HISTORY OF KACHIMA SPIRIT
Two different sparks fired the genesis of Kachima Spirit.
The first came about when I visited my sister and she told me I should
take a look at my teenaged-nephew's bedroom. The bedroom and its weird
artifacts along with my nephew's penchant for scaring the wits out of
unsuspecting relatives and trick-or-treaters transferred easily into my
A visit to a Ventura museum that specialized in the history of the Chumash
Indians gave me the added desire to put what I learned to use in the novel.
When the book was finished, it was first published as an e-book by Hard
Shell Word Factory. It was a finalist for the 2000 Eppie award presented
by the EPIC organization for best horror novel.
Hard Shell Word Factory has followed up with the publication of Kachima
Spirit as a trade paperback.
Amanda Kilgore-Huntress Reviews says:
"After a long search, Madeline Kennon has found a new home to restart
her life and the lives of her children. Almost immediately, they begin
making new friends, and despite claims that their new home is haunted,
it seems like life could not be better. Even seeing ghosts does not really
"However, things turn more sinister, and bloody. Madeline begins having
strange dreams, it looks like her son is into animal mutilation, and two
very different men enter her life. Then, murder occurrs. Frightening secrets
from the past reach out to entangle the Kennon family in a web of deception
and death. Madeline finds her heart and her family are on the line; one
wrong move could cost her everything."
"In yet another thrilling novel, Ms. Meredith proves herself to be a premier
writer with characters that are believeable in a situation that could
be real, despite its other worldly elements. The unreal situation is presented
so matter of factly that it seems to be something that could be true."
ROMCON has reviewed Kachima Spirit in this way:
"It's been a little over a year since her husband's death, but Madeline and
her children are still devastated. In an attempt to start anew, Madeline
moves her family to a Victorian house set outside a small town in the
southern California foothills.
They soon begin to hear stories of ghosts
haunting their new home and tragedies that have occurred in the house's
past. Madeline and her son, Norman, have long shared a love of horror movies
and a fascination with ghosts, so their reaction isn't one of fear, but one
"The plot of KACHIMA SPIRIT follows the trail of Madeline and Norman as they
try to figure out what keeps "their" ghost tied to their new home. The
search takes them through an old murder investigation that the police have
never solved; and through Madeline's dreams, we follow the story of the
Indian maiden who is the longest dwelling ghost of the site."
"I enjoyed the relationships of the story.: Madeline and her son, Norman,
are a great pair, and the friendships those two and the younger daughter
find with their new neighbors are well done. --I would probably term KACHIMA
SPIRIT more a paranormal horror story than a romance, what with the
decapitated heads and blood stains on the wall, but as a lover of horror,
when it's all said and done, I enjoyed the story."
Reviewer for http://www.romcom.com
Madeline Kennon knew she wanted the
house from the moment Flossie Elliott, the real estate agent, maneuvered
her big, white Cadillac over the rise and down into the vale. The
old Victorian perched on an isolated knoll was certainly out of
place in the southern California foothill setting. Ancient oaks,
a few stately pines, spiky yucca and scrubby chaparral surrounded
"What a lovely old place ... looks
perfect for you and your family." Flossie drove carefully into the
small dirt lane which served as a driveway.
Not wanting the woman to know she
was interested for fear she might raise the price, Madeline said,
"Goodness, look at the garage ... only room for one car." She didn't
bother to mention she only had one car, her Volkswagen bus which
she seldom parked under cover anyway.
Madeline climbed out of the car and
studied the outside of the house. She couldn't help smiling. A steeply
pitched room topped the second story. A brick chimney jutted from
each side, and in the center a pointed gable held a double arched
window. The front door protruded slightly from the lower half of
the front pavilion, and a covered porch ran the full length of the
house with stairs leading up to it from either side.
"I can just picture you sitting there
sipping your morning coffee." Flossie picked her way through the
uncut grass, taking care that the thistle didn't snag her deep purple
polyester slacks. "Let's see what the inside looks like."
