When I was 27 I didn’t believe in life after death. The proof just wasn’t there for me. In that same year I visited a psychic for the first time. He started off the first Tarot spread with the remark: “Wow. You’re going to win a really big award. Is it an Oscar?” I replied, “Actually, I just did.” This made me suspicious of him right off the bat. It’s not like he couldn’t have a done a little research on my name and found that out easily – and here he was pretending to be psychic, and here I was spending a lot of money on a fool’s errand.
Then he looked puzzled, tapping the card (Ace of Wands) and saying, “But this is in the future. Well, maybe you’ll win another one.” Thirty years later, I called him to say he was right and I did win a second. Dang, he was good!
But that wasn’t why I was I came to him in the first place. I had a problem. I was temporarily homeless, spending nights in an upstairs guest room at my parents’. I’d never used this room before, but after I went to college my old bedroom had been taken over by my dad as a study. I didn’t sleep well from the beginning in this unfamiliar room. I would start to fall asleep, and then strange things would happen: sounds like something rolling across a wood floor (the room was completely carpeted) or once I had the sensation my head was in someone’s lap who was stroking my head. Another time, I felt my toes being yanked sharply, as if someone was impatiently demanding my attention. I was frightened, and didn’t know where to turn for help. A friend suggested I see this psychic.
Towards the end of the reading, and without my prompting, he mentioned there was a spirit around me. “It’s male, and you knew him. Don’t worry,” the psychic said, “he’s protective.”
I returned to the guest room without fear, and was able to identify, from clues in the room, exactly who my ghost was. Thus began a relationship between a family phantom and myself, which endured for many years. But that’s another story.
Once you have encountered a ghost in a believable way, you are forced to accept that there is indeed an afterlife. The spiritual realm now yawns before you: if I’m going to believe that, then what else is true? After a time I began to consider reincarnation, and came to believe in that as well. It was in that belief that I embarked on my novel Jane Was Here.
My title character retains a very vague feeling of not being where she’s supposed to be since the day she was born. This is not my home, these are not my parents, this is not my name. My real name is Jane and I belong somewhere else. When she reaches 22, she receives a clue that sends her on a long journey to the place she feels to be her true home. She arrives in a small Massachusetts town and is immediately drawn to a particular house. Later in the story she discovers that there was a young woman named Jane who lived in this same house, and who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1853. She decides that she is the reincarnation of the earlier Jane. What she doesn’t know yet is that Jane’s killer has also reincarnated, and is living here, right now, in this town.
In a way, Jane is a walking ghost, haunting the people who were responsible for her disappearance and leading them to their karmic fate.
Thus Jane joins the list of ghosts I have known, and known well.
For more of my thoughts on reincarnation, please visit my blog
A mysterious young woman calling herself Jane turns up in a small New England town. She claims a fragmentary memory of growing up in this place, yet she has never been here before in her life. Upon her arrival, strange and alarming things begin happening to some of the town's inhabitants. As Jane's memories reawaken piece by piece, they carry her back to a long-buried secret, while the townspeople hurtle forward to a horrific event when past and present fatally collide.
"My friend Sarah Kernochan's delicious novel "Jane Was Here"--it has all the glamour parts, the fast moving story, the wild lovely characters, the gullible kids, but it's really about the power of the past to shape the present." - Susan Cheever
“…nothing short of magic.” – Jacquelyn Mitchard
“A perfect choice for book clubs.” - Brunonia Barry
Sarah Kernochan received early acclaim for her Academy Award winning documentary Marjoe. She then recorded two albums for RCA as a singer-songwriter. In 1977, her first novel Dry Hustle was published. Returning to film, she scripted the the film Nine and ½ Weeks, Impromptu, Sommersby, What Lies Beneath and All I Wanna Do, which she also directed. She received a second Academy Award in 2002 for her short documentary Thoth. 2010 brought the re-issue of Dry Hustle as an ebook, and a third album of songs. 2011 brings us to Jane Was Here; Sarah’s first love and teenage ambition – a novel about reincarnation.
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