Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at my first book club meeting! I’m really excited about it, but I also wasn’t really sure what to expect, so I emailed one of the ladies hosting the event. She said not to worry and that she had told her friends to come prepared with questions. She did, however, mention that her guests might be interested in what inspired Cemetery Tours and how it all started.
I think I’ve said before that I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories and that I was a little nerd who had all those scary story books and watched the true haunting shows around Halloween and that’s why I eventually decided to write a ghost story of my own. That’s true, but mere childhood fascination with the paranormal was not the only thing that inspired me to write Cemetery Tours.
I hadn’t even planned on writing a ghost story, to be honest with you. I was more into the chick-lit genre and was in the middle of writing a college-cenetered story when I suffered a pretty unbearable loss. I don’t really want to go into it, because it will make me sad, but it was very unexpected and it hit me harder than anything has before. I began questioning everything. Out of sheer desperation, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on the afterlife. Reading other people’s experiences brought me a lot of comfort. Writing, as it turned out, brought me even more.
But loss wasn’t the only factor in creating Cemetery Tours. If it had been, it’d be a much more depressing story.
My second source of inspiration came in the form of Criminal Minds. I was at a friend’s apartment one night and it happened to be on TV. That was when I first caught a glimpse of Matthew Gray Gubler.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I’m a nerd. I’m a fangirl. And Spencer Reid as portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler was the cutest guy I’d ever seen in my life. I knew after one episode (incidentally, the one where Reid ends up in the hospital with Anthrax) that he was going to be my muse for… whoever my protagonist was going to be. I didn’t know at the time. I just knew I wanted a cute yet kind of awkward guy who didn’t want anyone to know that he could see ghosts.
I had several early drafts of the story that fizzled out before I finished. Something seemed off. I wasn’t connecting with my main character (whose named changed several times before I finally found Michael Sinclair) and I couldn’t find a way that connected him to his potential love interest in a way that wasn’t stupid or cliche. All in all, I realized there was a key component missing in the story.
Cue Luke Rainer.
It wasn’t until I made the decision to bring in a hot shot paranormal superstar that everything finally seemed to fall into place. Luke, in all his arrogant yet charming glory, turned out to be the key.
Interestingly enough, I first discovered one of my Luke Rainer inspirations, Ghost Adventures, the day after that devastating loss.
It was October 24, 2010, and I was so depressed that I did nothing that day except sit around and watch 16 and Pregnant. Let me tell you, I hate reality TV shows, but that day, it was all I wanted to do. After the last episode of the day, I began flipping through channels and noticed a show called Ghost Adventures on Travel Channel. That was pretty much all it took.
Once I brought in Luke Rainer (who was originally a character in another story), all that remained was a name for his ghost-hunting team. It didn’t take me very long to decide on Cemetery Tours. In fact, I didn’t even come up with it. It was a title that my dad had come up with years earlier on a road trip to San Antonio. We stopped at a roadside Dairy Queen across the highway from a small town cemetery and my dad goes, “You know, you should write a story about a bunch of cemeteries around Texas and call it Cemetery Tours.”
Funnily enough, a lot of people think that Cemetery Tours is a book about cemeteries. It does make sense. But no, it’s definitely a fictional ghost story, one that I hope people of all ages can enjoy.