I could have titled this entry, “Still More Good News” because, yes, The Ghost’s Grave has won another state young reader award! This time it’s the South Dakota Prairie Pasque Award. Here’s the list of state winners, so far: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington, Tennessee, and So. Dakota. It is also nominated in a couple of states that have not yet voted.
This is the third consecutive year that I’ve won the South Dakota award. I’ve won three times in other states, but never consecutively, so this is a different kind of first for me.
Here is how I got the idea for The Ghost’s Grave: About a mile from my house there is an old cemetery, and the whole last row of gravestones has the same date of death. The people buried there were all coal miners who were killed in a mine explosion. The first time I visited this cemetery, I got curious about mining accidents, so I began to do research on coal mining in my area.
I also did some research on the cemetery itself, and I discovered that one miner lost a leg in an explosion. His leg is buried in this cemetery but he lived out his life elsewhere, and when he died, he was buried in a different location.
I had been wanting to write a ghost story, and once I read about the leg, I knew how I wanted to create my ghost. Willie is an old coal miner who tries to convince Josh, my character, to dig up Willie’s leg and rebury it with the rest of him.
Like most of my books, The Ghost’s Grave used many incidents from my own life. The tree house that I describe in the book is an actual tree house that’s in my woods. My husband built it for our grandchildren.
The stray cat in the book is also based on my own experience of finding a mother cat and her kittens in the woods, and taming them.
I even had a neighbor once who actually shot a bat in his kitchen!