Behind the Scenes Don't Date the Haunted

Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Date the Haunted,” Chapter 18

It’s time to fight back. Why the pansy flower, and why do they split up (despite Oz’s rule to “Never split up”)?

“Remember that rule book I told you all to read?”
“Yes,” Heather said, squeezing her eyes as if to block out the memory.
“Well, now we’re going to break those rules.”

– Don’t Date the Haunted, pg. 206

Time to fight back the Haunting.

Just to be sure, if you don’t know what rule book Heather wants to block from memory, be sure to read “Don’t Date the Haunted” at least through chapter eighteen before continuing! There are only twenty chapters in this book, so we’re close to the climax. If you don’t have the book yet, you can find it on Amazon. Be sure to check back in TWO WEEKS when the sequel is released!

Alright, time to break some rules! The fact that Pansy’s still willing to break her brother’s rules in order to lure a Haunting where she wants shows some growth over Oz. Oz wasn’t willing to break his rules for anything, and this concept ultimately killed him. But if you read any horror novel, there’s always this moment (for better or worse) where the main characters let down their guards (in one way or another).

The biggest rule that they break is “Never split up.” They split into pairs to find smoke detectors and over-head sprinklers. Pansy and Theo are still on shaky ground as Theo’s still digesting her confession.

However, there’s another trope to storytelling: the try/fail cycle. As someone who dissects stories in books, movies, TV, and even video games, I can usually tell when a plan is going to fail based on one concept…

Sometimes stories surprise me and fail even when they don’t tell you the plan in advance. But 99% of the time, if the main characters sit in a circle and discuss/review their plan to take down the villain, it won’t work. Maybe, all it needs is a minor change, but you can guarantee for any well-told story that if they tell you the plan, it will not go exactly according to plan.
Why? Well, because then you already know how it ends, and what’s the fun in that?

I wanted my readers to hope that their plan would work with the sprinkler heads, so it isn’t revealed until it happens. Aaand it backfires.

Pansy Flower

I never had any second guesses on Pansy’s name. Her last name (Finster) translates in German to “dark or sinister.” Her first name…may or may not have been subconsciously influenced. I didn’t realize it until completing the first drafts of the trilogy, but the only person/being/creature that I know who’s named Pansy was our friend’s dog. She was a sweetheart.

I’ve never understood the insult to call someone a “pansy.” Everything Heather says is true.

The pansy flower is actually quite resilient…It can grow all year long and may be used in herbal medicine.

– Heather, “Don’t Date the Haunted,” pg. 212

Seriously, it should be a compliment to be called a pansy.

Heather used to expand on the symbolism between Pansy and the pansy flower:

Considering its structure, you resemble it quite well.  The front petals generally have big black spots coming from the center.  Whereas the back two petals, the two that always bloom above the others, are one pure color.  Pansy, all this time, you have been trying to hide those two beautiful upstanding petals with your big black spots.  I think it is due time you let those back two get some sunshine.

– Heather, Deleted Scene from “Don’t Date the Haunted”

The “drip…drip” sound was something I added later to keep suspense during their discussion. The mysterious repeating sound is a common trope used in horror stories, and dripping water reminds me of the “Humans can lick too” story.
PS. I did an essay and presentation on that story in university.

That university I attended was private and religious, so yeah, I’m a religious girl. I believe in baptism by water and the holy spirit (AKA: fire), so even though most classic poltergeists are dispelled by water and/or faith, I wanted to play with fire.

Going Alone

I’ll be honest, it really bugs me when main characters take all the blame/responsibility on themselves. I’m not a social butterfly, but even I know that people work better together. (That’s why I like co-op board games. Also, I prefer to be angry at the game than my friends).
I allowed Pansy to doubt herself and take on responsibility, because…for all she knows, she is responsible for bringing the poltergeist to Romance.
But Mr. E also feels responsible. He was supposed to watch Pansy and help her face any Haunting threat. Also, as a friend to Duke Fromm, he feels responsible for Theo’s safety. As the inspector on scene for Marcellette’s disturbance and Emma’s death, he feels a duty and solve this Case.
Heather feels responsibility to be loyal to Pansy, and Hank feels responsibility to avenge Emma. Jake’s really the only one who has no obligation to be there (other than to support Heather).

So, Pansy offers to be the lone-hero, but accepts their help.

Let justice be served…with your Supernaturals.

– Mr. E, “Don’t Date the Haunted,” pg. 220

That phrase coming from Mr. E is the equivalent of Han Solo saying “May the Force be with you.” He wasn’t a believer…but he is now.

Next chapter’s the BIG CLIMAX!

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