The Poltergeist and Aunt Betty by Ginger C. Mann: Aunt Betty is eccentric, but how much is ghost, how much is medication, and how much is just plain crazy?
Interview with Featured Author: Ginger C. Mann
Q: How did you come up with the concept of your story?
A: There were multiple inspirations for me, but two of them stood out. First of all, I chanced to meet an adorable, brilliant, and quite eccentric woman with a giant head of flaming red hair. She stuck in my mind, and I could not get her out. My character, Betty, is kind of a reaction to her. I barely know the woman I met, but I knew I had to write a story with her image in it.
The character I came up with, I think I like even more than her original. This woman is probably a genius, but so completely “out there” that her gifts blend into the noise of her mental illness. Perhaps the point I’m making is that we dismiss people every day based on reasons that make sense to us, but should we? Just because a person is paranoid doesn’t mean something isn’t out to get her.
The second inspiration came from my own little boy. At the time, he was three years old. He had a habit of waking up in the wee hours of the morning, when he would wander silently into my bedroom suite. He materialized there at around the time that I was getting ready for work in the morning. Most of the time, I kept the lights low, to let my husband sleep. The little boy was patient, and willing to wait until I could give him attention. He would stand still in one spot and wait without moving a muscle. So having said all of that, it was not uncommon for me to stand in front of the dark mirror, begin to dry my hair, and then look down toward the counter to see a pair of eyes staring straight up at my face. It literally made me scream out loud a few times. Low light, sudden moves in the mirror, silent approach . . . yeah, a ghost would pull a stunt just like that.
At some point, I put both of those images together, and made the red-headed woman an eccentric great-aunt. No one ever listens to crazy people, especially not if they are crazy live-in relatives. Is there a better candidate for a haunting than this? Someone whose credibility is faulty to begin with?
Q: Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.
A: The best clue I can give - without spoilers - is that anybody can see a ghost. At least that is the case in my world. Some people are nuts, some people are sensible, some people are more sensitive; but no one is blind. It’s just a matter of what we choose to see, or not see.
In my world, as in so many other fantasy worlds, the earth is peopled with departed spirits who walk alongside us. What if those departed souls choose to stay for awhile, and share our space with us? Do they still love us? Could it be that they need someone who can help us to love them back? It is a common concept, but what if there were a person who could draw them out and connect them back to the living?
Now, make that person a homeless, red-haired, middle-aged, organ-playing Montessori teacher with a persecution complex and a nasty prescription drug habit. See where I'm going with this?
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
A: I think I always have been a writer. I turned in a poem to my fourth grade teacher one day, and she put me on a stage for Veteran’s Day and made me read it. I had no idea whether it was any good, I just knew it was fun to make a story that rhymed. Then I wrote a song as a fifth grader. And then, it snowballed on me: before I knew it, my book reports became overnight sensations in my English classes. I have a distinct memory of a group of seventh grade desks, all clustered around in a pile, just so they could face me and listen to me read my story aloud.
I didn’t know what I was doing, I just thought I was having a little fun. My friends would say, “So when does your first book come out?” I used to roll my eyes and go practice my flute, instead. I did not go into complete OCD mode and try to publish by age 13, but the urge to write did not go away. I am compulsive about it, and I found that when I had no other outlet, I would write notes on paper kind of at random. That became a de facto journal, but took the form of a written conversation.
In fact, I’m still doing that. See? (http://www.songsofmann.org)
I loved the birth of the Internet, because I could suddenly talk with my fingers rather than my voice. I spent days and nights on listservs, exploring new ideas with other friends who liked to write, rather than voice, their thoughts. One day, I discovered a story in all of those ideas. Typical of my childhood writing, I wrote out two scenes, and then I kept it on a hard drive for fifteen years. It was only by random chance that a new, quite serious writer discovered it one day. He pushed me so hard that I actually finished the thing and submitted it.
And that was three stories ago. Now that I am in the habit again, it's rather addictive. More stories keep filling my head, and I think I even see a novel in there. Wow.
Q: What activities best give your brain a break? How do you unwind?
A: Professionally, I am three people: 1) Software Engineer 2) Music Director 3) Author. With all of that going on, my brain doesn’t get many breaks. But there is an extra minute on Saturday sometimes. I’m trying to remember what I did with the last one . . . seems like I was sleeping.
I particularly enjoy taking my flute, plus a few other instruments, and jamming with other musicians. I think that counts as true peace for me: anytime I can play, and make music with others. And what comes of that? Songwriting, of course!
Q: What are some of your other published works?
A: I have written two other short stories in Xchyler Publishing anthologies.
I have also written songs for local musicians here in the Austin area, and my poem, “The Chase” opens the newly revised novel, A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk. Other than that, I enjoy blogging at http://www.songsofmann.org.
Q: What's up next for you?
A: Music, blogging, prayer services, blogging, computer programming, blogging, and . . . oh hang on, this: A fantasy tale came to my husband in a dream. A lovely one with two witches and a baby who loses her finger. The baby’s finger is restored by her protector, but at a very high price.
Well, that was the crux of the dream. The rest is up to me to write. Teaser coming on songsofmann.org. Watch for it.
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A few exciting things that are happening over the next couple of weeks, to celebrate the release of this FANTASTIC anthology:
Blog tour: We will be featuring a different author every day, in several places, so feel free to check out Xchyler Publishing's site for those links! Check out their Facebook page, as well!
Rafflecopter Giveaway: FREE STUFF. You can't get much cooler than that. Each author is giving away one or two things that have to do with their story. I personally am giving away an amulet that is similar to the one described in my story, as well as a signed poster that I designed specifically for my story. Check out the Rafflecopter site to see what else is being offered, as well as to enter!
You might ask by this point, where can I actually GET the book. Well, let me show you! Right now it is available in both paperback and ebook forms. Click the pictures below to be taken to Amazon!
Once you've read the book, please feel free to leave a review on Amazon, but a review on Goodreads is also helpful as well! Click the logo below to be taken to the book's Goodreads page.
Well, I am pretty excited about the release of this book. I'll be posting and reposting a lot over the next couple of weeks, so please remember to follow me on social media! Thanks for reading!
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