Inspiration! Or, Do You Believe in . . . Ghosts?

“What in the world do ghosts have to do with mysteries?” you asked.

ghost 1Okay, maybe you didn’t, but someone out there in the vast world of readers and writers has surely asked that very question sometime in the past. And yes, the question is relevant. Currently there are several mystery series—mostly cozies—featuring a ghost or two from the other side (the spirit world) helping the sleuth on this side (the world of the living as we know it) solve cases.

Or, you could ask Mac McClellan, whose latest case introduces him to the mysterious world of the paranormal: “Mac, do you believe in ghosts?” Mac scratches his beard, hems and haws, looks away. “Earth to Mac—do you believe in ghosts, especially after what you experienced in Deadly Spirits?” Mac sighs and looks up as though the answer might be written on the ceiling. “I don’t know. Maybe. . . .” This mumbled response coming from a bad-ass retired US Marine with several combat tours under his belt. Is something amiss in Mac’s world?

Featured Image -- 1806Which brings us to the point of this post—INSPIRATION! It is somewhat fitting that the word “spirit” can be formed from those letters. One definition of inspiration is: “to breathe; or to draw air into the lungs.” Are “spirits” really dead, or do they continue somehow to draw life from the earth’s sources? The other, more common meaning is: “a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something.” The latter usage is at the heart of today’s missive: a ghost—or rather, two—were the inspiration for my fourth Mac McClellan Mystery, Deadly Spirits. C’mon, I’m serious here! Read on.

For the past few years I’ve been a fan of those “ghost hunter”-type shows on cable or satellite TV. One show in particular features the paranormal group’s fearless leader often using what’s called a “spirit” or “ghost” box. It’s a small device that scans radio frequencies back and forth at a given speed. The theory is the spirit box allows the user(s) to communicate in real time with any willing ghost or spirit who’s in the neighborhood. The spirit draws power from the radio waves and projects his or her “voice” which can be heard through the spirit box’s speakers.

Please, don’t laugh. And if you’re still with us, read on.

ghost hunting 1One evening while my wife was away visiting family in California, I hosted a cookout for my younger daughter, her husband, and our two grandsons (then ages 8 and 6). Those rambunctious boys are also fans of the aforementioned shows, and I’d bought a ghost-hunting “kit” mainly to keep them entertained with “chasing ghosts” around the house while visiting. This particular night, after enjoying a BBQ supper of pork ribs, smoked sausage, and all the fixings, we gathered around the dining room table. Announcing I had a surprise for my ghost-hunting pards (the grandsons), I opened the ghost-hunting equipment case and pulled-out my brand new spirit box. Their response was greater than I’d anticipated.

After fifteen minutes or so of adulation and instruction, the boys and I got down to business. I turned the device on and set the tuner to the recommended FM mode and speed. Then, the questions began. We started by introducing ourselves one by one. David, my son-in-law, received a clear vocal response to his “hello” message. That got our hackles up. I also received a clear response, two in fact, one male and one female, telling me “hi” and “hello.” My daughter sat at the table with a mixture of boredom and bulls*** spread across her pretty face.

hi_hello_100Jump ahead fifteen-twenty minutes. We’ve had some very entertaining “hi’s” and “hello’s” and a few other words from several different voices: male, female, and juvenile. My older grandson, Liam, seems to be the person the majority of the ghosts or spirits are drawn to. He’s received some very interesting and detailed responses to his questions, albeit in minimal words from our ephemeral guests. And then (insert drum roll here), son-in-law David takes the lead. Turning the ghost box’s built-in microphone his way, he asks: “Can anyone present tell me my wife’s nickname?” I’m surprised at the question. I can’t remember my daughter’s long-time nickname because it has been a decade or longer since I’ve heard it. It has never been uttered in this house for the entire eleven (now fourteen) years my wife and I have lived here. I’m trying to remember, chastising myself for my poor memory. A few seconds of silence prevails the room . . . and then:

“Hello, Puma!” a male voice says. A couple seconds later, “Hi, Puma!” says an exuberant, very distinct female voice.

ghost 2Around the table, jaws drop, eyes grow wide, and heart-rates soar. My daughter’s face drains of color. “Puma,” my younger, cat-loving daughter’s nickname for over two decades, has sounded forth from the spirit box by two totally, distinctive voices. How could “they” have known? No distrust existed among the occupants (the “live” occupants, that is) of the room. No trickery was involved. I had received the “spirit box” only a few days before our cookout get-together. Hell, I hadn’t thought of my daughter’s nickname in nearly a quarter century! I’m convinced something supernatural happened that night. Or, did it? Who’s to say communicating with those who have “passed on” is out of the realm of possibility? Technology continues to rush forward at an astounding rate.

And so, dear reader, if you’ve stuck around this long you now know the Inspiration behind the story that resulted in my current Mac McClellan Mystery adventure, Deadly Spirits. You know my story—I’d sure like to know yours! Please share your experiences of the paranormal that might have had some/any influence on your life experience! Thank you, and . . . pleasant dreams!

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