Note: Our guest Joanna Campbell Slan is celebrating the upcoming release of her new book, Death of a Schoolgirl (Berkley Trade/Aug.7). Critics have said, “Anyone who has ever read and loved Jane Eyre will be captivated by Death of a Schoolgirl.”
I have always had a taste for what Shirley Damsgaard calls “woo-woo.”
I grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, where the ghost of a local heroine was said to haunt the banks of the Wabash River. I loved hearing stories of that spectral maiden.
One of my grandmothers lived in South Carolina, in an old house with a portrait on the wall that scared the pee-wadding out of my sisters and me. (Spell-check is not impressed by “pee-wadding,” but if you’re from the south, you know it’s a real word. Sort of like “yawl.”) Today I own that portrait, and I find the old sea captain in it rather charming. Very “Ghost and Mrs. Muir”-ish.
In my teen years, we played with Ouija boards at slumber parties. No one got any sleep those nights. We managed to terrify ourselves and wake up the host parents. Is it any wonder that one by one all those Ouija boards disappeared? How spooky is that?
In college, I learned to read Tarot cards, a talent that Casey Daniels and I share. By the way, if Casey offers to read yours, let her. She’s very, very good at it.
As a mom, I made up stories about fairies, ghosts, and vampires to tell my son. But it’s true that I never considered being attacked in the bathroom by a demon like my friend Angie Fox did. I do wonder, however, if she got the idea from the ladies’ restrooms at Marshall Fields in downtown Chicago? When you flushed the toilet, it sounded like you were going to get sucked right out of the building.
My all-time favorite book Jane Eyre has a heavy paranormal twist. Who can forget the scene where little Jane is visited by her dead uncle? Or the fact that she meets the love of her life on a lonely lane? At first she takes him for an uneasy spirit when he appears out of nowhere on his prancing black horse. Yet he loves her from the start, perhaps because he is gifted with the power to foresee their future together. He famously proclaims, “I knew you’d do me good in some way…I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you.” And of course, when all seems lost, Edward calls to Jane from across the miles. She comes back to him, and they are married.
So as you can see, the “woo-woo” in my new book isn’t a radical departure for me at all. It’s just an interest I’ve always had. In Death of a Schoolgirl, my love of the paranormal is on full display. In this, the start of a new series, readers will discover a lot of history, a strong mystery, a bit of woo-woo, and a touch of romance.
Sound like a book you’d enjoy reading? I hope so!