As the author, I think it would be fun to play with a ghost in the next book in the Silver Mystery series. The action takes place on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland—an area packed with history and legends.
I need the ghost for the opening scene which takes place on Bruff’s Island. People have been living in the immediate area since the 1600’s.
It should be easy, right? Well, no.
I talked with some local residents whose families date back awhile. No, we don’t know of any ghosts.
One man tried to be helpful. Rumor has it that there is a “hanging tree” in a nearby town. I thanked him, no, no, no. That’s not the spirit I was hoping to find, plus the town is too far away from the action.
A friend said, you’re a fiction writer. Make it up! Well, I guess I could, but it seems like the easy way out. Back to work.
When in doubt, DO THE RESEARCH! I visited my friendly librarian who maintains a section about local history. She rose to the challenge, once again. She found some notes written by someone who did some genealogy work about her husband’s family. Decades ago, she interviewed a woman who grew up on the estate next door. After working my way through pages of her memories as a child, I found it.
She said she remembered “the beautiful Helene with the golden hair” often rode over on a large white horse to have a glass of Madeira on the porch with her father. Truly a time of elegant living. She quickly clarified that Helene wasn’t really interested in her father. She loved to ride sidesaddle and they were one of the few houses that had a block so she could remount.
I’d found my ghost. Who is to say that “the beautiful Helene with the golden hair” isn’t still riding in the area, looking for another glass of Madeira?
When in doubt, DO THE RESEARCH! It should probably be the mantra for every writer because… sometimes the truth with all its details is better than what we can make up!