Leah, thank you so much for having me today. My paranormal suspense, Dark and Disorderly will be released tomorrow from Carina Press– I’m one part scared and two parts so excited I can hardly type!
Sometimes, one learns too much about the living from the dead.
It begins with the ghosts.
Ghosts have appeared more and more frequently until the sheer number of apparitions across the country constitutes a epidemic. Specters appear on streets and roads causing drivers to careen over sidewalks and into ditches. Spirits invade homes, businesses and public buildings and drive down property values. These shades represent more than a disorderly nuisance, for some of them are dark and malignant. The public becomes truly and literally spooked.
The town council of Waredale, ignoring equally the pronouncements by assorted experts from portentous psychologists to hysterical World-Enders, decides the proliferation of ghosts within their municipality is basically a property standards issue, and the solution to the problem a form of by-law control, like barking dogs, parking meters and garbage. To this end, they hire a paranormal consultant and ghost-buster. Lillie St. Claire. Lillie is a Talent, one of the rare few who can safely and permanently dispatch ghosts by simple touch.
It begins with ghosts but it doesn’t end there. Other paranormalities begin to appear.
And Lillie faces opposition from both pro-spirit and anti-specter factions, and from citizens who view exorcists as one step removed from demons of the dark. Some people do call her a Talent. Some people just call her the Freak.
Lillie understands and accepts these opposing hostilities, but she just wants to do her job. It’s the only thing she feels she’s good at, her only value. But while a pedophile ghost molesting children in a housing complex deserves exorcism, a few frail ghosts in an abandoned family graveyard in the way of development pose no threat to the living…
When the revenant of her dead husband bursts through her front door intent on murder, Lillie knows she’s in serious trouble…Trouble that isn’t helped by the enigmatic comments of a bean sidhe, who in her aspect of a Woman of the Fords frequents the local laundromat, and who insists on calling Lillie “cousin” and “leannan”–or by the attentions, the very particular attentions, of big, ugly, suspicious, psi-crime detective, Johnny Thresher.
What’s the most interesting/unusual thing you’ve done for the sake of research?
Visiting a cemetery in the dead of night to feel the atmosphere and check out the visuals/properties of tombstone shadows, hoping no one saw my flashlight and called the cops thinking I might be up to no good, like, oh, grave robbing.
Do you have writing rituals?
Not really. Doesn’t everyone stagger out of bed at an ungodly hour, richochet off the walls on the way to the kitchen to make coffee, leave a trail of coffee drops back up the stairs to the office, and then stare at the computer screen until their eyes uncross?
With your latest release, did you have any specific inspiration? Did you do anything to help keep you in their world–music or a movie or something?
I read a lot of ghost stories, but specifically, it was the novel’s first line. I don’t where it came from, but I built the entire novel around that first line.
Music would have probably helped, but I’m out of the habit. While I was writing D&D,I had to be able to hear if my husband needed anything and hadn’t collapsed on the kitchen floor.
What is something unusual you do or have done that people normally don’t know or would be surprised to know about you?
I have to scramble to answer that question…I know how to shoot, snare rabbits and make maple syrup–but that the result of a country childhood. I used to be able to translate Anglo-Saxon( with the usual help from glosses and grammars.) I once was a forensic consultant in occult-related material. Once I stabbed my brother in the forehead with a hay fork…
What’s your favourite memory from when you were a child?
Kittens. Striped kittens, marmalade kittens, kittens with three-color patches. Kittens rolling in the sunlight on the wide veranda of my parent’s house… Kittens tumbled on top of each other in a nest in the hay mow. Kittens smelling milky and soft and and sweet.
Which would you rather meet–an alien or a ghost?
Oh, a ghost without doubt. I understand ghosts. I know where they come from.
Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance.
Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband has come to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan’s ghost, but not to become Suspect # 1 for her husband’s murder and reanimation.
But what is most surprising of all is the growing attraction between her and psi-crime detective John Thresher. He thinks that Lillie killed Nathan–and Nathan must agree, because his zombie is seeking revenge. Now she and Thresher must work together to solve her husband’s murder–before his corpse kills her…
I was standing there naked when a dead man sauntered into my bathroom.
That was the first frightening thing. I knew he was dead. I’d seen him buried beneath the cold clay of the old cemetery. His gravestone was due to be delivered within the week.
He sauntered. He didn’t shamble.
That was the second frightening thing, because I always thought such creatures did. Stumble and stagger, that is.
I emitted an “Eeep”–like a paralyzed parakeet–and skittered backward until the shelves holding soaps and pretty bottles bit into my bare behind.
“Nathan!” I gasped. I shouldn’t have. His name stopped the slow, blind swing of the sleek blond head and gave the viscous brown eyes focus. On me.
He curled back his sulky lips and leered.
That was the third frightening thing.
Bernita Harris worked as a short-order cook, a library assistant, and a less-than- serious actress before winning a university fellowship and earning a Masters in English Literature. Subsequently, she worked in public affairs and later as a forensic consultant in occult-related material, events, practices and beliefs.
A Libra and left-handed, she is drawn naturally to the sinister side of justice. She has grown four splendid children and now lives in an old house in the Thousand Islands with a German shepherd, a “mostly” corgi and ten thousand books. A Canadian who hates the cold and thrives on spring, she spends her time writing, tending her herb and flower gardens and negotiating with the dead.
Previous to DARK AND DISORDERLY, her first novel, she has published occasional pieces of non-fiction, poetry and several short stories in the Weirdly anothologies from Wild Child Publishing. You are invited to visit her at An Innocent A-Blog or on Facebook .