On the recent retreat I took to complete my second novel, I had company; in my bed, in the living room, as I stood on the roof deck, in the shower. No, I’m not talking about the kind of company that makes my wedding ring feel itchy, it was the kind that sends a chill down my spine.
It was an early birthday present to myself, I drove north to Bellingham, Washington and checked into the beautiful Hotel Bellwether, a property which fronts a lively harbor. My only room request was that it contained a desk, because I knew if I had three days to devote to the effort, I could finish Josie Jameson and the Stone Witch, the follow up to Josie Jameson and the Fourth Tombstone.
My room was #303. It was a delightful suite which overlooked the harbor and mountains. I’d brought a bundle of sage to burn so I could cleanse the energy in the space and make it suitable for writing. But I couldn’t get a match to light. No matter, I turned on the Seahawks game and dove into my writing. When I looked up from the computer the sunset was painting the sky in streaks of pink and I realized I was starving. Notebook in hand, I supped and returned to the room. I finished two chapters and went to bed. Alone.
Knowing I never sleep well in strange places, I took a Benadryl and left on a lamp. An hour after retiring, I heard footsteps cross the room and stop at the edge of the bed, then there was the clear sound of someone breathing over me, just inches from my face. When I opened my eyes, I fully expected to find a man looming above, but there was nothing. Nothing.
Gathering my wits, I double-checked that the door was locked, then piled pillows around my ears; I was determined to get a few hours of sleep. And after a short time, it happened again. Footsteps, breathing, and then nothing. I tried once more to light the sage, but the matches were still damp. Instead, I turned on the television for the white noise and wrestled with my pillows until sunrise.
On my morning run, I looked at events with a sober mind. Yes, it was a spirit – I didn’t imagine it. But, it was not dark or threatening, only curious. I knew this from experience – the experience that comes from being awakened by a demon standing over your kids’ beds. Yes, I know what dark spirits look like and smell like. I also know they’re hard to get rid of. They leave scars. What existed in #303 wasn’t that. He was a curious spirit, intrigued by the creative process maybe. So, when I returned to the room, I had a word with him, “Yes, I know you’re here. I just don’t wish to acknowledge you. Please stop bothering me.”
The following nights in my suite went roughly the same way. And when I checked out on the fourth day, my book was complete. Yes, I had a ghostwriter, of sorts. I’ll never know his name, but he was there, reading over my shoulder and maybe he knew what he was doing when he kept me from sleeping. Because, together, we got the words down, the story completed. So, for that, I am thankful to him, my ghostwriter.
Josie Jameson and the Stone Witch is being called a can’t-put-down-read. I’m so glad readers are enjoying this quick, spooky novel!