HALLIE EPHRON: Today we're happy to welcome Mollie Cox Bryan to Jungle Red. Her second Cumberland Creek mystery Scrapped is just out. It's got plenty of down home fun, secrets, murder, and a splash of the supernatural.
A new character, Cookie Crandall, makes friends with fellow scrap bookers. A self-proclaimed witch, Cookie rhapsodizes about runes and moon
phases. She becomes the prime suspect in a series of bizarre murder, and even her new friends begin to doubt her innocence when they find
an ornate, spiritual scrapbook that an alleged beginner like Cookie
could never have crafted.
I love stories that mix a little supernatural with the natural, and then let the reader puzzle it out. Sounds like you do, too, Mollie.
MOLLIE COX BRYAN: I have a confession. A lifelong obsession—with the paranormal.
But it's not the kind of obsession in which I read every paranormal book I can get my hands on and write about werewolves and vampires. (Though I might do that some day. I never say never.) But for now, my obsession lingers on the moment of wonder.
HALLIE: Like when someone says, "Did you see that?"
MOLLIE: Right! And you did not see it, but you get the goose pimples because you know the person next to you did.
So much about this life that’s enjoyable is unexplainable. The pull you feel to study engineering, your longing to live in a certain part of the world, or the time you’re walking down the street of a huge city and your eyes suddenly find another person’s and you just suddenly know, in the midst of the crowd, that this person will have some meaning in your life. Maybe you can explain some things, but this? Nah.
HALLIE: And how can you tell if it's supernatural or natural?
MOLLIE: I find it curious that the paranormal really cannot be proven. I know about the paranormal investigators and so on and even watch some of those shows. But I never see or hear what they are talking about. (Did you hear that?” says the investigator. “No,” I usually reply.) And when I do hear the noise, there’s an explanation—mice, a weird air current in the room, and so on.
But. When things like this happen to you, you don’t need proof, do you?
HALLIE: That's the fun of it.
MOLLIE: I dig the unexplainable. This is why I use the paranormal in my books. I’ve been asked about the paranormal element in my first book SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS. Is Bea’s husband really haunting her? Or does she just miss him so much that she imagines him? And if that’s the case—how powerful is this thing we call imagination? Can it make something seem so real that we actually wield it into existence? I wonder.
HALLIE: Love that question: Is it real? Because, you know, it's fiction!
MOLLIE: I think it's great fodder for fiction. Conversations with our loved ones that have died? How many of us do that? I know when I run across something my Gram might have thought funny, or am working on a recipe that she gave, me, I have a little conversation with her. Am I they only person who does this?
In SCRAPPED, my new character, Cookie Crandall, is a practicing witch, yet she doesn't talk to ghosts and/or welcome vampires in her life. She’s more about the everyday kind of witch that might be living in your neighborhood.
MOLLIE: You read it right. In fact she says when explaining her beliefs. “You can call it prayer. I call it magic. It’s about connecting with the universe, asking for it to listen, and watching as things unfold. We use different props, that’s all, my friend.”
So while there's a miniscule amount of paranormal elements in my books, it's in each one so far, the focus is on the everyday paranormal. The kind that leaves you wondering: did I just see a ghost? Have I been here before?
HALLIE: So, Reds, here's Mollie's question: As readers, how do you feel about that when you're reading? Do you want hard cold answers? Or is okay to leave some unanswered questions?