. . . Colby Gates misses the wife he loved, yet a ghost is a poor substitute. Re-married to a woman he doesn’t care for, and with outlaws searching for buried gold on his ranch, the spirit of his wife is a further complication.
. . . But perhaps if the questions surrounding Lizzie’s death can be answered, the two can be together.
. . . For all time.
Wild Women Authors finishes up a glorious run with the fabulous authors and really fun characters from the series, The Good, The Bad and The Ghostly. Our friend, author Andrea Downing, has brought Lizzie Adams, who as you just read, happens to be a ghost, from LONG A GHOST, AND FAR AWAY
First up is Lizzie. First can I say how much I appreciate you having me here today. It’s great to chat! And get a day off work…
We do what we can. Where are you from? St. Louis, Gateway to the West.
Tell us a bit about Long a Ghost, and Far Away. So you see, I live in this life, in 2016, but somehow or other I’ve time travelled back to the 1800s to deal with a very unpleasant situation. Only thing is, turns out I’m a ghost. You can’t believe what it’s like to discover you’re a ghost. Also, to find out what life is like without cell phones! I mean, imagine that!
We tell our grandchildren that all the time. They are not amused. So, tell us what you thought the first time you saw Colby Gates. I thought, wow, that’s some hunk of man. I mean, you gotta see him. And in chaps and a Stetson with the ring of spurs—I dare you not to lose your heart.
A man in tight pants. Works for us, whether it's denim, leather on a cowboy or a MLB power hitter. What was your second thought? Well, I couldn’t believe it when it turned out I’d been married to the guy in my former life. I mean, like, who me?!
Did you feel it was love at first sight? Well, I have no idea when I first saw him. But when I returned to the 1800s it certainly was like—POW! Cupid’s arrow got me right through the heart.
Aw geez. What do you like most about Colby? He’s just really nice. Very kind and considerate. But manly, strong, a do-er. A protector.
You are killing us, Liz. Kill-Ing-Us. How would you describe him? You mean looks? Shaggy brown hair, aquiline nose, lips you love to kiss—or at least I do—pale blue eyes like looking into calm water.
How would Colby describe you? No idea. Oh, wait, yes I do. He called me playful. Is that what you mean? Or do you mean my looks?
What made you choose working in an antique shop for a career? I guess I sort of fell into it. I just always was interested in history and old things. Now I guess I know why.
What is your biggest fear? Not being able to see Colby in my 2016 life.
Hmm. Sticky one for sure. How do you relax? Eating chocolate cake. And having a glass of wine.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She had a harder time than I did at getting home.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? I don’t take advice; I follow my heart.
If that doesn't prove that our decision to purchase this anthology was spot on, meeting you has done it for us. Thanks so much, Lizzie. This has been great. Now it's Andrea's turn.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? All the old westerns that were on TV when I was growing up: Maverick, The High Chaparral, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, certainly The Virginian--you name it, I watched it. They made the West an alternate world to that of NY suburbia. It fascinated me.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? I visited the town of Buffalo, WY, on a road trip last summer and it seemed like the ideal place to set the story since I so often use Jackson where I have a home. It made a change. The Occidental Hotel in Buffalo has a few ghosts hanging about so it just all came together for me, and the Hole-ion-the-Wall where the outlaws hung out is nearby, so that was an added bonus.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? Our anthology is self-pubbed. I worked on an earlier anthology, Come Love a Cowboy, with Keta Diablo and she asked me to join this one as well. When she told me what she was looking for in the stories, an idea just popped into my head even though I don’t normally write paranormal.
What project[s] are you working on now? My daughter’s wedding! And I’ve started another book.
What's up next for you? I’ve got several ideas floating around but I can only manage one thing at a time. Thanks so much for having Lizzie and me here today. It’s much appreciated.
We loved having you. Good luck with the wedding. Been there, done that, twice. You will get through it. Promise.
Andrea brought along an excerpt for us. We decided to keep the entire thing in because it has such a clever ending hook:
“Oh! I do beg your pardon. What year are we pretending this to be now?”
Colby raised a brow in what looked like slight irritation. “It’s 1897.”
“Ah! Of course! 1897. That would explain a whole raft of things. No cell phones. In fact, no phones—”
“Well, there are phones, but not here.”
“I see.” Lizzie shook her head as if she would go along with this whole pretense. “And so I can’t phone a friend to collect me in their car because, of course, there are no cars.”
“Well.” Colby hesitated. “I’m afraid I have no idea what a ‘car’ is other than the car of a railroad train but, yes, there aren’t any. Or do you mean automobiles? We have them—”
“But not here,” Lizzie finished for him. Unable to help herself, she burst out laughing. Jason had really done a good job, and this Colby fellow was a really good actor. He stayed in his part throughout, gave nothing away. “Okay, listen….” She tried to take in a breath but the corset was really biting into her now. “Is there someplace we can go, is there someplace I can go and get the hell out of this corset or whatever the heck you call it, and then perhaps you can give me a cup of tea or something, and we can sort this out?”
