This lovely lady visited the blogs during the holidays, and I’m happy to have her back again as part of the blog tour! Here’s a bit of info on the book, first, in case you missed out on this creepy read:
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.
Guest Post by Courtney Alameda
THE THINGS I DO FOR LOVE . . . OF FICTION
I do a lot of on-site research for my novels, when possible. While I was writing Shutter, I visited the San Francisco Bay Area no fewer than five times, jumped a fence to take pictures of the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge, ducked inside St. Mary’s Hospital to hide from a gang that had been tailing me through the neighborhood (no joke), stood toe-to-edge atop the abandoned Pacific Bell Building’s roof; but the scariest thing I did in the name of Micheline and Co. was tour Kentucky’s Waverly Hills Sanitorium at night.
Waverly Hills is located in Louisville, Kentucky, and is widely considered one of the most haunted places in the United States. In the early twentieth century, it served as a tuberculosis hospital. While urban legends (and the site’s current owners) claim that over 60,000 patients died there, the number was likely closer to eight or ten thousand. Still, that’s a lot of tragic death concentrated in one place. Since its closure in the 1960s, Waverly Hills has become a popular haunt (pun intended) for paranormal investigators and thrill-seekers looking for a good scare.
I went to San Francisco to get a feel for the city. I went to Waverly Hills to get a feel for the ghosts.
Visit the picturesque Waverly Hills!
Waverly Hills is a decrepit kind of place: The walls are veined with old electrical cords; the paint is patchy and flaking; rusted, squeaking furniture crouches in the corners or sags against the walls; the doorframes are cracked and splintering, the graffiti is geriatric, and none of the windows have glass in them. Imagine the set of most any B-movie horror flick, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
They told me to look “scared.” Fail. But I think I pulled off “scary” admirably.
I generally discount claims that buildings are “haunted,” mostly because I know how powerful the human imagination is when it’s startled, unnerved, or frightened. And walking through a dilapidated building—a symbol of civilization being crushed by time and natural forces—is an intimidating experience, especially at night. So I walked into Waverly Hills with an aura of skepticism, mostly ready to enjoy one of the things I love most—urban exploration.
Waverly Hills is a five-story building. For the first three floors, I tromped along with the group, rolling my eyes when the girls screamed at shifting shadows and slamming doors (which were, I should add, accidentally slammed by the living). The guide’s stories all had plot holes and too much embellishment, but it was still fun to see how much pride the guides took in the old building.
On the stairwell up to the fourth floor, I was ready to dismiss the place as a gimmick . . . until my stomach begin to churn. Eyes may lie, but your guts don’t have any guile. When I stepped out of the stairwell, I felt as if my head had been popped off and filled with helium, and that it floated several feet above my shoulders. My heart rate rose fast, and despite the cold, my palms broke out in sweat.
This was the feeling I’d come looking for, this whole-body sense that the space around me was crowded close as a mosh pit, despite the fact that my friend and I stood mostly alone.
The guide picked one of the men from the tour group and asked him to walk down the hall, his arms outstretched on either side. The group fell silent as he walked about fifteen paces away, so the only audible sounds were the low whistle of the wind, his footsteps, and his gasp:
“Something’s touching me,” he said, his voice shaking.
Hands blacker than shadow reached for his arms and legs. The limbs were wispy, disembodied. He stood still for a few seconds before he dropping his arms and walking back to the group as fast as he could without betraying his cool exterior.
Writing requires life experience. While my visit to Waverly Hills didn’t influence Shutter’s plot per se, it certainly affected the way I approached the settings and the descriptions of Micheline’s fear. The trip reminded me what bone-deep terror feels like physically, emotionally, and mentally; plus, it allowed me to observe other people reacting to fear, which helped me build better scenes and character interactions in the long run.
If you want to write, get out and explore your world. You might just have one hell of a time.
About the Author
Courtney Alameda’s spent her entire career trying to con and cajole people into reading great books. A veteran of the big-box bookstore trenches, Courtney now works as a librarian for the prettiest library you’ve ever seen, where she spends her time ordering large stacks of YA books, doing readers’ advisory, and dressing up as various mythical creatures for a variety of library events.
Courtney has an affinity for brightly colored lipstick, urban exploration, cosplay, video games, and Twitter. If she’s listening to music, it’s usually Florence + the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Rodrigo y Gabriela, or Jason Graves. Her addiction to Dr. Pepper is legendary.
Courtney holds a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She is represented by the amazing and talented John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with a legion of books and a tiny, five pound cat who possesses a giant personality.
The lovely people at Macmillan Kids have offered up a hardcover copy of Shutter for giveaway to one lucky reader!
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