Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Medium

Today's special guest is Meg Benjamin, an author of contemporary romance. Her Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Ramos Family trilogy for Berkley InterMix is set in San Antonio’s King William District. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Indie Press Romance, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers and the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon cats (well, partly Maine Coon anyway).


I asked Meg about the ghosts in her books. Here is her response:

My first paranormal series, the Medium trilogy from Berkley Intermix, ends with Happy Medium, released on January 21. All three books are ghost stories because I’ve always been intrigued by ghosts, from the time I read my first ghost story as a kid and scared myself into staying up all night.

I’ve wondered sometimes where this fascination with ghosts comes from because I’m clearly not the only one who feels it. Part of it undoubtedly comes from the idea that some kind of existence continues after death. But I think part of it also feeds into that universal “unseen presence” experience. Who hasn’t occasionally gotten the creeps in an empty room at night? Who hasn’t had the sensation of somebody watching from the shadows even though you know no one is there? I’d say that’s the foundation for all ghost stories, our own uneasiness with the unknown. You’re pretty sure there’s nobody there, but can you say you’re 100 percent sure? More like 99.999, I’d say.

So have I ever seen a ghost? No. Well, maybe not. I’ve had a few odd experiences, like most people. San Antonio, where I used to live, is filled with ghostly places like the Menger Hotel, which supposedly hosts the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt (he assembled his Rough Riders there before the Spanish American War) and the haunted railroad tracks where parked cars supposedly roll away from the crossing, pushed by the unseen hands of victims from an earlier car/train collision. I’ve sat in historic bed and breakfasts at night in Fredericksburg, Texas, and felt a little uneasy. And I discovered after the fact that the Nebraska motel where I felt edgy while walking around by myself was reputed to be haunted. But I’ve never seen anything. Still that feeling when the hair on the back of your neck seems to go up is nothing to sneeze at. And frankly, I’d rather keep it in my imagination than see that axe murderer under the bed.

The heroes and heroines of my Medium trilogy (Medium Well, Medium Rare, and Happy Medium) are all realists, very happily grounded in a ghost-free existence. But three of them are also unknowing descendants of a legendary family of mediums, and all of them end up dealing with some very dangerous spirits. Of course, since the books are also romances, they all come through in the end, but not without a few serious chills along the way.

The ghost in Happy Medium is particularly tenacious—and dangerous. She’s a succubus, drawing energy from sexual activity, and she’s not exactly fussy about consent. She even attacks the hero in his dreams. Fortunately, he has some powerful, if ghostly, allies, including his sister’s spirit guide Skag (familiar to fans of Medium Rare). And his heroine, Emma, is full of pluck, along with being a full-on psychic. I had fun creating all these spirits, friendly and less so, and I hope readers will be a little creeped out (but not too much, of course).

So can I say for sure that ghosts exist? Of course not. Can I say they don’t? Nope. And maybe that’s the reason I go on being fascinated.


Love is good for the soul… unless it’s one that you’re trying to exorcise.

Ray Ramos has a problem–the King William District mansion he and his business partner purchased for a fast renovation needs more work than expected. Ray could use a quick infusion of cash. Enter Emma Shea, assistant to Gabrielle DeVere, the star of American Medium. Gabrielle is looking for San Antonio houses to use for her televised séances, and Ray’s fixer upper seems to fit.

When Gabrielle does a sample séance, Ray and Emma become the target of a touchy ghost with no respect for boundaries. After Ray learns his family has a special affinity for ghosts, the two decide to investigate the haunted house. It doesn’t hurt that Emma is immediately attracted to the laconic Ray or that Ray is intrigued by the buttoned-down beauty who seems determined to hide her considerable assets behind sober business suits. But can the two of them fight off a vengeful succubus bound to the house while getting a lot closer than either of them planned?

“Join hands everyone,” Gabrielle intoned in her most resonant medium voice.

Ramos gave her a piercing look, then took hold of her hand, extending his other hand across the table to Emma.

Gabrielle’s fingers were faintly damp, but Ramos’s were dry and hard. His calluses rubbed against Emma’s palm. For a moment she felt something like a mild electric shock tingle through her fingers. She pulled her hand away, staring.

Ramos stared back, his eyes wide.

“Take his hand, Emma.” Gabrielle frowned. “We need to get on with this.”

Emma extended her hand again, touching her fingers cautiously against Ramos’s palm. Nothing. Maybe she’d imagined the whole thing. Probably she’d imagined the whole thing.

Gabrielle raised her head, gazing up into the dim shadows overhead. “Is there anyone here? We call on you to come forth.”

Across from Emma, Ramos rolled his eyes. He had that sour look again. Just hold on a little longer, and we’ll be out of your way.

“Come forth,” Gabrielle whispered.

Ramos looked at her, then shook his head slightly.

And the candles went out.

Emma’s head shot up, and she turned toward the fireplace. There hadn’t been any flickering, any feeling of a breeze. One moment the candles had been burning, and now they weren’t. She gaped at Ramos, who was gaping back at her, his forehead furrowing. Somewhere overhead a door slammed.

At the head of the table, Gabrielle seemed not to notice. “Spirit forces, we call to you,” she crooned.

Something touched the back of Emma’s neck, a quick brush, so light she wasn’t sure she’d felt it. Then it came again, more definite this time, fingertips along the edge of her shoulder. She whipped her head to the right, but she couldn’t see anything in the gathering darkness.

Ramos’s hand jerked against hers. She turned back to him, but he was watching Gabrielle.

No, not Gabrielle. Beyond Gabrielle, toward the fireplace. The mantle glowed dimly in the twilight, as if there were lights beneath it. Then, one by one, the votive candles thumped to the hearthstone in front of the fireplace, bouncing lightly. Another door slammed upstairs.


Meg will be awarding the complete Ramos Family Trilogy: Medium Well, Medium Rare, and Happy Medium (all ebooks) to one randomly drawn commenter during this tour and her NBtM Review Tour, here.Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

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