We’re so excited to have Alice Duncan as our guest today. I first worked with Alice a few years ago on one of her earlier Daisy Gumm Majesty Spirits’ novels. I fell in love with Daisy instantly. I, at that time in my life, had never met a character like her. I enjoyed reading about her adventures, and got sucked into her world–in a good way. Daisy is full of spunk–just like Alice is in real life. We worked together on Hungry Spirits, Genteel Spirits, and High Spirits, and it was one of most enjoyable times in my editing career. If you enjoy female characters who never give up, check out the books about Daisy Gumm Majesty and Alice’s other novels. Maybe next time we’ll learn about how she came up with Mercy. 🙂
Award-winning author Alice Duncan lives with a herd of wild dachshunds (enriched from time to time with fosterees from New Mexico Dachshund Rescue) in Roswell, New Mexico. She’s not a UFO enthusiast; she’s in Roswell because her mother’s family settled there fifty years before the aliens crashed. Alice no longer longs to return to California, although she still misses the food, not to mention her children, one there and the other who is in Wyoming. Alice would love to hear from you. You can contact her at email@example.com or visit her website at www.aliceduncan.net or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925
I’m sure everyone’s heard authors are always asked where their ideas come from. Truth to tell, I can’t remember anyone ever asking me that question. Go figure.
However, I love writing stories set in the 1920s, because the era is so fascinating. Think about it: the War to End All Wars had just ended (unfortunately, WWI didn’t end all wars); people were freaked out; the entire world was floundering in a depression; a gigantic influenza epidemic had wiped out almost a quarter of the world’s population (and this, right after the war); young people were feeling as if nothing mattered (read F. Scott Fitzgerald if you don’t believe me); they began rebelling in earnest, drinking and dancing to *jazz* and frittering their lives away, thereby freaking out their parents; the Volstead Act was passed, making the distilling and selling of liquor illegal (thus spawning an era of violence almost worse than what we’d been through in the war). People were struggling to make sense of a world that just didn’t seem to make sense any longer. It’s an absolutely fascinating era.
Anyway, something rather interesting occurred several years before I began writing novels, and I used the experience in my “Spirits” books, starring Daisy Gumm Majesty, spiritualist extraordinaire, who supports her husband and herself in Pasadena, California, in the early 1920s. Daisy’s sixth book, ANCIENT SPIRITS, was published in January 2012. You can read all about it here: www.aliceduncan.net
A long, long time ago (well, maybe twenty years or so), my daughter Robin and her then-boyfriend went to a yard sale in Pasadena, CA, where they found an old, beat-up Ouija board. They decided to pay the fifty cents the yard-sale person was asking for it. When they did so, the person said, “Be careful of that thing.” Naturally, Robin and Otto (the boyfriend in question) thought she was joking.
So they took the Ouija board back to Robin’s apartment and started playing with it. The board came with the usual triangular planchette, and Robin and Otto sat across from each other and placed their fingers lightly on the planchette. Instantly, the planchette moved to the letters painted in a double crescent above the numbers on the board. In astonishment, Robin and Otto watched as the planchette spelled out, “Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom.” Nothing else. Just “Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom.”
A little freaked, Robin brought the board to my house. Not that she thought the board was asking for me. She just thought maybe if she used it in another location, it might be more informative. So we sat in my living room, the Ouija board on a table between us, settled our fingers lightly on the planchette and asked if there was a spirit in the room. The planchette zoomed to the word “Yes” in the upper left corner. Robin and I stared at each other for a second, then we both shrugged and asked if the board’s spirit could enlighten us about the curious incident of the “Mom Mom Mom Mom Mom” thing.
The spirit seemed to have a little trouble communicating, but it could answer yes-or-no questions. Eventually, Robin and I learned that a troubled young man used to live in Robin’s apartment building. We never did learn who the young man was, but he clearly had a mother problem. We’d already kind of figured that out. Then, because we were still curious, we asked the spirit his name. Very slowly, the planchette spelled out “Rolly.” Rolly? Strange name. So we asked it more questions.
Honest to God, it turned out (if you believe in these things) that Rolly has been with me all my life. According to him, we were married in the eleventh century in Scotland. We had five sons together. Sounds ghastly to me, but Rolly claimed we were soul mates, and he’d be with me forever. Both Robin and I agreed that, if you have to be haunted by a spirit, it’s kind of nice if it’s one that adores you. In my personal case, given my history with men in this life, it’s also probably a good thing that he’s been dead for a thousand years.
Because I was puzzled by Rolly’s inability to spell well, I asked him about this deficit in his education (trying to be very polite about it). Turned out Rolly was a soldier, and in Scotland back then, soldiers didn’t need no schooling. They needed to be able to be really, really strong and kill people. So. Okay. Not only did I have a soul mate following me through my life (or my many lives, if you believe those things), but I, who write books for a living (well, all right, I don’t. But I’ve had a bunch of books published, and if there was any fairness in the world I’d be earning a living at it), have an illiterate forever devotee. Gotta love it.
By the way, my half-brother once told me that spiritualism runs in the family. When he was a little boy, his mother and aunts used to drag him to séances all the time. Whenever there was a bump in the house, his mom would tell him, “Oh, it’s just Edna.” Edna had died several years earlier. I didn’t know about this until after my first Daisy books were published.
Anyhow, when Daisy Gumm Majesty appeared in my cluttered brain in 2002 or thereabouts and told me she was a phony spiritualist in Pasadena, California, in 1921, I decided to give her Rolly. What the heck, y’know? Why should I have all the fun?
Thank you, Alice, for being our guest today, and sharing with us how Daisy and Rolly came about. If you have questions for Alice, she’ll be with us all day. Please help us in congratulating her on having two novels–Genteel Spirits and Fallen Angels becoming 2012 finalists at the New Mexico Book of the Year awards.