Thursday, January 08, 2009

Guest Blogger: Chris Marie Green

The winner of Chris's book is: Swing Club! Congratulations to you! Send me your snail mail info, and I'll pass it along! Thanks to everyone who participated.

The Great Beyond of Research

A huge thanks to Lynda for inviting me here today!

I’ll be giving away a copy of an anthology entitled FIRST BLOOD; it contains novellas from Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, and Meljean Brook, as well as one based on my own Vampire Babylon series, which features a hunter named Dawn Madison who carries around quite a few personal and paranormal issues. Unfortunately, one of those issues involves an estranged father who went missing in Hollywood, and Dawn, an ex-stunt woman, has come back to town to find out what happened to him. What she discovers sends her into a tailspin: he disappeared during an assignment for a paranormal “firm,” and as she and his co-workers (including a “little person” actor named Kiko and a “lab rat” former actress named Breisi Montoya) track down clues that lead to dear old dad, Dawn finds out a whole lot more about her family—and vampires—than she ever wanted to know.

Now…on to the blogging!

Oftentimes, people ask me how much research is involved with writing the paranormal, but before I can answer, they laugh and say, “Wait—you can just make things up!”

Well, not always. Sure, there’s lots of fantasizing when it comes to world building, but since Vampire Babylon is an urban fantasy series, it’s necessary to ground the readers, making them think that, whoa, there really might be vampires or other preternatural creatures walking amongst us.

So aside from armchair research about setting, jobs, and characteristics of vampires, how does a person do research for a paranormal book?

I, myself, love firsthand fact-and-fantasy digging. I even went to London a little over a year ago to scout locations for books four through six of the Vampire Babylon series. (Isn’t my job the worst? ) But today I thought I’d tell you about a different trip I took for the first three novels: a little jaunt to New Orleans, pre-Katrina, to a “haunted house.”

It started with a bus ride beyond Canal Street to a location that the touring company wouldn’t reveal. When we arrived at a rundown street-corner joint that you wouldn’t look twice at, I was more worried about the dogs barking in the neighborhood than the house itself. Under the watch of a security guard, the staff separated us into “hunting teams” and still refused to tell us anything about the building because they wanted us to go in without preconceptions. Cool enough, and when they handed us our “hunting tools,” that’s when I started to geek out a bit.

I’m going to allow Kiko, the psychic vamp hunter from Vampire Babylon, describe just what that equipment was. (After all, I ended up using it for a scene in NIGHT RISING, Book One, which is being reissued in mass market format on January 27, 2009…PLUG!): “Tools of the trade. Ms. Montoya is using a thermo-anemometer, a temperature gauge. She’s taking the base reading of the room right now so we’ll get a foundation for comparison as she tests different parts of the house for deviations in temperature. Ms. Madison will be using a magnetometer, which searches for shifts in the electromagnetic field.”

(Thank you, Kiko.)

We were additionally assigned diving rods and then released into the house, which was just as decrepit inside as it was outside. It was also dark, necessitating the use of flashlights, but I think the tour people only wanted to creep us out.

And it worked. There were random, eerie things like old bathtubs that we measured with our tools while asking general questions to the air, lest there be ghosts around who’d answer us via the divining rods. There were spider webs and creaky floors, and those barking dogs outside didn’t get any quieter. We were being real live paranormal hunters, and settling into that frame of mind was, IMHO, a valuable experience because I could describe Dawn’s point of view as a normal person who’s thrust into a strange situation like this all the better.

It turned out that we had a woman on our team who claimed to be psychic. Now I’d call myself a skeptic who’s always willing to be convinced, but when she told us about her talents during the investigation, I was like, “Riiiiiight.” And when we arrived at the back of the house, near a slumping staircase, I wasn’t super impressed when she engaged in a Q&A with a female spirit. When that spirit gave way to another one—a baby—I chalked it up to the psychic’s excitement at being in a so-called haunted house.

We collected our magnetic field shifts and temperature statistics, then met everyone else outside, where the guides finally told us about the building. It’d served a number of purposes: a general store, a boarding house…even a domain of prostitution. Then they told us about some of the house’s stories.

And wouldn’t you know it—there was a woman who’d fallen down the back stairway and miscarried before she, too, passed on.


So…research. It can be a passive experience, or it can be its own little horror movie. Whatever form it comes in, I love me some of it.

Have any of you guys ever had a brush with the paranormal? If so, it’d be great to hear about it in the comment section, where one of you is going to win that copy of FIRST BLOOD….

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the following book trailer for NIGHT RISING, which is out at the end of the month (PLUGs away!!!). Also, I’d love for you to visit my Web site at, where you’ll find a link to a monthly contest I’m holding. This time, you could win a darling little Pullip doll as well as a signed copy of THE BECOMING by Jeanne Stein.

Happy Hunting. : )

The winner of FIRST BLOOD will be posted here on Friday evening.


Blogger CrystalGB said...

Hi Chris. I lived in a trailer that was haunted by a little boy ghost. He would turn the picture of my nephew face down and drawings would appear on the bedroom wall. I saw him one morning standing by my bed. He seemed very sad.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Ruth Schaller said...

