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The Year of Shadows Blog Tour (& Giveaway): Claire Legrand on Believing in Ghosts

We are thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Claire Legrand’s second novel, The Year of Shadows, a middle grade ghost story about love, loss, and friendship! Today, Claire is over to talk about ghosts – specifically, why she believes in ghosts, and how that belief informed the creation of The Year of Shadows.

Year of Shadows Blog Tour Banner

Please give a warm welcome to Claire, everyone!

Why I Believe In Ghosts

Confession: As silly as it sounds, I’ve always believed in ghosts.

As a writer, a part of me is wired to believe that the extraordinary—the magical, the inexplicable, the strange—exists in our reality if you know where to look for it. I know that’s not true, of course. Or I should say, ninety-nine percent of me knows that’s not true. But that stubborn one percent persists: What if?

When I was in sixth grade, I went to the slumber party of a friend who was celebrating her birthday. Someone had brought a Ouija board, and at midnight, as a storm rumbled outside, we gathered around the Ouija board and started to ask it questions. For the most part, this was all giggles and nonsense. Does So-and-So like me? Who among us will grow up to be rich and famous? But then we asked any spirits present to prove they were with us by making my friend’s black cat run across the room. Immediately after we asked the question, lightning flashed, thunder erupted, and the black cat? It yowled and ran across the room. We screamed and put the Ouija board away. Some of the girls were genuinely terrified. (I was feeling more along the lines of, “AWW YEAHHH! Bring it, ghosts!”)

What if?

Growing up, whenever a door blew open of its own accord or a strange noise creaked in a dark house, my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles blamed the family ghost, Chester. It was a fun family tradition, but even though everyone laughed when they spoke of Chester, mention of him always gave me chills. He was friendly, they said, but sometimes mischievous. He didn’t mean to frighten us—usually. If a door blew open, instead of assuming it was due to a draft, we would say, “Hi, Chester!” I knew from the start it was just a game, although I liked the idea of a single ghost traveling back and forth between my home and the homes of my extended family members, like some kind of supernatural pet. Ridiculous, of course. It was just the wind, or the house settling. The strange, flitting shapes in the nighttime shadows were my eyes playing tricks on me. The feeling of a presence in the house, especially when I was alone, was the wild imagination of a child. Right?

What if?

One of my aunts and one of my cousins recently experienced their own brushes with the supernatural—or did they? (I solemnly swear these are true stories, retold here as they told them to me.) The cousin in question was babysitting the two young sons of one of our aunts. She put them to bed and returned to the living room to study. Later, the younger boy came out and told her there was a boy in the room he and his brother shared. The boy, he said, wouldn’t leave. My cousin returned him to his room and put him back to bed, but then, later, she saw a tiny boy run across the living room. It wasn’t either of our young cousins; it was something . . . else. Strange things started to happen in that house; as my aunt tells it, things would fly or fall off shelves, even when no one was near them. She heard a boy laughing—a boy that wasn’t one of her own. One night, she woke up to see the handle of her dresser drawer flying up and down, up and down, like a child was playing with it just to annoy her—only no one was there. She screamed out into the room: “Go away! Get out of here!” The handle stopped moving.

What if?

Some will argue that these incidents have perfectly cogent explanations, grounded in reality: The cat and the Ouija board? Coincidence. Chester? A silly family tradition, a child’s imagination. The boy phantom, the drawer handle banging around by itself? Dreams or hallucinations brought on by exhaustion or stress.

But I can’t quite convince myself with that logic; I don’t want to.

