Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ghosts--to believe or not

I've done it again. Out of habit I posted a blog last night and forgot my guest blogger, so once again, on Thursday morning, please welcome my Wednesday guest. This week my guest author is Nancy Lynn Jarvis, who left a real estate career to become an author and writes, naturally, about a realtor.  Nancy says she doesn't really believe in ghosts....but I'll let her tell you about it.

I don’t usually write about ghosts, but I had to for this mystery. My books, with the exception of Mags and the AARP Gang, a book about a group of octogenarian bank robbers — which you may have guessed from the title and description, is more of a comedy than anything else — feature protagonist Regan McHenry, a realtor who gets sucked into playing an amateur sleuth because of her clients, friends, and because she and her husband bought a house with a partially mummified body in it.
I’ve dealt with bodies buried in the backyard, Wiccans, séances, a sociopathic killer, a murder involving an old Woodie during a car show…even so I didn’t expect to write a mystery that may have ghosts in it. That’s because I don’t believe in them, you see, except that I’ve seen one, which really plays havoc with my nay-saying. And I’m willing to go to just one degree of separation and listen to people tell of their first-hand experiences with ghosts--oh boy.
It was from this ambivalent perspective that I wrote The Murder House, the fifth in my Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series. Like me — a twenty-five year veteran of the real estate business— and many realtors I know, Regan has had the experience of walking into a house and having the hair stand up on the back of her neck . She knows what it’s like to be hit by a wave of cold and experience an overwhelming sensation of evil when previewing a house.
But also like me, she clearly states that she doesn’t believe in ghosts, not when there might be a rational explanation for what seems like a spectral presence. Her certainty made it great fun to write a book in which Regan, convinced the only thing that might cause a house to be haunted is its past reputation, sometimes wonders if she is right.  
It was also fun to write the book because during the writing process, I began asking people if they believed in ghosts. What I discovered is that most people have a ghost story or two to tell even if they aren’t into the paranormal. And ghost sightings aren’t predictable based on the witness’s educational level, occupation, religion, culture, gender, or age.
I was able to share my favorite ghost story in the book’s dedication, too. If you like, go to and click on “look inside” to read it.
I used my personal ghost sighting in the book, as well. The ghost in the woods in The Murder House is what I saw at the Wayside Inn in Massachusetts before I knew many others had reported seeing such a ghost. In The Murder House,  there may be a rational explanation for what people are seeing in the woods, though, and at the Wayside Inn, there isn’t.
After writing The Murder House and living with its alleged ghosts, did I change my mind and become a believer? As Regan says at the book’s conclusion when asked if she’s seen the ghost, “I think that’s too personal a question for you to ask.” Let’s just say that one thing is clear: I have developed a love of swapping ghost stories and would love to hear yours.
Realtors are known for baking cookies for open houses and such, and Nancy has developed her own recipe for mysterious chocolate chip cookies. She generously shares it on her website:
About The Murder House:
Every community has a house that people walk by hurriedly, nervously peeking at it out of the corners of their eyes. Bonny Doon is no exception. A bloody double homicide occurred in the Murder House almost twenty years ago and the killer has eluded capture ever since. Recently the house was inherited and the new owner wants to sell.
The problem is no one wants to buy a house with a reputation and everyone reports that it’s home to ghosts. The seller thinks realtor Regan McHenry would make a perfect listing agent after all, with her penchant for playing amateur sleuth, she’s no stranger to murder.
This is the perfect mystery to read if you don’t believe in ghosts and an even better mystery to read if you do.

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