GUEST POST: Character Interview by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

09/19/2013 10:26

Welcome to my friend, Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, author of UNFINISHED BUSINESS, a laugh-out-loud novel about an unusual mother-daughter relationship.  The unusual part being that the mother is dead, but is still nagging the daughter from beyond the grave.  

Take it away, Carolyn!


Today I'm happy to offer an interview with Angela Panther and her mother, Fran Richter.  Angela and Fran are the main characters in my chick lit book, Unfinished Business An Angela Panther Novel.

This isn't a traditional character interview because Fran isn't an ordinary character. Fran is dead.  I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to hear Fran or if her daughter Angela will have to speak for her, so let's start and see how things roll.


Carolyn Ridder Aspenson:  Welcome Angela and Fran, I'm so glad you've decided to talk with me today. I must admit, I'm a little nervous about this interview. I've never actually talked to a ghost. I'm not sure what to expect.

Angela: It's definitely interesting. There are days when I'd like to tune out my mother along with the other ghosts but I don't really have a choice in the matter. Can you hear that?

Hear what?

My mother. She's complaining.

No, I can't hear her.

Be grateful. She said, "I'm your mother for cryin' out loud, it's rude to tune out your mother."

She certainly is a character, isn't she?

Yes, she is but she's got a good heart and I'm glad I have this time with her, even though it comes with its own set of issues.

Yes, let's talk about that. How did you start seeing your mother in the first place?

My mother died of lung cancer in my dining room. Actually, we'd made it into her bedroom, which was sort of a bone of contention for her. She didn't like the bed and didn't like the chair we put in there for her.

Hold on, she's talking again.

She said the chair was ugly and uncomfortable and the bed was worse than a prison bed. Ma, when have you ever even seen a prison bed, let along slept in one?

No, Ma, seeing one on TV doesn't count. Now may I finish answering the question? I promise then you can say something and I'll tell her exactly what you said, okay?

Thank you.

Okay, as I was saying, she died in my dining room.  That night I couldn't really sleep, for obvious reasons, and I wanted to feel close to her so I went and laid on her bed, hoping it would help. That's when she appeared to me and started accusing me of stealing her Hershey Bars from thirty years before.

Ma, can I--hold on, again, please.

Ma says I was a thief and after she died she knew a whole bunch of stuff and didn't want me to think I got away with it.

Ma, I think your not knowing for thirty years was me getting away with it.

So anyway, she appeared to me about that and I thought I was going crazy. I thought it was a dream or my mind playing tricks on me but I didn't think it was actually real.

I'm sorry, I shouldn't refer to my mother as an it, she said it's rude. Even though I wasn't referring to her as an it as much as the situation. She's very sensitive.

So how did you finally come to believe she wasn't a figment of your imagination or a dream?

I think I really did know from the start but just couldn't process it. We'd always said that when she died, if she could give me a sign or come back, to do so and she did. What I didn't know because she never told me until after she died, was that I'd had this gift to communicate with the dead as a child. She just kind of let it go instead of encouraging it. Then she told me she wanted to test it out after she died and it worked.

I know Ma. She said she didn't think it would open the door for other ghosts to communicate with me too but that I'm doing a good thing by helping them.

Yes, what kinds of things have you had to do? And how do you see spirits?

As for seeing them, I see them how they passed, I think, just a little different. With my mother, she's still in the blue nightgown she died in but she's not as thin as she was when she died. She's more like she was before she was ill.

Hold on.  She's mad now.

I'm sorry, Ma. I should have told you sooner. I don't know, I just didn't. No, Ma, you're not fat, Ma.  

She's upset because she died very thin and now she's a little more voluptuous again. She told me before she died that she'd be thin for eternity. I haven't had the heart to tell her that didn't work.

I know, Ma, I shouldn't keep stuff from you. Does it matter? You're dead. I mean, really, you're wearing the same thing for eternity, it's not like you're out partying and want to look good. Geesh. I promise, I'm not holding anything else back. I already mentioned your teeth.

Her teeth?

