Where Did the Idea for Celebration House Come From?
My sister-in-law is one of my biggest cheerleaders. She asks me, where do your ideas come from? I think writers hear that question a lot. My mind overflows with ideas. It’s the herculean task of bringing each story to fruition that stands between me and emptying out the bin.
The idea for Celebration House was actually a dream, which I had in 2007. I had a vivid dream about a woman who was trying to restore a beautiful, albeit abandoned, antebellum mansion, but who kept encountering the most stubborn of ghosts. This was the basic plot for “Building Celebration House.”
The two sequels to this novel feature characters from the first book. Beth, who comes to help the heroine, stars in the second novel, entitled, “Stay at Celebration House.” The third and final installment, “Return to Celebration House”, tells the story of Melanie, the sister of the first book’s heroine, Carrie. These books were the idea of an editor who worked on the first manuscript. I’ve resisted writing them for several years, I think because I felt I could not do the characters justice. But I’m in the process of completing them now. “Stay at Celebration House” will publish on April 1st; the final book publishes May 1st. Already, I’m playing with the idea of a Christmas novella!
The best-selling of all my books, “A Year with Geno,” started with a daydream. I was watching my oldest daughter play soccer when inspiration overcame me. Writing as fast as I could, I jotted down all the details of this story: a woman is evicted from her rental, can’t find another during the Alaskan winter, and moves in with a handsome Air Force sergeant. While she saves her down payment and polishes her credit rating, she learns that a house is not a home without love.
As an author, I’m thoroughly influenced by people I meet and my own past experiences. After the Celebration House Trilogy is finished, I’m returning to my cozy-mystery series. I published the first book in October of 2015, “Death Goes the County Fair.” My plan is to return to the small fictional town where I set these books – Ogallala, Missouri – and write three more books. I’ll be using my own experiences as a new journalist, fresh from college, in a similar community – Pleasant Hill, Missouri – as basis for these stories.
It’s these three things – life experiences, dreams, and subtle prodding from editors – that lay the stones of my writing path.
Building Celebration House
The Celebration House Trilogy
Genre: Women’s fiction/paranormal romance
Publisher: Baskethound Books
Date of Publication: 3/1/17
Number of pages: 234
Word Count: 52K
Cover Artist: Elizabeth Mackey
Tagline: How can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself.
After recovering from her own heart surgery, she learns she has a special talent: the ability to see and talk with the dead.
Now, with her health failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.
Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s ghostly occupants, especially Major Tom Gentry, the handsome Civil War soldier who died 100 years before Carrie was born. He encourages and comforts her, though not in the physical way they both desire.
Will Carrie finish restoring the celebration house or will it finish her? And how can she plan a future with a man who has only a past?
When Carrie opened the door and stepped inside, sunlight streamed in through the dirty windows. Even though the barn had been vacant for years, the air smelled of hay and horses.
Looking to her left, she saw a man shaving. He’d glanced up when Carrie opened the doors, but returned his gaze to the small mirror tacked to the wooden beam. He was bare from the waist up. His chest was lean and muscular, with dark brown hair from mid-chest to his waistline. His arms were powerfully built, and his right hand was steady as he scraped the white soap from his angular jaw with a razor. His dark blue uniform pants with gold braid down the side were tucked into knee-high black leather boots. He stood at least six feet tall, and though Carrie hadn’t made her living in the carnival, she guessed he was probably younger than her, likely in his mid to late twenties. He peered at the small mirror, tilting his chin to swipe away the shaving soap. Carrie waited to speak until after he’d finished with the ivory-handled straight blade and dipped it into the basin of soapy water.
“Good morning,” she said.
His expression was an equal mix of surprise and annoyance. He dropped the razor and grabbed his shirt off a nearby nail. He turned his back to Carrie and pulled it on.
“You can see me, madam?” he asked, buttoning his shirt and stuffing it into his pants.
“Yes. Can you see me?”
“I can, but I believe I have the advantage. I’m dead. You are not.” He turned and glared at her. His eyebrows furrowed as though he wasn’t quite sure how they’d arrived at the point of introductions.
“I’m sorry to intrude. I’m Carrie. Carrie Hansen.” She extended her hand.
He reached to shake her hand, but his fingers passed through hers. They both jerked back.
“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to intrude,” she said.
“You surprised me. That’s all. We seldom receive visitors, especially living ones who can see us.” He put on his blue uniform coat and fastened the long row of brass buttons. “I’m Major Thomas Gentry, at your service.” He bowed.
“I’m sorry I startled you. I sometimes forget ghosts aren’t accustomed to being seen.”
His eyes narrowed and he frowned. “How may I be of service to you, Miss Hansen?”
“Where can I find Colonel Stratton? I need to speak with him.”
His dark blue eyes showed his increasing puzzlement. “The living do not go looking for Colonel Stratton. What business have you with him?”
“I bought this house, and I intend to live here.”
“You bought Stratton House?”
“And I need to speak with the colonel.”
Major Gentry shook his head as though to sort through the details. “Please forgive me. You bought Stratton House, you intend to live here, and you wish to speak with the home’s proprietor, Colonel Stratton?”
“I thought we’d covered that,” she said. “You don’t get many visitors, do you?”
About the Author:
Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
She makes her home in Washington state. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she loves ferry rides, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.