It’s always a weighty and relevant choice when an author chooses which point of view to use for his writing. Traditionally I’ve leaned heavy on third person limited. In A Ghost of a Chance, I was able to use it to inject the book with plenty of Jack Brennan’s sarcasm without sacrificing the ability to give a coherent view of what was unfolding in the novel. It also seemed easier to use that POV in shifting between his viewpoint and Hallie Barkley’s, the quirky heroine. In Sanctuary of Echoes, third person was also extremely useful in that the POV was not only shifting between multiple characters but also multiple time frames.
My first real dalliance with first person came with the novella Ghost Soldier. Ghost College, the first book in the series, was written entirely in first person POV through the eyes of Monty Drew. This presented me with a bit of a dilemma as some of the action in my book, Ghost Soldier, would involve Ellen Drew, Monty’s psychic wife with him absent. It was an interesting choice I made in shifting from Monty’s first person POV at times to Ellen’s third person limited POV. I suppose I broke some rule in some far distant realm, but it actually suited the story. Monty had such a strong, pragmatic, sarcastic personality where most of the humor was generated from, and in contrast Ellen was more sensitive and cognizant of everything around her. Using the different POVs actually helped to illuminate their personalities as well as further the action of the piece.
Following in that vein I decided to incorporate two different POVs in my latest novel The Witches’ Own for slightly different reasons. If you remember Henry James’ famous novella The Turn of the screw his lead narrator was a governess written in first person. In that book, as was his intent, the fallibility of the narrator came into question. Was she really seeing ghosts and did she act justly? Or the more disturbing choice was she herself crazy and the whole thing in her mind? The lead character in The Witches’ Own is a writer of horror stories who has relocated to a remote coastal town of Virginia for several months. Doing research for a book he discovers the history of a young woman who was hanged for witchcraft in the 1600s. And then he begins to see her. The question that’s always out there because of the first person POV is whether this is indeed in his mind as he himself wonders or if not. . . Within the book when I am writing about other characters I use the third person limited POV to give a more stable narration.
It’s always an interesting and significant choice for a writer, which POV to choose and how it will ultimately impact the project.
Earlier this year I was presented with an interesting and challenging prospect, crafting a novella for an ebook series that had already been created called The Ghost Files. The Ghost Files, created by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain, followed the adventures of a husband and wife paranormal investigating team and had been originated in a novella called Ghost College. The challenge for me was first meshing into a series that already existed and second creating a unique tension between horror and humor which seemed inherent in the first book.
The paranormal aspects of the book were no problem. Ever since A Ghost of A Chance I’ve been weaving paranormal plotlines also laced with plenty of humor. But the balance I was looking for in Ghost Soldier needed to be a bit thicker and edgier than I had crafted before. I remembered an old movie, which actually came out when I was in college, called “An American Werewolf in London.” In some ways I think it qualifies as a cult classic because it pretty much broke the mold of horror movies. One minute you were more than sure you were knee deep in a comedy and next you were plunged into quite unexpected and somewhat gruesome horror.
It was that element I decided to incorporate into Ghost Soldier, a sort of jagged balance where one minute Ellen and Monty Drew were quipping back and forth in light banter and the very next there is a ghost blowing his brains out literally. I strove for an uneven and jagged and hopefully jarring balance in the book to give the reader as many unexpected bumps along the way as I could.
I am presently knee deep in the second draft of my latest novel The Witches’ Own. This book I would definitely call a departure from my usual style. All of my books tend to have a paranormal frame, but this one in particular definitely has more of a horror edge. The genesis of this book was actually a very scary dream I had over twenty years ago. One that oddly enough stuck with me and now has evolved into something quite different. The book takes place in several different time frames, one being New England in the 1600s so I’ve found it necessary to look up some of the old Cotton Mather sermons on witchcraft to get a feel for the Puritanical speech. Just reading over those accounts of demonic possessions and accusations of witchcraft really leaves you with an eerie and disturbed feeling. What a truly claustrophobic and treacherous time that must have been to live in. Freedoms, fairness, and legal recourse we take for granted just didn’t exist. In any case I’m looking at an early September release date for this book. I’ll keep you updated.
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