Saturday, March 9, 2013

Alibi's Ghosts, The Larger-Than-Life Small World of a Medium's Daughter by L. S. Hullinger: Character Interview and Excerpt



CHARACTER INTERVIEW with Alibi, the main character.

Tell us about your family.

My family. Hmm. Are we talking about the living ones or the non-living ones that hang out at my house? Living, there’s just me, my mom and dad. Non-living, there’s Grandpa Edgar and my cousin Kyle. 

So, as you have probably guessed, we keep secrets that normal people might not accept or will hold against us if they find out. Sometimes it makes us look standoffish. But we’re not. We are friendly people. Or at least we try to be under the circumstances.


You see, the minute you tell someone that a family member listens to dead people talk and relays messages to their grieving loved ones, people start looking at you funny.


Actually, there are usually two types of reactions. One is they raise their eyebrows, take a few steps backward and say, “O-kaaay. See ya.”  The other is they duck their head a little, give a knowing smile then ask, “Really? Think she will do that for me?”


It’s not an easy position to be in. So, we usually keep it quiet. Dad is cool with it. He’s learned to accept Mom’s ‘weirdness.’

Trouble is, I’ve started hearing and sometimes seeing those folks on the Other Side, mostly Grandpa Edgar and my cousin Kyle. They sometimes influence my behavior. And Dad’s not used to that. But, he is in what Mom calls a state of acceptance now. He’s given my ‘weirdness’ a nickname: A case of the H.I.B.E.S. (Heavily Influenced By Entity Spirits) 


So, as a family, we spend more time trying to look normal than anything else and it’s soooo exhausting! We had to stop inviting visitors to our home because the living ones weren’t always ready to accept the non-living ones when they appeared unannounced, blasting the volume on our TV, slamming doors and floating aromas (that were not always pleasant—Kyle brought in a dead skunk one time—Mom was not happy!). And my best friend, Daisy, has agreed to a sleepover many times and always finds an excuse to go home shortly after she arrives. The only reason she stayed that one night was because her mom was out of town and she had no choice.


I used to find it rude when the Other Side just arrived, uninvited, making all kinds of annoying noises, smells, and interfering with our appliances. But, then Mom asked me, “Ali, if you desperately wanted to talk to me and you were now invisible, how would you get my attention?”


So, I try to be more understanding toward the spirit world. Kyle doesn’t make it easy though. He loves it that he can play pranks on me and never get into trouble. He crossed over with Grandpa Edgar in a car accident when he was about my age and he has not matured even a little bit! 

What was the scariest moment of your life?

I’d have to say it was the night Grandpa Edgar walked out of my closet. After he had died. I Super-glued my door shut the next day. Dad wasn’t too happy and Mom said that it wouldn’t help. Grandpa Edgar was my first ‘ghost viewing’ and he’d probably be back. And she was right.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

I’d apologize to my Grandma Shirley for putting my Easy Bake oven cake pan, filled with gooey chocolate cake mix, in the slot of her old VCR and hitting the fast forward button. I was about 7 and at the time it seemed like such a good idea. But she moved away and later died before I got the chance to say I was sorry. I have a feeling she suspected it was me, but she never accused me. She was that way. And those few times we talked on the phone never seemed like the right time to bring it up. Mom says writing her a note now is just as good because the spirit world enjoys a good handwritten letter now and again.

What would we find under your bed?


Well, with having a prank-playing non-living cousin like Kyle, there is no telling. But the rest of the time, you might find my cat, Grimalkin.

What makes you happy?

Low humidity. (I have naturally curly hair.) Finding something I thought I’d lost forever. (Sometimes visiting spirits hide my stuff to get my attention.) When Daisy’s brother, Oak, talks to me like I’m more than just his sister’s best friend. (Okay, yes, I have a little crush on him.) And finally figuring out what the messages from the spirit world really mean. (And no, things are never what they seem.) But, definitely not in that order.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?  


Yes. “It looks like it’s going to be another one of those days when the dead won’t stop talking and the living won’t listen.”

