Sometimes I wordsmith to death, and so it is with my mystery, The Cavanaugh House. My book was inspired by an urban legend and my childhood memories of a neighbor’s disturbing discovery.
The detail of the urban legend that seems to have crept into my novel is one word: Scrape. It from the legend of the White Lady who haunted the area of Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, NY. According to this myth, one night a couple parked in this lovers’ lane to watch the “submarine races” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Exhausted from their passion, they fell asleep. When the girl awoke in the wee hours of the morning, her boyfriend had disappeared and she heard a noise—scrape, scrape, scrape—coming from above her.
The word “scrape” has gestated in my imagination all these years, and birthed itself upon the pages of The Cavanaugh House. But I don’t think it’s the right word for my story. While I hear it in my mind in all of its glorious ghostly implication, “scrape” may conjure up other images for my readers: a scraped knee, getting into a difficult situation, ice on a windshield, preparation to paint a house. None of these make the spine tingle. I want my readers’ spines to tingle.
My beta readers have been awesome with suggestions ranging from the sound of eerie chimes to words like scritch. I love the idea of music or chimes, but I can’t write that in one word; I need an onomatopoeia that will imbue the scene with creepiness and suspense. I’m leaning toward scritch since it lacks any preconceived ideas. For some reason my usually-gregarious muse, Boris, has been strangely silent on this topic. Apparently he handles the “big picture” and is not a detail man.
To avoid a spoiler, I will not reveal my childhood neighbor’s disturbing discovery…you’ll have to read the book. But I am open to ideas to replace scrape from any of you with spine-tingling words in your head. It’s my last revision before I publish.
Look for The Cavanaugh House on Amazon in late March.