Witch of Willow Lake Playlist & Excerpts


Anyone who has ever written, well, anything knows that a big part of getting to that final product is the editing, revising, and proofreading. And let me tell you, that can be a very tedious job. Well, as I was on maybe my third of fourth read-through of WWL, my edit-weary mind began singing me songs during certain story scenes.

Now that I’m (finally) finished revising, and the book has been released, I though it would be fun to make a list of some of those songs and pair them with excerpts from the story. So in this post, you’ll find five of the songs that have been playing incessantly through my head for the past few weeks (months?).

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

It would be an understatement to say Kyr’s brother Luther doesn’t approve of her ghost-hunting hobby. In fact, he tells her she’s on the way to eternal damnation.

“It’s bad enough that you’re dragging Kyr into that occult nonsense. Don’t think for a minute that I’m going to stand by and let you influence my kids that way.”

Enough was enough. I shot up out of my chair and jabbed a finger into Luther’s chest. “Luther, you need to back off now. You have no right—“

He smacked my hand away and glared down at me. “I have every right to protect my children from negative influences. I may have lost you, but I will not lose Eli.”

“Lost me? Lost me to what?”

“All this ooky-spooky garbage you’re running after lately. Dad was always afraid you’d get mixed up in something you couldn’t handle and lose your soul to the devil, but I thought you had more sense.” His expression was a combination of sorrow and disgust. “I guess Dad knew what he was talking about all along.”

I sputtered with indignation, unable to believe what I was hearing. “Luther, what is wrong with you? I am not mixed up in something I can’t handle.” We just won’t mention what happened in the bell tower. Or in Borland, for that matter. “And I have not sold my soul to the devil.”

“I didn’t say you sold your soul to the devil; that would require a conscious decision. I said you lost it, meaning you let yourself slide little by little, not even realizing you’re slipping away until it’s too late.” His eyes blazed like the coals in the fire pit, and he gesticulated wildly as he spoke, looking every bit like the fire-and-brimstone preachers he liked to watch on TV.

The back of my scalp prickled at his words, and a part of me wondered if he might be right. My mouth opened to respond, but all that came out was a confused huff. Spook shouldered his way around me to come to my defense, but before he could speak, Luther turned accusing eyes on him. “I just never thought you’d have help. And here I thought Trevor was bad news.”


Witchcraft – Robert Palmer

For months, Kyr, Spook, and the gang have assumed they were investigating a simple haunting involving the spirit of a young coed who perished in a fire. One night, Kyr finds evidence that there may be more involved:

I let the book fall open once more, this time to the Table of Contents, and trailed my finger down the list of chapter titles, waiting for something to jump out at me. “Humble Beginnings, Hidden Treasure, Strange Creatures of Clinton County, In-laws and Outlaws, Indian Lore, The Witch of Willow Lake, School Spirits…wait, what?” I blinked my eyes hard, disbelieving what I saw. I must be more tired than I thought. The title of Chapter Six, “The Witch of Willow Lake,” seemed to hover above the page, begging to be noticed. A witch?

I swallowed hard as a lump of dread welled up in my throat, threatening to choke me. Something stirred in my subconscious, and I vaguely recalled suspecting witchcraft or some occult ritual when I first heard about the charred book and the candles found in the bell tower. Surely this witch wasn’t part of the Appleton bell tower saga. Was it?

My fingers were clumsy as I flipped the pages of the book to Chapter Six. The spine cracked in protest, scattering dust and frayed pieces of the cover into my lap. Finding the page I was looking for, I began reading. “Do you believe in witchcraft? In curses? You don’t? If you had lived at the northern edge of what is now the community of Willow Lake in the mid-eighteenth century, you might not be so quick to dismiss the idea.” The account went on to tell of a lone elderly woman who arrived in the pre-Willow-Lake settlement just north of town one autumn day. The men of the settlement helped her build a small, primitive shanty, just enough to get her through the winter months. My scalp prickled as the cabin from my visions suddenly loomed in my mind.


Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell

As if the spirit of a witch wasn’t enough to deal with, almost as soon as Kyr arrives back in Willow Lake, she realizes she is being stalked by a mysterious dark figure that no one else can see.

Without warning, the back of my neck began prickling, and I had the uncomfortable sensation that someone was watching me. I froze in the pew where I sat, afraid to turn around lest I find that an unfriendly person stood at the back of the sanctuary. I held my breath and strained to hear through the sound of my pulse pounding in my ears. I was certain no one had come in; heaven knew no one could have entered the church without those doors announcing their presence. The creak and pop of someone stepping on a loose floorboard finally made me whirl around and call out, “Hello?”

No one was there. My eyes scanned the entire sanctuary, looking for any sign that I wasn’t alone, but I found nothing. Still, the feeling of being watched remained. A sudden movement above made me raise my eyes to the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary. My breath caught as I spotted a figure silhouetted against the side of the stained glass window in the center of the balcony. I stood and started slowly up the aisle, calling out again, “Hello? Who’s there?”

There was no answer, but the figure moved as though trying to edge out of sight. Suddenly and inexplicably terrified, I dashed up the aisle and out of the church, not caring that I slammed the doors behind me. I raced down the front stairs, across the street, and up onto the levee, frantic to put as much distance as I could between me and whoever had been watching me inside the church. I kept running until I passed the amphitheater and reached the area where the Street Faire vendors were preparing their booths. When I got to the stairs that led down to the street, I rushed blindly down them, hoping to lose myself in the knots of people beginning to mill about.


Don’t Pay the Ferryman – Chris deBurgh

I love this seldom-played song. It’s got a combination of a catchy tune, a mythological reference, and a sense of creepiness that lends itself well to the mood I was trying to capture in this story. It ties in well with the message Kyr and Spook hear repeatedly, that pursuing the mystery of Mary Bollinger and the Witch of Willow Lake will bring them no end to trouble.

“Not Mary Bollinger…” The woman’s face had gone white, and I sensed that she had just reached the same realization about the decades-old haunting. Her expression suggested she was weighing her desire to examine this revelation against her fear of what would happen if the truth came out. Fear won out, and she shook her head wildly, pleading, “No. No good can come of pursuing this. Please, just let the story die with those who were in the bell tower that night.”

“You know as well as I do it doesn’t work that way,” Spook blazed. “This thing didn’t start in 1958; it started two hundred years ago, and it’ll go on for another two hundred if something isn’t done.”

I found my tongue and joined the discussion. “The story won’t die with those who were there that night. There will always be someone who knows some part of the story. And that’s the problem, that no one knows the whole story. If we had the whole story, maybe we could find a way to end this once and for all.”

The book seller’s eyes turned to smoldering blue coals as she regarded the two of us. We had so many more questions to ask, but we knew that pressuring her now would only make her more determined to withhold information. After a long moment, she stood, letting us know the conversation was over.


Spooky – Atlanta Rhythm Section

This is just a short little fluff scene that I decided to keep. This song has been running through my head since Kyr and Spook got together in Book 2, but there’s a line in the song that really piqued my interest towards the end of the story, and it may come into play in the next book. I leave you to guess about that one…

Shaking my head, I switched off the light and walked out of the bathroom. The steady buzz of a beard trimmer drifted through the connecting door, and I stopped short when I heard Spook’s voice. Was he talking to someone? I went to the doorway and stuck my head through. He wasn’t talking; he was singing. I stifled a giggle as I recognized the Atlantic Rhythm Section song from my mom’s music collection. A Spook and a spooky girl. You can’t get a spookier combination than that.

I tried to ignore the shudder that went through me as I thought of the scene from my vision earlier this afternoon. No, that’s not spooky, I thought. That’s downright horrifying.


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