When I was 15 years old I encountered my first ghost. I was babysitting for a toddler and baby who were already upstairs sleeping when I arrived, so I made myself comfortable on the couch downstairs with the family’s chocolate lab beside me. It was near midnight when I heard what I can only describe as a heavy man jumping up and down as hard as he could on the floor above the central light. I stared at the ceiling, my eyes prickling with horror as the banging went on and on. Beside me, the dog was also staring at the ceiling in alarm. Finally, I instigated a bark, saying, “What’s that?” The dog let out one loud bark, and the house fell instantly silent. To this day, that sudden silence still raises the hairs on my arms.
I crept to the stairs with the dog at my heels, ready to call 9-1-1 on the phone in my hand. The little boys’ bedroom doors were still closed the same amount as when I arrived. The stomping had come from the parents’ room. I was petrified, waiting for a figure to flash across the landing above me.
After the longest wait of my life, the parents arrived home. What did they find upstairs? Nothing. There was no one else in the house, and no evidence that anyone had been. The kids slept through it all. But the dog and I both heard it.
I never did get an explanation, but I grew to know that house very well. In true horror-victim fashion, I returned to nanny for the family after graduation. I just couldn’t shake the experience. Thankfully, nothing bad ever happened to me, but I did encounter more unexplainable events.
Naturally, perhaps, I have been fascinated by ghost stories and scary movies ever since. That first encounter is definitely why Hazel can see ghosts in Hazel’s Shadow. A few of my own experiences are tangled up in all three books: Hazel’s Shadow, Hazel’s Mirror, and Hazel’s Portal. I knew I wanted a character who could see ghosts, but I also wanted to do something that had never been done before. I knew I wanted Hazel to be trapped in a haunted house, but what would keep someone in such a terrifying situation? There had to be a reason she couldn’t go outside. So I thought: why not zombies? The undead roam the streets, and ghosts roam the halls. Then I remembered the Lockdown I experienced in high school.
When I was in Grade 12, there was an unknown threat to the school, and we went into Lockdown mode. I remember thinking about how my younger sister was in the classroom across the hall, and what would happen if there was a real danger. Luckily, it was a false alarm. But for Hazel? No such luck. Just like that, Hazel’s Shadow became the story of a teen psychic in an apocalyptic town who has to protect her sister and her classmates at all costs. But when the girls take refuge in a house haunted by something much worse than ghosts, it’s only a matter of time before death comes knocking.
The three book series is wrapping up on April 13th with the final book, Hazel’s Portal. Get the first chapter free (it features a surprise return character—AKA someone dead!) by signing up for my author newsletter here: www.nicolemaccarron.com
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