The Woman on the Webcam

I first came up with the idea for my novel The Ghosts of Aquinnah when I was planning a trip to Martha's Vineyard and looking at this webcam of the Aquinnah lighthouse on the Martha's Vineyard Online website.

I started wondering about looking at the webcam and seeing the same person every time I looked at the site. Who would this person be? What if she was always alone, even in the dark of night? And what reason could she have for being there?

As you can see from this screencap of the webcam, Aquinnah is a friendly and unassuming place during the day. If you were standing on these steps and facing the cars, the ocean would be off to your right and straight ahead. The sound of the waves below you is awesome from this location.

But it's a whole different story at night.

With the exception of the lone security light and the lighthouse beacon, there are no lights at Aquinnah at night. The more I looked at the cam, the more I thought that this would be a perfect place for ghosts to roam about. I started playing with that idea, and eventually The Ghosts of Aquinnah was born.

The following excerpt takes place after my character Hannah first sees the woman dressed in 19th century clothing on the webcam. She starts to wonder, who is she? And why is she there?

Unable to stop thinking about the mystery woman, Hannah tried again to come up with a reason for her dress. Perhaps she belonged to one of those religious groups where women dressed conservatively. But that wouldn’t explain what she was doing alone at the lighthouse in the dark of night. 
Hannah realized it wasn’t just the woman’s presence that had seemed odd to her, it was also her demeanor. The woman was very young, but she looked overwhelmed with sadness. Hannah set down the glass, suddenly worried that perhaps the woman had gone to the cliffs to commit suicide. Was that why she’d never returned to the stone steps? Had she jumped from the cliffs into the sea?

Hannah didn’t find that likely. The overlook was fenced in, and the ground below it was more sloping than steep.

Hannah shook her head and finished her water before putting her glass in the sink. Why was she trying to figure out what this woman was doing? What concern was it of hers, anyway? If the woman wanted to dress oddly and wander around the island at night, that was her business. 
As she headed back to the bedroom, she could imagine Jon saying that she was fixating on this woman as yet another excuse to avoid her work. He wouldn’t be wrong. But as she turned off the kitchen light she realized what it was that had struck her the most about the woman on the webcam. It wasn’t just her dress or the sadness that was so plain on her face. 
It was that in spite of the fact that she seemed to be so lost and alone, she moved with a purpose and sense of determination that was evident even through the lens of the camera. She looked like she was looking for something. Or like she was searching for someone.


A brilliant flash of light transcends through time.

Another freezes a cloaked figure within a frame of salty mist as waves crash against a rocky shore. Her harrowing expression shadows the beacon to a pinprick.

By the next blaze, she is gone. Only the lighthouse remains.

Hannah’s eyes blink in step with each heartbeat. Images of her deceased parents and Martha’s Vineyard explode like firecrackers inside her mind.

She shakes her head.

For weeks this eerie woman dressed in nineteenth century garb has been haunting my webcam, but tonight she stared into my soul.

Why? ...

Who is she? ...

Casting aside months of research on historic lighthouses, Hannah drives to the coast and boards a ferry.

What is the strange connection she has to this mysterious woman suspended in time?

Hannah finds out.

But, it’s not at all what she expects...

Hannah unravels a century old murder.

The Ghosts of Aquinnah will be released on December 5, 2013 by Ink Smith Publishing. Order now at:

Author Bio: Julie Flanders is a novelist and freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a life-long love affair with the ocean and has spent more summer vacations than she can count on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. When not writing, Julie can be found playing with her pets, reading, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and watching too much television. The Ghosts of Aquinnah is Julie’s second novel. Her debut novel Polar Night was released in February, 2013 by Ink Smith Publishing.

Find Julie at:


  1. Wow, who would've thought that a webcam would end up inspiring an entire novel!

    Also, loving this excerpt, Julie! I can't help but be intrigued by the woman, just like Hannah...

  2. Wow, it sure does look different at night. The book sounds awesome, Julie. I do love ghosties.

  3. Love how you came up with the idea of your novel! The webcam's image is definitely more mysterious and creepy at night.

  4. You've shown that inspiration can be found everywhere. I can't wait to read your book!

  5. @Heather, I'm so glad you're intrigued.

    @Gwen, I know you are a fellow ghostie fan. :D

    @Cherie, isn't it? I wouldn't want to be there at night but I love the images.

    @Dana, thank you!

  6. I loved where that what if took you. I thoroughly enjoyed Ghosts of Aquinnah.

  7. I'm so glad you liked it, Mary. Thanks!

  8. You never know what will inspire great ideas! The premise for your novel sounds like chilling fun.

  9. Awesome how something like that can inspire a whole story! I have a confession. I couldn't use baby monitors when my kids were babies. I packed them with me from room to room because I had this whole horror novel in my head...I'd be in the basement doing laundry and a creepy voice would say, "Mommy..." and I wouldn't be able to make it upstairs in time. Yeah, sometimes an imagination is a bad thing!

  10. Ooooh. Not in a ghosty way (despite the appropriateness). Oooh said in tones of book longing (lust).

  11. @Catherine, that's for sure, I never would have expected this. Thanks!

    @Elizabeth, oh, that would make a great horror story! I got the creeps just reading about it. You should write that sometime!

    @Elephant's Child, thanks!! Nothing beats book lust. :D

  12. I love it ... we get inspiration anywhere!

  13. Wishing you every success with your book, Julie :) You're right, it is a perfect place for a ghost to roam about.

  14. @widdershins, that's so true, we really never know what can end up inspiring us. Thanks!

    @MJ, I wonder if they really do. :D Thank you!

  15. I love looking at webcams. You see so many interesting things in the area and sometimes things that someone on site may not. Fun to see how your mind played with these views.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  16. How interesting. You never know what little thing in life can really create a major change or in this case inspiration.

  17. How interesting. You never know what little thing in life can really create a major change or in this case inspiration.

  18. @Sia, I love them too. I sometimes feel like a stalker with them LOL.

    @Lady Lilith, you really don't! Thanks!

  19. Wow - inspiration seems to show itself to you in the most unique ways! I loved the little bit of the book you shared, and the concept behind it is brilliant!

  20. @Geojour, thank you so much! Great to meet you.

  21. That does look creepy at night. Great inspiration! It's a fantastic book. :)

  22. What great inspiration! Those photo's say it all - such a difference, and yeah, I can see why you thought of ghosts!

  23. @Christine, thanks!

    @Yolanda, it's definitely a ghostly place at night, I wouldn't want to be there alone LOL.

  24. Yeah, that picture practically begs for a ghost story to be told. Heck, it may have even been mandatory to write one. I'm glad you did, and I'm looking forward to reading it.


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