The press release said, "This spring, New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham takes her readers on a ghostly romp in one of her favorite locales: New Orleans, in her latest hardcover, Phantom Evil." I couldn't resist. I jumped at the chance to ask Heather some questions about the book, and her background with the paranormal. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Lesa - Heather, thank you for taking time to do this interview. Would you introduce yourself for the sake of readers who may not be familiar with you and your books?
Heather - I'm Heather Graham, and I'm happy (and terrified!) to say that I've been writing for almost thirty years; I've done category books, horror, suspense, romance, Christmas fiction, time travel, historical novels and . . . well, I've been around! I love what I do; I came from a theater background, and books are creating theater in the minds of others, or so I believe!
Lesa - Would you tell us about your latest book, Phantom Evil?
Heather - Phantom Evil came from a longing running character, Adam Harrison (First introduced in Haunted.) It's actually part of what we've called the Harrison Investigation series. For years, Adam Harrison, who lost his son, a young man with special insight, at a young age. Not particularly equipped with extra powers himself, he sought out those who were--and sent them to help other people, nice folks just existing in the world who suddenly discovered that something beyond the realm of the usual was contacting them--or making their lives hell. In Phantom Evil, Adam finally accepts a government assignment and puts together a special unit for the FBI. Because their first assignment is New Orleans, they become known as the Krewe of Hunters. In Phantom Evil, the team meets for the first time in a nineteenth century home in the French Quarter--a house with an evil reputation dating back to the end of the Civil War. A senator's wife, mourning the death of her son, is found dead in the courtyard; the senator swears that she didn't commit suicide, and rumors are running rampant that she was killed by ghosts. And so, the Krewe of Hunters arrives to find out the truth; suicide, accidental death, ghostly intervention--or murder.
Lesa - That's an intriguing plot, Heather. I can't wait to read it. New Orleans is one of your favorite cities. What draws you to that city as a setting for your novels? And, I know you encourage other writers to go to New Orleans. Do you want to discuss that as well?
Heather - There's just something special about New Orleans. My parents brought me when I was young--no, not walking down Bourbon Street! The cemeteries fascinated me, the architecture was amazing, and the power of the river there is mesmerizing. I have very close friends in Louisiana, too, which I'm sure, contributes to my feelings. I was in the city filming a trailer for Ghost Walk the weekend before Katrina hit Miami, and then devastated the Gulf. Now, every year, I put on a conference there that's strictly at cost and to bring people into the city. It's a national treasure, certainly--the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of our nation, and there's so much wonderful history preserved.
Lesa - Why do you think paranormal fiction is so popular?
Heather - I believe paranormal fiction is popular because we've all allowed ourselves to admit we love it--and most people I meet do believe in the paranormal in one way or another, be it strange feelings they've had certain places, because of dreams, or because of events with loved ones. We all want to believe that we'll see those we love again--I know I do.
Lesa - What is your connection to ghostly exploration?
Heather - I was a young woman with little children when I went on my first ghost walk. It was in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and if you've ever been there, you know how incredibly spooky or maybe even hallowed the area can feel; the rivers meet there, fog rises, the town was the site of John Brown's raid, and it feels as if it's seeped in history. Our guide that night was Shirley, and she was fantastic. The tour was called Harpers Ferry Myth and Legends. She told the history, and what's happened since. She set a high bar for me as far as tour guides go! I want facts--not just, oh, we see a creepy shadow, and we think . .
Lesa - Do you have suggestions for those interested in ghost walks or exploration?
Heather - I'm friends with a group called The Peace River Ghost Trackers. I've been on a few expeditions with them, and I love the way they work; they're out to dispel rumor as well as try to discover if there is something happening out of the ordinary. We recently had them with us when we filmed a trailer for Phantom Evil at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Some explorations will be good; some will be so-so. I say, you never know until you try. I never mind if they're just fun and theatrical but not really as filled with stories as you like--I just mind when they're inaccurate. I was on a tour in St. Augustine once when the guide told everyone that Osceola was beheaded because there is a true bizarre story about his head. But that's such a false piece of information to give to people! Osceola died of natural causes--then his physician decided to take his head! But, you never know until you go. Wherever I am, I go on a ghost tour. Some, naturally, are more rewarding than others.
Lesa - You’ve written more than 100 books. Can you tell us anything about your next book?
Heather - After the Krewe of Hunter series, I have a Christmas book out called An Angel for Christmas--different, for me! There are no bodies floating around. It's a true Christmas book, though it does a few other-worldly characters. And then, the third in a historical vampire series--Bride of the Night. Those books revolve around the Fox family and the Civil War; each family member inherited something of a blood disease, and must learn to use it for good, a difficult feat in the midst of the raging war that tore apart out country. After that, new team members will be joining the Krewe of Hunters, and they'll begin in Texas.
Lesa - What other authors do you like to read?
Heather - What don't I read is really the best question! I'm still voracious. I read so many authors I wouldn't begin to know where to start! A long time favorite is F. Paul Wilson. Years ago, I read a book of his called The Keep. A favorite book of all time is Killer Angels, by Shaara. Brilliantly written, and a lesson in creating incredible characters.
Lesa - Heather, here’s the question I always use to end an interview. I’m a librarian. Do you have a story to share about libraries or librarians?
Heather - Librarians! They are my favorite people in the world. I'm about to attend the Jambalaya Jubilee at the library in Houma, La, and I just came from a fantastic conference put on by the library in Ft. Myers. There's no where an author can go and feel more loved and appreciated. I believe that one day we'll discover that librarians are really angels! They are the true patron saints of all authors!
Lesa - I like that idea, Heather, that librarians are angels! Thank you. And, it's great to hear you enjoyed the conference in Ft. Myers, since I worked with that conference for five years. It's always great to hear the authors are still enjoying it. Thank you, and thank you for taking the time to answer questions. Good luck with Phantom Evil.
Heather Graham's website is www.theoriginalheathergraham.com
Phantom Evil by Heather Graham. MIRA. ©2011. ISBN 9780778329534 (hardcover), 368p.