Monday, September 27, 2010

Character spotlight with Erica Clark Parkhurst

Hello everyone, my name is Erica Clark Parkhurst. Welcome to Spirit Lake, Pennsylvania where I, along with my best friend, Paula Bascilla, now own a very haunted bed and breakfast called The Spirit Lake Inn. Thanks so much to Devine Destinies for giving me the opportunity to tell you a little about my life and the adventures I’ve encountered since I arrived here.

I happened upon Spirit Lake by accident one July day when my bus broke down just outside of DuBois. You see I was on my way to Chicago after my marriage to a New York plastic surgeon broke up. I’d also lost my job just days after the jerk walked out on me. Talk about a bad week! Anyway, I left the bus behind and rented a car, striking out on my own. I’ve heard it said that life is all about choices. Well, the choice I made on that hot summer day, when I pulled off the main road and followed the sign that read Spirit Lake-5 miles, changed
the course of my life in ways I never could have imagined.

There is a lot of Native American folklore surrounding the town of Spirit Lake and much of its heritage is evident in its present day citizens. The lake itself is steeped in mystery, and I was amazed and intrigued by the mist that rose off of it at dusk. In fact that’s the reason I took a walk on the dock one evening shortly after my arrival. It’s how I met Joe Lakota. To say the encounter was eerie and a little scary would be an understatement. In fact after it was over I began to wonder if he’d ever really been there at all. But Joe turned out to be very real and we fell in love.

Joe’s log cabin, which he built himself, is located in the woods near the inn. He shared it with his loyal companion, Mingo, who is part wolf, part dog. Mingo and I had a rocky start but are now best buddies, especially since I constantly slip him table scraps, much to Joe’s chagrin. Hey, I’m not above bribery if it helps smooth things out. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But there’s always a wrinkle. Little did I know the hornet’s nest I’d walked into, but I soon found out that everything was not as it seemed in Spirit Lake. Joe was a man with secrets, one of which had to do with a decades-old murder.

Local legend has it that the mist represents the spirits of long dead tribal chiefs who now watch over their descendents. I was never a superstitious person, but considering what happened later when I was at the mercy of a brutal killer on that dock, I’ve had to rethink my position.

Oh, did I mention the ghosts at the inn? Lots of them, all over the place, including a weeping woman in the century-old rose garden, another one that bangs around in the attic and the one who wreaks havoc in the basement? Quite unnerving and something you never get used to, believe me. But one ghost in particular led me to a discovery that linked my family’s past to Spirit Lake, something I never would have know had I not taken that detour in July.

Since my arrival in Spirit Lake, my life has been a roller coaster ride that includes romance, murder, ghostly encounters and many other things aimed I’m sure at keeping me on my toes. I hope you’ll come join me and share my wonderful sometimes crazy life in the unique town of Spirit Lake.

The Spirit Lake series includes the original novel, Spirit Lake, the second book, Echoes of the Past, and a special Christmas adventure called Slay Bells Ring.

The fourth book in the series, House of Secrets was released May 1. You can purchase the entire series or the book of your choice at

What makes you special? What differentiates you from your kind? Do you have special abilities?
My forgiving nature. I’m ready to give people a second chance even when they disappoint me or break my heart. For instance, Joe had to be given quite a few second chances!

Tell us about your most current adventure.
In House of Secrets, I’m going to face the most difficult challenges of my life as tragedy strikes my best friend, the town is rocked by a series of brutal rapes, old bones are dug up in the rose garden, a guest is murdered, and the love of my life, Joe, goes missing.

If you could offer your author advice, what would it be?
Bring Joe back to me! What the heck are you thinking? Oh, and quit eating at the computer. I’m sick of looking out from the other side of the screen and watching you stuff your face. More writing, less gorging, please.

Are you happy with the way people perceive you?
All in all I think I am. Someone once accused me of being too wishy-washy and that hurt. I’m not like that, but I’m not always tough as nails either. I have inner strength, which comes out when it is needed. Maybe that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s how I am. Take me or leave me. So there, how’s that for assertive!

