• Kimberly Baer

The Haunted Purse: Inspired by a True Story

Updated: Aug 28


My YA paranormal novel The Haunted Purse is about a teenage girl who buys an old purse at a thrift store. When random items in the purse start disappearing—and other, unfamiliar items begin to appear—she realizes something supernatural is going on.


Pretty far-fetched, huh? Actually, the idea

was inspired by a true story, one starring yours truly as the unfortunate protagonist. Here’s how it went down:


When my son Derek was a high school junior mulling over college options, the two of us visited an automotive technology school three hours from home. We toured the campus, spoke with administrators, and watched some students working on cars. When it came time to leave, I unzipped my purse to get my car keys.


They weren’t there.


I always kept my keys in the same place, a little zippered pocket inside a bigger zippered compartment. Always. How could they not be there? But, okay, I was in a strange place, far from home. Maybe I’d been distracted by the unfamiliar surroundings and inadvertently slipped them into a different pocket.


I started searching all the compartments—and this purse had a bunch of them. I unzippered zippers, unsnapped snaps. I groped around in every nook and cranny.


No keys.


I was starting to get desperate. How were Derek and I going to get home? I went to the administrative office and asked if a set of keys had been turned in. The answer was no. The nice gentleman who’d given us the tour assembled a search group, and pretty soon more than a dozen students were combing the campus for my keys. The search went on for nearly half an hour, but the keys never turned up.


The tour guide suggested I call a car dealership for help. They’d be able to get me a new set of keys, though it wouldn’t be cheap. And it would probably take a while. He offered to make the phone call for me. While he was doing that, I decided to check my purse one last time.


And, yeah. I found the keys.


They weren’t in the usual compartment—but that didn’t mean anything. I’d searched all the compartments, multiple times. “Never mind; I found them,” I said with a sheepish grin. I apologized profusely and told the tour guide to thank everybody who’d helped with the search. Then Derek and I beat a hasty retreat out of there.


I couldn’t stop thinking about those keys as I drove home. How could I have missed them during my repeated searches? Was I really that stupid? Or could there be another explanation? My brain kept chewing on that question, and by the time I pulled into our driveway, it had come up with an answer: something supernatural was going on. Some mischievous other-worldly being had infiltrated my purse and hidden my keys.


I know, I know. That notion is right up there with crop circles and the Virgin Mary’s face on a grilled cheese sandwich. But I like it. I like it better than feeling stupid. So I’ve decided that’s what happened. For an hour or so on that fateful day, my purse was “haunted.”


And if it wasn’t? Well, at least I got a great story idea out of that embarrassing incident!

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