The DRAWN Haunt is the month-long celebration I’m having here in honor of DRAWN‘s 5th anniversary. To catch all the spooky posts check back often or subscribe to this blog (see bottom of this post for how). And for more about DRAWN, click here.
Now for today’s DRAWN Haunt post…
DEFINITELY NOT NORMAL
…my eyes again stray to the drawing of that guy. In the sketch I can now see the very edge of his cheek. It’s as if he’s just turned ever so slightly toward me.
But that’s crazy.
In my novel Drawn, young teen artist Michelle De Freccio moves with her dad to England hoping for a more normal life. In England, no one will know that back in New Jersey everyone calls her family the De Freakos. They won’t know about her supposedly psychic mother (A.K.A. Madame Florabunda) or her mentally ill brother. But when Michelle starts drawing a medieval ghost, and then she meets him and falls for him, well clearly nothing is going to be normal again.
The thing is, while Michelle is looking so hard for normal, I find I’m actually doing the opposite. I can’t say I’m a believer in ghosts or the paranormal, but I’d really REALLY like to be. Show me, I think. Prove it.
Like Michelle in my novel, I’m an artist too. Maybe that’s why a particular guest speaker I heard way back in high school made such an impression on me. It was a woman who created colorful oil paintings of the Hermitage, a Colonial-era mansion in Hohokus, NJ. She pointed to the shadows in one painting, the stairway in another, the roof tiles in still another. “See?” she’d said. “See the figures?”
I drew in my breath. I did see. In one painting dappled shadows revealed a Colonial soldier in military regalia. In another, a bride seemed to materialize on the stairway, her image woven into the wall texture. In an exterior painting, a few roof tiles were shaped into a face, the expression leering, malevolent. The artist claimed she never intended to paint any of this, that she didn’t see these figures until the painting was completed. That she was clearly channeling spirits through her art.
My first thought was: Cool! I want to do that. I want to go there and pull out my charcoal and find these spirits materializing in the shadows of my own sketches. But of course my next instinct was to narrow my eyes and scrutinize the painter. She seemed sweet, grandmotherly, but was she nutty? Well of course she was, I thought.
Hey, even Elijah Rosencrantz, a resident of the Hermitage in the early 1800s, thought ghosts were a lot of phooey. According to the website thehermitage.org, he wrote a statement titled “If the Hangings Flutter,” saying supernatural beliefs were “absurdities,” something to only be believed by “persons of the lower classes and from poor early education.” Hm, then again, what if Elijah became a ghost himself? I bet he’d be beyond pissed. Maybe that explains that angry spirit leering from the roof tile…
I guess the question I want to ask everyone is: Is it normal to hope, yet disbelieve?
Is it normal to travel the world exploring graveyards? Because I’ve done that. I’ve sketched tombs throughout England and visited crypts in Italy and wandered through ancient cenotaphs in India, fascinated by the culture of death, the promise of the supernatural. The cold breeze on my neck could have been a ghostly breath, right? The orbs in photos might have been dust, but what if they weren’t? A few years ago my daughter visited Greece and sent me this picture. Take a good close look. You see the orbs, right? And the FACES IN THE ORBS? I pointed this out to my daughter who wrote back freaked out saying, “THIS IS A TOMB!”
But is this proof? I’m still not completely convinced myself.
Wouldn’t you give anything to have some undeniable proof? Do you dream of going on a ghost tour in a castle? Do you watch ghost-hunting shows hoping that it won’t be silly? Do you get lost in novels laced with the supernatural? The Woman in White, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, even The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman?
Well, I do. But of course artists are a little out there, anyway. Writers too. Especially writers. We spend all day hearing voices that aren’t there. Writing things that haven’t happened as if they did.
So, yeah, maybe that’s partly why I wrote Drawn. Why I have my main character meet a ghost and step into his world. Why the final scenes are in a castle dungeon during a ghost tour. Because I’m a little out there. And because, unlike my main character Michelle, I’m not looking for normal. I’m hoping for the weird, the strange, the haunting.
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*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.