Sunday, January 9, 2022

Spirits and Sourdough by Bailey Cates

Jenn McKinlay: Baking has always seemed magical to me - put in flour bring out cake - so I'm sure it's no surprise that one of my favorite cozy mystery series combines the two principles in the delectable and long running Magical Bakery Mystery series. Here's the wonderful author Bailey Cates to tell us more!


Bailey Cates: Hi all! Jenn, thanks for inviting me to the Jungle Reds. I love this eclectic, smart space that’s so full of moxie.

 

My latest book, Spirits and Sourdough, is the tenth in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. I try to marry the titles and the content of my books, though that doesn’t always work. Spirits and Sourdough, however, has both spirits and sourdough.




 

The sourdough starter that herbal witch and baker Katie Lightfoot brought to Savannah, Georgia from Akron, Ohio at the beginning of the series has had its own arc of sorts, gradually replacing the yeasts from where it began its journey with the yeasts of Katie’s new home, thus creating a new flavor profile over time.

 

The spirits in the title come from the ghost tour Katie goes on with other members of her spellbook club (read: coven). Savannah is known as the most haunted city in the United States, so at some point that had to play a major role in one of the books. In Spirits, the tour guide is a friend of one of the spellbook club members. She is a young woman who can literally see dead people. This makes her an excellent ghost tour guide since she can steer her clients toward brushes with the supernatural but leaves her feeling like an outsider. Katie also felt like an outsider until she discovered her magical gift of hedgewitchery. So, when the young woman tells Katie the ghost of a recently murdered woman wants Katie to find her killer, she steps into the investigation both to find justice for the victim – whom she knew – and to help the tour guide.

 

In addition, there’s the spirit of Katie’s deceased grandmother, who shows up regularly in the series. Also, Katie’s new husband’s guardian spirit has gone missing, so she’s trying to get him back. Lots of spirits made their way into this one.

 

Just as I don’t cast spells (though strongly believe in intentions) or have an actual familiar (don’t tell Cheesecat the Orange), I don’t have personal experiences with spirits. Except once, but I’ll get to that. I don’t know that I believe in ghosts. More like I don’t not believe in ghosts.

 

I’ve sought out paranormal encounters on occasion. One place was The Marshall House in Savannah, where there’s a rich history of hauntings and where the murder victim’s spirit comes to Katie’s tour guide. For me, there were no bumps in the night, no cold spots, no children trying to bite me in my sleep (part of the charming history I left out of the cozy plot). I live relatively near the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in the Shining, and have stayed there overnight. I didn’t sleep well, listening for children running in the hallway, and hoped for at least a bit of dizziness in the famous stairway vortex. But nope. Nada.

 

However, twenty-some years ago I did see a jinn. Djinn. Genie. At least I think I did. It was in a Dubai hotel room on a business trip to vet translation vendors for the Arabic and Hebrew versions of Windows. I was jet lagged, under slept, punchy with exhaustion but too tired to sleep. I turned off the light and sat down to try to meditate myself out of the thrumming hyperactivity of my brain.




 

As soon as the light went out, I saw something flying around the room. It was a head and shoulders, the rest of the body trailing away to a tapered nothing. The face was genderless, but the hair was long, very long, and wild and red. It was dark, but I could tell the hair was red. The body, by the way, was not blue, which is how so many versions of jinns appear for some reason. Disney, I expect. I didn’t sense malevolence, but it didn’t seem particularly friendly, either.

 

A few swoops around the room, then it was gone.

 

It was disturbing for sure, not least because I thought I might have been hallucinating – a real possibility, given my state of mind. But I didn’t have a reference for the jinn, consciously, at least. Once home, I did some research. The history of the jinn is fascinating and varied, and I can’t possibly get into it here, but what I saw fit the bill. At the time, my previous concept of a genie was Barbara Eden in harem pants. Yep – dating myself, there.

 

So…did I see a spirit that night in Dubai? Maybe. Heaven knows lots of people believe in ghosts or other presences, and I can’t help but wonder about the possibility of other planes of existence that we humans simply aren’t aware of.

 

What do you think? Have you seen or felt any kind of ghost or spirit? Do you believe in them? Do tell!

 


Thanks for letting me visit, everyone! It’s been a pleasure. For more information about me and my books, check out www.baileycates.com.


Bailey Cates writes the New York Times bestselling Magical Bakery Mysteries. As Bailey Cattrell, she also writes the Enchanted Garden Mysteries featuring aromatherapist Elliana Allbright. Bailey writes, gardens, cooks, and hikes in northern Colorado where she lives with her guy and Cheesecat the Orange.

