Tag Archives: ghost hunting

Two Stories!

Update: Turns out I see the release of two stories today. The e-book and Kindle version of Sententia: The Journal’s Issue 5 has been released (print version to come in July). I really love the piece included here, entitled “Conversations with the Rest of the World.” It’s an exploration of my own personal life fantasy: to communicate with a great ape through American Sign Language. I don’t know ASL, though I’m trying to learn. In this story, a young girl is born deaf, ASL being her “native language,” and she discovers during a zoo trip that she can communicate with the gorillas. I owe Paula Bomer and Adam Robinson a tremendous amount of gratitude for picking this story up and sharing it with others.

Original Post:

My friends over at Big Lucks have put up a fun little short story I wrote. I’ve just recently joined the masthead at what I think is one of the most stellar indie presses at DC, but long before that, I had this piece accepted by these lovely and amazing people. “The Phantom Harlot” is, in essence, a ghost story that stemmed from an idea I originally had for a novel: a couple moves into a haunted house and begins conducting recording sessions in a particular room, hoping to capture what’s known in ghost hunting circles as “electronic voice phenomena” (EVP). These are disembodied voices captured on recordings that were inaudible at the time of the recording itself.

It’s a really fascinating phenomena to me, this EVP business. I wondered what it’d be like to have a consistent call-and-response with a ghost in this way. You’d give a sort of monologue, leave the recorder running, and listen to the response the morning after. I thought, If people can fall in love with each other solely through emails and the written word, why not a “letter exchange” through spoken word? The novel itself didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to. The idea wasn’t large enough and I was forcing it, so I rewrote it as a short story.

Hope it’s an enjoyable read. Thanks so much to Mike and Mark for publishing this!

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Now I’m Just Babbling…

I suppose, from time to time, I might actually use this blog as a proper blog, though my general busy-ness is a great preventative measure there. Lately, I’ve been reviewing the manuscript I wrote, a novel on the shorter end of things about college-aged ghost hunters. There’s always been some disquiet about this piece because, thematically, I really love it. I can’t help but to, even if I’m exhausted of it at the same time (the curse of any novel-length project, I imagine). I kept thinking that there was something off on a structural level, something missing in the first part of the story (which I wrote several years ago) that lacked motivation, drive, stakes for the characters or the readers.

Still, the structure seemed okay to me. Rereads went on and I still liked what I’d produced. So what was wrong? When I decided to go ahead and write a synopsis out, I saw pretty quickly. There’s something about condensing a whole chapter into a single sentence and seeing those sentences side-by-side that make you think, Oh… well… how the crap do these two ideas follow? How did we get from there to here at all? I could see the gaps. And I could also see how I had neglected one simple thing.

When I approached this novel, I wrote an outline. This outline changed a lot and it existed as a perpetual Gmail draft so that I have no record of what the original looked like nor even what the final looked like (the outline was deleted). So I always had a relatively clear idea of where I was going, but not necessarily how I got there. I think that as things changed and shifted and moved, the original stakes were lost (in fact, the original narrative is nothing like the final) and I simply forgot about it. With the synopsis, I can see very clearly what the stakes should always have been. It’s so simple that I feel really dumb for not seeing it before. And it requires only a very minimal retouching of some lines here and there, and suddenly, everything makes sense and the narrative is cohesive (enough anyway).

I’m debating whether to continue calling this a work of literary fiction or to start marketing it as “young adult.” Maybe I’ll query it out as both and see what bites first.

Anyway, lesson learned: write your synopses.