Behind the Scenes Don't Date the Haunted

Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Date the Haunted,” Chapter 5

Curious about the inspiration behind Pansy’s university life? Or what about Truth Locke?

Oh, university life, how I missed you. I never wanted to go back to high school life, but I did want to return to university–specifically, to get my Masters in English from Cambridge. But God said no. Instead, I got married and focused on writing, so I’m not complaining.
Chapter 5 of “Don’t Date the Haunted” is a brief summary of my college life: professors with high expectations and game nights with my roommates.

Poor Pansy has it a bit rough in the beginning. Her bed’s next to the toilets, and her plumbing screams in the morning. Before you ask, I wrote the screaming walls scene based on a real experience of mine. I’m not a morning person, and I require a good couple hours to wake up. Thankfully, I didn’t break any walls.
Originally, this scene didn’t happen until the morning of the masquerade. I decided to move it earlier as part of Pansy’s wake up call to Romance.

Pansy’s focus on school was less specific until a dear writing friend did a beta read. Growing up middle class, I always expected to go to college and gave that expectation to Pansy. Then my friend explained that when you live in poverty, you don’t think about college. You’re too worried about making it day to day. Reflecting on a time in my life when I was without a home, job, and school, yeah, I didn’t even see the point in general hygiene. That was my inspiration for Pansy’s life in Horror. She was raised in orphanages and foster care, surviving day to day . . . until Sean. Sean (being a native Romantic with professor parents) was the reason Pansy made goals beyond graduation from high school. I have so much to say about this pivotal decision that I’m writing a complete story around Pansy’s experiences with Sean (a prequel short-story to “Don’t Date the Haunted”).

Back to classes, Pansy’s official schedule looks like this:

Mon, Wed, Fri classesTues, Thurs class
Nutrition 3010 @ 9AMLatin 1020 @ 11AM
Nursing 2270 @ 10AMPathophysiology @ noon
Novel History 1501 @ noon

Her Nutrition and Latin classes are each 4 credits, so she had a 17 credit schedule. Hank’s tip that “grinning disheveled professors love their subjects” was actually a golden nugget from my mom. I found it true during my time at university.

As for dorm life, I had the best roommates to glean from experience. We didn’t have weekly luncheons, but my roommates sometimes shared their bounties. This was nice, because I couldn’t cook to save my life.

We also had regular game nights.
We’d invite boys over from nearby apartments to play “States,” “Fruit Basket,” and sometimes “Baby, I Love You” (if certain boys attended). Some of my favorites were Mafia (the Werewolf game before it became official) and Ninja (our name for the turn-based game of hand-tag).

Being at BYU (the nation’s #1 Most Sober University), we never had alcohol and kept the strict midnight curfew (1 AM on Friday nights). We proved every night that we didn’t need alcohol or drugs to have a blast. We also took our activities outside (even in the snow) if midnight was too early to say goodbye. This lifestyle is one reason why I gave Pansy the sober background from her parents. I also snitched the standard from my family history. My grandpa was once an abusive alcoholic, leaving my mom with no desire for the stuff.

It’s not in Pansy’s character to tell everybody about her “tragic life story,” so I had Truth Locke tell it for her. Truth is actually a bigger character in my head than she is here. She’s technically based off of a character I created in “The Sims.” Yes, as in the FIRST “The Sims.” Her mother was a gypsy-style character, who was my first Sim to learn every magical ability, spell, and potion (from the expansion “Makin’ Magic”). One of those spells was to turn her pet dog into a person. That dog was named Shasta, and Shasta was the base for Truth.

Truth Locke had her own Private Investigator novel brewing four years before I even thought of Pansy Finster. I even based a D&D character off of her (high elf, rogue, Inquisitive archetype with Observant Feat). I still hope to write her story someday.

In case you didn’t catch it (because it might not be understood during a first read-through), I’ll explain Theo’s glance between Emma and Hank, then confusion at Pansy. As Pansy suspected, yes, he did know what happened between Emma and Hank at that moment: love at first sight. He knew, because he’d witnessed it before with his eldest cousin, and recently experienced it himself . . . for Pansy. But not with Pansy. His love at first sight was one-sided, leaving him confused and a little discouraged that Pansy didn’t instantly feel a connection with him. Hence the “touch of sorrow” in his eyes.

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