47 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Bailey, on your newest Magical Bakery Mystery book . . . now I’m looking forward to finding out how Katie manages in her quest to find the killer.

    As for believing in ghosts, I most definitely do, although I definitely do not recall any interaction with ghosts. However, my mom always said we had a ghost living in our house. Her name was Pearl [I have no idea how my mom knew that]; sometimes you could hear her walking around upstairs.

    When my twin sister and I were very young, we played with a child ghost when we were alone in our cribs. Of this, I have absolutely no recollection, but my mom said it was so. And, when my younger sister was a baby, we would hear her laughing and playing with the little ghost when she was alone in her room. If you went into the room, she’d instantly stop playing. But as soon as everyone left . . . .

    That’s all I remember from what my mom used to tell us about the three of us playing with the little girl ghost. I have no idea if she came and went or if she stayed in the house all the time nor do I know if she ever lived in the house during her lifetime. But she always seemed to be around to keep the babies company . . . .

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    1. Joan, I love the story of the child ghost who kept you company when you were little. Fascinating!

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  2. BAILEY: Congratulations on your newest Magical Bakery mystery.
    I wish I could bake with such a wonderful sourdough starter in real life!

    As for ghosts, I probably have told this story before on JRW, but it's my only spooky encounter.
    I travelled a lot when working for Environment Canada and usually had no problems sleeping in a strange city/hotel room. I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba attending a natural hazards conference and stayed at the historic FORT GARRY HOTEL.

    Oddly, I had real trouble sleeping in my room the first night. I woke up multiple times with the feeling that someone was in the room with me. Although it caused a lot of administrative bother, I called the Government Travel Centre and asked to be moved to another hotel.

    Later on, I learned about past reports of Fort Garry hotel guests seeing blood dripping from the walls, figures at the foot of beds, and apparitions walking down the halls! And there is an infamous hotel room (202) at the Fort Garry where a woman hung herself after learning her husband died in a car crash many years ago. Subsequent hotel guests have seen an apparition at the foot of the bed or even feeling someone in the bed with them. YIKES!

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    1. Wow! And another travel story. I'm glad you didn't encounter anything too scary -- like that dripping blood!

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    2. Yikes! The house I lived in from age 1-36 was a converted barn. After years of strange sounds and happenings in the house, I learned that when it was still a barn, a farm worker hanged himself from a rafter.

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  3. How amazing to see that djinn, Bailey. Do you bake sourdough bread in real life?

    My friend Bonnie was staying in our guest room in our antique house a few years ago. She awoke to see a woman in a white nightgown standing silently at the foot of the bed. But that was it, and I've never seen her, or had another ghostly experiences. With my hyperactive imagination, I think it's a good thing I haven't!

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    1. I baked as much sourdough as anyone else during quarantine, but I finally let the starter die off. I hear you can freeze it, but I didn't try that. Your woman in white sounds classic!

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  4. Bailey, what a coincidence as I'm reading Spirits and Sourdough right now and congratulations on your book release.

    Oh yes, I do believe in ghosts and have seen many. I remember the one time I was in Savannah at a haunted house. I had left the room to sit on a bench and I felt someone next to me - a young girl. My friend came out and was going to sit next to me, but I halted her saying that a young girl was siting there and she said, no there is no one there.

    I also remember touring the Queen Mary in Long Beach and saw a ghost standing in one of the rooms.

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    1. Thanks, Dru! Hope you enjoy it. I seem to remember you mentioning the girl on the bench on FB when you went to Savannah. Piqued my curiosity!

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  5. After a interminably long day of frustrating driving I gratefully took the last hotel room in a little town in Wyoming. I heard, smelled (!) And then felt a ghost tapping me on the shoulder after I turned out the lights. Finally, I asked it politely to let me sleep, and it stopped pestering me.

    I later learned that "an old Indian" was murdered in that room, which is why it was free.

    I've had other, less obvious experiences with the afterlife, like hearing my grandmother speaking to me at her deathbed, so I'm inclined to believe.

    One of my high school classmates, Barry Conrad, has been a cameraman in Hollywood for almost fifty years. He has also done a ton of ghost hunting with his camera, and has done a TV series on it. Some of their searches were a bust, but they were able to find some authentic paranormal presences.

    Love the idea of a magical bakery, as if baked goods weren't magical enough already.

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    1. Did your friend shoot Ghosthunters? I remember their show on the Queen Mary.

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    2. I'm not sure, Kait, but I don't think that's the show he was on.

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    3. I love that you asked the ghost politely to let you sleep, and it did. Ha! I'm curious about the little town in Wyoming where this happened. I know most of the little towns in WY (and most of them are little, let's face it). I bet your cameraman friend has a lot of stories that never made to the screen!