 Alexandra ‘Alibi’ Vernon is the eleven-year-old daughter of a psychic medium whose behavior is repeatedly influenced by kids from the Other Side. From building sub sandwiches in her sleep to sneaking into a stranger's attic, Alibi has her innocence challenged on a regular basis. Since her mother is fairly new at medium work, she only schedules two readings a week. However, this particular week, she accidentally schedules five readings, five days in a row. During this time, each child from the Other Side has a mysterious clue for Alibi to unravel, and she begins to notice each clue is connected in some way with the other readings. With a bit of ghostly charade playing, lots of trouble dodging, and the help of her deceased relatives: Grandpa Edgar and Cousin Kyle, along with her living but scaredy-cat best friend, Daisy, Alibi is able to solve the mystery and help all five grieving parents simultaneously.


Later that evening, after Mom and Dad left for dinner, Daisy and I decided to watch the movie in the family room. But, first we made the popcorn and poured glasses of lemonade. Mom made it extra sweet just how I like it.
But after it was over and we’d taken our bowls into the kitchen, I saw Kyle walking by on the second floor landing.
Dread pressed down on me like heavy hands. That was not what I wanted to witness right now, especially with Mom and Dad gone. And Daisy visiting. Hadn’t he done enough for one day?
Daisy noticed me looking upstairs. “What ‘cha looking at?” she
asked grinning.
I shrugged looking away from her.
Daisy’s grinning lips slowly shifted to a fearful ‘O.’ “Is there a ghost here right now?” she whispered.
“I thought I heard a noise,” I lied.
“A noise?” Daisy’s voice pitched higher.
“Probably just a mouse,” I said.
“A mouse?” Daisy squealed.
What was I thinking? “No. Not a mouse. I just need to go upstairs and check something out,” I said as casually as I could. “Can you take the bowls to the kitchen please? I’ll be right back.”
Daisy stared at me, her eyes wide.
“Please,” I begged.
I watched her walk into the kitchen, constantly looking back at me. Then I climbed the stairs two at a time and reached the second floor. I looked first toward the third floor door, but it was shut. I looked the other way toward my room, and noticed a sparkly glow coming from Mom’s office.
When I reached her doorway, I peeked in.
Grandpa Edgar sat hunched over at Mom’s desk listening to a tape in her tape recorder. He frowned and then smiled. Frowned and then smiled.
I drew in a breath. “Grandpa Edgar,” I said softly. “What are you doing?”
“Ain’t this some fascinatin’ stuff?” he asked. “Your Mama is tellin’ that lady about a dog collar and comic books and paintings and the like, and that lady don’t know a thing of what she’s talking about.”
“Daisy’s here,” I whispered.
“Don’t ‘cha think I know that, Ali-girl?” he said with a grin. “That’s why I’m here.”
“I can’t let her know I see you,” I said.
“Maybe this time it’ll be worth it to ya.” He chuckled and wheezed.
I wasn’t sure I knew what he meant. Before I could ask him to
explain, his form began shimmering like steam on hot pavement. “Take a chance this time, Ali-girl. It’ll be worth it to ya.” And he was gone.
I slipped out of the room and hurried down the hall. Daisy was waiting at the foot of the stairs. I waved her to come up.
Daisy lifted one foot onto the first step then hesitated. “Any vacationing ghosts checked in?”
I smiled. “None that I don’t know.”
Daisy gave me a puzzled look then seemed to take forever to reach the second floor. I kept motioning for her to come on but she seemed to be ignoring me. I didn’t know if she was stalling or afraid or what. 
“I’m coming. I’m coming,” she said.
When she finally reached where I stood, we both heard a loud scattering sound as if someone had turned a fan on to a pile of papers.
She grabbed my arm and held firm. “What was that?” she said short of breath.
My own breathing had quickened. “I don’t know.” I turned. “But I think it’s coming from Mom’s office.”
Slowly, I dragged Daisy’s heavy resisting body along with me down the hall. “Come on,” I’d have to say every few minutes.
By the time we’d reached the office doorway, most of Mom’s papers and brown envelopes were scattered all over the floor.
I knew she was going to be so angry when she saw the mess. Those papers and envelopes were for the clients.
She always took notes and drew sketches prior to a reading and mailed them to the client afterwards, along with their tape if they paid extra.
From the looks of it, everyone that week had paid extra but none of the pages were labeled or numbered.
