- by Edie Claire
Okay, confession time. I have always loved ghost stories. Both reading them and writing them. Spooky stuff enthralls me; next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday. Barbara Michaels’ haunted gothics were among my favorite reads of all time–and still are. But have you ever watched Sixth Sense? If you have, perhaps you’ll sympathize when I confess that that movie scared the holy %#^ out of me. Seriously. Completely. I had thought I was okay with ghosts. I couldn’t walk down a dark hallway for months.
So when faced with the question above, my first reaction is an emphatic “No! Are you crazy? Agghhh!” But then, I start to think about it. No disrespect to the filmmaker, but who says ghosts have to be gross? Just imagine, if after you died, you got one chance to come back–one image of yourself with which to thrill the gifted living. Are you really going to choose to look like you did immediately after you (1) got mauled by a werewolf, (2) fell into a meatgrinder, (3) got probed by slimy oversized aliens? I think not.
Let’s imagine the question another way. What if, instead of seeing a parade of grisly animated bodies, you could see real life happening over again? What if you could walk into the ballroom of a Southern mansion and see women dancing in antebellum gowns? What if you could stroll on the plains and catch sight of Native Americans hunting buffalo? What if–while walking through your own backyard, you could witness your neighbor’s great-grandfather proposing to her great-grandmother with a sprig of just-picked wildflowers?
Now, THAT would be cool. Or at least I think so. So that’s the gift I gave the protagonist of my YA debut novel, Wraith. Kali is seventeen years old and has been seeing these “shadows” of the past since she was a child. But Kali is not as enamored of her gift as I would be. In fact, it nearly ruined her life–seeing as how parents tend to get worried when their preschooler starts chatting about seeing and hearing invisible people. Kali’s response to all the fuss was simply to stop talking about the shadows, to anyone–and over the years, to learn to ignore them. Until, while vacationing on the North Shore of Oahu, she runs into one shadow who–unlike the others–can also see and hear her.
Before my first trip to Oahu in 2010, I had a vague idea about writing another ghost story. But just five days on that magical island crystallized all my rambling thoughts into one mesmerizing concept–and Wraith was born. The Hawaiian islands are–simultaneously–among the most breathtaking beautiful and deliciously haunting places on earth. The ever-changing sky, the wind, the mist, the gigantic, dangerously powerful waves that bash constantly on the gnarled rocks of twisted lava…well, you get the idea. Add the ability to see generations of ancient Polynesians as well as decades of tacky tourists prowling about on the beaches with you, and you’ve got one spooky Halloween party. Throw in a seriously cute eighteen-year-old surfer ghost…and I hope you’ll have one entrancing read!