“By all accounts I know of ghosts – and let me tell you, I’m speaking
from experience here – they shouldn’t exist.”
What is Ghost Walk? If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, your justifiably sardonic reaction is probably something like, “I’m about fifty percent sure it’s a book, but apart from that I have no clue.” Looking back on my old blogs, I saw that I assured everyone I was still writing — I just never really went into detail.
So today I’d like to talk a little about Ghost Walk, and I’m equally excited to say that it will be coming out this Tuesday on Halloween. This will be my sixth book, and hopefully representative of my continued growth as a writer and my interest in trying new things.
Ghost Walk is a YA fantasy focused on Maaya, a girl who not only has the power to see ghosts, but to banish them as well. In order to survive, she gets rid of troublesome ghosts under the orders of a deceptive wealthy man in a closed-off town that thinks she’s a witch and a thief. She ignores the rest of the world, focusing only on survival, until a wave of ghosts she’s never seen before wipes out the living population of an entire street without a trace. With her hometown in danger, she’s forced to figure out the source of these attacks, all while being pursued by a growing number of people who think she’s responsible for them. Unlike the Sanctum, the main character of this book isn’t a well-known and powerful hero — she’s one girl trying to find her way in a huge, indifferent world.
Until now, Maaya and the others had been dealing with ghosts. Some were more troublesome than others, but Maaya had never felt particularly uncomfortable when dealing with the supernatural. Now, however, it had revealed itself to contain more mystery and power than she had ever thought possible. For all the experience she had, for all the knowledge she had accumulated over the years, she was back to feeling as though she knew nothing at all. She was a stranger in a strange world, one so infinite and broad in scope that it likely didn’t even realize, or care, that she existed.
She spends most of her time in the company of her best friend Saber — a ghost who has helped her survive on the streets — but her travels and unique abilities bring her into contact with a bunch of other interesting characters as well, including a captain of a fleet of the dead, a cyborg who guides his passengers down the still river he watches over, and a girl stuck in the in-between who keeps a one-eyed raven as her constant companion.
This book has been interesting in part because it takes a marked turn from what I’m used to writing. While it’s no grimdark story, it’s set in a stagnant world suffering from economic stagnation, where many cities are closed off from each other and the roads between towns have become barren and abandoned. Fear and misery are everywhere, even as Maaya and her friends try to remain optimists.
Ghosts weren’t inherently mean, but many were standoffish. Many ghosts, after a certain length of time, became used to routine. They stayed in the same places in the same company, and generally had no reason or desire to leave. Beyond that, they were peaceful until disturbed. This was what people didn’t understand about ghosts. Most of them didn’t harbor any ill will towards the living or have some unexplainable animosity toward inanimate objects – they were just stubborn and didn’t like change.
This book is also long compared to my other works. While each book in the TDS series hovered around 60-70k words, Ghost Walk sits at just under 350k. I wanted more space to focus on the world as much as the characters this time, and to help people get immersed in the environment, because it is vast, and there’s much to explore. I thought it might be too long, but after diving into some wonderful books by authors like Brandon Sanderson, I changed my mind pretty quickly. With a good enough story, the length is a positive, not a negative. From my experience, jumping into a good, long book only meant there was more for me to enjoy.
Finally, there’s a romance in this book, and a female/female one at that. While it’s not the focal point of the story, it’s a major second arc for much of the later part of the book. The plot and world lent itself to exploring that type of thing, and so I ran with it. I’ve never before written anything like this beyond a mention here and there of someone being in a relationship, so these are new waters, but it’s pretty fun. Again I’m finding an opportunity to write what I want to read, and while I won’t say anything specific, if you know my reading preferences and rants about certain tropes, you’ll get an idea where this is going. If you’ve been seeking a book with a f/f romance that’s more light and fluffy than dramatic angst, you’ll find it here.
And yet, here she was, feeling as though she would never have to talk again, because everything she could ever hope to say, even had she an eternity to place every word in perfect order, would still fall miserably short of what she was saying right now without speaking at all. Really, a thought muttered quietly from the depths of her mind, the stories don’t do this justice at all.
This has been a nice break from what I’m used to, and has, for the most part, been a smooth process, especially compared to some of my past work. It’s one of those stories that’s been in my head for years, and I’m excited to let it see the light of day this Halloween — and in my birthday month, no less!
And on that last note, I’d like to give special thanks to my editor, Jeff Ford, for putting the idea of a Halloween release in my head, and subsequently working his heart out to see it done. And, of course, for any of you who decide to give it a whirl or have otherwise supported me in all my efforts.