Let me check a date…
2012 is when I outlined an idea for a stage play. I titled it Guilt Is a Ghost, and the story spotlighted a quirky but brilliant ghost hunter named Vera Van Slyke. I had a contact at a theater down in Dallas, and I hoped I might stir up enough interest to get the play produced. But, no — my contact liked linear narratives, and this play would require at least two flashbacks. So I set that to the side.
Then I thought about telling the story as a novel, the first in a detective series. First, however, I wanted to make sure that Vera Van Slyke was interesting and adaptable enough to thrive across several adventures. So I went to work on what became Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries. It’s a short story cycle — sometimes called a composite novel — because it’s made up of thirteen distinct yet interwoven investigations. The reviews at Amazon suggested that readers very much enjoy Vera and her assistant, Ludmila Prášilová (aka Lucille Parsell).
At this point, I knew it was time to return to that original story and narrate it as a novel, which it probably was meant to be all along. And now I’m very pleased to announce:
Guilt Is a Ghost:
A Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery
is available for purchase!
I call this the “synquel” to Help for the Haunted. It’s not a prequel or a sequel because the two overlap in time, and you can start with either book. All I’ll say about that is readers of Guilt Is a Ghost get a detailed account of Vera’s first meeting with Ludmila/Lucille, something only quickly referred to in Help for the Haunted. But do readers need to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, in which Dr. Watson first meets a quirky but brilliant fellow named Sherlock Holmes, to enjoy the duo’s subsequent adventures? Certainly not. And yet it sure is fun to read about that initial meeting!
If you haven’t read either Vera Van Slyke book, maybe you can decide where to start by asking yourself this: do I like my ghostly mysteries short or long? If the former, start with Help for the Haunted: A Decade of Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mysteries and see if you’re interested enough to read a complex, long case. If the later, Guilt Is a Ghost: A Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery might be the complex, long case you’re seeking.