My Family was Haunted . . .
As a character, the ghost in my Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries arrived and developed the way characters tend to. They take up residence in my head. They move in with their belongings, set up housekeeping and actually pay very little attention to me, their host. The ghost arrived in my head that way, bringing only her tears, her television addiction, and vague personal memories. I’ve had to tease her story out of her along the way. But her name I knew immediately. For years, my family was haunted by a woman named Geneva. It happened like this.
For a month or two after we moved into our house on Maple Street in Johnson City, Tennessee (in 1993), we received letters addressed to the previous owners. We forwarded them, or just walked them over, because the family moved just a couple of blocks away. We also received the occasional letter addressed to Geneva Bowman. Those I marked “deceased” and put back in the mailbox. The family we bought the house from had bought it from her estate. Ms. Bowman had been gone for quite a few years.
In 2002, when we moved to Illinois, I filled out change of address forms for all of us. We were still receiving the occasional piece of mail for Geneva Bowman, but I didn’t fill out a change of address for her, because she was . . . you know . . . dead. Her mail followed us anyway.
We lived in an apartment in Urbana, Illinois, for the first five months, and envelopes addressed to Geneva dropped into our mailbox right along with envelopes addressed to the rest of us. I marked hers “deceased,” and put them back in the mailbox, even her invitations to join the AARP. When we bought a house in Champaign, Urbana’s twin city, I filled out change of address forms for all of us again. But not for Geneva Bowman, because she was still, well . . . you know . . . dead.
Geneva’s mail not only followed us to the house in Champaign, but someone—the post office?—changed her name. She was no longer Geneva Bowman, she became Geneva Thompson (Thompson being my husband’s and our children’s last name), and she received notices about retirement plans, ads for motorized scooters, and offers for time shares in Florida and the Carolinas. (I made that last part up. There were no offers for time shares in the Carolinas, only for Florida.) And so our family settled into our new Midwestern lives. Our family—Molly, Mike, Gordon, Ross, and Geneva (who took up residence in our lives and who received more mail than the rest of us on most days). How could I not name the ghost in my books Geneva?
So I did.
And shortly after the first book, Last Wool and Testament, came out, an interesting thing happened. Interesting and, surprisingly, a little bit sad for me. Geneva’s mail stopped arriving.
I like to think that means Geneva Bowman/Thompson is happy now. That she’s content, even if I did turn her into a somewhat depressed and TV obsessed ghost. That she’s found a cozy place in the Weaver’s Cat in Blue Plum, Tennessee—and the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries.
Molly MacRae, national bestselling author of Spinning in Her Grave, Dyeing Wishes, and Last Wool and Testament, was director of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town, and later managed an independent bookstore in Johnson City. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine for more than twenty years, and she has won the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction.
About the book: Yarn shop owner Kath Rutledge is at a historic farm in Blue Plum, Tennessee, volunteering for the high school program Hands on History. But when a long-buried murder is uncovered on the property, Kath needs help from Geneva the ghost to solve a crime that time forgot....
Kath and her needlework group TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) are preparing to teach a workshop at the Holston Homeplace Living History Farm, but their lesson in crazy quilts is no match for the crazy antics of the assistant director, Phillip Bell. Hamming it up with equal parts history and histrionics, Phillip leads an archaeological dig of the farm’s original dump site—until one student stops the show by uncovering some human bones.
When a full skeleton is later excavated, Kath can’t help but wonder if it’s somehow connected to Geneva, the ghost who haunts her shop, and whom she met at this very site. After Phillip is found dead, it’s up to Kath to thread the clues together before someone else becomes history.