Today we have a guest post with K.C. Tansley, author of The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. K.C. is talking about world-building and how she originally came up with the idea for the book when she was just 11 years old! Check it out below!
“Kat Preston doesn’t believe in ghosts. Not because she’s never seen one, but because she saw one too many. Refusing to believe is the only way to protect herself from the ghost that tried to steal her life. Kat’s disbelief keeps her safe until her junior year at McTernan Academy, when a research project for an eccentric teacher takes her to a tiny, private island off the coast of Connecticut.
The site of a grisly mystery, the Isle of Acacia is no place for a girl who ignores ghosts, but the ghosts leave Kat little choice. Accompanied by her research partner, Evan Kingsley, she investigates the disappearance of Cassie Mallory and Sebastian Radcliffe on their wedding night in 1886. Evan’s scientific approach to everything leaves Kat on her own to confront a host of unbelievables: ancestral curses, powerful spells, and her strange connection to the ghosts that haunt Castle Creighton.
But that’s all before Kat’s yanked through a magic portal and Evan follows her. When the two of them awaken 129 years in the past with their souls trapped inside the bodies of two wedding guests, everything changes. Together, Kat and Evan race to stop the wedding-night murders and find a way back to their own time—and their own bodies—before their souls slip away forever.”
Worldbuilding with the Unbelievables by K.C. Tansley:
A long, long time ago, in a seventh grade home room, two awkward brainy kids, Anthony and Kourtney, started talking about the kind of story they loved to read. They were eleven years old and adored Agatha Christie mystery novels. So of course, a great story would have to have a mystery in it.
At some point, Anthony pulled out a notebook and started taking notes.
Kourtney suggested there be a castle. Because all cool things happened in castle. Anthony suggested they locate the entire story in England because that’s where castles were. (Revisions would later put the castle in Connecticut)
And the main characters? Well, they should be smart. Definitely older students. (They decided on grad school, but revisions would put their characters in high school.)
But what was the mystery?
Kourtney and Anthony took their time on this. A great mystery needed to be well thought out. Between them, they settled on murders that happened ages ago. Kourtney loved the Victorian era, so they agreed to have it happen in the late 1800s.
They both loved the paranormal, so their students would go to the castle to research the murders. A terrible storm would strike, and they would travel back in time to a week before the murders. They would have to find a way back to their own time. At the same time, they would be putting together clues and living out the days before the murders.
Then Kourtney and Anthony got sidetracked creating all the characters that lived in the present and in the past. They had eight families in their original story world. Anthony filled his notebook with a paragraph on each character. By the time they were nearly done, the story had lost its steam. And as happens with children, they were off to other things.
Eighteen years passed before Kourtney thought of that story concept. By that time, she was working on Wall Street and Anthony was a Fulbright Scholar in Croatia.
Kourtney wanted to tell that story so she emailed Anthony. He was happy to help out with the general outline, but timing and scheduling didn’t work out when it came time to write the novel.
So Kourtney did it.
As she worked her way through each draft, the story tightened and shifted. She streamlined the eight families down to four.
She tried to take the familiar and add a twist. Castles in England had been done to death. What if it was in Connecticut instead? Along the lines of her favorite CT castle, Gillette Castle. And instead of Victorian era, that would make it New England Victorian era. That was a little more unique. She loved it.
When her characters went back in time, she had to find a way to ramp up the tension. Sure there was the impending wedding night murders in the past, but that didn’t impact her main characters, Evan and Kat, directly.
So she thought about it. What if the more time Evan and Kat were in the past, the more they faded away? What if being there was risking their future? She had to figure out all the rules of the world building that would make that possible.
As she revised the story and settled deeper into Kat’s point of view, she realized she needed something cool and compelling about Kat. She needed to give Kat a secret. A secret that made her special and isolated. What if Kat could see ghosts, but she chose not to? That was intriguing. But why? Because of what a ghost had tried to do to her when she was younger. Kat’s backstory was born. And this ghost thread wove through the entire book, taking on a life of its own.
The book shifted and reshaped itself with every revision. There were so many things that the 11-year-old Kourtney wanted in the book. Adult Kourtney spent years working to bring the story to life.
K.C. Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes about them.
Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is the first book in her YA time-travel murder mystery series.
As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.
For more about The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts check out these sites!