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The Haunted Life of Mystery Writer Juliet Blackwell

In truth, Oakland author Juliet Blackwell shares a lot of traits with Melanie Turner, the contractor she created who stars in her nationally bestselling Haunted Home Renovation series. Both have anthropology degrees, both work on the restoration of historic homes and both encounter ghosts on a regular basis. But there are key differences: While the fictional Turner character communes with spirits only on jobsites, the flesh-and-blood Blackwell claims to live with ghosts in her own home. As she prepares to release her latest mystery, Home for the Haunting, the author opens the doors to her private residence and clues us in to life (and death) inside the California Craftsman.

Mary Jo Bowling
  • Photo credit: Joseph Schell
    Culture Vulture

    The idea to write the addictive series of mysteries starring a spirit-attracting renovation specialist came to Blackwell (a decorative painter by trade before she became a full-time author) while she was high atop scaffolding working on the ceiling of a Victorian mansion in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. “The painters are often the last people in the building, and we are always rushing to get the job done,” she says. “I was working in an old house at 3 a.m. and it was making all kinds of creaks, moans and groans, as old houses do, and the idea for the series came to me.” Here she works at her desk in her own 1911 home in Oakland. The vulture, nicknamed Harry, is a permanent fixture. “He is a great companion to a mystery writer,” she says. “He reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe, of course.”

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