For as long as I can remember, I have been intrigued and terrified in equal measure at the idea of ghosts. There’s something magical and even romantic about a spirit staying on this earthly plane long after their body has stopped serving its purpose. What keeps them here? Love, fear, a delight in frightening the pants off the living?
In my latest novel, Chasing Gravity, one of the main characters, Tish Duchene, is from Savannah, GA, reportedly one of the most haunted cities in the country. Savannah is a fantastic place to visit for many reasons: the history, the food, the weather (okay maybe not in August when the thick heat can weigh on you like a wet wool blanket), not to mention the Southern hospitality, but the chance to catch a glimpse of something from the spirit world brings tourists in droves.
One well-known ghost story features Alice Riley, who along with her common-law husband, Richard White, was hung in the town square for the murder of their boss William Wise. At the time of her arrest, Alice was pregnant and her execution was delayed until she could give birth to a baby boy. Since then, tales of Alice have endured. Some believe she was a witch who cursed the entire town as the noose was slipped around her neck. Others say her body mysteriously disappeared and that Spanish moss, the ubiquitous gray bromeliad that drips from trees across the low country, is resplendent throughout the square—with the exception of the tree from which Alice was hung. Ghost hunters and even visitors swear they’ve seen Alice in a long pink dress, running around the square in search of her baby boy, proof that the mother and child bond is so strong she’ll move heaven and earth to find him.
Stories like this are part of the reason I read and write romantic suspense. I love the internal turmoil. Will characters overcome their doubts, fears, past relationships and ultimately end up together? But throw in a dash of external mystery—will they outrun the gun-toting villain or beat the clock against the madman intent on ending the world—and we have a can’t-put-this-book-down page turner.
Incidentally, the fictional town where my novels take place is called Riley’s Peak. It didn’t dawn on me until I was halfway through writing this blog. A tiny chill, a whisper of breath on my cheek . . . Alice? Is that you?
What’s your story? Ever brush shoulders with someone from the hereafter?
For some more of Savannah's rich ghost history take a look here: Savannah Ghost Stories
And here: Savannah's Haunted Places
Interesting information about Spanish moss
Image: Va. Dept. of Conservation & Recreation via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0