Does your author ever try to take over the story? And how do you deal with it?
She’s a control freak! Help! I mean, come on, I have a mind of my own, you know? Here’s how I handle it—I let her rant on, then when she least expects it, I zap a thought into her mind—usually while she’s having her morning shower—and bingo, she rewrites the scene. Works every time. And the best part is, she thinks the changes are her idea.

Is humor important? Why or why not?
A bit of humor is always important. At the Spirit Lake Inn, we’ve been very lucky in that during every adventure we’ve had at least one guest with a great sense of humor. There’s always something funny to offset the tragedies that seem to befall us. It keeps us balanced.

If you could time travel, where would you go?
I’d go back into the town’s past and meet the Clarks, the ancestors who link my family to Spirit Lake. I’d love to sit down with them and find out more about that lost branch of the family tree.

What other characters have influenced you?
Paula Bascilla, my best friend, has been a great influence in my life. She’s such a free spirit. I wish I could be more like her. I feel closer to her since we’ve moved to Spirit Lake than I did in all the years we were friends in New York City.

What motivates you to continue on these adventures?
Actually, the adventures come to me. I love the inn and never want to leave. Each and every set of guests has brought their own agenda and as a result the adventures just seemed to happen. Take for instance the Carters, Edgar and Mimi in Echoes of the Past. They were so delightful, and when Mimi fell down the stairs—claiming someone pushed her, but we suspected one of the ghosts—they made the best of it, staying on even as a murder investigation turned things into chaos. Edgar, a retired cop, was in his glory, I could tell. We wouldn’t have been able to pry him out of that inn with a crowbar! And let’s not forget Ed Tate in Slay Bells Ring, who came to the inn with an evil agenda and ended up paying with his life. That adventure brought me face to face with my past and closed a chapter in my life. I’m not sure if I chose the path I’m on or if it was chosen for me through a set of circumstances, but however it happened, I intend to follow the road to the end.

What is your most favorite thing to do?
In spite of the creepiness, and the bad things that happened there in July and in December, I love to sit on the dock at dusk and watch the mist form on top of the water. I especially liked to be there with Joe and Mingo. Now it’s just Mingo and me. The quiet is amazing. It’s so peaceful. Every time I sit on one of the benches I remember the night I first saw Joe, his voice, deep and resonant asking, “Do you know why they call it Spirit Lake?” I turned and there he was coming out of the mist like some specter, yet very real and oh, so sexy looking. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest and my breath hitched in my throat. Even now, thinking back on it, I feel the same way I did that first night, all fluttery and flushed. If that’s love at first sight, then I guess that’s what happened. Joe took hold of my heart on that dock and I know that no one else will ever take his place.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Is this a job interview? That’s one of the standard questions, isn’t it? LOL. Okay, I’ll answer. In five years I’d like to be married to Joe and the mother of at least two children. Too bad we don’t always get what we want, huh?

What’s the oddest thing you’ve seen or done?
The night I ran out of the inn because I heard my soon to be ex-husband’s voice in the foyer. I fled into the woods and fell, twisting my ankle in the process. Then to top it all off, a wolf approached me and I panicked. Of course if wasn’t a wolf after all, just Joe Lakota’s dog, Mingo. Joe carried me to his cabin and nursed my swollen ankle.

Tell us what it’s like to spend a day with you.
Well, let’s see, when I’m not being harassed by the police because of another murder investigation, I’m cleaning guests’ rooms and running errands. Hey, life isn’t high adventure all the time, you know.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about yourself or someone you love?
I blush. At the drop of a hat. I hate it! The curse of being a redhead, I guess. It’s like my emotions are right out there all the time for anyone to see.

How do you deal with stress?
Hot baths or showers. Of course at the inn when you bathe you’re likely to be sharing the experience with a resident spirit. Once, I was taking a shower and almost slipped, only to have something, or someone, grab by arm and save me from a nasty fall. I was alone in the bathroom, by the way. See what I mean?

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