By Jill Baguchinsky | The Children’s Book Review |September 18, 2012
Character Development of a Paranormal Investigator
When I began working on SPOOKYGIRL: PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR, I knew right away that its main character, Violet, would have a ghostly pet. Because she has the ability to communicate with otherworldly spirits, Violet is all too used to ghosts. They don’t frighten her; they’re just a part of her daily life. It made sense, then, for her to have one as a sidekick.
The result of that decision became Buster, a mischievous supernatural being Violet refers to as an abnormal poltergeist. Loud and rambunctious, Buster likes to toss around squeaky dog toys, eat cookies, and turn furniture upside down. He’s like an invisible, overactive puppy—and luckily, he’s crate trained.
No one knows what Buster truly is, or what he was when he was alive, or if he was ever alive at all. One thing is certain, though—despite the label Violet puts on him, Buster is not a poltergeist.
The term poltergeist translates from German as “noisy ghost,” and that certainly describes Buster. Some of the most common behaviors attributed to poltergeists are noise-related —items being thrown across the room, cabinet doors crashing open, mysterious banging and thumping. In some ways, poltergeist activity sounds like the supernatural equivalent of a destructive child’s temper tantrum.
Of course, most accounts of reported poltergeist activity can easily be revealed as pranks or explained away as having mundane causes. For example, that oh-so-spooky thumping under the floor might be something as simple as a loose water pipe in the basement. Even seismic activity is likely responsible for some incidents. However, let’s put skepticism aside for a moment and indulge in a little what-if. What if some poltergeist activity truly is supernatural in nature? What would a “real” poltergeist have in common with Buster?
Not much, perhaps. One common theory held by paranormal investigators suggests that poltergeists aren’t ghosts or sentient beings at all. Instead, they’re negative emotions manifested as malicious psychokinetic activity. In other words, the “haunted” person is often unconsciously causing the activity herself. The stronger the emotion, the stronger the resulting activity. This theory explains why poltergeists so often seem to focus on teenage girls—go on, try to name a group of people with more extreme emotions! Adolescent life is full of stress, and teenagers are still developing their coping strategies. If anyone is capable of mentally flinging things off shelves, it’s them. I’m surprised I didn’t psychokinetically trash my entire house daily when I was Violet’s age!
Violet, however, isn’t manifesting Buster—he’s separate and sentient. He’s playful, not malevolent, he can be bribed with cookies, and he’s protective of Violet. Whatever he is, he’s not a poltergeist. Any actual poltergeists Violet might encounter as a paranormal investigator won’t have much in common with her pet.
Still, if you ever suspect poltergeist activity in your home, it couldn’t hurt to try a little cookie bribery. Just in case.
Buster prefers oatmeal chocolate chip.
Jill Baguchinsky, a longtime fan of supernatural tales, wrote the first draft of Spookygirl as part of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.
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If you are looking for more articles on Character Development, visit The Art of Character Development and Mary Thompson’s Character Development: What if You Were a Monster?. If you are hoping to discover more spooky books like Jill Baguchinsky’s Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator, visit our Fantasy: Supernatural Fiction category.