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    4. Bailey, it was Thermopolis. I was driving between Denver and Meeteetse during Cowboy week, and there was major construction, and a huge accident on 25.

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    5. Thermopolis! My maternal grandparents lived there in a hotel that was made up of cabins -- I think it was the Roundtop Vista Cabins -- when my grandfather was working in a nearby oilfield. Completely unrelated, my paternal grandmother had a job cleaning those same cabins maybe a decade earlier, way before the families met in a different town altogether. I'm going to hope your room wasn't there, but it might have been (there's a main lodge besides the cabins). Those cabins have been around a long time, and no doubt there's history -- some of it unsavory.

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  6. Yes, at the Myrtles, a 19th c. plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. When I attempted to take a photo of the veranda, I saw people dancing in the parlor and couldn't focus my camera.

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    1. That's amazing! I wonder if other visitors have seen the same thing...

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  7. Congratulations on Spirits and Sourdough, Bailey !
    I like the background of your series and just downloaded the first one.
    I never encountered a ghost as such but I visited places where I could sense the presence of spirits around me, like in Bath Abbey.

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    1. Thank you! And thanks for taking a look at the first one : )

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  8. Congratulations on Spirits and Sourdough... two of my favorite things. I'm fascinating by the very common experience people have, talking to their dead relatives. I'm afraid I haven't got the requisite imagination for it to happen to me. And I might welcome it or not, depending on the relative. As far as encountering ghosts in the wild, I'd prefer not. Having said that I love stories that involve ghosts.

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  9. Congratulations on Spirits and Sourdough. I can't imagine how I have missed your two series. Fortunately, that is easy to remedy with a quick trip to Amazon.

    Ghosts, yes, indeed. From the time I was nine. As an adult, I've seen the original deceased owners of two of houses I've lived in. The first sighting of a woman I never met or knew as I was the third owner. The second of the man who had sold us our Maine house. He was a hoot and would magically show up (during life) whenever I made chocolate chip cookies. After we returned to Maine, I came into the kitchen one night and he was standing at the counter. No mistaking him, and I had made chocolate chips that day.

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    1. Did you find their presence upsetting, comforting, or something in between?

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    2. Comforting. The sightings represented continuity to me.

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    3. Thanks, Kait! You must make some awesome chocolate chip cookies ; )

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  10. Bailey, welcome to JRW and congratulations on the 10th book in your series. I'll be looking for book #1 later this morning.

    I haven't had an encounter like the ones you and many JRW contributors have described here, but like Danielle-Momo, I have been in places where I could sense spirits around me, especially in some of the ancient digs in Jerusalem and other excavations in the Middle East. It's a powerful feeling when it seems as though something from the distant past is reaching out to you.

    I have a question off topic. When vetting translation vendors, do you need to have any knowledge of the language? What criteria would you use to determine if a vendor will meet the standards of your clients?

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    1. Thanks, Judy! It does feel like something from the past is reaching out in those areas - and others! As for the translation vendors, I don't know those languages, but we were working with the Israeli and Arabic subsidiaries for MSFT to review proposals from translation vendors and then interviewing them. Long time ago...

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  11. Katie's from Akron? Okay, I foresee many hours of pleasurable catching up with this series, Bailey! (I'm from northern Ohio).

    As for spirits--once I was part of a project to analyze the recovered artifacts from a looted Hopewell mound. My assistant and I worked in the company vaults (the mound was located on a GE facility in southern Indiana), where we took many photos of many of the artifacts, especially those I was there to analyze. There was this brash, arrogant young man--from another company--lording it around, flashing his camera--taking a million photos--playing bigshot. It was uncomfortable--these artifacts were holy--they'd been placed with ceremony and care with burials and he was being a jerk. Later, we heard him exclaiming. All of the shots he'd taken before and after he entered the GE vaults were fine--but not one of his shots of the artifacts in the vaults came out--just black squares. So there, jerk! I had a more personal experience right after my mom died, I felt her standing behind me and the pressure of her hands on my shoulders--just a momentary touch when I needed it the most.

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    1. Ha! I love both of those stories, Flora. And Katie is technically "from" Fillmore, Ohio, which is a tiny and totally fictional town. She was working in Akron when Lucy and Ben asked her to start the bakery with them. I must say, I've never been to Ohio! But the more I research it, the more I'm thinking it's an underappreciated destination.

