Alexie Aaron's popular Haunted Series was born from her memories of fleeting shapes rushing around doorways, an heirloom chair that rocked itself, cold feelings of mysterious dread, and warm feelings from the traces of loved ones long gone. As our Author of the Day, Aaron talks about how she fell in love with her characters, tells us more about The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow and shares some of her own personal paranormal experiences.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow is about.
Mia Cooper, a gifted sensitive, has been thrust into the role of the village freak. She has been whispered about and shunned since she was a young girl who was found screaming in the Big Bear Lake Cemetery. She has finally has found a way to live with her gift, and the town with her, when a team of amateur ghost hunters arrive to investigate a haunted farmhouse bordering the hollow.
The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow is about Mia’s determination to save the Paranormal Entity Exposure Partners (PEEPs) from the rising evil in the hollow that, if left unchecked, will not only take the lives of PEEPs, but the people of the neighboring village of Big Bear Lake.
What inspired you to write about an amateur paranormal team?
I was walking with my son one cold February day, and I was discussing my difficulty of launching my Cin Fin-Lathen mystery series, when he suggested I try writing something else, something different. Being a fan of all reality ghost hunting shows, I set out originally to write a satire on paranormal investigations, injecting humor into even the direst of situations. But then I fell in love with my characters, Mia and Murphy in particular. I decided, instead, to write about paranormal investigators who did things the smart way. For example, if they knew that opening a door was stupid, they went in a window. They would operate on the knowledge is power method.
I also should mention that I have had paranormal experiences as a child and an adult that I can draw upon.
This series consists of 26 books - did you plan from the start to make this into a series?
Originally, I wanted to write a trilogy. I had just published the second eBook, Ghostly Attachments, when the books took off. By Sand Trap, I had quite a loyal following. I had the stories and a bigger arc in mind, so doing a series seemed like a good fit.
It’s important to know that each book has one to three completed stories in them that all relate to each other. I don’t write cliffhangers that force the reader to pick up the next book. There are four novellas included in that count. I tried to write the novellas without advancing the main storyline. These I call PEEPs Lites. They are single serving investigations.
Tell us more about Mia. What makes her tick?
Mia starts off a social misfit. She didn’t have the parental attention she needed when she was young. She’s a bit coarse early on with her language. She’s not happy being in the spotlight. However, she has an organic sense that the balance between good and evil must be maintained. She’s reckless with her personal safety but not with the safety of others. Once Mia loves you, she loves you forever. Her friendship with the ghost of the farm, Stephen Murphy, and her developing affection for members of PEEPs is her saving grace. Through the books, Mia grows emotionally and takes on her constant physical changes with resolve and a lot of humor.
Where does your fascination with the paranormal come from?
In my childhood home, we had an heirloom platform rocker that would rock by itself. It sat in a place of prominence in the living room. One night when a visitor was using my room, I was camped out on the couch beside it. My parents warned me that sometimes the dog may disturb the rocker and it would rock. That night it rocked, but the dog was with me on the couch.
As an adult, a ghost came attached to a crystal door knob we purchased, from a demolished hotel in Boston, for the bedroom door of the master bedroom. She would place a calming hand on my forehead when I was distraught and sing to my daughter at her door at night. My son ventured out late one night and was confronted in the hallway and sent back to bed. She took care of us. I was never afraid of her.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I play alto clarinet and am learning the acoustical bass guitar. I love to play instruments which are responsible for the harmony in musical compositions.
Why do you favor England and South Florida as backdrops for your books?
Actually, I write the Haunted Series using the rich landscapes of Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. My mystery series, Cin Fin-Lathen Mysteries, are set in England and South Florida because I am quite familiar with these areas. Writers do best when they write what and where they know. I know Cornwall, England, South Florida, and the upper Midwestern United States very well.
Readers report that your book kept them at the edge of their seats. How did you pull this off?
I write in a cinematic style. If I’m doing my job right, you’re going to feel like you’re in the room with the characters. You’ll see, hear, smell, and experience everything with them. I use dialogue to move the story. I change the point of view so you can view the event not only from the investigators’ perspectives but by the paranormal entity too.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
For me it’s grammar. I have no problem creating the story, but it’s my editor, affectionally called The Red Pen, who makes it easy reading. She also keeps me on track with the storyline. I write the forest, but I depend on her to not only see each tree but know the history of them too.
Was there a single defining moment or event where you suddenly thought, 'Now I'm an Author,' as in—this is now my career?"
That’s a hard one. I think it was after Sand Trap was released and my readers read the book in one gulp and demanded more. I use the word demanded because they weren’t a very patient group. The more I put out there, the more they wanted. I got the idea that perhaps I could support myself this way and did.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
There are a few dead authors who I’d love to pick their minds, like Dante, Mary Shelly, and Mikhail Bulgavkov. But it would be very difficult to pick one over the other, so I’ll go with a living author whom I have tremendous respect for, Dean Koontz.
Dean Koontz writes fabulous characters and very inventive and complete stories. I never know where he’s going to take me next, what area of society he is going to pull from, or what underdog is going to rise to the top. He’s everything an author should be.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What does an average writing day look like for you?
When I’m writing a new book, I wake very early. Depending on the muse, I could be up at 4AM. I sneak downstairs in my pajamas because I don’t want to wake up my husband. I make coffee, check out the world via the internet, and then write until I’m fatigued. Sometimes I finish at noon. Other times, I return and write until 4PM. Yes, there are interruptions, and I have been known to take a nap. I guess the interesting writing habit is that I write in my pajamas because I don’t want to stop the muse to go up and change. Yes, the UPS man has seen me in my batman PJs well after noon.
What are you working on right now?
I’m doing corrections on the third book of the Cid Garrett P.I. series Tiny Houses, which should be released soon. I just finished the first draft of the 23rd novel of the Haunted Series called The Candle. While writing The Candle, I was so deep into the muse that I’m not sure what else happened in the three weeks it took to complete the first draft. I can tell you that I know more about my series now than I did before writing this novel. It demanded total immersion into the world of the Haunted Series. I loved it!