Friday, March 27, 2009

Do you believe in ghosts? - Dianne Emley

I recently attended a mystery writers and fans conference where I spoke on a panel with other authors who write books that include ghosts or other paranormal characters. The three books in my “thrillogy” – THE FIRST CUT, CUT TO THE QUICK, and THE DEEPEST CUT -- are romantic suspense thrillers featuring homicide detective Nan Vining.

The thrillogy has an over-arching storyline in which Nan obsessively pursues the creep who attacked her and left her for dead. They also have a subplot in which Nan is haunted by the ghost of a female L.A.P.D. officer whose murder Nan is charged with solving.

At the conference, the time came for audience questions. Someone asked, “Do any of you believe in ghosts?” My colleagues on the panel explained how they enjoy the freedom in writing about characters that are not bound by space and time, and how they like folklore traditions and studying different religions. I was surprised. None of them said they believed in ghosts.

Finally, I spoke up and said, “My husband and I are convinced our house is haunted.”

Well, that got everyone’s attention.

That’s not why I said it. Well, okay, that was part of the reason I said it. I also said it because I believe it’s true.

I’ve always believed in ghosts. I have an early memory of my grandmother telling me about when she was thirteen and saw her recently drowned girlfriend standing at the foot of her bed. I’ve had a few weird, shall we say “ghostly” things happen to me.

The skeptic can explain them away as vivid dreams, strange interplays of lights and shadows, an overactive imagination, or all of the above. My husband tends towards the skeptic camp when it comes to the supernatural.

Until the night we started hearing strange noises in our almost one hundred year old home.

A house that’s that old is unusual in the Los Angeles area. Since I’m always looking for something sinister in the most idyllic locales, I of course wondered if it was haunted. Years passed without any strange occurrences. Then I began occasionally hearing what sounded like footsteps creaking across the hardwood floor in the upstairs hallway.

I did not mention this to my husband. I mean, this was just the old house settling, right? And my vivid imagination…

Until one night… My husband and I were in different rooms that opened onto the hallway when I heard the creaking. He came out and asked, “Were you just walking in the hall?”

Oh oh…

After more footsteps incidents, months later, something else happened. It was night. I was in bed reading. The bedroom door was open and my husband was standing in the hallway adjusting the thermostat outside the door when I clearly heard a voice. It was distinctly female, very resonant, and it sounded like a cross between a sigh and a moan. Scary and definitely there.

I was gazing at the empty hall beyond where my husband was, a chill running down my spine, when he leaned into the doorway and asked, “Did you say something?”

Oh oh…

He described the exact sound I had heard. He went around the house and out the front door looking for the source. Later though, he explained it away as a noise that had come from the heating system. Now, if something is missing or out of place, he’ll jokingly say, “Esmeralda did it.”

Creaky old house and vents or Esmeralda? I’m voting for the ghost.

What about you? Do you believe in ghosts?


Dianne Emley’s THE DEEPEST CUT, the third in her acclaimed Detective Nan Vining trilogy, was just published by Ballantine. It received a starred review from Booklist and is a Romantic Times Top Pick for March. To learn more, visit


Donna Alward said...

I absolutely do! I'm convinced that even if my mum's old house isn't haunted, there's something not right there. It's a feeling, a dread, if you will...about a couple of places in the house. What's cool is that my sister and me and even a few other people have said, yeah. Just those places.

Cool story Dianne!

Donna Alward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RachieG said...

You know, I do. Sometimes I'm kind of like, why in the world would someone die and then just make weird noises around...but too many weird things happen for it to just be coincidence. Plus I have a friend who is absolutely convinced her house is haunted, and I've gotta agree.

Dianne Emley said...

Thanks, Donna and Rachie for your thoughts. My husband's still not quite a believer, but we've had a few more strange things happen recently. Esmeralda is restless!

Helen said...

I don't disbelieve but I often feel that there is somthing around even if I don't hear or see anything just a feeling.
The books sound great Dianne

Have Fun

Michele L. said...

Hi Dianne,

Yes, I do believe in ghosts. My husband had things happen to him out at an old farm house he would stay at with his friends. Late at night they would hear footsteps walking across the front porch and then the door knob was rattled. They looked out and no one was there.

Also, at our own home, we have had some weird things happen. Two months after we moved in, I was asleep in bed, and Al was sitting out in the livingroom watching tv. I was woke up by something, looked up and a man was standing next to my bed. I clearly saw him but he was like a grap apparition. I called out for Al, he came in and I asked him if he was just in my room. He said, "No" he wasn't and was in the living room watching tv. I told him what I saw and he was freaked out.

Also, we have had our pay checks go missing and they always end up behind our stereo later.

Al tells me when I am gone on a vacation the tv won't work. It goes on the blitz and is all staticky.

Also, we hear someone walking in the hallway at night when were trying to sleep.

Al also felt someone poke him in the back in the middle of the night once. He said he was so scared he couldn't sleep the rest of the night.

I felt breathing on the back of my neck another time when I was coming up the stairs from the basement.

We have got to the point that things don't bother us much anymore. Actually I talk to the ghosts and it seems to help.

We have haunted buildings in our town too. In an old store uptown there is an apartment on the top floor. Well, one time in the bedroom, an electrician was working on the light in the ceiling. He said when he walked in, there were dolls sitting at the head of the bed. When he got down from the ladder, all the dolls had moved to the foot of the bed. He was so scared he ran out of there so fast, he knocked the ladder over and never came back.

There are other things that have happened too. It was fun reading your story Dianne! Try talking to your ghost when you enter a room. I think it helps sometimes.

kimmyl said...

I do! I believe their are things out there that can't be explained.

Dianne Emley said...

Wow, Michele! My couple of events pale to what you describe. That's some scary stuff.

Thanks to everyone who commented and shared stories. This has been fun!

Michele L. said...

Hi Dianne,

The things that happened to you are pretty scary if you ask me! I was feeling goose bumps/chills after reading what happened to you. It made me think of the times we had encounters here at our house. I noticed that most of the things that happened to us happened around a full moon. Do you notice when your ghostly encounters happen?

Dianne Emley said...

Michele, I've wondered if there was some timing element involved with the "encounters" at our house. They don't happen all the time. When they do, there seems to be a group of them. Next time (if there is a next time...) I'll take note of the day of the week, month, full moon, etc.