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The Ghost that smelled of Tea

So, here we are. At the beginning of a blank diary, clean white pages, pregnant with possibility. (Jamie Poole)

That’s how I felt several years ago when I began to pen the Jamie Poole series. Ideas. Lots of idea. How to assemble them? Where to begin?

At the beginning, of course. But where is that?

Five years ago I released the first in series book The Isle of Osiris, a Jamie Poole Diary. (Yay! Happy Anniversary to us!) It’s been a long trail and there’s been quite a few tales along the way.

This year, being an anniversary year, I’ve got some surprises in store which I’m almost (but not quite!) ready to announce. Ah, but have I just announced something just in saying that! (smile)

But I’ll give you a clue, or as Azanath, the ghost, said to Jamie early on: In time, it will be revealed. Answers are coming, child.

That frustrated Jamie who wanted to know everything now. However, it motivated her, and she persisted. She is the kind of character that won’t leave a mystery unsolved. She’ll do whatever it takes—even traveling in Time—to unravel something or right an injustice. That’s one of the premises of the series.

But where did we begin?

Jamie Poole greets us in the first book as a twelve-year-old. She’s mature for twelve, and we see her rapidly grow up in the series. She has to as she grapples with very adult concerns. However, she’s just twelve, and as such, I have to begin the story on her level. She has to make an amazing discovery in her home town.

The setting is Alexandria, Indiana. Incidentally, Alexandria is a real place. Even her apartment is situated in a real place in the town. Alexandria makes an excellent mirror for Alexandria, Egypt, which fits prominently into the story. It's where Azanath grew up centuries ago. These Alexandrias are nothing the same, and that’s the intent.

Jamie Poole puts it this way: I grew up in Alexandria, Indiana. It’s a great place to be from. Not a great place to be if you have the desires I had. The sign coming into town reads: “Alexandria: Small Town USA.” It could have read: “Alexandria: Sleepy Town USA.” Just as accurate. Elek, locals call it, is a farming community where everyone knows everyone. Pretty much everyone is related.

Just like Jamie Poole, I grew up in a small farming community. The highlight of my summer was the 4-H Fair with its rides and big tents filled with amazing things. Perhaps Doyle Dalton’s Cabinet of Curiosities didn’t descend upon my hometown, but I still remember the fun I had going with my friend Kari to ride the rides, eat elephant ears, and explore every corner of the fair. I inserted this enthusiasm into Jamie’s story. I’m not sure Kari would consider herself “Margie” but it’s a bit of the truth behind the story.

The fair, for her, becomes a natural springboard into a world bigger than her own. Within Doyle Dalton's Cabinet of Curiosities she finds her first mysterious artifact. She will quickly find herself in a world of supernatural experiences.

Shortly after Jamie goes to the fair she is visited by her first ghost. Don’t get the idea this is A Christmas Carol, and I’m telling a Dickens tale. This ghost is motherly. Jamie says: I wanted to scream in surprise but that would scare Mom, who never got enough sleep. Something inside told me not to be afraid. Instead, I stood calmly, knees a bit wobbly, taking in every detail. The ghost stood casually drinking—was it tea?—from Mom’s favorite mug. It had a pleasant earthy smell which infused the whole room.

She hears Voices of the Dead, calling to her. Asking for help. Alexandria can no longer hold her. She must answer the call. She must solve the mystery that lies before her: What is this statue she discovered at the fair? How does it tie in with her estranged Dad? (It must certainly does!) She must find him and get his help.

While there are malevolent figures who plot against Jamie (and even kidnap her), this isn’t one of those characters. The Isle of Osiris is infused with the pleasant scents of tea. Later in the story, Jamie, her dad, and others make an important decision as they’re exploring an extinct volcano to turn down a specific tunnel based on the fact it smells of tea:

We walked five minutes then the shaft leveled out, ending in a circular chamber with a domed ceiling. Three doorways faced us on the opposite wall. Three choices. Dad and Mary examined the door frames which had glyphs etched into them. Dad leaned the lantern closer for her since she had more skill in reading ancient languages.

“That one,” she pointed to the far left doorway.

“Why?” he asked.

Mary shrugged and smirked. “Educated hunch. And the scent of tea seems stronger from that one.”

“So we follow the tea? D’you expect a Dunkin’ Donuts at the end of the tunnel too?” Dad released a few more curses under his breath. He pushed up his glasses and clapped his hat more firmly atop his head. Through gritted teeth, he mumbled, “Do as she says.”

Most people choose tea (or coffee) as a refreshment to relax. By giving the ghost Azanath this fragrance, she is immediately seen as a non-threatening figure. (Or at least I hope so!) Most of the characters in the series never meet Azanath, but many will smell evidence she’s been around. Perhaps it’s a curious fragrance choice for how a ghost would smell. What would you pick?

As we begin celebrations for an anniversary year, there will be opportunities to celebrate with us. We will be making some announcements very soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t liked my page on Facebook: check us out at Jamie Poole Books. Or follow us on Twitter at @lizzylightstorm. And don’t forget to subscribe to our website to keep up with upcoming announcements!

Thank you for following. Enjoy your day with a good book and a nice cup of tea!

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