Clarissa Johal: A Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop

Crossing Over
by Clarissa Johal
Speculative fiction—crossing the line between real and the imaginary. Hypothetical story-telling.

I’m going to tell you a story. A ghost story. Whether or not it’s real doesn’t really matter because hopefully, I’ve got your attention. 

There is a house at the edge of town, a very elegant Victorian house. You know the kind I mean, one of those Victorians that looks as though it’s been decorated with lace and gumdrops. 
But this one stands empty and in disrepair. It holds a tangible air of something forgotten. In the back, there’s a doghouse that used to have a shepherd chained to it. Now there’s nothing but a few cobwebs and a scratched place in the corner where the dog tried to dig its way to freedom.

I dream of this house every couple of months, though I’ve never actually been there. A layer of dust covers the furniture and floors, it looks untouched every time I visit. For some reason, however, a fire always burns in the fireplace. There’s a part of me that feels the fire has been lit because the house knew I was coming.

There’s a ghost in this house. Oh, didn’t I tell you that? Well, there is. I’ve never seen him face to face, but I know he’s there. Waiting. 
I catch him ducking into the shadows, elusive as always. Sometimes, I feel him standing behind me, but when I turn, he’s gone.

There are times I’ve visited and done nothing but gaze into the fireplace. The ghost and I have an unspoken impasse during those dreams. The hours will tick by and neither one of us will say a word.
Other times, however, I’m overcome with fear and choose to run. He becomes quite upset and I can hear him yelling. I run up the stairs and down a long hallway lit by gas light fixtures. One of the bedrooms is small with a single window that's been boarded up. I choose that one. I hide inside the bedroom’s tiny storage closet, thinking the ghost won't be able to find me there. The closet door has uneven gaps between the wooden slats and a handle that can’t be locked from the inside.
But there is no running. He’s behind me and I’m no longer trying to keep the door closed, but trying to push it open.  I can’t seem to get my fingers to work the latch and the more I claw at the door to escape, the closer he comes. 

I wake from the dream with adrenaline coursing so strongly throughout my body that I’m quite literally in pain for several minutes.
Regardless, I keep going back to the same house. And he’s always there.

Who is this ghost? Is he a fear of something? Is he brought on by stress? I can tell you what he sounds like and what his presence feels like. I can’t however, tell you what he looks like. I can tell you what the wallpaper in the bedroom looks like. It used to be beautiful, stripes and little blue cornflowers, but time has taken it's toll. I can tell you what the fireplace looks like because I spend many hours gazing into it. I can tell you what the house looks like because I see it before I find myself standing in its living room. 
The house hasn’t changed since I first dreamed of it when I was six years old.
And neither has he.

What is real in our mind affects our perception of the world as we know it. Layers of time and emotion affect real life places. The blur between reality and our dreamworld is sometimes crossed.

Dreams figure prominently in my novels.

BETWEEN, a ghost story of a different kind.

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.


A young woman stood beside the bed, anguish on her face. She looked vaguely familiar, though Lucinda couldn’t place her. The forgotten colors of her blousy dress had faded into indistinct shades of grey. The woman grasped Lucinda’s hand and pressed a key into it. Lucinda felt the jagged, metal edges pricking her skin. Somewhere in the distance, a car engine roared to life. The woman’s lips moved but the growling engine drowned out all other sound. The sound became louder.
Growling. Darwin was growling.

“Darwin?” Lucinda woke with a start.

The shepherd growled again and hopped off the bed, padding into the living room.

A quiet knock sounded from the front door. Lucinda rolled out of bed to answer it.

Pushing Darwin aside to open the door, she peered sleepily into the moonlit night. A breeze blew across the clearing, stirring the grass. Confused, she shut the door before the breeze could make its way inside.

“Come on back to bed, Darwin. Nobody there.”

As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, the knocking started again.

Lucinda slipped out of bed and walked back into the living room. The sound clearly came from the other side of the door, faint but unmistakable. She slid her hand quietly over the knob. At once, the knocking stopped. Turning the knob slowly, she pulled the door open a crack, heart pounding in her chest.

“Hello?” An icy breeze slipped by her thigh as the scent of ozone assailed her senses. Her heart beat erratically. “Darwin, no!” The dog tried to push past her, growling once more. Rattled, Lucinda closed the door with a bang and locked it.

Lucinda lay in bed and shivered, unable to get warm. A chill slipped under her covers, stealing up her spine. The smell of roses clung to her blanket, the warmth from their scent seemed to be at war with the cold. An hour passed and she finally dropped off to sleep.

For the remainder of the night, the two unseen presences in her room remained at an impasse.

BETWEEN buy links:
Musa Publishing 

Now onto the Giveaway!
To win an ecopy of BETWEEN (Kindle, Mobi, NOOK or PDF) you can:

1) Follow this Blog OR
2) Add BETWEEN to your Goodreads shelf OR
3) Like my Author Facebook Page 

It’s that simple! Winner will be chosen at random and notified on March 11th.

**PLEASE leave a quickie comment so I know who you are and which you've done. 

Don't forget to visit my fellow author's blogs for more giveaways!
**House photo courtesy of edited by Clarissa Johal


Rita Monette, Writer said...

Wow, Clarissa. I love your ghost story dream. Are you going to make it into a novel? If so, I want to read it! I've already read Between, so don't need to win a copy. But I certainly recommend it to those of you that haven't. Clarissa knows how to tell a ghost story, doesn't she????

Sharon Ledwith said...

You had me at the doghouse part! Yikes! Liked your facebook page (which I thought I already had) and added BETWEEN to my Goodreads list! Best wishes, Scream Queen!

Anonymous said...

Funny how those recurring nightmares from childhood stay with you forever.One of mine was about being chased by Daleks, like I suppose 90% of all kids of my generation. Thing about Daleks though is they can't do stairs, not even in a nightmare.

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Thanks, Rita! Not sure about a novel based on this! Ideas hit when they do... Thanks, Sharon and Jane (lol Daleks) I appreciate you stopping by. :)

Unknown said...

Jane - obviously you haven't watched the newer Dr. Whos. Those Daleks can fly. Brrr.

Clarissa great post. I'm following now, although I thought I was already. Sigh.

Dusty Crabtree said...

All done! :) Great post!

Anonymous said...

I already have a copy of Between, but you should go visit that house. I bet it has some stories to tell.

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Wonderful, Dusty and Nancy--thank you! The house has definitely got some secrets to tell, Brianna. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed Between. :)

Eleni Konstantine said...

What an intense dream, Clarissa. I'm now wondering who this ghost is too!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Oh, yeah I already have a copy of Between :)

Nyki Blatchley said...

That's one very spooky dream. I've followed your blog, but don't enter me as I'm a participant.

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Eleni! Thank you for the follow, Nyki :)

Emily Cole said...

I added Between to my goodreads shelf! And I liked your author page! And I'm following your blog!

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

You rock, Emily! Thank you :)

Lucas Hardgrave said...

I have a copy of Between already, just wanted to pop in and say I loved your little story. That would definitely make a cool novel. ;)

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Thank you, Laura ;)

Paul Stansfield said...

Clarissa--your dreams (nightmares) sound intense, but at least you get good story ideas from them. When you suffer from writer's block, do you find taking a nap helps?

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Lol, Paul. No, I'm not a nap person. I usually practice my ballet or go running if I get a writer's block.