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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Hills

The Romance Author with the Flashlight

It’s true. I’m a ghost hunter. But sometimes I wonder, who is hunting who? Spirits often sneak up on me. (Don’t laugh) I find them at the strangest times and in odd places. Even when I’m not holding my favorite ghost-hunter flashlight. They surprise me, so I think it’s only fair they end up in a book.

It was a cold December day when I first visited the house that inspired Haunting Highland House. It’s not a spooky place. In fact, it’s quite lovely. On that particular day it was decorated for the Christmas holiday, so not scary at all. But looking up from a visitor’s parking lot, I had to ask the person I was with, “Is this place haunted?” The impression was instantaneous. Like a clap of thunder, it shocked me. I’d not expected to encounter ghosts.

It happens to me all the time. Somehow “knowing” or “feeling” a place has spirit energy. It’s probably happened to many of you. I’ve tried to capture that feeling on page one when my heroine, Samantha Merrill, first arrives at Highland House.

Samantha Merrill stared in disbelief at the scene outside her car window. Highland House was much bigger than she had imagined, like a dark, mysterious island looming amidst a sea of manicured lawns. A skittish combination of uncertainty and anticipation coursed through her body as her fingers drummed the steering wheel.

Despite concerns, Sam agrees to be the property manager of the historic estate. Three hundred isolated acres and an old Victorian mansion. What could go wrong? It only takes one night to discover she’s sharing Highland House with a ghost – the handsome master of the house, Robert Pennington, who died over a century ago. Doubting the existence of ghosts, as many do, Sam bravely takes on the “man” when he demands she leave.

“Wait, what? I just got here,” she yelled, chasing him down a long, dark hallway until the door at the end slammed shut in her face. Bursting through, she slid to a halt. He was gone. Dim light and chilly air made the place feel like a mausoleum. Her skin crawled as if a thousand sticky cobwebs wrapped around her all at once. She rubbed her arms against the unnerving sensation.

That “unnerving sensation,” the feeling of “a thousand sticky cobwebs” wrapping around you all at once, is a real thing for me. I’ve heard it called a spirit kiss, but to me it feels like a rush of energy. As if something, or someone, passes through me. The most memorable time it happened was in a cemetery dating back to the 1700’s. Again, not something I’d planned. It was a steamy August afternoon, and I was simply doing what I do, being a history buff and taking pictures. Yet there it was – that creepy feeling followed by a strong rush of energy – and it stopped me in my tracks.

Brushes with the paranormal seem to just happen to me, and I’m guessing they happen to others, too. I’ll admit I find it fascinating. I don’t have answers for skeptics – I’ll keep hunting for those – but my writing is infused with personal experiences. Goosebumps, the sense of being watched or that you’re not alone. Hair blowing in a cold breeze…inside! Being touched when no one is there. It’s quickly followed by the thought you might be just a little bit crazy. Did that really happen? Until it happens again, and you gasp.

It’s the stuff of magic and mystery. Halloween shivers all year long, and I love it! I hope you love it, too. If you do, let this ghost hunter…this “romance author with the flashlight” …tell you a story. I promise to leave you wishing your bedroom was haunted by a handsome ghost.

*This post first published in's The Scratching Post Blog*

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