The first draft of Dixieland Dead had no ghost. It was outlined as a cozy mystery featuring three southern sisters who worked together to solve a murder that occurred in their beauty shop. Actually, Scarlett was a secondary character in the role of Jolene’s best friend, and made only cameo appearances throughout the story. She was never the intended victim, but as I continued to write, she continued to blossom and emerge as a main character. Scarlett came to life and began taking center stage, and pushing Deena and Billie Jo into supporting characters. It was in the third rewrite that I realized Scarlett’s true role in the story.
That’s when I killed her, and the magic began.
One day as I was working behind the chair—yes, I was a licensed cosmetologist at the time— and Scarlett complained rather loudly to me about her new role as a murder victim. “I don’t want to die,” she said. “I’m coming back, so get ready.”
I listened to her superior mind and resurrected her to bring out the best in Jolene. The partnership was magic from the start, and I fell in love with the new direction of the book. Those two sizzled on the page together, and since I’ve always believed in ghosts, it was as natural as breathing for me.
Are ghosts real? Yes, in my mind they are. Scarlett tells me they are always watching from their lofty heights. They peer from behind the invisible veil for any chance to communicate with the living. If you don’t believe me, then late at night, quiet yourself, and you will hear the whispers of the silence. You never know, it could be Scarlett paying you a midnight visit.
Until the next phase of the moon.