Thing is, there's something kind of cool about an instrument the size of a tiny house (or a not-so tiny house) that can out-scream a stack of Marshall amps, and is playable by just one person. Something kind of scary, too, and every cheesy horror movie in the world knows it.
I kept hearing chatter from my publisher and my writing colleagues that older heroines might be a good idea, too...hmmm...
So I came up with the idea that is driving my current WIP, which stars a woman who is haunted by the ghost of her ex. Emily--who curses like a sailor--happens to be an organist in her 60's. She has just been tracked down by her old flame from conservatory, a hard-drinking and smoking bad boy--well, he's a bad old fart now, but you catch my drift. It's a funny book, I'm loving my characters, and if you think the sexy parts of romance don't apply to folks their age, you'd better have another think.
Other attractions: Alexa from the Amazon Echo as a minor character, a pot dealer named Santa Claus, and a marathon-running, cookie-baking dreamboat of an Episcopal priest, also a widower, who is a deeply good man and utterly clueless...mostly. Oh, and a tiny house. Emily lives in one. The book's set in my usual territory, the Hudson River Valley, which has a very high proportion of ghosts per square mile.
There's another ghost besides Emily's ex, but explaining that would be spoiler alert territory.
By the way, Emily plays a 19th century pipe organ, brand name Jardine. Pictured above is an old picture of the Jardine at St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC.
Here's a sample, from early in the book. Al, the ghost of Emily's ex-husband is about to turn up...
At home, Emily defrosted a bowl of the minestrone soup she’d made the week before and emptied the last of the chardonnay into her wine glass. She ate the soup standing up. Staring at her reflection in the black kitchen window, she washed out the bowl in her barely-big-enough-for-a-pot sink, splashing water on the cuffs of her turtleneck. Oh, fuckity fuck.
Someone put a hand on her shoulder, then. His touch was neither icy—nor human. “Al?” she said.
“Hey, Em,” Al smiled and stuck his hands in his jean pockets.
“Hey.” She tipped back her wine and ran a damp hand over his shaved-smooth head. It felt cool and dry. As always, his brown eyes were warm.
“So, what the fuck, I guess,” she said.
Emily had never been too sure how frequent Al’s eavesdropping really was. “You’re unaware of my ill-considered and impulsive actions, then?”
“You mean that stuff last night?”
“Yeah. That stuff last night.”
“A little surprising. You never seemed to be a pothead when we…”
“Believe it or not, I smoked in choir school. But the pot back then was like—I don’t know—catnip. I mean, compared to what’s around now. There were only a very few of us who inhaled. Dorchester was like The Marine Corps for church musicians. Brad always had pot. He and I could have gotten so, so thrown out of there. God, Brad!” The room blurred. What are these stupid tears? Emily blinked them away, shaking her head.
“In answer to your probable next question. I hit the road after your second toke. It was pretty clear where things were heading. Have I ever snooped into your more intimate…”
“What more intimate? There hardly ever were any!”
“I always thought that was strange. You are a woman of…appetites, Em. You like to eat and drink and…”
“…and fuck,” Emily shocked herself by saying that. Dropping an f-bomb when you were just randomly turning the air blue was one thing. But this was no fuckity-fuck-fuck. This meant actually doing the deed…
She hadn’t shocked Al. “Indeed. And fuck.” He nodded, his lips tight. “I left you in the lurch.”
Emily sighed. “Yup. Yup. Guess you did. But we talked that stuff to death two decades ago. Shit, Al! It’s just…just….I don’t know what it is. Alexa, play Widor organ music.”
“I don’t know any songs by Widor,” said Alexa.
“Alexa, ARGH!!” Emily made neck-choking gestures toward the black cylinder on her counter.
“Bee-boop,” said Alexa. Her illuminated blue ring danced and turned itself off.
“I know our lovely and talented daughter meant well with that thing,” said Al. “But The Echo sucks at classical music unless you get lucky. Works better just to ask for radio stations.”
“You’re too good at that stuff. Do you haunt many Echo owners?”
“Just Gordon,” Al laughed ruefully. “That young husband of his bought an Alexa for him. Alexa, play WQXR.”
I'm about two thirds of the way through the book, and about to write a pretty juicy sex scene--but I'm not identifying the guilty parties!
So--progress report! Stay tuned for another cool blog entry from Katherine Wyvern early next week. She's got a new book out called Spice and Vanilla, and I can't wait to read it!