Wednesday, October 26, 2022

An Interview with Carol J. Perry by E. B. Davis


Christmas lights on palm trees and Santa hats on plastic pink flamingoes are far from the snowy landscape Maureen and her beloved golden retriever, Finn, are used to. But Maureen is determined to make this a holiday to remember—which means finding a way to promote Haven House on a shoestring. Fortunately, Haven’s vintage movie theater, the Paramount, has come up with a great “Twelve Days of Christmas” idea. They’ll feature an impressive list of the best classic Christmas movies ever made—shown by one-time movie actor-turned-projectionist Decklin Monroe . . .
But nobody bothered to tell Maureen that the Paramount is haunted by the ghost of a man who was murdered a few years back. Haven’s top cop Frank Hubbard doesn’t believe in ghosts but, believing that Decklin Monroe was somehow involved, he wants a reluctant Maureen’s help. 
That plan is derailed when, on the first day of the festival, a fresh murder victim is found at the theater. Now Maureen has to defend her staff and guests, while trying to keep her high-spirited resident ghosts out of the picture—before they have company for the holidays . . .


High Spirits is Carol J. Perry’s second book in the Haunted Haven series. It is set in a Florida Gulf town, and Maureen, the main character, never believed in ghosts, but as she settles into her new home, a historic inn, she starts to see ghosts, and then communicates with them. Carol also writes the Witch City mysteries, set in Salem, MA, featuring a main character who is a scryer—someone who can divine knowledge or future events via crystal or glass reflections.


Amid living with ghosts, Maureen must use marketing skills from her past life as a department store buyer to bring in business and do so on a shoe string as the former owner allowed mismanagement to erode the inn’s capital base. Her creativity is aided by the horde of decorations the previous owner stockpiled. Christmas decorations and marketing lead her to murder.


Please welcome Carol J. Perry back to WWK.              E. B. Davis

What draws you to write books within the paranormal mystery genre?

This one was mainly because the publisher asked me if I could write a paranormal series!  I’ve been drawn to the spooky stuff all along I guess, and have a fondness for “ghost stories.” My Witch City series isn’t classified as “paranormal,” but some weird stuff happens in all of them too.


Is the Mediterranean Revival Hotel real, or is it the style that is real? The 1887 Casa Monica hotel in St. Augustine where ghosts Lorna and Reggie go dancing is a real place. People have reported hearing waltz music late at night, and seeing a roomful of ghosts dancing gracefully in the lobby!


Maureen is using the hotel’s old guest registers and the tales of ghosts to renovate the hotel suites, naming them after famous guests like Humphrey Bogart and Babe Ruth. The townspeople prefer to keep their ghosts secret. Isn’t it a temptation for Maureen to use the ghost angle to market the inn, especially when she knows the ghosts are real? Nope. The people in Haven don’t want the ghost hunter TV shows or the amateur ghost hunters showing up with their recorders and special cameras trying to get ghostly images and such. They’re afraid it would spoil the town so locals vehemently deny that the ghosts exist.


Can Maureen wear clothing simultaneously when her ghost roommate, Lorna, borrows an item? I think she probably could, but I haven’t let her try it yet. I know when Lorna borrows a dress from Macy’s window, the mannequin is still wearing it.


The old Paramount Theater is showing old two-reel movies during the holidays. But they also have newer films that are run on one-reel film or digital imaging. Why did the owners ask Decklin Monroe to oversee the holiday showings?  Decklin is one of the few projectionists who can still operate the old two-reel projectors—tricky things to time and operate.


Annoying Officer Frank Hubbard questions Maureen about her spending time with Monroe in the movie theater. Why does he do so? Frank is investigating a cold case that involved Decklin many years ago. Maureen has also been in contact with a local business involving another person who was involved in that case. He wonders what Maureen’s connection is.

In the first book, Be My Ghost, Maureen receives a message from Zoltar, a fortune machine at the South of the Border Motor Inn. Where does she find the second message from Zoltar, who always seems to have messages from the dead? Is Maureen creeped out? Maureen is surely creeped out! Who wouldn’t be? But the previous message was so accurate, she feels that she must pay attention to it. She keeps both messages in her bureau drawer.