No wonder she was eager, the stout
woman had been showing houses to Madeline for the last two months,
and she knew she'd been a frustrating client because nothing up
until now suited her. She wanted to move away from Los Angeles and
everything reminding her of her previous life. It wasn't because
she hadn't been happy, on the contrary, life with her recently deceased
husband had been close to ideal.
Don's fatal automobile accident a
little more than a year ago had devastated her, his memory haunted
their home. Despite her two children, she felt lonely and purposeless.
She desperately needed new surroundings in order to recover. Because
she'd received a large insurance settlement from Don's estate, and
combined with the sale of their home, a new beginning was possible.
Most of the homes Flossie had shown
Madeline had been satisfactory, but reminded her too much of the
ranch style house she wanted to leave behind. She'd seen several
Spanish type bungalows with heavy tiled roofs and white stucco walls
and lots of wrought iron, but somehow they hadn't appealed to her.
Earlier that morning, when she'd
called the real estate woman to see if she'd located any more property
to show her, Madeline recognized annoyance in Flossie's voice.
"As I tried to explain to you the
last time you were here, Mrs. Kennon, I've shown you every decent
house that's for sale from Casitas Springs to Wheeler's Gorge. Everything
else listed is out of your price range or unsuitable."
Disappointed but not willing to give
up, Madeline said, "Maybe one of the houses you think is unsuitable
might be exactly what I want. Why don't you show me some of those?"
The woman agreed, though reluctantly,
to meet her in the afternoon and take her to the less desirable
properties. Flossie had certainly been correct in her estimation
of the first place she'd driven Madeline. Not only was it unsuitable,
it was uninhabitable. In such a state of disrepair, Madeline doubted
the crumbling building could be salvaged by the handiest of persons,
which she wasn't. And she began to wonder if Flossie hadn't been
right after all, and they were both wasting their time.
Before taking Madeline to what she
called "The Weightman place", Flossie explained, "This next one
is an older home and though it's supposed to be in good repair it's
been empty for quite some time. It's in rather an isolated area
and the neighbors are reported to be rather eccentric, but you might
find them interesting."
The less than complimentary description
had heightened Madeline's curiosity. Interesting neighbors might
perk up her boring life.
While waiting for Flossie to unlock
the front door, Madeline admired the four stained glass panels set
into the oversize front door. Flossie flung it open and stepped
aside to allow Madeline to enter.
As she entered the dusty, large foyer
with a wide staircase and a door to the right, and an open arch
to the left, an oddly discomforting sensation settled over her.
It was like a compulsion almost, that she had to have the house.
She certainly didn't want the real estate agent to know what she
was feeling. She might raise the price.
Madeline peered into the room to
her left which was dominated by a large fireplace. Another arch
led to an old fashioned dining room, complete with built?in buffet
and glass?fronted China closet. "H'mmm, no carpets or drapes," she
"But the floors are hardwood. Cleaned
and waxed they'll be beautiful," Flossie countered and opened the
door on the right, ushering Madeline into a large, sunny room, two
walls lined with shelves. "This will be perfect for you, Madeline.
You told me you needed a big room for your hobbies."
Flossie was right. It was large enough
for her bedroom furniture and her loom, with plenty of storage for
her yarn and craft supplies. Madeline found it difficult to murmur
a noncommittal, "Um huh."
Flossie waddled across the floor
and opened another door. "And here's the downstairs bathroom."
Peering in, Madeline exclaimed, "Goodness,
it's ghastly, and the bathtub is a relic." Though the room desperately
needed paint, it wasn't all that bad. The sink wasn't chipped, only
dirty. An attempt had been made at modernization with the addition
of cabinets, and Madeline could live with the old-fashioned green
tile with black trim. Actually, she'd always wanted a claw?footed
tub. She tried not to smile.
Reaching for the handle on the toilet,
Flossie pushed down and it flushed with a rush of water. "It works."
She sounded surprised.
"That's something anyway." Madeline
swatted at a cobweb protecting another door leading out of the bathroom.
"Bet the house is full of mice."
"Didn't you tell me your little girl
has a cat? Surely it'll take care of the mice."
Flossie was right, Bandit would make
short work of the rodent population. Madeline already imagined
the house scrubbed and polished and filled with her own belongings.