Yes, she had false teeth and apparently those don't travel between here and the afterlife. She has no teeth now.


Yup.  Okay, so back to the question. The things I've had to do?  So many different things. I had no idea there were so many ghosts here. I'm still not even sure why a lot of them stick around, like my mother. I mean, I get that some have unfinished business but there's this one British man, he hangs out at Starbucks and does a little performance in the parking lot.

Ma, I'm not sure they want to know about that.  Okay, fine.

My mother wanted me to tell you that he's naked, too.


Yeah. He runs around juggling his balls.  Oh, not those kind but actual balls.

Stop laughing, Ma.

I have dealt with some serious issues though.  One woman died when her child was very young and he is sick. Her husband didn't know and she wanted him to know. It broke my heart.

Do you find that people believe you when you give them messages from their loved ones?

Actually, it's been easier than I thought. I still worry about how I'll appear to them but for the most part, if I can give them sort of proof, they accept it.  I think everyone would want to hear from a loved one who has passed. I think they're more open to believing when it's up close and personal.

I'm sure anyone who has lost their mother or any loved one actually, would love to have this gift, to be able to still have them in their life.

My mother said to tell you that she thinks the same way. She said, and I'm quoting her at her request, "You'd think my daughter would be happy to have me around but she's constantly getting on me about stuff. Says I shouldn't spy on my grandkids one minute and then asks me to do it the next. It'd be nice if she'd make up her mind and stop confusing me."

As I've told my mother many times, it's not that I don't want her around. I love having her around but there is a time and a place for her to make her presence known and there are things she shouldn't do, like say, scare teenagers. You know?

I know, Ma. She said she doesn't see the harm in tossing a few pillows now and then to get someone's attention.  And that she didn't mean to break the glass table at the boy's house.

I know, Ma, and I do appreciate you helping me out with Emily (that's my daughter, by the way) but I think maybe the way you handle things could be tweaked just a little, you know?

She said I'm a pain in her big, Italian butt and that having a big butt is at least good for that.

Does anyone else see your mother?

Yes, my son, Josh does and my niece too but I haven't mentioned that to my brother and I don't plan to.

No, Ma, he wouldn't believe it. She wants me to tell him but he and I have an interesting relationship and I'm confident he wouldn't believe me.

I know, Ma. He's a good boy. You've told me that for years.

He's her favorite even though I'm the one that took care of her when she was sick and the one she called for any and everything when she was still alive.

Yes, Ma. I know. Daughters are supposed to do things for their mothers. Trust me, you've made that perfectly clear.

Anyway, as for Josh, I'm not really encouraging or discouraging him from talking to his grandmother. He hasn't seen any other ghosts that I know of but if he does, we'll deal with it together unlike my mother did with me.

I know, Ma. I was younger and I know you did what you thought was best. No, I'm not mad at you.  Yes, Ma, you did a great job.

Do you have any cupcakes? I could use a cupcake right now. And a coffee.

I'm sorry.  I didn't think to bring cupcakes.

That's too bad.

I have so many questions to ask but I know this takes a lot out of you, so I'll cut it short. Is there anything you'd like to say to our readers? Do you have any messages for them?

Ma says they should buy the book because she's a hoot even though I'm a pain. Thanks, Ma. I'm feeling the love.

I just want to tell everyone to take the time to be with the people they love. I've been lucky, for the most part, in having this gift. I get to have my mother with me still, even though she drives me crazy.

In a good way, Ma. I promise.

But seriously, I've seen so many people who have regrets and who would give anything to tell their loved ones just one more time that they love them. Life is precious and it can be taken away in an instant so tell the people you love that you love them and don't let anger or life get in the way of that love. But if it does, know that there is something else, something after our life, something that we go to and see them again. Death isn't a final goodbye.

Ma says the worst thing about death is you don't get to have coffee. She really misses coffee.

Thank you Angela and of course, Fran, for talking with me today. It's been interesting and of course, fun!

You’re welcome.



To learn more about Angela and Fran, visit


Purchase Unfinished Business An Angela Panther Novel at


Barnes & Noble