Hey, look who’ dropped in today for a little chat! None other than Madison Wentworth. Welcome, Madison!
SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
MW: Cherie seems like an ordinary person on the outside: She works at an eye clinic, shops at the local supermarket, and pretty much keeps to herself. But inside, she’s a soul vampire looking for her immortal beloved. She’s got an insatiable hunger to feed off someone, but not just anyone. He has to be THE ONE. But when she finds him, it turns out he’s dead. Even death can’t stop their connection, though, because it's timeless.
SC: Well, there’s a twist of fate. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
MW: I am glad you asked me that question. I have had a lifetime fascination with the paranormal, which served as part of my inspiration for Need.
As an adult, I have explored the paranormal through trips to haunted locations around the country. I had a really fun experience at the Goldfield High School in the tiny town of Goldfield, Nevada. It was a boom town that sprang up in the early 1900s when gold was discovered there in 1902. The population grew to 8,000 by 1905 and surged to 20,000 by the following year.
But the boom was short-lived. By 1909, the population was down to 10,000, and by the following year, it was half that. Now just a couple of hundred people live there, and it’s a virtual a ghost town filled with the empty buildings built during the boom.
Goldfield High School, which was built between 1906 and 1908, accommodated all age groups, as was typical for the time period. Many believe that spirits don’t always hang around the area where they died, but frequently return to a place they enjoyed in life.
With this thought in mind, a group of paranormal investigators led an expedition I attended with large group of people. We decided we might have our best chance of success trying to interact with the smaller children who might have been drawn back to the school.
We all went into one of the auditoriums and spread out in a large circle ringing the room, leaving four empty spaces along the way for children’s spirits to join us. We decided to do some EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) while playing old-fashioned children’s game.
EVP involves using a small handheld voice recorder and talking to the spirits, asking them a question and then giving them time to answer that question before moving on to the next. With any luck, on playback, you will hear an answer to your question.
We first counted off people around the room while skipping those empty spaces to leave room for children’s voices. So, we would count off “1, 2, 3, 4” and then leave a space open at “5” for a child to answer, then count off some more spaces before leaving another space for different child’s voice.
On playback, we heard children’s voices answer us with the correct numbers. Then we played Duck, Duck, Goose in a similar fashion. A person would go around the room and point at you if you were a duck so you could say “Duck” or touch you if you were a goose, at which point you said “Goose,” and it was now your turn.
Upon encountering an empty space, the person would point and wait a few seconds, hoping for a response before moving on. The first two times, we got the proper “Duck” response on playback. We decided to up the ante and make a spirit the goose by reaching out to touch the empty space that we were hoping was inhabited to see what would happen.
The current goose then held the recorder and walked around to each person, pausing to wait for a response. On playback, we clearly heard a child’s voice saying “Goose” when they were chosen, and then, as each person was encountered along the way, we heard a clear “Duck” call before a goose was finally chosen.
There was no call made for any of the people after that because a goose had been chosen.
This was one of my more fun experiences that proved to me there’s more to the afterlife than we might suspect, and it started me thinking more about the afterlife before I wrote Need. I wondered what might happen if the ghost wasn’t a child, but a lost lover, and if time travel might bring two souls back together again.
Or maybe I don’t have to wonder. Maybe it happened to me.
SC: Yes, children like to come through on EVP’s I have found. Thanks for sharing that. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
MW: Right now, I’m working on promoting NEED and hoping it strikes a chord with readers. What I write next will depend largely on the response to this book.
SC: We have enjoyed this chat, Madison. Please stop by anytime. Let’s take a look at your novel now.
How are you supposed to feel when you find out the man you’ve fallen in love with, who you’ve never even met in person, reveals that the two of you were once engaged, and that you were—inadvertently or not—the cause of his death?
I try to plan for every contingency, but even super-prepared Cher hadn’t seen that one coming.
“Does that mean the whole thing has to happen all over again the same way?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Does it mean we’ll get to meet, after all? Or do I meet another version of you instead?”
“I don’t know.”
This was exasperating. The odd thing was, I found it almost impossible to be mad at him. It wasn’t his fault, anyway. He had no idea how to get out of the place where he was, wherever or whenever that might be, or what would happen if he did. I had no idea how to get him out, either, but I did know I had to find a way—and without him getting run over by a car again. I’d strap him to the bed if I had to.
“If we were engaged before, does that mean we still are?” I asked.
“I think so, unless you want to break it off. Do you?”
“No, I like being your fiancée.”
“Good. Because I like it, too.”
I still didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone else about Evan, or telling Layla anything more about him, because now it was even weirder than before. So, the only person I was left with as counselor was my inner voice.
I need to get him back here again. I need to see him.
Need. It was a word I’d hardly ever used before, and certainly not in connection with myself. But I seemed to be using it more and more with Even.
How do you think you’re going to do that if he’s dead?
It was a good question.
I could call my ghost-hunter friends.
You don’t need to hunt him. You already know where he is: In that smartphone screen of yours! You drew him to you through the internet. Now you just need to bring him the rest of the way.
By being yourself. He hungers for you and can’t resist you. He will come.
Could it possibly be as simple as that? It couldn’t be. I remembered the voice had asked me once before who I was, and I’d answered that I was just me. But I was only that person when I was alone. Otherwise, I was always pretending—except when I was with Evan. I could be myself with him, too. So maybe it really was as simple as that, after all. It had to be, because I couldn’t think of anything else. But how could I be my true self, my vampire self, when the world was watching?
You can’t. You need to go someplace.
It didn’t help that I was having this conversation with myself at work.
“Cher, can you come over here for a sec?” Joy motioned toward me. “This customer needs his frames adjusted.”
Fortunately for the eye clinic, and for my own job security, I was great at multitasking. I was able to keep brainstorming about how to get some privacy even while I was adjusting Mr. Thompson’s new glasses to fit him perfectly without pinching the bridge of his nose or pulling down too much behind the ear.
“Thank you,” he said. “You’re very good at that.”
I laughed easily. “I should be. I’ve been doing this long enough. But you’re very good at being a patient patient, and that makes all the difference.”
He nodded slightly and... was he blushing? So often, I found that the smallest kind word or gesture was appreciated beyond what I’d expected. People didn’t treat each other with kindness enough anymore. It had become rare enough that, when it happened, it was unexpected.
And they were grateful. It was sad that common courtesy had fallen so far out of style.
But being nice to people was how I’d been raised; it was part of who I was.
Vampires are known for their courtesy. They only enter where they’re invited.
That was it!
I had to be myself—my vampire self—to draw Evan back to the land of the living, but I had to invite him, too. That was the one thing I’d been missing. He might be dead, but he was also a vampire, and if I invited him, he would have no choice but to accept.