Contest announcement: You can win one of 10 FREE copies of the new Haunted Guesthouse novel GHOST IN THE WIND! Here's all you need to do:
First, read the post below, because I took the time to write it. Once you're done with that, post a comment here at DEAD GUY on the topic: Why I should have a FREE copy of GHOST IN THE WIND. This is a completely arbitrary and subjective contest, so don't expect fairness. I will promise not to give away copies just because someone is a pal.
Comments will be judged in three criteria, and you don't have to score in all three to win: 1. Sincerity. Don't just say, "I really really really want it." Consider WHY you want it and let us know.
2. Originality. Let's see some interesting responses. "I'm a great person" might or might not be true, but is it really going to grab the judge's (that is, my) eye?
3. Is it funny?
Keep in mind that this contest is open to all readers except those who already have a free copy of GHOST IN THE WIND and are just piling on. It doesn't matter if you've never read a Guesthouse book before because the premise is explained in every book. You'll catch up in no time flat.
Winners will be announced at noon on Tuesday, December 1 so Josh can't use this as an excuse not to post tomorrow. Those who win copies will have to email me directly with a snail mail address to get the book.
That's it! 10 copies of GHOST IN THE WIND await! Get commenting!
On p. 107 of GHOST IN THE WIND, the seventh novel in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series (which, as it turns out, will be published TOMORROW), there begins a scene that has only a tangential effect on the plot overall. But it is probably my favorite of any in the book from beginning to end.
The scene, whose context I won't trouble you with because the book comes out tomorrow and I want you to read the whole thing, concerns itself with an impromptu concert performed at Alison Kerby's Jersey Shore guesthouse. The musicians are all incredibly accomplished, very famous, charismatic and dead.
They're all ghosts.
For the uninitiated, the conceit of the Guesthouse series is that Alison bought herself a large Victorian in her childhood hometown on the Jersey Shore to turn into a guesthouse. Through a series of circumstances that began with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED (lately a USA Today bestseller, only five years after its release!) Alison gains the ability to see and hear ghosts, two of whom have taken up residence in the house she shares with her guests and her daughter Melissa. Hilarity, one hopes, ensues.
In GHOST IN THE WIND, the theme is literally musical. Alison is approached by Vance McTernan, a ghost who wants to know exactly how his daughter Vanessa died, not believing the medical examiner's conclusion that the cause was an allergic reaction. Alison, who never wants to start an investigation (that's the thing that usually appeals to her in-house ghost investigator Paul Harrison) dives at the chance for personal reasons. Vance is--was--the leader of the Jingles, one of Alison's favorite bands from the 60s (she's an oldies freak) and she's starstruck. Paul is skeptical and tries to steer her clear.
When their disagreement is discussed, Alison is inclined to listen to Paul (who after all is named after two Beatles) and stay away from the dangerous investigation. And then comes the concert, which Vance arranges in Alison's house.
Let's just say that all your favorite dead musicians--or at least many of mine--show up.
Writing the scene, it was necessary to choose not only the performers but the songs they would play, and believe me, none of those choices was easy. Vance, of course, would be involved, but I'd made him up so he was relegated to a back-up role playing percussion. Bigger names stood closer to the microphones, if there were microphones. It didn't matter, since most of the living people in the room couldn't hear anything but the instruments anyway.
In the logic of the series, it was necessary to keep the band fairly local. That is, the musicians were to be those who had died in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania tristate area. Yes, it would be possible for ghosts to travel long distances (they can, for example, hop a plane or train without most living people knowing about it), but it's less likely and I didn't want to have to explain where everyone came from.
You won't find names here because THE BOOK COMES OUT TOMORROW but suffice it to say I stacked the deck as well as I could, put in a front man to end all front men and I gave them two songs to play that appealed to the strengths of the band I assembled. I had a great deal of fun writing it and hope the reader finds the same pleasure in it.
But you might never hear Baker Street the same way again.
P.S. I have not consulted with my DEAD GUY colleagues, but again this week I am forced to offer sympathies and outrage to the families and community of the victims in Colorado Springs. I don't care what your religious or political convictions are. You don't get to shoot people. Ever.