Wednesday, May 8, 2019

#37 Inside the Emotion of Fiction's THE WHISPERING HOUSE by Marci Baun

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****Marci Baun’s The Whispering House is the thirty-seventh in a never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us?
The Whispering House.

Fiction genre? Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long?
The Whispering House is speculative fiction. It’s soft sci-fi/horror with a love story woven in. Oh, and a happy ending. All of my books have happy endings.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? Yes. The publisher is Freya’s Bower and the release was May 2016. While Freya’s Bower no longer “exists”, I have kept it published under this imprint.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? Oh, I worked on this book for years. From start to finish, it probably took me 9 years. At the time, I ran two publishing houses and spent very little time writing. My focus was on my stable of authors first and my writing second. (Left: Marci in March of 2009)

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? On my laptop on the couch in my living room. That couch has changed, but the spot hasn’t.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? I’m always writing directly on my laptop. As I homeschool my daughter, I write in the morning before she wakes up or if she’s at a class. Music will distract me, so I prefer silence. You’ll find me sipping on water and furiously pecking away at my keyboard.
What is the summary of this specific fiction work? After her mother’s death, Eleanor Radcliffe retires from her job in San Jose and escapes to a small place outside of Fresno to heal.

But her new home hides a secret. A secret that could claim her life. When strange, frightening things start to happen, she turns to her mysterious neighbor Michael Stevens and the handsome sheriff Rodney Tyler for help.

As the incidents grow more bizarre and violent, she is forced to flee. Her world is turned upside down. Long-suppressed supernatural powers resurface, and she struggles to deal with everything that is happening.

With her world spinning out of control, Eleanor will have to face her deepest fears and learn to use her powers if she’s going to survive...

The whispering house.

Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? The sheriff has just arrived after Eleanor called in a “break-in” from the night before. Yes, it took them overnight to get there, not uncommon out in the country, especially if no one is hurt or no weapons are involved. As the sheriff is investigating her house, there’s another “break-in”. At this point, Eleanor is learning that her house is not the safe haven she’d imagined. What it is, she doesn’t know . . . yet.

Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
p. 22-26
    The house was quiet when she returned. Nothing out of place.  No windows or doors stood open.  She could almost believe last night never happened. 
The doorbell rang, sending her pulse racing faster than a greyhound. Could it be Michael? She drew in a deep breath and walked briskly to the door, almost throwing it open. Disappointment filled her at the sight of a chest clad in tan and sporting a sheriff’s badge instead of soft flannel and leather.
She had to tip her head back to see his face. The somber expression on the handsome face gave nothing away.
“Miss Radcliffe? I’m Officer Rodney Tyler.” Intense brown eyes studied her.
Eleanor shook his hand. Memories of her fear from the day before came rushing back.
“May I come in?”
“Uh, sure.” She stepped back to give him room to enter. Cold air wrapped its arms around her. A shiver shimmied down her back, and she quickly shut the door. The fog’s embrace had lost its allure.
He scanned the sparsely furnished living room, stopping on her dinosaur of a television. He didn’t even raise an eyebrow. “You reported a break in? Was anything taken?”
“No. I…” Embarrassment heated her cheeks. How could she explain what had happened without sounding psycho? She licked her lips, looked down at her feet, and grimaced. Mud covered her sturdy hiking boots. She’d obviously just been out walking. Would he question her story more because of it?
A warm hand rested briefly on her shoulder. She jumped, startled. Their gazes met. For the second time that day, she read interest in a man’s eyes. She, who barely made a ripple when she walked through a room, had two very good-looking men interested. The sensation was heady. Blushing, she moved to the couch and sat down. When she faced him again, she felt more in control.
“I don’t know how to explain this without sounding like a crackpot, but yesterday I was sitting at my kitchen table when I saw a figure standing out in the fog…” She told him what happened.
He remained silent through the whole recitation, making her nerves jump. Did he believe her or was he merely humoring her?
“Does anyone else have a key?” Officer Tyler asked.
“Not that I’m aware of. I bought this house over a month ago, but only moved in last week. When I moved in, it was vacant.”
“Are you certain you didn’t open the window?”
“In the middle of winter?”
“I have to ask to rule out all of the possibilities,” he replied. He once again scanned the living room. “Do you mind if I take a look around? Maybe you missed something.” He closed his notebook and strode toward the front door.
“Do you want to see the bedroom window?” Heat flooded her cheeks. That hadn’t come out the way she meant it. Would he think it was an invitation? His lack of response told her it was only in her mind. She sighed in relief and continued. “I didn’t see anything that would suggest someone had forced it, but I don’t have much experience with this kind of thing.”
He shook his head. “Let me look around outside first. I’ll check inside later.”
She followed him to the door and watched him through her window. He pulled his radio out and started to talk to someone the second he stepped out of earshot. She sensed that he didn’t believe her. Heck! She had a hard time believing it and she’d lived through it.
“He’s a fool,” a voice whispered.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Her heart pounding an uneven tattoo, she turned to look behind her, afraid of what she may, or may not, see. The room was empty, but she heard the kitchen door slam. Pulling open the front door, she ran outside to the officer.
“It happened again.” Her breath came in short gasps. “Someone was in my house. They went out the back.”
“Stay here,” he ordered and rushed into the house.
She looked around and scuttled after him. Nothing could induce her to stand outside in the cold, with the fog hanging in the distance, alone. He moved quickly through the house with Eleanor on his heels. He stopped so abruptly in the kitchen that she bumped into his back. The look he gave her made her insides churn, but fear of the unknown kept her glued to his side.
Peeking around his shoulder, she saw two small muddy footprints on the floor about the size of an eight- or nine-year-old child. He crossed to the backdoor and looked out the window. She knew he wouldn’t see anything.
“I called the station,” he began, but stopped. Concern filled his eyes.
“I know. I saw you on your radio. I figured you were calling in about the crazy lady.”
He shook his head and appeared hesitant to continue. “What do you know about this house?”
“Only that I love it. Why?” A very bad feeling stole over her, similar to how she felt right before her mother told her she had cancer.
“Apparently, your house is a favorite place for neighborhood kids to pull pranks. At least, that is the best we can figure.” He took in the cozy kitchen before he turned back to her. “You’ve been here a week?”
She nodded, wondering how the sheriff’s department could call this a neighborhood kid’s prank, especially after seeing the small bare footprints. What child would run around in the middle of winter without shoes? What mother would let them? And how could there be neighborhood kids without a neighborhood? “Yesterday was exactly a week.”
“It fits the pattern. That’s when the pranks begin. Most of the pranks are harmless.”
“Most?” she interrupted.
“Yes. On occasion, things are destroyed. In any case, we’ve been unable to catch them. The best I can do is write down another report and advise you to get to know your neighbors.”
“That’s it?” she asked. This was all he was going to do?
“Miss Radcliffe, I wish I could do more for you. Unfortunately, beyond setting up camp, which I am not allowed to do, it’s the best I can do. However,” he pulled out a card, quickly jotted something down on the back, and handed it to her, “when…uh, if this happens again, call me directly. Or just call me if you feel the need…for anything.” His radio squawked. “Officer Tyler here,” he answered. “I’m sorry. I have to go.” He strode across the yard to his parked patrol car, climbed in, and started the engine.
Stunned by his abrupt exit, she stared after him. She finally found her voice as she watched his car pull out of the driveway. “What about my bedroom?” she asked to the air. With his card in her hand, she wanted to cry then throw something and cry some more. Useless. Absolutely useless. She had expected to feel safer after talking to a sheriff. Instead, she felt even more vulnerable. She looked at the back of the card. 555-0892 – home. Officer Rodney Tyler.
Where was Michael when she needed him? And how did she know he could help her?

