Review of THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY and Q&A with Karen White

THE GUESTS 9780451475237ON SOUTH BATTERY
Tradd Street Series, Book Five
Karen White
Jan 10, 2017
Berkley Pub

THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY by Karen White is part paranormal, mystery, historical, with a little romance. Readers will be kept enthralled with the scenes of historic Southern houses and spooky happenings.

The mystery begins after a young woman, Jayne Smith, is bequeathed a home in Charleston by someone she does not know. Questions arise as to why she randomly inherited this house and what is her relationship with the spirits who do not want her to inhabit it? She seeks out Melanie Middleton, a Charleston realtor, who specializes in historic real estate. She also has a hatred for old houses because she sees dead people come alive. White’s details about the architecture, history, old historic houses including hidden passages and other fixtures, make the story even more riveting.

Jayne and Melanie become kindred spirits after Melanie hires her as a nanny. Intertwined within this ghostly story is also the theme of family. The different relationship dynamics are fascinating. Both Melanie and Jayne have abandonment issues; Melanie is insecure about her husband Jack; and her mother is struggling to make up for lost time now that she is back in her daughter’s life.

This book is an excellent read. It seems any Karen White book never disappoints with her spellbinding plot and cast of characters. The charm of the series is the relationships the main character Melanie has with friends and family.

Below is an interview with the author:

THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY is part paranormal, mystery, historical, with a little romance. Readers will be kept enthralled with the scenes of historic Southern houses and spooky happenings. The mystery begins after a young woman, Jayne Smith, is bequeathed a home in Charleston by someone she does not know. Questions arise as to why she randomly inherited this house and what is her relationship with the spirits who do not want her to inhabit it?

Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea to write about ghosts?

Karen White: While taking a shower the Melanie character hit me over the head. There were certain 60771parameters I wanted to include in this series: It had to be in the South with the city old, charming, and having a lot of historical significance. I wanted to set the plot around haunted houses. I describe this series as ‘my Sixth Sense meets National Treasure meets Moonlighting series.’

EC: Why Charleston?

KW: At first I was going to set it in New Orleans because I went to college there. Then Hurricane Katrina happened and I decided not to set this series there. Besides, it is so perfect for Charleston, the town of Southern hospitality. Everything surrounding the book is because of Charleston.

EC: Do you believe in ghosts?

KW: I have done a lot of research. Every culture, every religion has them existing. I think there is a lot about the universe we do not understand. So yes, I do like the possibility. I do think people can communicate with the dead and I find it fascinating.

EC: Did you ever see a ghost?

KW: No, but my son had a personal experience. It happened when he was four. He saw this man standing in the room with us but we saw nobody there. He described a friend of mine who just passed away the previous month. The day it happened was the first birthday of my friend since he died. I am sure he came back because when we were in college he and I had a conversation about believing in ghosts. We made a pact that whoever dies first would come back to see the other person.

EC: Can you describe your main character, Melanie?

KW: As a young child she was abandoned by her mother, but it was done to save her. Because Melanie’s alcoholic father raised her she had to be the adult in the relationship. Her sense of insecurity stems from this. She has two personalities, the public and private. Outwardly she appears strong and competent, but inside she is like a quivering bowl of jello: neurotic, OCD, and a control freak.

EC: I loved the quote you have about how women should look at their bodies?

KW: Melanie’s mother, Ginette, is a very smart person. She said, ‘Dress size is only a number. A woman can be beautiful in any size, as long as she conducts herself with self-confidence.’ I wanted to show that before pregnancy Melanie ate like a linebacker, but had the figure of a twig, while after her pregnancy things changed. What I wanted to show was that women of any size could look sharp. If you feel beautiful then people will look on you as beautiful. This is something I have tried to teach my daughter. The quote implies that her mother wanted her to show confidence and success and not worry about the gain in weight.

EC: The dogs also play a role?

KW: I never intended to write dogs into the story. However, when I first started writing the book I got my dog Quincy, a Havanese. He was constantly at my side so I thought ‘I need to put this dog in my book.’ Since the first shots for the Civil War were fired across Charleston’s harbor I named Melanie’s dog General Lee. I put the puppies, Porgy and Bess in after I got my puppy, Sophie, aka Ninja puppy. Her favorite thing to do while I’m writing is climb up on me then stand on top of my laptop until I give her the attention she requests.

EC: Why did you put this hilarious quote in the book, “Walking them was an exercise in gymnastics and frustration, since they appeared allergic to walking in a straight line…”

KW: I think my dogs try to kill me when I take them for a walk. They constantly crossed leashes and ran in opposite directions until I got this special dual doggie leash.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book projects?

KW: I will be writing a Lusitania collaboration with Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. Each of us will write a character with two on the ship and one in modern day New York. The main character is a writer who believes her grandfather, a steward on the ship, might have been involved in treason. My book that comes out in April is TTHE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT. It’s about a recent divorcee that moves with her children to an Atlanta suburb. This small town will have its full of sins and secrets. My next book with Melanie and company will probably not be out for a few years but should include Jayne and her boyfriend, Detective Riley.

THANK YOU!!