As much as Maureen’s dog Finn likes Lorna the ghost, the old owner’s cats, Bogie and Bacall, who Maureen inherited, don’t like Lorna. Why such a different response? Beats me.  But as Lorna says, “Cats are weird.” Bogie ignores her and Bacall seems to be amused by walking through her.


I had to laugh. Lorna embraces new technology. Has she mastered Alexa?  I’m not sure. I think she’d be suspicious about all that knowledge coming out of a machine. I don’t think she likes Siri either.


Ted, the inn’s chef, and Maureen decide on a “dinner and a movie” promotion using the Paramount’s Twelve Days of Holiday Films. What type of patron does the promotion attract?

Both Haven residents and the Inn’s patrons were targets of the advertising, which had to be done in a hurry. Ted produced a relatively inexpensive dinner followed by a popular wassail drink that everybody clearly enjoyed.


What was the relationship among the first victim, Buddy Putnam, who was murdered in the theater in 1975, Decklin Monroe, the second victim, and Harry Henshaw? Why were they in Haven? Harry and Decklin were involved in some crooked operations some fifty years ago. Buddy was a small-time hood who helped them out and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Maureen has a running list of all the renovations she’d like to make at the inn. What are the two biggest on her list? Why? The dining room takes priority. It is dingy and dated, yet it is an important part of the business. She has ideas for a gift shop too, and keeps thinking of other improvements she cannot afford yet.


I was surprised that Hubbard didn’t question the older staff members of the inn, who were around during the 70s when Putnam was killed. Wouldn’t they have more information than Maureen? Gert and George had information about Mrs. Henshaw, Molly was in Las Vegas at the time, and none of them traveled in the same circles as Decklin—who was in the movies, and Henshaw, who was wealthy.


Maureen yells at a ghost who is dating Lorna for smoking on the elevator. Wasn’t she afraid he might be angry? She runs a no-smoking establishment. She’d be angry with anyone who smoked there, especially a non-paying guest like Reggie!


What is the Greater Haven Improvement Fund and how did it relate to the inn? The town of Haven needed some places to attract visitors. The Greater Haven Improvement Fund was established to fund not only the inn, but the movie theater and the casino as well.


Why does Hubbard bug Maureen’s inn phone? Nosy, isn’t he? He’s looking for phone numbers called from the inn which might match up with some certain numbers he has.


What are Highwaymen paintings?  I love the story of the Highwaymen. When I was writing non-fiction articles for magazines before I became a fiction writer, I learned the story of these young black men (and one woman), who learned to paint fast, quite primitive paintings of Florida scenery, which they sold out of the backs of trucks along the highway for about $35 each. The inn, as well as many motels found them good for inexpensive décor. I’ve personally met quite a few of the Highwaymen and have written about them often. Now a Highwayman painting will cost many hundreds of dollars and one hangs in the governor’s office.


What is a “straw buyer?” A straw buyer is a person who will purchase something for another person who might not want his/her name attached to the transaction.


What’s next for Maureen, Ted, and Finn? I’m just now finishing up Book #13 in my Witch City series. I alternate between the two series. I’ll start Book #3 in the Haunted Haven books—working title is “Haunting License,” and since I’m a total “pantser”—I write by the seat of my pants—I don’t know what comes next. I love my characters. They help me a lot with the plots. Sometimes I feel as if I’m taking dictation from them! I think there’ll be some more improvements on the inn, and there may be some more ghosts. There’ll surely be a murder.



  1. I'd never heard about the Highway Men Paintings. On a recent road trip to the American Southwest, we saw something similar at rest stops "in the middle of nowhere" where locals sold pottery and jewelry. I had to assume they made enough money at it to make the travel and sitting time worthwhile.

  2. As a long-time Floridian (former) I love the sound of this series. I remember the Highwaymen paintings - and remember them being sold roadside when I was a child and we would travel from New Jersey to Florida via US1. I'm glad to see that their art is being recognized, but sorry that it's out of my reach. They were mentored by the wonderful Florida painter AE Backus. Another whose works I would love to have on my wall!

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