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There’s nothing like a good ghost story — and a good ghost town.
Well, Lily, Arizona, isn’t exactly a ghost town. People have lived in it since the town was founded in the late nineteenth century. It’s small — and it has an appropriate ghost-town history, and if all the people were suddenly to disappear, it would certainly look like a classic ghost town.
In The Night is Watching, Agent Jane Everett (who belongs to the Krewe of Hunters, an FBI team that investigates the unusual) arrives to take what should be a simple assignment. She’s been asked to reconstruct the image of a once-living person from the skull that’s recently been found at the Lily, the theater in this small town. The theater’s an enterprise that’s managed to thrive at times — offering a little more than the strictly theatrical — and survive at others. But now bodies start popping up, and Jane has to work with the local sheriff, Sloan Trent, to find out what’s going on.
I never managed to get west of the Mississippi until I was an adult. We’d traveled a great deal; I’d been to the Great Pyramids, Europe and parts of Asia. I’d just never managed to see the western part of my own country. But once I went west, I loved it! There’s an allure to the Old West — something wonderfully rugged about it, and for an easterner, the landscape is so different, so fascinating. Friends took me to Tombstone, Arizona, and it was one of those places where you could easily imagine the past. Okay, minus a few of the souvenir shops, but, still… You could picture the mud when it rained and understand why they raised the sidewalks. You could practically see women walking in their long dresses and cowboys bellying up to the bar.
In my fictional town of Lily, Arizona, the silver mines have dried up; tourism is the new economy and retaining the past is the tourist draw. I’m interested in the tenacity that can be in people. Their love home that is so great, they’ll work to preserve it. So, in Lily, the small population holds on, and teaches new groups of travelers — many of them easterners, like me — the history of the Old West.
Of course, I love theater, too. Creating a haunted theater was incredible fun. And creating the ghost of a long-gone diva — a wronged diva — was fun, too.
Another aspect of history has always intrigued me is that of the Native Americans. Well, no way out of it — the European/American population of our country was responsible for terrible things when we determined that the indigenous people were savages to be annihilated or moved. The culture is so rich and varied, and the spirituality to be found among the different tribes and nations is really beautiful.
Naturally, the hero has a past in which he should be aware of that spirituality.
And a long dead great-great grandfather who comes in now and then to remind him of the past ... and where we should head in the future. A great-great grandfather who happened to be around in the days of the wronged diva — who, incidentally, happened to be another ancestor of Sheriff Sloan Trent’s. It’s all good, because he and Jane Everett are going to need their help to escape the evil-doers seeking treasures from the past. So… welcome to Lily! Where the past never dies…
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