“Elizabeth, there is something you should know.” His voice was strained, hesitant.
“There’s a lot I should know, Colby Gates, but what specific item have you got in mind?”
“I’m married. I re-married.”
Lizzie covered her eyes with her hands and sighed with the weight of the universe on her shoulders. “Okay, listen. Really. I don’t want to intrude on you and your wife, I don’t want to be part of this ridiculous farce any more, and I sure as hell don’t want anything more to do with Jason Beeme. Just let me go home, all right? Let me go home? Please? Pretty please?”
Colby blew out a breath and shook his head. “Elizabeth. Lizzie. I have no idea who Jason Beeme is, and this ‘farce’ as you call it, it puzzles me as well. I don’t know how you are here; I only know what I’ve told you. We were married, happily married—very happily married and then….”
“And then? What?”
“I died. I’m dead. I see.” Hysteria was now setting in, and Lizzie couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped. “I’m dead, but I’m here, is that it?”
“Soooo, like, if I’m dead, but I’m here, I’m a ghost?” This made her laugh out loud.
Colby didn’t answer. It was as if he hadn’t thought that at all, just been confused as much as she by the situation. He seemed to mull this over now.
“Am I now a ghost as far as you are concerned?”
His “yes” came out almost as a breath.
“Hmm. Well, I’m not a ghost, you’re not a cowboy, and this, for sure, isn’t 1887.”
“Ninety-seven,” he corrected her.
She looked him in the eye, nose to nose. “I don’t give a good flying…you-know-what, what year you think it is. I want to go home, and I want to go home now, so just let’s stop playing around with this shit and—”
“You never used to use such language.”
“Mister! Colby! Please stop! The year is 2016 and I can say whatever the hell I please. Women are liberated. We’re free.”
“But…it isn’t lady-like.”
“Well, excuse me! ‘Lady-like’! Okay, I’ve had enough now. Take me home, please.” She rubbed her face with exasperation; this whole sham was un-be-lieve-able.
“Elizabeth…Lizzie…you are home, you know that. Only now…now—”
“Well, good for you. I’m glad. I hope you’ll both be very happy. So, just take me to my apartment on Washington Avenue in St. Louis.”
She thought he was gagging as he rubbed his forehead.
“Lizzie: you’re in Wyoming. We’re on a ranch near Buffalo, Wyoming. You’re miles from St. Louis.”
Lizzie could feel her eyes grow big; she thought they might pop out of her head. “Wyoming? Boy, Jason really did a job on me. Brother, how long was I out?”
Colby shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. As I said, I don’t know a Jason, I can only tell you it’s 1897, you’re in Wyoming, you’re my wife—or were my wife—before you…you…died.”
Lizzie felt the breath was being pressed out of her, and if she didn’t get out of this barn, and out of the corset soon, she would, indeed, die for real. “Okay,” she said giving in, “I’m dead. But this corset is killing me, so can we go some place and let me take it off. Maybe your wife could help?”
“Sylvia is visiting her aunt over in Kelly. She won’t be back for a few days.”
“How convenient!” Ha! One less actor to deal with.
“I’ll take you in the house and we can sort things out there.” He offered her his hand, which she took, looking up into his pale eyes, and let him lead her out of the barn into chill air. The sun was laying its colors on the horizon and she figured it must be late afternoon, wherever she was.
“So, I’m dead,” she said conversationally.
“Well, you were. You seem very much alive at the moment, I have to say, but that’s quite impossible.” He stopped.
Lizzie glanced over at what was no doubt the house, a log structure of good proportion, with a lantern lit and glowing through a window. The last rays of the sun elongated their shadows, and for a moment, she tried to breathe in the cool air deeply.
“Impossible,” she whispered. “To be here like this.” She turned to him, the attraction so great suddenly she wished this wasn’t all some huge act laid on to fool her. “So, I’m dead,” she repeated once more.
“Yes. I think so.” There was a depth of sadness in his voice she couldn’t fathom.
“And how did I die, may I ask?”
Colby Gates stood stock still beside her and let her hand go. He turned to her in the fading light, and Lizzie could see him swallow hard as he removed his Stetson and brushed an invisible speck from its brim before replacing it on his head. Then he looked her in the eye.
“I shot you.”
Well, gee. If that one doesn't draw a HAH! reponse, nothing will. Here's where you can go to learn more about Andrea Downing and the stories she creates:
WEBSITE AND BLOG: http://andreadowning.com
Twitter: @andidowning https://twitter.com/AndiDowning
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Long a Ghost, and Far Away is part of the The Good, The Bad, and The Ghostly anthology available at https://www.amazon.com/Good-Ghostly-Paranromal-Western-Romance-ebook/dp/B01KKVK9BI/