by Karina Halle
Paperback, 323 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Metal Blonde Books
There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts. Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.
Guest post by Karina Halle:
How it all started
When Aleetha asked me to speak about my characters, Perry Palomino and Dex Foray, in the Experiment in Terror Series, I was at a loss where to start. Both characters are deceptively complex, fully rounded and unapologetically flawed. They are as real as they can get while functioning in the most unreal circumstances. You see, they are amateur ghost hunters, trying to make something out of a fledging webcast and, consequently, make something of their lives. Almost everyone can relate but in most cases…they don’t want to. Who wants to be able to see ghosts, other than Jennifer Love Hewitt? I know I don’t.
Anyway, while I was contemplating what direction to go on with this blog post, I thought it might be fun to discuss how the idea and the characters came around. And so, I am sharing with all of you something I haven’t shown anyone else. This was the idea that hit me in July of 2009 while sitting in the backseat of my boyfriend’s parent’s rental car while we were “vacationing” in Ontario. Perry Palomino hit me like a stack of bricks. And the only thing I really had to go on was her name (and please keep in mind I wrote all of this on an iPod Touch Notepad!):
Perry Palomino – Ghost Writer
21 years old. New grad with a degree in journalism and English. Had no
luck finding jobs due to the economy and her procrastination.
Waitresses while living at home. Has a 14 yr old sister. Has a blog
that takes up a lot of her time-she uses it for bitching about
waitressing stuff. Her sister is a wannabe designer and sometimes
showcases her clothes. Perry doesn’t know what she wants from life and
admires her sister for having such a clear focus and drive. Most of
all Perry really loves scary books, movies and folklore. Her parents
have family all over the place. They live outside of Athens, Georgia.
She goes on vacation with her family to the coast and has a scary ghost
experience-she ends up writing about it on her blog except really
exaggerating about what happened. She ends up getting a lot of hits on
her blog-while on vacay-so she does more posts including a video one
which end up being a youtube hit. When she returns home she gets all
this attention from ghost-centered media as well as more interest on
her blog. Seems people see her as a kind of ghost whisperer even tho
she’s not. So she ends up being contacted by some people in Georgia who
want her to investigate and blog about the supposed ghost on their
farm. She goes, planning to fully rip off the story and make stuff up.
Instead she gets involved in an actual ghost story that challenges her
very notion of their existence and of her own. When challenged with
the notion of life after death and the fleetingness of death, Perry
realizes there is more to life-her life-in general.
Yeah…so that was the original idea for Experiment in Terror. And what did I do after I hastily plonked this out on my iPod and sucked down beers at my boyfriend’s family reunion? Nothing. I did nothing. I forgot about the idea as I often do (I have stacks of notebooks filled with unused screenplay and novel ideas) and went on with my life. Except Perry Palomino kept nagging at my subconscious. Every other day. I’d be at work and I’d be thinking of her, I’d be driving home from work and I could hear her talking to her sister, who I then I still called Ada. And this all boiled together until September when I decided I was going to write the damn book. It was going to be a series. And I would finish the first novel in a month.
Well, I didn’t finish Darkhouse in a month (which was under a different title at the time) but it did only take six weeks. And, boy, there were a lot of changes. Looking back to the original plan I posted, these are all the things that evolved:
- Perry is 22, not 21. That year makes a little bit of difference.
- She’s a new grad, just with advertising and not journalism
- Perry doesn’t seem to have a procrastinating problem (lucky thing) and is a receptionist, not a waitress
- Her sister, Ada is 15 and has the blog, not Perry
- Perry’s not really a huge paranormal enthusiast
- They live in Portland, Oregon, not Georgia
- She goes to her uncle’s farm on the Oregon Coast on her own will and is met with resistance, not invitation
- She never plans to “pretend” to be a ghost whisperer. She just shows up
The most glaring omission (or should I say, glaring addition) to the Darkhouse story is Dex Foray. Neither a partner, friend or love interest (and Dex is pretty much all three) are mentioned in my original “outline.” Somewhere along the line I must have dreamed Dex up and all his eccentricities and threw him right into Perry’s path. I’m so glad I did. I wouldn’t have a story if it weren’t for him. As interesting and relatable as Perry is, the series rests on the laurels of the relationship and chemistry of our two main leads. Don’t get me wrong, Perry has a sordid past, and the plotlines of running a ghost-hunting show, as well as her lapses of sanity are very frightening, poignant and important. But without Dex, there is no series. This is their story, their journey, together. You can’t have one without the other.
It’s fun to look back and see where the ideas and the characters came from. But there’s a reason why they say “writing is rewriting”- it took months, even a year, of exploring, writing and plotting before I finally found the formula that worked and the characters who would become…well, larger than life.
Karina’s sadly neglected personal blog can be found here: www.ontheblogbandwagon.blogspot.com
Karina’s not so neglected writing blog can be found here: www.experimentinterror.com