What do King Arthur, cheerleaders, greenjacks, sorority girls, jocks, Tom Piccirilli, sex, ghosts, more sex, and really really shameless puns have in common? Why, they all share the pages of The Sorority, which is just days away from hitting bookshelves everywhere. Each day, I’m going to tell you a little about the story, some trivia, some true facts and some fun ones.
Originally, the Sorority Trilogy came out as a serial novel over a summer several years ago, but now it’s back as a nice fat trade paperback (and all e-formats). And the cover is to die for. In fact, I can tell you that the beautiful blue cover girl has died. She’s a ghost who haunts the lake at the old cheerleader camp near the Briarwood College campus just inland of Caledonia, California.
Holly Gayle was once a member of the Gamma Eta Pi sorority house, but she met with a horrible fate. An accident, they say. However it happened, she drowned in the lake and if you dare go rowing on a quiet night, she may appear to you, floating just beneath the surface, seemingly asleep.
There’s no need to be afraid, at least not until she opens her and looks at you. . .
But she isn’t the only ghost in the lake; there are many, many more. A century ago, the original town of Briarwood lay in that valley, then the townsfolk decided a reservoir was necessary and they rebuilt on higher ground, leaving behind all the homes and shops. Even the churches, cemetery, roads, and the skeletons of oaks, pines, and apple groves are still down there. Students brave enough – or foolish enough – to paddle far out into the lake at night report seeing lights winking on one by one as the ghostly town comes to llfe. Sometimes they even see lantern lights moving slowly along the road and, in the fall, bonfires.
The lake is based in fact; on a story I begged my mother to tell me over and over. As a girl, she lived in a little town that was eventually rebuilt so the original could be flooded to make a new dam. Years later, when she got married, she and my father revisited the original site of the town, under the lake. The reservoir is surrounded by forest and they laid out a picnic on a flat boulder near the water. After a leisurely lunch, they relaxed and my father talked my mother into taking a swim. They stripped to their bathing suits and my father jumped in, daring my mother to join him. She was nervous about swimming over the old town, but she finally joined him, paddling out until sunlight revealed the tops of drowned pine trees a few feet below her. That was too much for her — what else was down there? — and she waited on the picnic rock while my father dived deeper and deeper, swimming well away from the shoreline. Eventually he yelled to her that he’d found the church and he dived and dived, staying down for minutes at a time.
When he finally got tired, he swam back to her and told her how he’d explored the old steeple, swimming through the belfry and trying to get inside the lower part of the building. He almost managed it, but something shifted and the opening he’d found closed before he could get inside. My mother told me she’d almost become a widow the same week she married.
Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved stories about drowned towns thanks to my mother’s tale. I always wanted to write about one and when I thought up The Sorority, I knew my ghostly lake finally had a home.
Favorite drowned town book: Under the Lake by Stuart Woods’ Under the Lake.
Favorite drowned town movie: In Dreams.
Tomorrow: Cheerleaders, Sex, and Professor Tongue. Or maybe Football Players vs Knights of the Round Table. We’ll see what comes out of my fingers!
Here’s a look at the original set of covers for The Sorority