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  12. I'm not a believer in ghosts but I'm not a not believer either. Basically, I'm open to the possibility because as much as I believe in logic and science there is so much more to the universe that we don't know or understand yet. At least, I hope so, how dull to think we have it all figured out. How cool to have seen a djinn - I got goosebumps!
    I love this series, Bailey. Congrats on your latest release. I can't think of a better way for me to spend the weekend than curled up with Spirits and Sourdough!

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    1. Jenn, I’m now mid - Royal Valentine and I enjoy reading it.

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    2. I so agree, Jenn. Seems there must be something else out there, but I can't posit exactly what. And thanks for the congrats -- pretty sure your original endorsement for the first MBM has made every one of the covers! ;D

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  13. I am open to this--I mean, how do we know? And I certainly have heard "voices" and "suggestions" that I'm not sure where came from. Although maybe we all those "ideas." But yes, there are more things in heaven and earth..
    SO cool that you saw a djinn! Maybe he was just curious. Congratulations on the book! xooxoo

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    1. Thanks, Hank! I know what you mean -- the kind of thing that inexplicably makes you slow down and you end up avoiding an accident, etc. A ghostly nudge or a strong sense of intuition?

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  14. I can't say I've had any encounters with ghosts. I've stayed at several haunted hotels but I evidently repel spirits and they go on vacation while I'm there. At one time we lived in NE Ohio (my granddaughter was born in Akron!) on four acres. We had neighbors, but not close by. I had to haul our trash can down the drive quite a ways for pick up. For a while I was very uneasy doing this after dark. There was a creepy atmosphere. I found out later that one of my neighbors had been messing around with a Ouija board and possibly introduced something new to the area. Our nearest neighbor's husband had been killed when he fell asleep at the wheel of his truck on the turnpike. The cab was parked by her house for weeks. Frank said he felt a cold spot there until the truck was removed.

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    1. I apparently repel spirits, too, Pat. At least for the most part. I'm okay with that. I remember my mother getting very upset when she found out my friends and I had been playing with a Ouija board when I was about ten or so.

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  15. Some friends who live in a 19th century Queen Anne tell me the resident ghostess has pinched them in the back of their ankles as they've climbed the stairs. I've never experienced ghosts per se, but sometimes I have suddenly been haunted by an onset of grief-- almost as though it were recent-- for a long lost relative or pet, just before the loss of another. I've just attributed that to some kind of hypersensitivity to something just below consciousness, a kind of precognition I was loath to concede-- or, I suppose, as a spirit come to warn me of an impending loss. I'm pretty firmly agnostic on the subject of spirits of any sort, I'm afraid, but I love reading about them. I'm pleased to know about these books.

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    1. My least favorite stories of ghosts are the ones where they pinch or bite! Yikes. Agnostic is the word that comes to my mind, too.

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  16. Bailey, this series sounds like so much fun. Well, of course, there is murder, but I'm thinking baking helps make that more palatable. I've only been to Savannah once, but I loved it, so a mystery series set there is perfect for me.

    I've talked on this blog about a couple of experiences I had in the last house in which I lived with my parents, before I went to college and married and moved away. I really don't like talking about them, as they were bad experiences. I will summarize by saying that the first experience was when I was still living in the house, and it involved a demon-like apparition that only appeared that once. The other experience there was after both of my parents died and my husband, our two children, and I were spending the night there. I won't describe the whole experience, but I heeded whatever warning was trying to come through and we picked up in the middle of the night and went to a hotel.

    Now, I did have a good experience, too. I was a little girl, probably three or four, and I was playing with other neighborhood kids in front of my house (not the one mentioned above). A ball rolled out in the street and I went after it. Of course, a car was coming, one of those large 50s models, and I found myself lowered onto the street flat by a woman who looked like a nurse or nanny. The car passed over and I was fine.

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    1. Wow, those are amazing stories. I'm sorry to hear about the truly frightening ones -- and also glad that nurse/nanny ghost saved you!

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  17. Congratulations on your book, Bailey! I am right now in the midst of making sourdough pizza crust, so it seems fitting!

    My only personal ghostly encounter was a visit from my grandmother on the morning of her funeral. It was very comforting. I am definitely open-minded about ghosts in general--there is just a lot we don't know. More things in heaven and earth...

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  18. Thank you, Deborah! I like the story about your grandmother. I knew my grandparents and (some) great grandparents, and they were a big part of my life. So grandmothers play important roles in both my series, though in both cases they are communicating from beyond the grave.

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  19. Hi Congratulations on your new book! It sounds like a great read and I love the book cover. Yes, I definitely believe that there are ghosts, I have never encountered one though, thank goodness. Have a great week and stay safe. I enjoyed reading your post. aliciabhaney(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

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