Behind the Scenes Don't Date the Haunted

Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Date the Haunted,” Chapter 12

Inspiration for the Sci-Fian food, masquerade masks, and what happened to Brooke.

Before we get into the fun masks created by Pansy and her friends, I should briefly mention that yes, the Sci-Fian take-out was inspired by foods from science fiction. Moon potatoes are from Andy Weir’s “The Martian,” sentient cow is from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams, and the special spice is a reference to Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”

Also, because this is chapter twelve, it’s only courteous for me to alert anyone who hasn’t read “Don’t Date the Haunted” up to this point that they should READ THE BOOK FIRST. I mean, the whole book is only 255 pages, and it’s not like a textbook or anything. If you don’t have it, here’s a quick link to remedy that.>>>

Alright, onto the masks!
I’ve hand-crafted at least three masks for school. That’s what I get for taking art classes. I put paper mache all over my face, let it dry, then painted it according to the assignment (usually: “What defines you?”). I created a couple more masks while at university, but I used face-paint for those. (No need to clutter my limited living space with creepy eye-less masks).

As for Pansy and her roommates, I basically asked the same question, “What defines her?” Tiffany’s in charge of the masquerade, so she’s all about going with the theme of “Who dunnit?” crimes. So she made a fake nose and glasses mask.

Premium Vector | Disguise mask. mask with glasses fake nose and mustache.
The idea behind Tiffany’s mask
Brooke’s mask would have eventually turned out like one of these.
Glitter Cat Mask Decorative Silver + Headband Masquerade Christmas Fancy  Dress - GHURAZI TRADE LIMITED
Marcellette’s cat mask was periwinkle to match her dress.
2015 Italy halloween party Christmas Masque Ball mask fashion party  princess crown CZ diamond hand made ma… | Masks masquerade, Christmas party  fashion, Masquerade
Heather’s mask is something like this
Black Lace Fashion Raindrop Mask | Masquerade Express
Give this some pink and a pillbox hat, and you get Emma’s mask
Fantasy Raven Feather Masquerade Mask 6 3/4in x 4in | Party City
Give it a splash of red feathers and white highlight feathers, and this is pretty much Pansy’s mask.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png
Make it white, and this is Theo’s mask.

I know, we don’t see Theo’s mask until the end of chapter thirteen, but I wanted to include it while we’re talking about them.

The mask making is interrupted by someone asking Asher to the dance (BTW: I did not name her simply to spell her name with the periodic table – as I did with Ben. However, I refused to change her name because it could be spelled with elements from the periodic table). Then Brooke’s phone rings.

One of my editors was a little put off by Brooke because we spend the beginning part of the book thinking that she’s going to be Pansy’s new best friend…then she’s removed from the story halfway. Here’s why; Pansy needed someone to talk to in the beginning. She needed another tough girl like herself who was culturally aware. Brooke introduced her to Theo and started the game night. Pansy trusted her before anyone else in Romance.
However, Brooke would have been too sensible during the masquerade.
As a steampunk Sci-Fian, her reactions to the masquerade problems would have been redundant to Pansy’s. I needed Pansy to be the only level-headed person who knew how to handle the Haunting. So, I sent her home.
It’s also a common concept to take away the protagonist’s resources one by one. Brooke had to leave because she was too good.

For those who want to see more of Brooke (and meet the “super dangerous mutant who killed dozens of people and destroyed a whole town”), you can look forward to “Don’t Marry the Cursed,” coming out April, 2021!

The last section of this chapter deals with a sensitive issue. To be frank, this was one reason why I wanted to write horror. Horror is one of the few genres where morals are openly instructed. Someone abuses drugs or others? They’ll die. Someone’s unfaithful to their marriage? They’ll die. Someone’s just trying to do the right thing? They’ll live, or die a hero.
As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I live by strict moral standards. The most famous one is that we don’t drink alcohol. We also teach fidelity by saving sexual intercourse within marriage.

I didn’t want to write about a church book, but I wanted my main character to have similar standards. So, Pansy’s a Horror who lives by the code of survival. She lives by her brother’s strict moral code not because of faith or a religion, but because she believes it’s the only way to survive.
When Emma breaks that code, naturally, she freaks out. Heather joins the freak out because she’s simply old fashioned. I’m not saying old fashioned is bad (I’m old fashioned with my own standards), just different from today’s fashions.
I wanted to present the different opinions as a way to contrast the differences between Contemporary and Regency Romances and also Horror.

When Pansy goes to apologize and talk with Emma, they talk about life when it’s too easy. This is my way of poking fun of the typical story plotline. Working at a bookstore, I need to be familiar with lots of books without the time to read them all. To get the basic idea of any romance novel, I would read the back blurb, then skip to the middle–where they have their first kiss (if it’s a contemporary), or recognize their attraction for one another (if it’s a regency/proper/historical). I continue reading from that point because RIGHT AFTER is where they almost always hit a major snag (they need to leave town, their secrets come out, something from their past catches up to them). I can’t say this happens EVERY time, but it’s more common than not.
And this is why Pansy and Theo have problems that I’ll cover in two weeks.

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