What I Was Thinking When I Wrote The Ghost Daughter

A few years ago I stood in the check out line at the grocery story, Casey Anthony staring at me from the cover of the People magazine. I don’t follow crime stories usually, but this one followed me. I couldn’t help it. I was fascinated.  A young woman claimed her little kid went missing a full month after anyone had seen her. The authorities found the thoroughly decomposed body of the child months later in a pile of duct tape.

The prosecution was inadequate to the task of conviction and the judge let her go. Everyone thinks she did it. But free she was. And is.

I looked at that magazine cover and thought, huh. Well, what if the little girl was never found? What if she disappeared and then popped up eighteen years later as a grown woman looking for that terrible mother?

The archetype of the terrible mother is the worst. There’s nothing scarier than your own mother having it in for you. At first, I wrote the mother as a sociopath. I did tons of research on sociopathy in preparation but then I discovered in the writing that sociopaths are boring.  They’re narcissistic one-hit wonders. Writing pages and pages from the point of view of a sociopath was like eating a gourmet meal with a stuffy nose.  Nothing tasted like anything without empathy, desire, concern, and love.

So I scrapped the 25k words I started with and rewrote the whole thing from scratch. The Ghost Daughter is about the dichotomy of the terrible mother and the life-giving earth mother beside her, even within her. The story is about the traumatic aftermath of a sociopath (who isn’t who everyone thinks), but also about how people cope and survive in the wake of true evil. In truth, isn’t survival the ultimate revenge?

The Ghost Daughter is about the staying power of true love, even when it comes at too young of an age to bear with justice and respect. It’s about trying to have power over others as a way of forgetting when you were powerless. It’s about being homeless in one way or another your whole entire life and then finally arriving at a doorstep that you can call your own.

It’s about religion and loneliness and earthquakes and music and the beach and the desert. It’s about mothers and daughters and babies that are lost but still haunt you forever and forgive you for being terrible before you knew how to be good.

The Ghost Daughter is available to order. I hope you like it.

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2 Comments

  1. I only have a few chapters left and you hit the mark on everything you say it is about. I’m glad you scrapped the first 25k words. That book wouldn’t have been as compelling. This story is lovely, devastating, challenging, painful and uplifting. It is cowardice and courage. It is evil and goodness. It is weakness and strength and survival. I couldn’t read it all in one sitting as I had planned. I had to stop periodically and let it settle – it is disturbing. It is disruptive and brutally honest. It tears open the fabric of secrecy surrounding violence and the lasting impact that follows its victims from childhood through adulthood. I love that you wrote the characters as powerful women rather than perpetual victims. One of the truly amazing things about it is that it doesn’t come from your personal experience and yet you were able to write this story with such depth and insight into the emotional and mental make-up of survivors. It is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year.

    I plan to buy copies for friends and family, encourage others to buy it, and post a review on Amazon.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, Kate. This means more than you know, especially coming from you. It is an honor to have you for a reader.

      Like

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