Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post With Deb Atwood, Plus A Giveaway!

Hello fellow readers!

Today I'm thrilled to be bringing you a guest post by Deb Atwood, author of Moonlight Dancer. I will be reviewing Moonlight Dancer in the upcoming weeks, so be sure to be on the lookout for that. For today's guest post, Deb is going to share her thoughts on the lessons that we can learn from ghosts. I hope that you'll find this as interesting as I did. After the guest post I'll share some information about Deb, and her book, and there will also be a giveaway!

Ghost Lessons: 5 Things the Dead Teach Us About Life

Sometimes I think I look at ghosts in a different light because I’m a writer. The novelist and essayist Leslie What once said, “Ghosts are a metaphor for memory and remembrance and metaphorically connect our world to the world we cannot know about.”

I like that. And I think the reverse is true, too. Ghosts connect us to the world we do know about—our own lives. So, today, we’re going to explore five tips for our lives in film and books, courtesy of the dead.

1. In Life, There Are No Do-overs.
Okay, this one’s a paradox since so often ghosts do get do-overs. Think about the movie The Sixth Sense, for instance. Dr. Malcolm Crowe is haunted by a past error of judgment that resulted in a young person’s death. Along comes Cole Sear, a boy who “sees dead people” but is ill-equipped to handle the otherworldy burden, just like Dr. Crowe’s previous patient. Once again Crowe finds himself fighting for the life and sanity of a young patient, at the same time battling his own self-doubt.

Time and again we see repentant ghosts wandering (even in my own novel Moonlight Dancer), hoping to snag a chance to right a past wrong. But do you really want to be dead to make good? Nope, nor do I. The idea is we have to get it right the first time.

2. For Every Action There Is a Reaction

What’s true in high school physics is true in ghostdom. If we go back (for me, way back) to high school and Hamlet, we know that when Claudius poisons the elder Hamlet, he causes more than a drug-induced chemical reaction. The father apparition soon haunts Hamlet the younger and sets dominoes in play that will catalyze tragedy. And that happens in Wroblewski’s modern The Story of Edgar Sawtelle when Edgar receives parental ghostly instruction that again will impact innocent lives and wreak destruction, all precipitated by a need for revenge.

Take the film The Orphanage. In a moment of parental inattention, Laura’s actions lead to the disappearance of her child. In her quest to find her son, Laura inadvertently and literally opens the door to the lost souls of orphaned children, and this action and reaction will change her forever.

3. Amor Vincit Omnia.
Or, as we say in English, Love Conquers All. This is an ancient theme as old as writing. For this, I like to turn to one of my favorite writers of ghost characters, Alice Hoffman. The idea that love can transcend time and space appears in the magical realist works Practical Magic and TheRed Garden. If you’re like me, you don’t normally pick up short story collections, and had I known The Red Garden contained stories, I wouldn’t have chosen it. But I would have missed out on such a great read! And the fact is, the stories are interrelated and consecutive and demonstrate the ability of love and tradition to tie a community together through joy and pain. And remembrance, re-lived through the annual re-enactment of “The Apparition.”

Then, there’s the iconic movie Ghost that truly exemplifies transcendent love. Sigh. Who doesn’t remember the pottery wheel scene? That scene alone will live forever in memory.

4. We Are Connected in Ways We May Not Know

This is an idea I began playing with when I wrote MoonlightDancer. I imagined a young Berkeley co-ed visited by a 16th century Korean ghost with an agenda. What possible connection could there be between these two? Well, that you can discover for yourself because I’m not going to spill it.

The same mystery plays out in Morrison’s novel Beloved. When the baby ghost emerges from the waters one day, no one at first knows she is the daughter of Sethe, who, years before, made what she considered a sacrifice in order to break the cycle of slavery. In Roberts’ Black Rose, horticulturalist Roz is tormented by an angry ghost, later joining forces with said ghost, only to discover that they are blood-related. I find this twist brings an added layer of poignancy to fiction or film. 

5. Finally, What Matters Most Is What Lies Beneath the Surface.
What Lies Beneath is, in my opinion, an underrated movie. For me, this film has it all—beautiful Claire Spenser (Michelle Pffeifer) as a troubled mom sending her daughter to college, Harrison Ford as the dynamic husband, and the house (and bathtub) with minds of their own. Claire must confront her fears, face her ghosts (both real and personal), and uncover a truth that, though it brings terror and wreckage, will ultimately set her (and us) free.

So, there you have it. Life lessons from a most unnatural source. And whether ghosts are real or merely metaphor, they have much to teach.  

Thank you for joining me today as we wandered through some movies and novels in search of hidden clues to our lives. By the way, I highly recommend all of these books and films for your seasonal ghostly entertainment! Please be sure to share your own beloved spirits and themes in the comments below.

And thank you, Melissa, for this wonderful opportunity to discuss one of my favorite topics: ghosts!

 Each of these are valuable lessons in life. Thank you so much Deb for stopping by today and sharing your thoughts on ghosts, and these important lessons with all of us.

