

Dibby's experiencing similar changes on a more personal front. Fifteen years old, hormones are rattling her to her core. Not just changes to her body, but of her self-perception, an awakening of sexuality and adulthood. The arrival of "cool" bad boy, James--representative of the new, scary times to come--really triggers matters.
And, of course, there's that pesky ghost in the cornfield next door, haunting Dibby into finding out who murdered him.

Welcome to haunted Kansas! And thanks for stopping by Peculiar County. Perfect reading for the upcoming fall season.

Peculiar County...CLICK HERE for spooky Midwest shenanigans!

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