I started this during the “first” (the “second” was in 2008) recession when I was struggling with a lot of things. I remember wanting to write the “anti-Twilight”. I really hated Stephenie Meyer’s character Bella. That girl really got on my nerves.
So how do you do it? I didn’t want to use a vampire--too much like hers. Werewolves didn’t even occur to me because I don’t like them anyway. And would my character be a girl or a boy? It had to be a boy for the obvious reason--the opposite of Meyer.
Then I remembered the boyfriend of one of my nieces. He had long blond hair and was a skater. He was also a sweetheart, except for the occasional outburst of teenage macho. I was hoping they’d stay together, but alas, it was not to be.
I had my Michael, but who and what would the female character be? I decided she had to be a ghost, and moreover, she would be the ghost of a girl who was murdered and used to live in Michael’s house. The name gave me trouble for a while, then I remembered an old neighbor named Maria, she wasn’t very pretty but her name stuck with me all these years. And then there’s the song in the musical “Paint Your Wagon”.
“Oh, way out west they have a name, for rain and wind and fire,
The rain is Tess, the fire’s Joe, and they call the wind Mariah.”
Always liked that song.
Then I had to decide where to put Michael and what was going on in his life, but that came easily. It was the middle of the recession and I was out of work and could not find it. The recession affected a lot of people and a lot of people lost their homes. I decided that Michael’s father had lost his job and even though his mom was a nurse and hadn’t, the family expenses were too much and they had to sell their home and move.
I decided to put Michael in an old “fixer-upper” that his parents were lucky to find. Now, if you know anything about hauntings, you know that when you start working on a house you may find yourself experiencing a lot of spiritual activity--both good and bad. Ghosts don’t like to have their homes messed with. I’ve lived in haunted houses, mostly haunted apartments, and can let you know that if there is a ghost there, it will make its presence known.
I made Michael an outsider--people are treating him differently since his father lost his job and the family lost their own, so I decided to give him “outsider” friends. I admire the Hmong and what they have been through so I decided one of his friends would be Hmong and he would call himself “Short Round” because he like the Indiana Jones movie with that character.
Michael’s other friend Dewey was harder to flesh out. I see him as kind of tall and skinny with pale blue eyes and curly (but not too curly!) dishwater blond hair. He’s a year older and a little smarter than the other two but Dewey’s soul goes deep. I feel like Dewey deserved more from me but I just couldn’t figure out what to give to him.
I gave Michael an understanding teacher. For those of us who have had one, you know, the teacher everybody likes that you can say anything to. I was lucky to have two, Molly Radke and Dorothy Miller. I named her “Dorothy Miller” in their honor.
Last of all is Thea. She kind of appeared out of nowhere, announcing her presence. Tiny, feisty, punky with her black hair, makeup, and funky clothes. She has an unrequited love for Michael, and eventually, that was her downfall. I didn’t always approve of what she did, but I admired her determination and the way she meets life headlong. Thea has a spirit I really admire.
I gave Michael a whiny little sister, but that’s okay. I let Kit whine, she’d been through a lot and it affected her differently than Michael. She doesn’t like the new house and though she’s thirteen she doesn’t really get why they had to move.
I gave Michael a close-knit family, the complete opposite of my own. I call them Mom and Dad, give them names if you like. Michael loves his mother because that is the parent he is most like. He is protective of her, maybe a bit of the Oedipus complex but not to a harmful degree.
This story is about Michael’s journey, hence the “Chronicles”. He will find a hopeless love and face a trial by fire, but it is part of his growth. He falls in love with a ghost, but I think the experience leaves him a better person--he grows up but not in a bad way. I see good things ahead for him.