I swear up and down, to this day that my grandmother's house was haunted. Too many strange things happened there. When I was little, my aunt used to go away for the weekends for her part time job, well, I would spend the weekend in her bedroom (as she had a TV at the foot of her bed ... lol). Well, I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear someone coming up the stairs with a glass and I could hear the ice tinkling in the glass, but they never made it to the top of the landing. Her bedroom was AT the top of landing. It used to freak me out that I would lay in the middle of the bed with the covers right up to my chin! LOL

8:04 AM  
Blogger Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

Good morning, Crystal and Ruth! Crystal, were you afraid at all? Ruth, I'd be like you--the covers up to my chin, LOL. As a matter of fact, when I spent the night in haunted hotel in Oatman, I didn't get a wink of sleep. I didn't have any encounters, but I was waiting for one. :)

9:09 AM  
Blogger Brooke Reviews said...

Ah, the only time that I thought some place was haunted was when we first moved into the house that my Great-Grandmother died in. We had a long dark hallway that lead from the entry way to the bedrooms. Sometimes I would swear I saw something moving down at the end, like walking past. It would freak me out, and I wouldn't want to go back there. lol

9:13 AM  
Blogger Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

Hey, Brooke! Looks like Grandma's house is a pretty popular place for haunts. :)

BTW, I just want to clarify that this is me, Chris Marie Green. I'm using my "other pen name"'s blog address right now. Sorry for any confusion.

9:17 AM  
Blogger tetewa said...

I've never had any encounters but enjoyed hearing about yours today.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Lori Ann said...

Several years ago, I visited my brother in Asheville, NC, and we decided to tour the Biltmore Estate while I was there. There have always been rumors that it is haunted and lots of people have stories of seeing and hearing things. Well, I never believed any of it until I visited the house myself. When the tour took us to the pool area, I swear I heard the craziest laugh I have ever heard coming from underneath the pool. My family members heard it too, so I know it wasn't just my imagination. It really freaked me out, and I was happy when the tour ended.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Linda Wisdom said...

Great post, Chris!

We have a house ghost I named Frank and since he hasn't protested, the name stuck. He likes to "borrow" things for a few days, months, one time over a year, then return it to the exact same place he took it from.

And a few years ago a dark fae appeared in our back yard for a few nights and I only regret I didn't get pictures although my mom did see it and then couldn't believe she was seeing what she was seeing.


10:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent post. I enjoyed reading it. I have not had any adventures with a paranormal, I would like to only if I could do the choosing of what, where, how, and why.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

Hey, all! So happy you guys stopped by. :)

tetewa and sarabell, thank you, and great to "meet" you!

Raven--yikes, what a creepy story. Malicious laughs are one of my top five scary mental sound effects.

Linda, how're you doing? Good that you got a friendly ghost. And the What did it look like?

See you all later,

1:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i would love to have one of your books, please enter me for a chance to win. and i love the interview, i alsoo read most all of your other books, but not this new series

3:46 PM  
Blogger Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

blackroze, great to see you here! Thank you so much, and best of luck.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Swing Club said...

I can't say for certain but the house I lived in for a couple of years balance to me. Perhaps it was the circumstances under which we acquired the house- the sons of the man who owned the house were arguing over who got the house when he died, and they decided to sell it and split the profit. I wasn't entirely comfortable in that house to be honest and am glad we moved out after my parents split. I wouldn't walk through my own house at night- not even to the bathroom which was literally across the hall. And I spent many nights with a light on at night and the radio on to mask the sound of the pipes and the house settling from the wind and stuff.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Eva S said...

I live in an old house, we bought it from a widow after her husband had hanged himself in the attic and every now and then we hear him walk up there...
I'd love to read the book!

10:23 AM  
Blogger Sheila Hickmon said...

I think I have. Im just not sure! My old boyfriend used to run a "haunted" house. It was roumered to really be haunted. We were hanging out there one night in the off season, and the lights went crazy, the elevator shaft would not work! We couldn't get out! It was scary and it lasted for about 5 minutes! My heart was racing!!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Lady Roxi said...

I just saw this at the book store not to long ago and would love to have this.


5:51 PM  
Blogger Angela C said...

When I was a teenager my best friends house was haunted.We would hear scratching sounds from the inside of the walls.The TV would turn on and off by itself.Things would fall off the counters when nobody was in the room.
Well one night someone knocked on the front door when we went to answer it nobody was there, We thought it was my boyfriend messing around so we stood there and watched out the peephole as the doorbell rang nobody was there and the doorbell hadn't worked in years.We ran into her Mom's room and got her out of bed.She came out and looked out the door again nobody was there.
She stood there for awhile and nothing happened as soon as she walked away to go peek threw the kitchen window there was a knock again.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green said...

Hi, all, and congrats for winning, Swing Club!

Lady Roxi, thank you. :)

Eva, mom2anutball (love that name!), Swing Club, and angelacisco--love your stories. I got little shivers reading them, LOL (but that's probably why I posed the question. I love hearing scary stories).

Everyone, thank you so much for having me here. A major thanks for Lynda for inviting me. I can't wait to dig into her books!!!

All the best.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I have lots and lots of stories that I could tell you. I am sensitive, so just about everyday I have experiences. Good or bad, I don't have a choice, though I don't think that I would want what I have to go away. Loved reading your blog. Thank you for the giveaway.

1:51 AM  

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