Karen White and I are talking about ghosts, particularly the ghosts haunting Melanie Middleton Trenholm in White’s latest novel, The Attic on Queen Street, the last in the series set in haunted Charleston, South Carolina.
“Do you believe in ghosts?” she asks.
Not really, I reply, but I also don’t like staying in places that are supposedly haunted when I’m by myself.
White feels the same way because, as we both agree, you just never know.
It’s then that her phone goes dead.
“I don’t what happened,” says White when she calls back. “My phone was charged and everything.”
Coincidence? Most likely. But still, it makes you wonder.
But phones going dead are the least of the problems for Melanie, a Charleston real estate agent with young twins, a husband who is deciding whether he wants to stay in the marriage, and a teenaged stepdaughter whose room is haunted. Indeed, the entire house on Tradd Street is haunted. Some of the ghosts are helpful, some are evil, and one is the ghost of a dog—which is fine as it gives Melanie’s dog a companion to play with. And to make matters worse, Melanie’s young daughter is already showing signs of being able to see ghosts.
Ghosts are such a problem that Melanie learned early on to sing ABBA songs loudly to drown out the sounds of the dead people trying to talk to her. But that only works sometimes and in this novel there’s plenty of evil for Melanie to deal with both living and dead. For starters there’s Marc Longo, who stole her husband’s manuscript and turned himself into a bestselling author. Longo is now heading a film crew in Melanie’s house while underhandedly trying to discover the diamonds he believes are hidden there. Melanie is also trying to aid a good friend in discovering who murdered her sister years ago—with the help of the cryptic messages the deceased sister keeps sending her way. And then there’s Jack, her handsome husband. They’re still in love but Jack is darned tired of Melanie always getting herself into deadly situations.
White first introduced us to Melanie in The House on Tradd Street in what was to be a two book series.
“But when it came out and was so popular, my publisher said let’s make it four,” says White. “This is the seventh and I’m really going to miss them.”
Well, kind of, as White is continuing the theme of a haunted city and the Trenholm family, only with Melanie’s stepdaughter in the key role who has to deal with her only supernatural beings when she move to New Orleans in a book due out this coming March called The Shop on Royal Street.
Interestingly, the Tradd Street series was originally going to be set in New Orleans. White went to Tulane University and in 2005 she was all set to go with her family back to New Orleans to do research for the first book when Hurricane Katrina hit.
“I knew that there was no way with all the catastrophic flooding, and deaths that I could write this story without having Katrina in it and this wasn’t that kind of book,” says White, who has authored 23 books,
Choosing Charleston made sense as White had ancestors who lived in Charleston in the late 1700s and family who had lived on Tradd Street. In ways, she says that when she visited, she felt the pull of genetic memory—a sensation of a past shared life.
“I smelled what they call pluff—which is rotted vegetation,” recalls White, “and I said oh doesn’t that smell so wonderful.”
The Attic on Tradd Street is also available as an audiobook and electronically.