18 October 2012

Romantic Ghost Stories

I have always loved a good romantic ghost story. I blame the Saturday afternoon matinees that local stations used to have in the days before cable.

I first watched The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on a cold winter weekend afternoon. I must have been about ten years old.

Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison are a couple deeply in loved but divided by the great beyond. Harrison is the ghost of a sea captain, cranky and sarcastic while Tierney is a single mother trying to find some way to raise her daughter alone in a world where her employment options are limited.

The original trailer is on YouTube and has some terrific scene snippets.

The story also has a feminist angle. Mrs. Muir at first tries to solve her problem by falling in love with a man who she believes will take good care of her and her daughter. Unfortunately, the charming gentleman courting her turns out to have a wife and she's back on her own.

Knowing he's getting in the way of Mrs. Muir moving forward, as their love appears doomed, the Captain vanishes fading to a distant memory.

If you've seen the ending of Titanic, you can guess how this movie ends. I often think James Cameron is a fan of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Another similarity to Titanic is the beautiful musical score. The video above showcases it.

The movie is proof that sometimes even ghosts have happy endings.

But we don't see this kind of romance often in books. At a workshop for my local RWA chapter, former editor Theresa Stevens said that ghost stories are a hard sell and don't sell well. Perhaps it's because a happy ending for a ghost is so hard to find.

I find ghosts comforting because it's nice to think that they exist. They're de facto proof of life after death, after all.

I have written one ghost story but the ghosts aren't part of the love story, they're being used as weapons against my heroine, who can see ghosts but thinks they can be explained by science, at least some day. I thought it would be a fun idea to have a person who can see ghosts but doesn't truly believe in them. Eventually, she'll change her mind--or the heroes change it for her.

That story isn't published as yet. But maybe having flesh and blood humans as the heroes will help. And a vampire.
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