My Transition from Contemporary Romance to Paranormal
By Natalie-Nicole Bates
I haven’t always been a writer. From childhood, I was a voracious reader. As an adult, I segued into book reviewing. It has only been in the last year or so when I made the transition into writing. If you had asked me six months ago what genre I wrote, I would have responded, contemporary romance.
Indeed, my first novel is a contemporary romance called Change of Address, was released by Secret Cravings Publishing this January.
I have always been a fan of the paranormal genre. But as a book reviewer, I have seen it all—vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, even zombies. The paranormal genre has always been popular, but has exploded over the last few years. Writers are writing it well, too. I felt an inclination towards the genre, but I knew that if I wanted to writing paranormal, I was going to have to find a fresh idea.
The inspiration found me. I am an avid collector of Victorian and Edwardian-era photographs. To me, there is much beauty in these black and white stills. This past spring, I found a photograph from an online seller that completely captivated me. The size of a postcard, but printed on a much thicker stock was the image of a funeral home (I come from a long line of folks in the funeral care business). Outside, a very handsome man stands proudly with his hands clasped in front of him, most likely one of the owners at the time. Although the photo is slightly faded, you can still clearly make out the reflection in the glass of a black funeral carriage tied with elaborate ribbons. The back of the photo reads in very elegant script, Week of Oct-11-1896.
Although the photo was pricy, I splurged and bought it for myself.
When I finally held it in my hands, I was in love. It was then that an idea occurred to me. What if a very lovely lady who is just starting out in the funeral business buys this particular funeral home, determined to restore it to its former glory. And what would happen if one night this woman was visited by the very handsome man in the photo who claims to still own the funeral home?
To me, the idea seemed like a good one. He wasn’t a ghost or a vampire. The closest I could describe him is as a dybbuk. In Jewish folklore, the wandering soul of a dead person that enters the body of a living person and controls his or her behavior.
This is how Antique Charming came to be. I get frequently asked why this story is so short. My reason is because Antique Charming was never meant to be a full-length novel, but more a delightful bite to be enjoyed by the reader. Perhaps at some future time I will speak with my publisher about turning it into a full novel. But for right now, my photographs are inspiring a few more paranormal spins. Look out for the release of See Me, from Leap of Faith Publishing.
Third-generation funeral director Lizzie Morton is about to have her dream realized. She has purchased the long abandoned Nichols Funeral Home and its upstairs flat, determined to restore the funeral home to its once former glory. But a late night visitor, Adam Nichols, claims the funeral home still belongs to his family. Lizzie scoffs at his odd behavior and outlandish claims, but when a vintage photograph appears, she soon realizes, to her horror, that Adam Nichols did once own the funeral home—more than one hundred years ago—and now she has allowed this entity to pass into her home.
She heard it again.
The same time as last Friday night.
Three taps at her front door.
Lizzie muted the television, tossed the blanket off of her body and scurried out of bed. She slipped her robe over her shoulders and tied it securely, determined to find out who in the world would knock at her door at three in the morning. By the time she had reached the door the week previous, no one was there. The street had been dark and still.
It had to be a mistake. She had only recently closed sale on the long abandoned funeral home, determined to restore it to its once former glory. She had only been living in the upstairs flat for a few weeks.
As she hurried down the staircase, each step beneath her feet creaked in protest. There was no one visible through the peephole. She unchained the door and opened it just enough to peek around it.
No one was there, just like the previous week.
The street was dark and quiet. Not even the whisper of a wind could be detected. Only the cold dampness of the October night raised a chill on her skin.
Who was playing this weekly joke on her? Could it be the ghosts of some departed soul who had passed through the halls of Nichols Funeral Home sometime during the past century? A small smile crossed her lips as she prepared to close and lock the door. She was a third generation Funeral Director. Did she now believe in ghosts?
Before the door could close, a hand poked into the slight space and seized her wrist. A cry rose in her throat and she jerked backward, but the hand held tight and the door flung open.
The man emerged, shrouded in darkness. He was an ethereal creature, tall, and dressed in anonymous black. Only a streetlight glowed behind him.
“I’m home,” he announced.