I want to believe that no matter how much logic we use to try and understand the world we live in, no matter how much science or rationality we throw at bizarre events, there will always be things we can’t explain, questions we can’t answer. Believing that there is more to the world than what meets the naked eye — even the most coldly logical scientific eye — is as comforting to me as it is unsettling. I think that’s why I gravitate toward fantastical stories, both as a reader and as a writer—why I wrote about ghosts in The Year of Shadows, and why I so envy Olivia’s experiences with her ghostly friends Frederick, Tillie, Jax, and Mr. Worthington, as horrifying as those experiences were at times. Like Olivia, I want to believe in the unbelievable. I search for it, I crave it, I explore it through my writing as Olivia does through her art. I step into buildings or neighborhoods heavy with history and know that I tread on ground marked by the footsteps of countless souls, just as Olivia learns to feel that her ghosts, tethered to her father’s crumbling music hall, are nearby without even having to turn around.

It’s that feeling of What if? that keeps me writing — exploring, searching, and believing. Maybe someday I’ll witness concrete evidence that ghosts and other unexplainable things exist around us; maybe I won’t. But either way, I’ll keep believing in them. That What if? is too potent a question — and too delicious an inspiration — to ignore.

About The Book:

The Year of Shadows (Final Cover)

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.

Her mother left, her neglectful father — the maestro of a failing orchestra — has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.

Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help — if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.

Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.

About the Author:

Claire Legrand

Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now a writer, Ms. Legrand can often be found typing with purpose at her keyboard, losing herself in the stacks at her local library, or embarking upon spontaneous adventures to lands unknown. Her first novel is The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, a New York Public Library Best Book for Children in 2012. Her second novel, The Year of Shadows, releases August 27, 2013, with her third novel, Winterspell, to follow in fall 2014. She is one of the four authors behind The Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology of dark middle grade fiction due out in July 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins. Claire lives in New Jersey with a dragon and two cats. Visit her at and at

Thanks, Claire!

Giveaway Details:

Year of Shadows Blog Tour Banner

As part of our stop on the tour, we have ONE copy of The Year of Shadows up for grabs! The contest is open to addresses in the US and Canada only and will run until Friday, September 6 at 12:01am. To enter, use the form below. Good luck! And make sure to stop by later today as we review The Year of Shadows!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  • Joni Patterson
    August 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I’ve been waiting (impatiently) for this one! Even though I’m pretty pathetic about scary things I’m such a fan for ghost stories. It’s a love-hate relationship. 😛 The synopsis for this one sounds amazing. I anticipate trying to brave it’s pages! ^.^

  • Kathy L.
    August 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Yes I do believe in ghosts mostly because I find it impossible that someone can just stop existing when they die. It’s just too depressing a thought.

  • Jessica Lawson
    August 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Great post! I’ve also heard stories from people I know about supernatural things going on. It’s hard not to ask, What if? I like the idea of there being more beyond the world that we know, whether or not I get to find out more about that world 🙂 That said, ghostly movies are not for me~ I’m too much of a weenie!

  • Rebecca I.
    August 19, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Can’t wait to read this book!!

    I am on the fence…but tend toward believing in ghosts. I just can’t quite get myself to dismiss the possibility of them and, like Claire, don’t really want to. Plus, considering how many, many people truly believe they have had ghostly experiences… I find it hard to dismiss that about of anecdotal evidence!

  • Erin
    August 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Great post! I’m so excited for this book! : )

    I’m not quite sure what to believe when it comes to ghosts. Some of my family members swear that they’ve seen some (a little girl picking flowers in an old-fashioned dress, one that lives in their house and slams doors whenever they talk about moving) so I often find myself asking what if? Part of me hopes that I never get an affirmative answer to that question though – it’d completely freak me out!

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Yes I believe in ghosts. I did, nominally, believe in them before my cat started interacting with a dapper man in the hallway of our apartment. I could only see vague outlines from the corner of my eye and only if the cat was looking at him. That cat was not friendly with anyone but me and my husband and that ghost.

  • Lena
    August 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I do believe in ghosts. I saw a shadow ghost when I was in middle school. It was a long hallway, and I was at one end… and I saw a tall shadow ghost with a cowboy hat behind the door. I ran down the hallway and looked behind the door and nothing was there.