I looked at the scattered papers and brown envelopes. “Mom is going to be so mad,” I said to Daisy.
Mom took her reading work seriously and if she thought she wouldn’t be able to send the clients what they paid for. . .well, I just
didn’t know what she’d do.
The open window caught my eye, and before I could point it out to Daisy, a huge black crow swooped down and landed on the window sill.  Caw! Caw!”
Daisy saw it, screamed, and ran out of the room.
“Kyle!” I whispered as harshly as I could, looking around for him. “That’s not funny! You’re going to scare her to death!”
The crow rolled its yellow eye toward me.
“Go away, Poe!” I shooed it with my hand.
It lifted its sharp beak as if to caw one last time but turned and flew away.
I hurried out of the room and found Daisy standing frozen, her
back against the wall at the far end of the hallway. “Is. . .it. . .still. . . in. . .there?” she said in slow breaths.
I shook my head. “It flew away.”
She let go of a sigh bigger than the breeze we’d heard. “Whew wee!” she said and slumped down to the floor. “That’s a relief. You know I’m terrified of black birds.”
I sat down beside her. “I know.”
“Come on. Help me pick up the papers in Mom’s room. She’s going to be so mad if she thinks we did that.”
“Did you close the window?” she asked.
“No, but I will.”
“Okay. Just give me a minute to catch my breath.”
After securing the window down, I peeked out the door and gestured for Daisy to come in.
She stepped inside and gripped the doorframe with the look in her eyes that she was preparing to bolt back out the door at any minute. Her gaze scanned the room. “Think there could be another bird hiding in here somewhere?”
I shook my head and squatted down, starting to gather the scattered papers. “No.”
After about five loud breaths of relief and dramatic forehead wiping, (which she realized I had begun to ignore after two—I had more to worry about at the moment) she finally joined me and picked up some papers.
Occasionally, she’d study one as if to see if it made sense to her. “Your mother doesn’t draw very well,” she stated holding up a picture of what looked like a boot.
“That’s not so bad for a boot,” I said in defense.
“It’s not a boot. It’s Italy,” she said pointing to the scribbled word beneath it. She giggled.
I was relieved that she hadn’t lost her sense of humor and wasn’t heading toward our phone to call someone, anyone, to come and get her.
“We can put them all back together,” Daisy said, continuing to sort and turn the pages around correctly.
“How? I don’t know what order she wrote them in. There are no page numbers,” I said.
“No, but if you look carefully you can see they are written differently,” she said and pointed to larger handwriting on some and tiny on others.
“Hmmm,” I said studying a sheet. “I wonder why she does that.”
“Maybe the spirits write through her and have different handwriting,” Daisy said.
“Hmmm. . .” I said then laughed. “How’d you get so good at this kind of stuff?”
“I watch a lot of Bewitched,” she said and laughed. Then she frowned. “Mom said it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to watch Ghost Whisperer yet.”
“So she still doesn’t know what Mom does?” I asked.
She shook her head. “No way! She would have never let me come over. She’s more scared of this stuff than I am. The real reason she doesn’t let me watch Ghost Whisperer is because she’s afraid of it. I know because I heard her talking about it on the phone one time to her friend, Jan, and she said the show gives her
“Well, if she could only see you now, huh?” I said and sat down hard on the floor smiling at her. “Daisy, ghost detective.”


L. S. Hullinger has had short stories, essays, and articles published in literary and commercial magazines as well as newspapers since 1989. Recently, she has published two middle grade paranormal mysteries: Alibi's Ghosts, The Larger-Than-Life Small World of a Medium's Daughter, and Cydni Hazard, Empathic Detective. She currently lives in the United States with her family.

Comment on this blog post with your answer to the question for a chance to win
 a Kindle formatted copy of Alibi's Ghosts.
Author will choose 2 winners. Giveaway ends March 30th.

If you were invisible and couldn’t be heard, what single thing would you do to let your loved one know you were in their presence?
· Blast their car radio with your favorite song.

· Create the scent of roses and float it by them.

· Make a can of Dr. Pepper fall out of a drink machine when they walk past it.

·  Push a book off of a shelf and have it open to a significant quote or scene.
· Stop the clock on a time that meant something to both of you.


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