Being haunted is a fascinating thing.
I don’t mean by a ghost, necessarily. It could be a scene from a movie, or a section from a novel. It could even be the lyrics of a song, or a sweet memory. Sometimes I think we’re all haunted by something, whether it’s childhood memories or a lost love. And in some cases, I really do believe it might just be… by a ghost.
I grew up with a healthy respect for the paranormal. When I was a kid, we had something going on in our house. A Poltergeist, I guess you’d call it. Things that go bump in the night. Pictures would lift and fall off the walls but the nail would remain, things would disappear from one place and turn up someplace else later. There were whispers in empty rooms, or a whiff of cigar smoke when no one was smoking. Nothing huge or overt like having a ghost materialize, just enough that couldn’t be easily explained.
But I’m not sure I ever really understood being ‘haunted’ until a character named Matthew Bennett came to life in my head. Matt had been whispering through my thoughts for about five years, but his voice got loud enough about two years ago that I just couldn’t ignore him any longer.
In my new novel, ‘A Reason to Believe’, Matt is a police detective who is still recovering from the tragic death of his lover, a man who was his partner in both life and his work. He’s hanging on, functioning, but he’s haunted by what was, and what might have been. Then he’s called out on a missing child case early on Christmas morning, and being haunted takes on a whole new meaning. Little Abigail Reynolds appears to him and leads him down to her parent’s basement. Thinking he’s found the child alive, he really isn’t prepared for the shock of finding her body, instead.
Writing this was both a labor of love and an occasional pain in my butt. Matt isn’t particularly happy in the beginning, and I wanted to find the balance between his understandable sadness and the reader feeling like he needs extensive therapy. And when he’s introduced, Matt’s unexpected and startling new love interest, psychic Kiernan Fitzpatrick, is a man brimming with life and joy and energy, but he couldn’t seem so peppy and obnoxious that Matt would want to smack him. I found it to be a delicate dance these characters performed: Matt taciturn but attracted in spite of himself, Kiernan filled with an infectious sense of humor and an uncomplicated delight in life that pulled Matt along, even with his reservations about what Kiernan does and what he believes. Kiernan could reintroduce Matt to love if he’d let him, but Matt is understandably hesitant to risk his heart again.
Add to that the mystery surrounding the murder of little Abby, and this was one of the most complex plots I’ve ever cooked up. I wrote myself into corners and fought the urge to pound my head into my keyboard so many times I can’t even tell you. Finally, my agent Saritza said, ‘stop limiting yourself with the tangible. This is a ghost story, right? Chase the intangibles!’
I think it was the advice that finally made ‘A Reason to Believe’ come together. Then Editor Deb Nemeth came on board, helping me trim and tighten a very long manuscript to one I believe now thrums with tension. I’ll never be able to thank her enough.
A Reason to Believe is the result. I’ve never written anything that felt as ‘real’ to me, which is interesting considering it’s a ghost story.
But then, who said ghosts aren’t real?
So, what haunts you?
“Copland’s writing is sharp, heartfelt and thoroughly entertaining.”
Bestselling Author Josh Lanyon
A Reason To Believe
Detective Matthew Bennett doesn’t believe in ghosts.
So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he’s shaken to the core—and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan’s claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.
Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan’s been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he’s willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees—but love offers a reason to believe…
Diana Copland’s first brush with writing the paranormal began when she was twelve and she combined the most overwrought elements of Jane Eyre and the television soap ‘Dark Shadows’ for a creative writing assignment. The result earned her an ‘A’, mostly, she thinks, because the teacher couldn’t believe she had the nerve to turn it in! She now lives in Spokane, Washington with her daughter and their demanding, obnoxious, incredibly spoiled cats.