Behind the Scenes Don't Date the Haunted

Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Date the Haunted,” Chapter 11

Read about the Longest Chapter in the book! What was my inspiration for the library, the masquerade, and pansy necklace? Also, what are Pansy and Theo’s love languages?

In case you missed the title of this post, this is chapter eleven. If you haven’t read “Don’t Date the Haunted” up to this point, please remedy that before you read this blog! If you haven’t purchased it yet, I’ll make it easy and provide the amazon link.


Moving on.
Chapter eleven is divided into two parts. That’s because the first section (Pansy and Theo’s discussion about the meaning of his auras) wasn’t added until nearly the final draft. It was added due to a friend suggesting that they needed to spend more time together and have more “moments” to increase their relationship.
Side note: whenever I picture Pansy’s keychain of religious symbols, I flash to “The Mummy” (1999) as Beni first encounters the monster.
(I wanted to add a clip, but the embed didn’t cut the segment).

HBLL | 3D Warehouse

As for Pansy’s experience at the Heartford University Library (AKA: HUL), I used my own experiences of a date/study at a university library. Initially, I modeled the HUL after the Harold B. Lee Library of Brigham Young University, Provo. It’s a large building that only had two entry/exits, and they were 25-ish feet across each other in the same room. Not only were the entry/exits crowded with the usual students coming and leaving the library, but between those doors was the grand staircase that either took you down to the basement archives and auditorium, or upstairs to the main building of campus computers, a quiet zone, study rooms, and other typical library resources.
Oh, another reason the pathway between those two doors was always crowded: it was cold and often snowy outside. So, rather than walk the extra 25-ish feet to go around, many students cut through the building to enjoy ten seconds of warmth during the long walks across campus.

Personalized apps quickly became popular while I attended school, and one such app was “Where in the HBLL are you?” This was extra funny at a private school where most of the students preferred to say “H-E-double hockey sticks” or Heck. Still, HUL worked in that phrase, so I included it as a little inside joke.

In case you’re wondering (since it wasn’t explained in this book), yes, there is an exact reason why Pansy’s aura lengthens and shortens during their conversation. You can read about it in “Don’t Marry the Cursed.” Same goes for what happened to Lady Greenwood.
Before adding this scene, I originally had Theo’s backstory with Lady Greenwood on the balcony in chapter fourteen. I moved it to give earlier sympathy and understanding of Theo’s character and also to help keep the pace of that pivotal moment on the Tower’s balcony.

Masquerade! Painted faces on parade!

“Phantom of the Opera”

You know the prank to tell someone it’s a “costume party,” when it’s not? Yeah, that wouldn’t have worked on my roommates and me.

On more than one occasion, my roommates and I dressed above and beyond the dress code for events. On purpose. We dressed up as zombies to see “Warm Bodies” (2013) in the theater–not on opening night. For a community party at a ice rink, we went as Jack Frost, the Winter Queen, and a snow princess. Our apartment complex once did a contest of short films, and we dressed for the red carpet at the premier event.

As frequently mentioned in “Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians,” “Writers are evil.” We create main characters and plots based around two questions. We start with “How can I make the reader feel for this character?” Then, after we’ve established sympathy, we ask, “What can I do to make this character suffer?”
Well, putting Pansy in a masquerade seemed like the ultimate way to make her suffer. It went against every rule of survival and was perfectly normal for Romantics (both from Regency and Contemporary).

As for the fun (and ridiculous) ways to ask people to a dance, those came from life experiences of my high school culture. I once asked a guy to a dance by shoving glowsticks into his front lawn (the dance was neon themed). One that was used on my sister–and I wanted to include–involved a bowl of flour with a note that said, “Sift through the flour to find out who wants to take you to the ‘such-and-such’ dance.” After a couple of minutes, a bouquet of flowers would arrive with another note saying the name and “Wrong ‘flour.'”

I might have used that for Theo’s request to Pansy if he thought Pansy would enjoy the ridiculousness. As it is…poor Theo gets rejected…again. I added the pansy necklace the same time as adding the study date at the library. A beta reader wanted more interactions to fall in love with Theo as Pansy did, so I took a leaf from Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages.”

  • Gifts
    • Theo gives her a necklace
  • Physical Touch (Emma’s love language)
    • Up to chapter eleven, Theo caught her in his arms, held her hand, kissed her hand, and put his arm around her.
  • Service (Heather’s love language)
    • Pansy serves Theo by helping him discover the meaning of his auras.
  • Time (Pansy’s love language)
    • They meet weekly to discuss his auras
  • Words of Affirmation (Theo’s love language)
    • Their discussion after the movie is heavy with encouragement and validation.

I’ve been analyzing this topic particularly because of an upcoming panel for the Life, The Universe, and Everything Symposium! This will be my second time as a panelist, and it’s all virtual this year! I could go on about my favorite conference/convention for Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers/artists/gamers, but I need to get back to chapter 11. Just know that it’s awesome, and I’m super excited and honored to be included.

Theo’s comment about life being a constant Adventure is something that I relate to. Someday, I want to hang this quote above my desk:

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Hellen Keller

This was one of my many mottos in high school and university, laughing that every U-turn and trip to the grocery store was an adventure. This attitude is how Theo stays positive despite being a second-eldest son who can’t fight and has a “useless” ability. Seriously, life is an adventure. Go make it a good one, and next week I’ll tell you about the masks!

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