"This room will be perfect for your
daughter," Flossie said.
She was right, it would be perfect
for Wendy, but Madeline said, "It's kind of small."
Flossie made an exasperated sound,
and pushed open the next door. "Wow. You're going to love this."
The kitchen ran the full width of
the house and had obviously been recently remodeled. A brick fireplace
and windows lined the back wall, and oak cabinets and fairly modern
appliances finished off the other end.
"It's definitely a pleasant surprise."
"And to me too, there's nothing in
the listing that even hints at the extent of the renovation." Flossie
picked her over-bleached hair with her long, purple fingernails.
They didn't find any surprises upstairs.
The windows in the front gables were the only ones of any size and
they opened onto the hallway at the top of the stairs. Doors on
either side led to two drab rooms with a tiny bathroom between them.
"I bet your son would enjoy the privacy up here."
"Yes, Norman definitely would like
having the whole top floor to himself." It might be exactly what
was needed to bring her fifteen?year?old son out of the dark mood
he'd been in ever since his father died.
"So what do you think, Mrs. Kennon?"
"I don't know." Madeline frowned
though she wanted the house, had to have it. "It seems pretty remote
out here. Might be dangerous."
"I'm sure you'll be much safer here
than you are in the city." Flossie tapped her foot impatiently.
"Besides, I don't have anything else to show you."
"Well ... if this really is all you
have." She gazed around again. "I'm hoping new surroundings will
make a difference to my children."
"I can assure you, this is the best
buy around. I'm sure it'll suit your family just fine. Why don't
we go back to my office and talk?"
For a brief moment, an almost suffocating
yearning to remain right where she was settled over Madeline. She
shivered, and the feeling quickly dissipated. "Yes, let's"
Madeline feared the price of the
house might be more than she could afford, but it was surprisingly
low. "Are you sure that's right? You did say it was on two acres,
"Yes, but it's such rugged terrain,
unsuitable for much of anything."
Madeline realized she hadn't even
looked at the yard. However, it didn't matter what it was like because
she already considered the house hers.
The escrow closed quickly, surprising
even Flossie, who called to report it to Madeline. "And you may
move in any time you want."
* * *
The Kennons traveled the 101 freeway
through Ventura, driving past the ocean; sunbathers on the beaches
basking in the June sun. Seven?year?old Wendy turned to her mother,
dark pigtails flying. "Will we be able to see the water from our
"We'll be close enough to come to
the beach whenever we want, but we won't be able to see it because
our house is on the way to the mountains." Madeline had deliberately
not given her children any details because she wanted to surprise
As they left the main freeway and
took the turnoff toward Ojai, Wendy became more and more animated.
She read the signs aloud, and pointed out the sights that interested
her, while hugging her black?and?white cat.
"Foster Park ... can we go there
on a picnic someday?"
"Lake Casitas, oh boy. Can we take
a boat ride?"
"Look, those people have a horse
in their front yard. Can we have a horse?"
"I saw a squirrel. No chasing squirrels,
Bandit ... "
As she babbled on and on, Madeline
knew her decision to move was a good one. Even Norman, who wasn't
saying anything, seemed interested in the changing scenery as he
peered out the windows of their old, but reliable bus.
Madeline made the left hand turn
from the highway to follow the winding road to their new home. She
had to concentrate on her driving to avoid the potholes, as Wendy
continued to verbally point out the sights.
"Look at that funny little gingerbread
Further up the road, a young woman
with long, straight blonde hair blowing over her shoulders, and
a colorful skirt billowing around tanned legs stood beside a mailbox
and waved. "Hi," Wendy called out. "Look, Mommy, the lady's waving
The steep hill ahead required Madeline
to shift gears, and as she drove over the top, she said, "There
it is, kids, that's our new home."
Wendy bounced up and down in her
seat, clutching the squirming Bandit.
Norman ran his fingers through his
dark brown hair, and said solemnly, "It's better than I expected."
Madeline stared at the old Victorian.
She once again felt drawn toward it, but in a more ominous manner,
almost frightening. For the first time, she wondered if she'd made