Friday, August 19, 2011

Haunted by the Living

I began working on Haunted Chattanooga a little over a year ago.  At the time,  I didn't have a firm book contract and I wasn't sure what region I would write about, but I knew I wanted to write about Tennessee.   I was lucky enough (I thought) to be brought to a wonderful haunted place in Tennessee and was thrilled to be able to include it my new book.  At the time,  I was also thrilled that  Haunted North Alabama would be out soon.  I talked at length about Haunted North Alabama and my books to come to all involved in traveling to this haunted location.  I was a new writer and I had that glow that can only come from a writer who is soon to publish their first book.  I interviewed the staff at our location and they were pleasant, friendly, and kind.  I told them about my writing and how excited I was to be able to write about their location.  This was still somewhat new for me and I was thrilled.  I took pictures.  The staff even posed for the pictures.  I still have these photographs.  Photos of happy staff that were happy to be interviewed and photographed inside their haunted location.  When I look at these photos now, they seem wrong.  They seem crooked. 

Time passed.  It takes a long time to write and publish a book and my publisher is actually very fast.  I have an excellent publisher.   A year later, my new book is coming out!  Haunted Chattanooga will be released this week.  I was thrilled again, until I got an angry email from the staff at my haunted location demanding money for the photographs they let me take last year.  In fact, they are demanding far more money than I have made on the book.  They are demanding more money than I will ever make from the book.  They say they didn't ever give me permission to photograph their location and that no releases were signed. They are saying that unless we pay more money than any of us have, they will come after us about the photos they once so happily posed for, they didn't give us permission to take or use these photos.  So,,,,, now it seems Haunted Chattanooga could be stopped by the happy staff that once welcomed me. Their smiling photographs are now a bitter reminder of the duplicitous nature of the living.  I'm leaving names and locations out of this blog for obvious reasons.  I don't want to make anyone mad, but on a day like today, writing seems like the best coping skill I have to deal with the stress associated with living people.   I really wish I could just deal with the ghosts.  The supernatural is never this hostile.  In truth, I'm spoiled.  I've been lucky enough to spend most of my adult life around pleasant happy people that are honest and forthright.  I've been to hundreds of haunted locations and the staff and owners of these locations have always been welcoming.  Some of the locations I've visited even have my books in their gift shops.  One place asked me to do a book signing during one of their paranormal tours.  I have only seen the good people associated with the paranormal world.   Perhaps that is why these events are taking me so much by surprise and really making me question whether or not I want to write another Haunted book.   The biggest irony is that the ghosts I sought at this location filled me with no dread or fear, but the living staff at this location have kept me up night after night. They are haunting me and I find myself wishing I had a nice ghost instead, or at least a drink.  I wish pregnant women could drink.....

13 comments:

Jeffery said...

Don't be blue mate! If anything these greedy scoundrels have just deprived themselves of their 15 minutes of fame. There choice means there loss, as much as it's an inconvenience for you sometimes these things happen for a reason. So perhaps something you edited out during the long cut could merrily take its place...Now! Drive to a quiet spot and Roar!..Yell! and scream until you feel better..Try not to bottle it up!..Cheers! and a -Hug-

Pauline said...

I'm so sorry to hear that a good person has become the victim of the public's skewed perceptions of how much money writers make. Since most of us will never be able to live on what we make, if we make anything, this kind of greed is particularly intolerable. But karma awaits us all; they will get theirs. Take care of yourself.

Jessica Penot said...

Jeffrey.. Thanks. I think I might do that tonight!

Pauline... You are so right! People seem to think publishing is a big money industry. If only they knew, they would understand how silly asking for that kind of money is.

Lewis Powell IV said...

I'm sorry to hear about your issues...I had a similar thing happen with a blog post. I'm still looking forward to your book, though. I hope it will be released soon!

Jessica Penot said...

Lewis... I hate to hear that. You do such a good job giving credit to everyone in you blog. I wouldn't think there could be any complaints there, but I guess people always find something.

Little Gothic Horrors said...

I'm sorry you're having this experience. Sometimes people just suck!!

In the spirit of being positive, Mercury Retrograde ends soon, so maybe there will be a turnaround on this "communication" issue. Fingers crossed for you!

magikalseasons said...

Oh, I am so sorry the pesty living is causing such troubles. They must not understand that including them in your book can only bring them exposure and good things!

Jessica Penot said...

Little Gothic Horrors... I appreciate the positive. I need it.

Magikalseasons....I think this particular person just wants cash and doesn't care about exposure.

Lisa Rogers said...

Jessica I am soooooooo sorry this is happening to you. I hope everything turns out okay.

patty1019 said...

According to the law there is extortion, coersion, blackmail, slander....all of which they are doing to you. Take your communications to a good lawyer for a free consultation and explain your problem to him. I´m sure he or she will advise you in such a way as to set your mind as ease. Some will even give you good advise on how to respond or even ``IF´´ you should respond. You and your loved ones are in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog, and love it, so please don't take this the wrong way, but anyone who publishes other people's stories has to establish very ethical/sound legal practices to protect themselves but also to protect the people you're interviewing-- they need to know you are intending to publish and must receive full disclosure, transparency, all that. I'm sure you did all that, I'm sure your publisher requires you to do so. In this case, they sound like very bad people. It STINKS they are asking for money!!! But, if it was the staff you spoke with and not the owners, the staff might be in trouble by the owners for talking to journalists without permission. I don't know how it is in eating establishments in TN, but several institutions I've worked with have told workers not to go off talking to press/journalists without permission. Does that make sense? But like one poster mentioned, this could be blackmail. I don't know the details and what procedures were followed. Best of luck, I want your book to come out!!!

Jessica Penot said...

Anonymous... That is very good advice! You are very right and verbal agreements aren't worth what they used to be. I'm already drawing up a written disclosure for future interviews and photographs so this doesn't happen again. You also make a good point about the staff. Ironically, I'm not sure the owner even knows if the staff is complaining. I've only heard from the same staff who I interviewed. I don't like getting people in trouble, that isn't my style, but my next step is contacting the owner. Although, I really prefer not doing that because I hate being ugly like that. Of course, in these situations, sometimes there isn't any other way to respond. I really appreciate all your comments. You have a lot of insight into the situation.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, you're so kind :) I really hope the best, it is an unfair world out there :) But, I'm happy I found your blog, it's so interesting!!