(Get it? Come on, that title is funny! Okay, maybe not.)
Ghost used to appear frequently in literature as mysterious creatures. Today they are almost a joke that is thrown in when all else fails. Did you write yourself into a hole by killing off the only person who knows where the life-saving vial of antidote is buried? Summon his ghost. Can’t find your keys? Blame your unseen housemate. Feeling lame for pinching some hot guy’s gorgeous ass? Clearly the café you are in is haunted.
Ghosts are real, just ask anyone who owns a Victorian-era home or who has worked in structure built before World War II. I used to work in a candy shop that has been in existence for over sixty years. While there were certainly naysayers among us, several workers had seen, and could provide nearly identical descriptions of, apparitional women whom would manifest randomly. Whenever I would work early mornings, a bun-haired woman in a white blouse and blue skirt would stand at the end of the kitchen and watch as I decorated confections. I would talk to her, though she never spoke back. I often wondered her story. How endearing would be if she were seeking the love she left behind? Maybe her grandson worked there and she was watching out for him. The possibilities were endless.
The author in me sees that ghosts can totally be messed with. I can pop Genghis Kahn into modern day San Francisco among drag queens, and it’s totally acceptable. I can also take a character who had a pacifist demeanor while alive (similar to say, Ghandi,) and have them be brutally murdered by an evil creature who came into their home and slaughtered their family as they watched, only to then rip out that person’s veins one by one until they died in agony. I can then use that as an excuse to spin their personality into one more nefarious. (Ah! The art of authorly manipulation is a beautiful thing!)
Then there is the personal side. Any one from history can haunt me. I mean, if I told you that Vincent Moratta (the inventor of Mr. Coffee) hung out with me on a regular basis, could you really dispute it?
Lastly, let us not lose site of what is really important. Unlike turning into a werewolf or shape shifter, becoming a ghost is an obtainable goal, for which you should be grateful. You know how it is when you are trying to leave town for Thanksgiving but know that at the end of the long drive you are stuck dealing with your parents? You wouldn’t exactly mind staying behind a little longer to gas up the car, would you? Why would traveling after death be any different? Simply go ghostly, hang out, and catch a movie (or five hundred) first. Better yet, go pop in on your favorite celebrity and watch him in the shower. If you can master the art of touch, go ahead, make his day.
In my novel, Scary Modsters… and Creepy Freaks, the ghost of a rock star gets summoned by his fangirl and love blooms. With all that we know about ghosts, who’s to say it can’t happen?