I hadn’t noticed before, but I seem to like ghost stories.
But when you sit down and start wondering what inspiration fueled your own foray into paranormal fiction…and you realize just how many ghost stories you’ve encountered along the way…well, the evidence speaks for itself: I like ghost stories.
Did Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series start off my fascination for ghost stories? I’m not sure–but it was definitely one of the first. I still remember stumbling across these books in my school library. Wedged between The Princess Diaries books were the colorful covers of Suze’s ghostly adventures. I remember hesitating, because princesses weren’t really my thing. Could I like an author who penned an impressive series around the Princess of Genovia? I mean, I liked the Anne Hathaway/Julie Andrews gem (though I outwardly denied it because I had my tomboy reputation to uphold) but what if the books were different? What if they were more foofy and frilly and my sensitive sensibilities couldn’t handle it?
Turns out, I had worried over nothing. Suze doesn’t hold with conventional female stereotypes: she kicks butt, takes names, and still wrestles over the growing pains of girlhood. I think that’s what sold me on this series when I read through Shadowland. She helped people, she was tough, and yet she still debated about what to wear in the mornings. Those characteristics juxtaposed together really hit home for me.
So much so that I devoured the entire series. And I still think back to them, years later. Meg Cabot managed to tie together a girlhood-coming-of-age story with the adrenaline-pumping adventure of a girl trying to help the recently departed with their unfinished business.
In my own writing, I want to make that connection. My heroines are fighting ghosts–and some of those ghosts are terrifying and horrible. But, and this is important for me to highlight in my work, my heroines are still 20-something, new-age girls. They’re going to worry about boys, hairstyles, making friends, their friendships with each other, and finding their ways forward in life. And while trying to help other people with their own hauntings.
So, as far as inspiration is concerned, that’s what I took away from The Mediator series. All six books wonderfully highlighted the ghost-busting with the day-to-day life of a teenage girl. And I think that it made for wonderful writing. After all, you can’t have the supernatural without the natural with which to compare.