Monday, May 18, 2009

Growing up paranormal...

I've been thinking lately about what inspired me to write paranormal stories. I've always been drawn to romance, but my first romances were Regency romances. Those are the stories that will stay in the boxes they now inhabit for very good reason although I'm going to try my hand at Regency romances again one day.

I realized as I considered why I write paranormal, that I was inspired by my parents. My sister (who's ten years older than me) and I sometimes joke that we had different parents. It's a joke...and it isn't. Her parents were traditionalists who attended church every Sunday. My parents (at least once we hit the late 1960s and early 1970s) were the free thinkers.

My father posed the question first. What do you think of reincarnation? My mom was horrified and she told him so. But she couldn't stop thinking about it. Meanwhile, I think my dad just read up on his own. Finally, my mother went out with a woman friend. They were sitting in a car chatting and started asking questions about religion. Years later, mom told me they seriously feared the car would be struck by lightning because they had the temerity to "question God." They didn't question God. They questioned what they'd been taught all their lives. It was with this set of parents I grew up.

Both Mom and Dad investigated religious thought, but they came at it from different directions. I think Dad read books on eastern religions first while Mom went exploring what she didn't know about early Christianity. I remember her getting two freaking huge books through interlibrary loan with bizarre names. They were called the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. She poured over these books. Her intense interest fascinated me.

My parents had long conversations about what they'd found. My mom's best friend also researched and I remember hearing mom talk with Valda about all kinds of things. Most of it was over my head back then. Stuff like automatic writing, spirit guides, reincarnation, and psychic phenomena. As I got older, Mom talked to me about it.

All of this made me very open minded about the possibilities of anything paranormal or New Agey. I read the Shirley MacLaine books avidly and books on astrology and reincarnation. I didn't know if I believed it all, but I knew it fascinated me. When my dad died in the late 90s, we had unfinished business between us. Angry stuff. Lots of fighting. I kept wishing I could communicate with him so we could work things out - but it was too late. Well, I was wrong about that.

Dad chose to be cremated and so Mom and I had to drive across the state of Iowa in order to get to his memorial service. The car was NOT in good say the least. I was driving along a main drag in the town we lived in then and I was thinking "where do I get this stupid car fixed?" I looked over to the right and saw a repair shop and could hear in my brain that I should get the repairs done there. I was sure it was my dad, but you know how you have those thoughts - I thought maybe I just made it up.

Well, a few months later. Mom and I had moved to another city and I was attempting to put together a cabinet to hold some of my mom's clothes. She was standing over me offering "suggestions" about how to do the job while I grumbled. I was so struck by the thought of dad at that moment and suddenly heard, "Now, you know how I felt." I burst into laughter and mom asked me what was funny. I told her and we both laughed. That definitely came directly from my dad. The words were in his speech patterns, his was him. I know it. Hearing from him off and on has repaired the pain of the past. In fact, I feel like we've come to an understanding. Maybe it's nuts, but hey, it works for me.

Years later, after my mom passed away the mental conversations stepped up because I hear my mother's voice often. No, I'm not schizophrenic. The voices I hear don't tell me I'm terrible or that I should hurt myself or others. Instead, the voice I hear is a cheerleader and she's full of humor. She says, "yes, you can." She says, "I told you so." When the voice says I told you so - I know it's my mom.

It's wonderful to hear her, but it's bittersweet too. I love knowing she's nearby and she cares about me, but I can't give her a hug anymore. I really miss that. Just like I miss her. In fact, when I wrote Seeking Truth, there's a character who is dying. I used the feelings I've had about losing my parents to make the story emotional. Every time I read the scene I cry. If not for them, I don't think I would have taken the chance to write. I also don't think my writing would have the depth of emotion I feel it has.

Growing up paranormal was good for me and I'm really glad I have a chance to express myself through my writing. So what made YOU read or write paranormal stories? Is it just for fun or do you think anything is possible and some of this stuff might be real?


Paris said...

Thanks so much for sharing such personal experiences. If not for the encouragement of people like you, who share what's happening in the world around us many of us would feel as if it were only happening to them.

Francesca Hawley said...

Thanks Paris and thanks for commenting. I still sometimes feel like I'm weird, but at least my experiences have gotten a bit more mainstream. It's very cool to watch "The Medium" or "Ghostwhisperer." My family discussions aren't nearly that concrete, but I don't feel so alone either.

Minx Malone said...

That almost made me cry because my father has also passed away.

I think I love paranormal so much because without the hope that there's something MORE out there, I think I would go crazy. I love the idea that things are not always as they seem and that the impossible just might be possible.

It's as they say "Hope springs eternal"


Francesca Hawley said...

I agree completely. It's hard to lose a loved one and when you're blessed with the opportunity to reconnect with them, I think all of us would grab it. Makes me think of two Diamond Rio songs that ALWAYS make me cry - "I Believe" and "One More Day."

I also love the song "The Highwaymen" because for me it was the story of one soul's journey via reincarnation. I guess it depends on how you listen just what you hear. ;-)

Savanna Kougar said...

Francesca, thanks for sharing. Nope, you are not alone. I grew in a similar manner where my parents were basically free thinkers. Then my and I when I was around thirteen, began exploring paranormal subjects in a similar manner. Much later my Dad joined in... he's passed over and I do feel his presence at times.

Actually, the whole fascination with the paranormal and the mystical and with magic has been with since I was born.

"The Highwaymen" is one of my faves, too.

Francesca Hawley said...

It's always interesting to meet other people who've grown up similarly to me as well as those who are different. Our environment makes us all truly unique. Thanks for sharing!

Yeah - I heard The Highwaymen when it first came out and fell in love with the song. Especially Johnny Cash's deep voice as he sings how "I'll be back again, and again, and again..." :-)