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt?
I’ve been in a similar situation before. As a child (Left), I grew up in the country in a house where a lot of unexplained things happened. One night, my parents were attending a party, and I was about 12 or so. My two oldest siblings had long since left the next, and my nearest-in-age sister must have been visiting a friend as it was a weekend. I was watching TV. It must’ve been around 11. Upstairs is a one-room with a large balcony overlooking the backyard. The sound of the door opening set me on edge. (It’s a sliding glass door.) Then, it sounded like someone was walking around.
     I called our neighbor who was a CHP (California Highway Patrol). He brushed aside my concerns and said I was imagining things. (A young girl alone in the house that creaks and makes a lot of odd noises, most likely the house settling, I’m sure he thought.)
I grabbed the largest knife we had and sat facing the staircase from the kitchen. I’m not sure how much I couldn’t done with it, but I felt a teensy bit better. When the stair that only creaks when you step on it creaked, my heartbeat accelerated. But there was nothing there, and, of course, I survived to write this scene.
       So, it’s based on life experience, but, instead, the character is taken seriously, even if the sheriff comes late.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. There were no deletions from the scene that I kept. One of the reasons it takes me so long to write books is that I don’t write rough drafts. However, I do have a professional editor and copyeditor I work with.

Other works you have published?
I have four other books: Mr. Hotness and Some Place to Belong. I also have two other books out under the pseudonym Kit Wylde titled: Hieroglyphs and Last Chance.

Anything you would like to add?
I’m currently working on another book titled Snow Spirits. It’s another speculative fiction with a romance woven in, and, yes, it will have a happy ending. This one has shape shifters and is from the same series as Some Place to Belong. Set in the Far East in the early 1960s, it has been challenging and exciting to write.

I owned two award-winning, independent publishing houses for 17 years before closing them at the end of 2016. Over the course of those 17 years, I, and my staff of editors, proofreaders, copy editors, and cover artists, published over 500 books and worked with over 150 authors from all over the world. My houses were featured by Writer’s Digest in their Up and Coming Publishers column in 2013. I participated in publishing panels for writers conferences for a number of years and was the vice president of EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) for three years. 
 Since closing the houses, I’ve focused on editing and formatting for others, my own writing, and homeschooling my fourteen-year-old daughter. In my “spare” time, I’m an avid swimmer and just started competing again. My other interests include singing, opera, history, art, space, reading, and . . . Finally, I’m owned by two cats and have been married for 18 years to the love of my life.
Amazon author page:


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