by Laura Spinella
All Aubrey Ellis wants is a normal life, one that doesn’t include desperate pleas from the dead. Her remarkable gift may help others rest in peace, but it also made for an unsettling childhood and destroyed her marriage. Finally content as the real estate writer for a local newspaper, Aubrey keeps her extraordinary ability hidden—until she is unexpectedly assigned the story of a decades-old murder.
Rocked by the discovery of a young woman’s skeletal remains, the New England town of Surrey wants answers. Hard-nosed investigative reporter Levi St John is determined to get them. Aubrey has no choice but to get involved, even at the terrifying risk of stirring spirits connected to a dead woman’s demise and piquing her new reporting partner’s suspicions.
As Aubrey and Levi delve further into the mystery, secrets are revealed and passion ignites. It seems that Aubrey’s ghost gifts are poised to deliver everything but a normal life.
Q&A With Laura Spinella
How to categorize the book was actually the topic of a few lively writer-agent-publisher discussions. The most accurate description is upmarket commercial fiction. It does involve multiple genres, but each plot point piggybacks on the elements of another genre. For example, the paranormal component linked to Levi’s past and the spirit seeking out Aubrey provides the setup for their present day love story. I think it all interconnects as we move from one area of the story to the next.
2) Before becoming a fiction writer, you were a journalist just like your heroine Aubrey. Did you give her any of your other traits?
Aubrey’s character gives as good as she gets when it comes to Levi, particularly in the first half of the book. A few of her more sarcastic remarks could have come out of my mouth. Overall, the thing I love most about creating characters is that you get build an entirely new person, right down to the fine tuning.
3) Your hero Levi is driven, intelligent, brave, with a bit of stubborn thrown in. How did you get to know such a complex character?
You’re very gracious! Levi is a lot of stubborn and then some. I really enjoy writing male characters, almost more than female characters. Levi and Flynn, my main character in Beautiful Disaster, are probably my most complex heroes. I don’t think it’s as much about “how did I get to know him,” as how did I go about creating him. Very slowly, with lots of trial and error—Levi was as much a challenge to me as he is to Aubrey in Ghost Gifts.
4) With a murder mystery to solve and ghostly hauntings, there is a lot going on in your characters’ lives yet they still are able to find romance. Was it difficult writing the relationship aspect of the novel or did Aubrey and Levi just seem to ‘fit’?
To be honest, this did require a bit of extra care. It was easy to get distracted by a murder mystery and ghostly hauntings, lots of details to keep track of. Going in, I knew, of course, there’d be a romance between Aubrey and Levi, so that helped. The love story had to read as “organic,” yet I needed to know what I was growing! I don’t want to sound cliché, but in the simplest of terms it was important that they complete each other. Levi and Aubrey challenge each other, but they also offer things the other is desperately lacking in their life.
5) If you had to pick the most romantic scene in the novel, which would it be?
Probably not the one you’re thinking of! Hands down, the most romantic scene occurs at the end of Chapter 25. No spoilers here, but in a very public setting, Levi—who has trouble with emotion—manages to convey his feelings via a tender gesture that takes Aubrey’s breath away. It’s one of those moments you can’t plan. It just happens.
6) What can readers expect next from you?
I love this question! I’ve been busy! I’m wrapping up the first draft of my sixth novel overall, Unstrung. It’s the tumultuous story of Olivia Klein—a violin virtuoso who is a complete screw up. She clashes a bit with herself and the rest of the world. The story has elements of a black comedy; Olivia can be quite a handful! But you find there’s much more to it as we get to know her equally quirky husband Rob, and Olivia is assigned community service hours for acting out once too often. Of course trouble takes on new meaning when Olivia’s first husband resurfaces, forcing Olivia’s best-kept secret into the spotlight. I love this story because the romance turned out to be the complete opposite of the one I set out to tell.
Even sooner, The Mission, Book Two in my Clairmont Series Novels will be out this spring! But you have to look for them under my pen name L. J. Wilson. The stories of the Clairmont family—The Tribe of Five—are steamier romantic suspense novels. You can learn more via my LauraSpinella.net website, or you can pop right over to LJWilson.com.
Connect with Laura Spinella