    SO yeah I definitely behind in ghosts 😀

  • Lena
    August 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

    oops I meant I believe in ghosts.

  • Vivien
    August 19, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m always hoping to see one. I find the idea incredibly fascinating!!

  • Victoria (aka zEmfIrKa)
    August 19, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I think I occasionally believe in ghosts… I’d like to think that the good ghosts are out there, but I’d rather pretend the bad ones don’t exist! 😀
    Great post.

  • Heather K.
    August 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I do believe in ghosts, but I hope only the nice ones are real! If I ever see one, it better be a family member and not something from a horror movie! Lol This book sounds fantastic! Thank you for the giveaway.:)

  • Kendra
    August 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I have to say even though sometimes I really don’t want to, I believe in ghosts.

  • Lan
    August 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    With no evidence to the contrary, I have to say: I do believe in ghosts. At least, I believe in being haunted.

  • Lauren
    August 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t know if I’m 100% convinced, however, I have had some strange experiences with losing precious things, and finding them in really absurd places, with having things in my car (like my mirrors) moved, things that happen far to often to be mere coincidences. So, as Claire Legrand said, “What if…?”

  • Grace Radford
    August 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Rationally, no, I don’t believe in ghosts but there’s always that little part of me, just like with you, that says “but what if…?” So I guess technically yes, but mostly no. If that makes any sense at all.

  • mary anne
    August 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I think I believe in ghosts – I just don’t believe in all the people who go on TV talking about the ghosts they have seen, sensed etc. I am not sure I know what ghosts are or how they come to be….

  • Andrew Patterson
    August 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I totally believe in ghosts. Science is awesome and all, but there is a lot of weird stuff out there that can’t be explained (yet). I’m not talking about those cheesy “Ghost Hunter” shows either. I’m talking full on specters. I think they are real and people have experienced them.

  • Katharine Ott
    August 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    The book sounds like fun – and I like the opera house setting. No, I guess I don’t believe in ghosts, although we did the Ouija Board at sleepovers too and also “stiff as a board, soft as a feather.” And a Feng Shui teacher said there was a ghost girl named Frankie in our attic!

  • The English Student
    August 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    This is a brilliant post, it’s exactly what I think about ghosts and the supernatural. Thank you!

  • Kate & Zena
    August 19, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Ghosts are kind of iffy, but I tend to believe that the deceased can visit us and send us messages. If that’s believing in ghosts, then so be it!

  • Hannah H
    August 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Hm. My first instinct is to say no, I do not. I have never observed any occurrences that couldn’t be easily explained without changing my perception of what is possible. However, I do feel that memories are powerful and that the events that happen in a place may change it.
    I want there to be something beyond what I experience now. I want it so badly that once I let myself believe, I think I would be open to being duped. I stick to Occam’s Razor because of this, but I think I would be glad if I was proven wrong.

  • Daniel
    August 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I really, really want to believe in ghosts! Not sure I can do it though.

  • Kai W.
    August 20, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I believe in ghosts. When I was little, I have always woken up to voices in the middle of the night, looking for someone. My parents did not speak English and there is no one that speak English except my sister and me.

    Sometime, I would hear a dog walking in the middle of the nights. My parents did not allow my sister and me to have a pet.

  • Carl
    August 20, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I’m kind of ambivalent about ghosts. Most of the time I believe all ghost stories are fiction and then occasionally I’ll see a TV show or read a story that makes me wonder again. My favorite quote on the subject is: “I don’t believe in ghosts at all in the daytime, at night I’m more open-minded.” Thanks for the giveaway, Claire

  • Devon
    August 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I don’t believe in ghosts. I think it’s just something that people want to believe in because they don’t want to let go of the dead, or because they’re afraid of their life just being OVER after they die. It’s a really comforting idea, though, and if someone could prove me wrong, I’d certainly be happy to let them.

  • Justine
    August 21, 2013 at 4:56 am

    I don’t believe in ghosts but I’m open to changing my mind.

