I had been thinking about picking this book up for a while. Not long after I joined Inkwell I saw a picture of the cover and it intrigued me. I checked it out. Girls who talked to the dead. It sounded like fun. Then I found Dianne’s blog and read an excerpt of her current WIP about the caged graves, a combination of spook and history. That small snippet was so well written and intriguing I immediately ordered We Hear the Dead. And I’m glad I did. I especially like how the story is told by each of the two sisters, Maggie and Kate, so the reader gets to hear both sides. Though I can’t help but wonder if Kate isn’t the sort of person who would lie to even herself, making any account she might give suspect. You know, that unreliable narrator. But I’m not done yet. I’m only half way through. And for all I know, Kate’s telling the truth. But maybe you should read it for yourself and find out what the Fox sisters are up to. I recommend it.
Meanwhile, I was fortunate enough to get the author, Dianne Salerni, to agree to answer a few questions:
Q: What inspired you to write We Hear the Dead?
A: It started with a book called Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi, a novel loosely based on the famous Boston medium Margery Crandon. I became so interested in the subject of spiritualism that I started research on the subject, thinking maybe I could write a YA book about seances. I'd heard of the Fox sisters, but I'd never realized how young they were when the whole thing started, nor that these two girls were credited with beginning the entire movement. I wondered why nobody had ever written a novel about them. By the time I came across the story of Maggie's celebrity romance with a famous Arctic explorer -- which threatened the whole seance enterprise -- I knew I was going to be the one to write it!
Q: Were there any teachers who influenced your writing?
A: Most of my teachers in elementary and high school encouraged my writing, but I can't say they greatly influenced it. Opportunities for creative writing diminished in college and graduate school, where I did mostly academic writing. I think experience has been my greatest teacher. Working on the screenplay has taught me to be concise, for example, and writing short stories for Strider Nolan Publishing has taught me to lead the reader into thinking one thing ... then to pull the rug out from under when I go in a different direction.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have three major projects right now. One is a screenplay version of We Hear the Dead, which I am writing in collaboration with producer Amy Green of One Eye Open Studio, who purchased a film option on the book. I am also working on revisions to a historical paranormal novel, in which an orphaned girl with a mysterious background takes refuge with a pair of Victorian scientists investigating psychics and mediums. My third project is a work-in-progress, a historical romantic mystery involving two caged graves in a sleepy, Pennsylvania mountain town. The graves are real; I've visited them, and no one knows why they were enclosed in cages.
Q: If someone were to ask, who is Dianne Salerni? How would you answer?
A: I am a wife and mother, a teacher and a writer. I am a skier, a reader, and a lover of both history and science fiction. To my dog, I'm the lady with the raw chicken.
Q: Lastly, if you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
A: I would choose the ability to bend time to my will. I need faculty meetings to be shorter, evenings and weekends to be longer, and the ability to completely skip over unpleasant things like grading papers.
You know, all these years I was thinking invisibility was the best superpower but now that you say time-bending…I think I could work with that :)
Thank you Dianne – for everything.