Meet Deb Atwood:

Deb Atwood earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College where she received the Agnes Butler Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction. Her short story “The Gift” took first place in the Robert V. Williams Memorial Contest. The judge, poet Alejandro Murguia, cited “good details heightened to luminous clarity, an ending that resonates like a Buddhist bell.”

. In addition to the novel Moonlight Dancer, Deb’s publications include Natural Bridge, Tales of Academic Survival, Tattoo Highway, Under the Sun and The Writing Lab. Deb is currently at work on the novels The Circle Line and Poseidon and Me.

She lives with her husband and rescue dog Nala in the Pacific Northwest, her human children having already flown the nest.

Moonlight Dancer

Moonlight Dancer

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kendra JinJu MacGregor can resist neither the antique Korean doll in the dusty warehouse nor the handsome Hiro Peretti who sells it to her.

Once she brings the doll home, Kendra pays little attention to misplaced objects or her beloved dog’s fear. That is, until one terrifying night forces her to question her very sanity. Soon, the ethereal, brooding NanJu manifests herself, and Kendra begins her travels through time to 16th century Korea into a history of conflict and intrigue. For Kendra is about to discover the dark past of her ghostly visitor.

Now it’s up to Kendra, with Hiro by her side, to interpret the past and prevent murder. Everything depends upon Kendra’s success, even—she discovers to her horror—her own life.

Sounds interesting doesn't it??

Now, for the giveaway!

Giveaway Details:
The giveaway is for  1 15 dollar Amazon GC, 10 Signed Postcards, 5 Coffee Mugs
There will be 16 winners
The giveaway is open to residents of the US ONLY
This giveaway will run until 12:01 EST on 10-1-12
Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond to their notification email before another winner is chosen.
You DO NOT have to be a follower of Melissa's Midnight Musings to enter. Anyone who does choose to follow is appreciated. :)
There are no mandatory entries, do as many or as few as you like.
All entries will be verified, any false entries will be removed.
The author, not Melissa's Midnight Musings is responsible for the shipment of prizes to the winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is NOT associated, sponsored nor endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or any other social media site.


kimbacaffeinate said...

Great post and you touched on some cool truths!

Deb Atwood said...

Hi, Kim. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for reading!

Flora Foster said...

I thought "The Orphanage" was a great ghost story movie.

Deb Atwood said...

Hi Flora,

I agree. The Orphanage had such emotion and mystery and atmosphere. It's one of my favorites.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed "The Ghost Orchid". I liked the post and I will recall her list of the truth for life a long time. Thank you for the chance to win. A very interesting book by Deb Atwood!
Cyndee Thomas

Deb Atwood said...

Hi Cyndee,

Yes, I reviewed The Ghost Orchid and, like you, found it a good read with lovely, lyrical language.

Good luck with the contest!

Carl V. said...

That was a fun read, and referenced many great movie. I was just thinking about The Orphanage the other day and how I need to rewatch it in October. It has been a few year. One of my more recent favorite fall films.

Deb Atwood said...

Hi Carl,

I think I've seen The Orphanage three times. I'd like to see The Gift again, and if I can summon the nerve, Poltergeist (probably the scariest movie I've ever seen). Then, naturally, on Halloween, it's Hocus Pocus.

Tabby said...

This was quite an informative and interesting read. Definitely got me thinking! Thank you for the enjoyable read.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

I really liked ruined by paula morris. thank you!

Deb Atwood said...

Hi Tabby,

I'm glad you tuned in. Thanks for reading!

Hi Carrie,

I definitely need to check out Ruined. One of my students liked that one also. I love ghosts and old cemeteries! Thanks for the recommendation.

Heather said...

Truthfully one of my favorites is Ghost with Patric Swayze

Deb Atwood said...

I'm with you, Heather. The movie Ghost has it all--suspense, eerie atmosphere, humor, and romantic love. I wish I could turn it on right now and settle into that pottery wheel scene...

Lesley D said...

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz is an awesome ghost story!

Cassandra! :D said...

I love the movie Just Like Heaven. So funny. :)

Kayla E said...

I would have to say for a movie, Casper...cant go wrong with a movie from my childhood... :)

Rachael Browne said...

Lady in White is a classic older ghost movie :-)

Deb Atwood said...


Yes, I read three of Koontz's Thomas books. Of those, I think Odd Thomas is the best. My favorite Koontz book with ghosts is The Face. I especially recommend that one in the audio version.

Deb Atwood said...


I also liked Just Like Heaven. Reese Witherspoon did a fantastic job in that one. (I also loved her in Walk the LIne even though there were no ghosts in that one!)

Deb Atwood said...


Lady in White is a good classic film. It's one of those movies I like better than the book. (Believe it or not, I feel the same way about Woman in Black.)

In the novel Woman in White I didn't love the way the author portrayed the women characters--either weak and in need of male protection or strong but "mannish" and ugly.

Wendi said...

the Movie Ghost is one of my all time favorites

Deb Atwood said...

Hi Wendi,

I love Ghost, too! It never gets old.