  • Christina K.
    August 21, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Definitely! The house where I lived when I was in school was haunted – ghosts touched us, moved things around and whispered:)

    Thank you:))

  • Sue
    August 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Its not silly to believe in ghost at all. i think thats just me?? I grew up in Asia and the house that we used to lived in has been around for like 80 years and handful of families had used it before my ancestors bought it and weird things really happened in the house no matter how many times the priest blessed our home.

  • Mia
    August 21, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Oh, I love ghost stories! This is definitely going on my TBR list.

    I don’t understand why one wouldn’t believe in ghosts. It makes life so much more interesting. I just moved into a new apartment building with one of the creepiest basements I’ve ever seen. I’m fully expecting to run into a ghost one day while doing laundry.

  • Rachel G
    August 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I don’t believe in ghosts exactly, but I do believe there’s something out there, something after death.

  • Shelver506 @ Bookshelvers Anonymous
    August 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I don’t believe in ghosts, because I believe in Heaven and Hell. Staying for a jaunt on Earth doesn’t fit with that. However, they do make for great stories. 🙂

  • Serena
    August 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I can go both ways….but it’s hard to believe that there are so many stories that there is no kernel of truth that we don’t understand buried beneath it all. I’m not sure if our definitions or understandings are correct (our fears and hopes probably influence this to much for us to be empirical judges), but I think there is probably *something* behind it all.

  • Becky C.
    August 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I do not believe in ghosts but I do believe we continue to exist after we die, so there you go.

  • johnnie-marie howard
    August 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I so believe in ghost, I believe that some ppl have unfinsihed business to do before they can cross over to the happier place waiting for them.

  • Announcing . . . the YEAR OF SHADOWS Blog Tour! | Claire Legrand
    August 22, 2013 at 9:07 am

    […] 8/19: Review + Guest Post “Why I Believe In Ghosts” at The Book […]

  • Tim R
    August 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Not so much. I don’t really believe in any sort of afterlife – ghosts included. That doesn’t men they aren’t fun to read about. I can believe one way and appreciate/enjoy others.

  • Courtney Renee
    August 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I’m not sure if I do. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t

  • Awake at Midnight
    August 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    What if you just keep getting up in the morning, and then one day realize that everyone you love has gone and you are no longer in a body– but every morning you have to follow your ritual, come downstairs and SCREAM at the people eating breakfast in your house…

  • Chetana Holla
    August 26, 2013 at 3:47 am

    Well…. I do and do not believe in ghosts. In the comforting light of day, when I am surrounded by people I scoff at the thought of there being ghosts. Then when it gets dark and I am sleeping alone at night, and I suddenly feel like there is something under the bed then I start to wonder. I am not really into spirituality and the paranormal except to read stories in the paranormal genre but I do wonder that maybe when we die, we maybe enter a different dimension that sometimes connects to our world.

  • Caitlin
    August 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I don’t really believe in ghosts, but I do believe when I read a book by an author who believes in them. Belief in the strange and fantastical is what makes for a good imagination and a good author, I think. This book sounds wonderful!

  • An Nysa
    August 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Yes, I believe in ghosts after I visited a haunted house in England.

  • Jessica R
    August 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Without overthinking it, no, I don’t think I believe in ghosts. Probably because I’ve never had any ghostly-type experience (thank goodness). Though apparently one of the buildings at my work is haunted (my coworkers swear it), so maybe I should spend some time there and then report back!

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  • Jpetroroy
    August 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Maybe… Not sure!

  • Joel
    August 28, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Looks like a good story. Love the cover!

  • Day 13 of the YEAR OF SHADOWS Blog Tour – Double Whammy! | Claire Legrand
    September 4, 2013 at 8:12 am

    […] August 19 at The Book Smugglers: review + guest post “Why I Believe In […]

  • Bethany M.
    September 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I don’t believe in ghosts, but I am still afraid of them.

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