Here’s some free advice: if you like to sleep late, don’t go into the construction business.
I set my alarm for 5 in the morning, but I never need it: I wake up a few minutes before the bell, every time. Even when it’s not a workday.
Usually my dad’s already up and banging around the kitchen, as he was in the biz for a long time himself. In fact, through no fault of my own, I sort of “inherited” Turner Construction when Dad went into a serious funk after the sudden death of my mother. I was going through a painful divorce at the time, and though all I wanted to do was to move to Paris and hide away in some anonymous Left Bank atelier, I moved back in –temporarily– with my Dad to see him through the tough times. Meanwhile, his friend Stan talked me into taking over the business “for a few weeks”.
Now, two years later, I’m still at it.
Dad has made no signs of returning to Turner Construction, but he keeps house pretty well. Stan lives with us and runs the office, so the two of them are usually up and at it by the time I come downstairs. Dad invariably tries to foist breakfast on me, but since early morning is the only time of the day I’m not actually hungry, I fill a travel mug full of strong black coffee, then set out for San Francisco.
Usually I take Dog with me: he’s goofy and gets carsick, and isn’t very smart. But when can I say? He needed a home. And he once saved my life.
I spend the bulk of my day scooting around San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, tending to ongoing projects. Turner Construction specializes in historic home renovation, and there are plenty of historic homes in the area. As the General Contractor – or “The General”, as my crew calls me– I work out renovation issues with clients and architects, check in with my foremen, inspect structures, order supplies, and file a lot of permit papers with the city.
And though I grouse a lot about how I really should be living in Paris by now, the truth is: I love old homes with a passion. In fact, in the years since my divorce I’ve poured my heart into these aged structures, relishing their history and the whispers of the souls that have gone before.
Speaking of whispers…I’m also a ghost-talker. I don’t hunt spirits; on the contrary, usually they manage to track me down, for some reason. But there’s no denying that I’ve developed an uncanny ability to speak to ghosts. I’m not sure why – one friend suggested I might have inherited the ability from my mother. All I know is that I’ve had a couple of clients lately who needed my services, and I was able to help. So while I’m not exactly psyched about it, I’m doing my best to deal.
And let’s face it: when a person’s in the historic home remodeling business, there are a lot of ghosts behind the walls.
Lately, of course, there’s a sexy man who’s taking my attention away from certain aspects of the job, not to mention the ghosts. Add to that an interesting ghost hunter, and an odd assortment of friends, and we manage to have fun.
Next up, however, is a visit to the home of a couple who have moved to San Francisco with the dream of opening a haunted Bed and Breakfast. Haunted on purpose. And they’re looking at me to broker the deal.
Hope I’m up to the job.
You can read more about Mel in DEAD BOLT, the second book in the “Haunted Home Renovation” mystery series. The first book in the series is IF WALLS COULD TALK.
Juliet Blackwell is the nationally bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series, which features a misfit witch with a vintage clothing store in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood (Secondhand Spirits, A Cast-off Coven, Hexes and Hemlines, and In a Witch’s Wardrobe, coming 6/12). The Haunted Home Renovation series began last December with the release of If Walls Could Talk, also a national bestseller; Dead Bolt is second in the series.
Under the pseudonym Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover’s Mystery series with her sister Carolyn–including the Agatha-nominated Feint of Art. Arsenic and Old Paint is the latest in the series.
A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked and studied in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France. She now lives in a happily haunted house in Oakland, California, where she is a muralist and portrait painter. She was a two-term president of Northern California Sisters in Crime.
Join her on Twitter and Facebook, or drop by the website at www.julietblackwell.net and join her mailing list!
** Juliet has generously offered to give away one signed copy of DEAD BOLT. To enter, you must leave a valid e-mail address in the comment box with your comment. One entry per person and this is open to anyone with a U.S. mailing address. Contest ends on December 7th at 6pm EST. The winner will be chosen using a random number generator and will be notified by e-mail and has 2 days to respond. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **
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