My First Ghost Novel

And My Homage to a Terrific 1947 Film

By Jeff Salter

No self-respecting Southern girl takes second place to a spook.

How can Levi focus on his attractive colleague when he lives with a beautiful ghostess? 


This beautiful cover was created by the talented Amanda Matthews… at AM Design Studios.

The 1947 movie, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” had always been a favorite of mine — just the right touch of spookiness and that gorgeous, moody musical score. I greatly admired the strength and courage of Lucy Muir and loved the growing relationship between her and the spirit Captain Gregg… after she insists on taking Gull Cottage (despite knowing it was haunted).

Once I decided to write a ghost story, I wondered how different that film might have been if it was instead a man moving into a place haunted by the ghost of a woman. Since I loved the movie so much, I decided to borrow most of the names of people and places… though none are used in the same way. [For example, in the movie Lucy lives in Gull Cottage… in my novel, Levi teaches school where Mrs. Gull is the principal.] I paid close enough attention that anyone reading my story who is also familiar with the movie will recognize the names but realize they now represent someone or something completely different.

Well, in early 2014 under the direction of CR staff member Opal Campbell, several of us authors in the Clean Reads stable got together and built the small town of Magnolia Alabama — which our publisher had suggested as the setting for a new series of titles. As originally envisioned — at least the way I understood it — any of us on-board could set a novel or novella in Magnolia as long as we observed the newly established parameters of the town and area. [And there was still plenty of room for modifying the details of the town as each story came out.] We even identified many of the buildings — and several of its people — in Magnolia’s downtown. The more we developed it, the more excited I got about placing a story there.

I no longer remember precisely when we more-or-less finished our work on the fictional town of Magnolia, but I vowed to be the first to complete a story set there. And apparently it was around that time that I decided how to approach my ghost story — so it was natural for the two projects to come together. On Feb. 23 that year I began work on my tale and had it mostly mapped out before the end of that month. Originally I envisioned a novella of approximately 30,000, but by Mar. 11, I had finished the first draft, which had grown to nearly 50,000 words.

By April 7, I’d completed the second draft; by May 9, I’d completed the third draft. I can’t find a specific date for the fourth draft, but by May 19, I’d completed the 5th draft. Along the way, I got a lot of assistance from my beta readers — especially my brother, Charles Salter — and my wife, Denise Salter, was also extremely helpful in the design and features of the Ghostess’ 1914 hotel suite. I also received technical assistance from Runere McLain (about ghost hunting) and from Larry Tuttle (about steam engine trains).

It was either the 5th or 6th draft that I finally submitted to our publisher, Stephanie Griffin — by then, the story was over 60,000 words. It was later contracted and by Oct. 10, we’d completed three rounds of edits and were working on the galleys. The novel was released later that same month.

I dedicated this novel to my daughter, Julie Moers, who had watched the film with me more than once (and enjoyed it nearly as much as I did… I think).

The Ghostess & MISTER Muir.” Novel, only $3.99 in digital formats; paperback coming soon (price will vary). Clean Reads, 2014. Part of the series, “Heart of Magnolia.” Inspired by the wonderful 1947 movie, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.”

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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6 Responses to My First Ghost Novel

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I love reading stories about how a book came to be. This one has been on my TBR shelf since it came out, and with fall coming it seems like the perfect time to take it down and read it. I never saw the movie it was based on, but I watched and loved the television show The Ghost and Mrs. Muir starring Edward Mulhare and Hope Lange. I’m sure I’ll love The Ghostess and Mr. Muir, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      The TV show was pretty good, too… but, unfortunately, they veered more to the “sit-com” format and made the content too silly. But if you liked the TV series, I’m sure you’d love the movie. When you finally watch it, be sure to turn up the volume so you can hear that beautiful haunting score.
      Thanks for buying my novel — yes, Fall will be the perfect time to get out the hot cocoa and read my story.


      • I agree with you, Jeff. I watched the series, but I think mainly to gaze at Edward Mulhare(!) and to laugh at Charles Nelson Reilly. My mother detested the show because of her love of the movie.
        The movie is an all-time favorite of mine, and I found it was a favorite of Joe’s right after we got married.It is one that we have watched quite a few times.
        I have had this book on my TBR list and an getting to it very soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        thanks for getting my novel, Tonette. As you read it, watch for the names of people and places that you will surely recognize from the film.


  2. This is such a wonderful story. It’s fun to read about how it came to be. Do you have other stories set in Magnolia?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      none published yet, and none that are complete either. But I’ve got significant progress on several Magnolia stories… plus starts on several others. It’s a great town to write for.


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