Hey guys! Today, we have Bryony Pearce ,author of The Weight of Souls, to talk about how she made her ghosts different.
I have spoken elsewhere about how heavily influenced I am by Stephen King (also Macaffrey and Gemmell). King’s ghosts however, are generally evil (think the Overlook hotel), mine are not.
One of themes that runs through my work is ‘man as monster’. My last book, Angel’s Fury, opens with a Nazi murder and deals with the darkness inside the human spirit, the terrible things that man has done to man. In it we look askance at serial killers and Nazis, soldiers, terrorists and more.
The Weight of Souls has at its core a murder mystery, another terrible action that man has done to man. The monsters in The Weight of Souls are not the ghosts; the ghosts are the victims of the monsters.
That does not stop me from making some of them as creepy as possible.
When I first conceived of writing a story about a girl who sees ghosts, I was concerned that it had ‘been done’. Who hasn’t heard “I see dead people.’?
So I had to think of ways to make my story new.
My first change was to make sure that Taylor did not simply see ghosts, she sees murder victims whose deaths have gone unpunished. If one of these ghosts touches her, Taylor is compelled to seek their justice.
Although I knew from that point that I would be writing a murder mystery, I did not want to make Taylor a Nancy Drew character, after all I thought, where is the realism in a teenaged girl solving crimes that the police cannot? And how would she punish the murderers? Make them do her maths homework …
So I gave the ghosts a power. If they are able to touch someone who has Taylor’s power (or curse), they confer upon their skin a black Mark. This Mark (which deserves the capitalisation) calls something named The Darkness to come and take the bearer away for justice.
Obviously Taylor’s job, if she is wearing a Mark, is to find the individual who truly deserves to be bearing it, and transfer it across. Then she can stand back while the Darkness takes them away.
Usually Taylor’s job is easy. The ghosts tell her who killed them. She simply has to locate the killer, touch them and walk away.
The meat of The Weight of Souls lies in the death of one of her schoolmates, a boy Taylor does not even like. Justin is murdered, but he died in such a way that he believes it was an accident. He does not know who his killer is. But his touch has transferred a Mark to Taylor. She has to find his killer before the Darkness comes for her.
There are rules too, to my ghosts and how they can interact with the human world, best explained by Taylor herself …
“I’m not sure how it works exactly. I know you can’t touch anything living, attached to a living thing, or that a living thing is touching directly. … You can sit on your seat, but you can’t touch mine while I’m sitting here. You can’t affect the living in any way. Mum thought it was something to do with resonances. I don’t know.”
“So I could pick up a knife, but not stab someone with it.”
“You don’t have any substance, Hargreaves. You can feel yourself touch things, even knock things over. But you can’t pick anything up; people would notice stuff floating around.”
He frowned. “Okay. You’re touching this bus. Shouldn’t I fall through the floor?”
“Everyone on the bus is wearing shoes, Hargreaves. No-one is touching the floor directly. You won’t fall through it.”
In fact Taylor uses these rules to escape the ghosts who haunt her.
A whoop whistled out of me and I hurled myself towards the road. As the bus passed, I reached for the pole, leaped and swung myself on board.
Immediately I turned. The dead girl was only two steps behind. Quickly I lifted my hand out of her reach, but kept contact with the metal pole. She grinned and reached out, already jumping towards me.
As her hand went straight through the metal her eyes widened. So, she was new enough not to have known about that. Or maybe she was just stupid.
She hit the floor with her chest, her feet dragged on the road and she scrabbled desperately, trying to get the rest of her body onto the bus.
I crouched just out of her reach and looked at her in silence.
“Please,” she begged. “I know you can help me.” She stretched out her hand, as though I’d take it.
I watched her without moving until she lost her grip.
I knew from the outset that I wanted to write a love story, that my human girl would fall in love with my ghostly boy. But I have also wanted for a long time to write about an incubus. With the Weight of Souls I was able to do both.
When Taylor and Justin fall in love and have their first kiss, Taylor is weakened and Justin is suddenly able to change the rules; he can touch things that Taylor is touching and his old girlfriend can see him. It becomes gradually clearer that through the intimacy of their kisses Justin is taking her life force.
Sadly this is not a recipe for a healthy relationship; the living and the dead are not mean for romance.
This is clearly a doomed love.
Or is it?
To find out more about Bryony and her writing, please visit her website www.bryonypearce.co.uk, follow her on Twitter @BryonyPearce or like her facebook page BryonyPearceAuthor.
The Weight of Souls can be foudn on Goodreads and on Amazon.
These ghosts sound cool, right? If you can't wait, or you need a little more convincing, you can read an extract of The Weight of Souls here. Thanks for the post, Bryony!
Finally, you NEED to go visit the rest of the sites on the tour! Big giveaway! More info at Bryony's website :)