Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mara Purhagen: Researching Past Midnight...

Today I'm pleased to welcome Mara Purnhagen, author of the Past Midnight series, to my blog! I had the opportunity to read and review the first book in the series and I must say, I'm hooked!

Mara has been sweet enough to stop by today with a guest post about the research that went into her books. So, without further ado, Mara take it away!

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My research for the Past Midnight series began purely by accident. I was a college freshman, and at the time, my life revolved around a busy class schedule, not annoying my hyper-sensitive roommate, and finding a decent party on Friday night. The local news did not fit into my thought process.

It was October, my favorite month as a Midwestern girl. I looked forward to the changing leaves and cooler weather and opportunity to wear earth-toned sweaters. One morning, as I prodded lukewarm pancakes with a plastic fork in my dorm’s cafeteria, I came across a newspaper someone had left behind on a nearby table.

This was before instant internet news, so I read it as I nibbled on spongy scrambled eggs. After perusing articles about local crime and politics, I stumbled across a feature story about a woman who had paid a visit to her childhood home after several decades abroad. The new owner of the home offered the woman a brief tour, during which she asked, “Was it haunted when you lived here?”

The woman was startled. Her childhood home had never held even the hint of a ghost. The new owner went on to describe a terrifying experience she’d had several times since moving in: a child’s cold hands would press against her face in the middle of the night, causing her to bolt upright in her bed.

The woman had a strange epiphany. She had often woken her mother up in the middle of the night by pressing her hands on her face. The ghost was her.

The story captivated me. Could the living actually haunt the living?

It’s the theory of residual energy, a theory that would drive Past Midnight. I liked the idea that the paranormal may simply be a normal we haven’t yet figured out. Maybe the footsteps people hear in an otherwise empty house are simply the echo of history. So many apparitions have been photographed on stair cases. What if that’s because people went up and down their stairs so much that the action left an imprint? That glimpse of something wispy could just be a glimpse of the past, which may still be a slightly spooky experience, but not nearly as eerie as the thought that an active presence is wandering around your kitchen, looking over your shoulder and watching you as you sleep.

Charlotte Silver, the main character in Past Midnight, has grown up believing in residual energy. Her parents are ghost debunkers who travel the world making documentaries. They don’t believe in ghosts—until something happens that challenges their theories.

While I think the concept of residual energy explains a lot, I don’t think it explains everything. Really, can one single theory contain all that we don’t know or understand about the paranormal? Probably not. But the next time I hear something go bump in the night, I think I’ll chalk it up to the living— and wonder if hundreds of miles away, in my childhood home, someone is being “haunted” by me.

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Thank you so much Mara for stopping by!


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