"As readers of Deb Atwood’s blog Pen In Her Hand know, Atwood is passionate about ghost fiction. Since 2011, Atwood has read, re-read, and written about ghost literature. 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die presents a selection of the best of these posts.
Among the books discussed are old favorites (The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson) as well as some indie gems few people will know about (The 20’s Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns). There are ghost novels for every reader, in genres ranging from historical to literary to romance. "
Deb Atwood holds an MFA and lives in California with her husband and rescue dog Nala. Her time-slip novel Moonlight Dancer was selected as a front page Featured Review by Book Ideas. Deb's work has appeared in numerous anthologies. Her interests include ghost fiction, Korean culture, quilting, and, of course, reading.
Connect with the Author here:
Top Ten List10 Things About Me
1. I like spiders, but I'm afraid of yellow jackets (the insect, not the garment).
2. My hair is purple.
3. I love to wander around old cemeteries.
4. I have traveled throughout the Korean countryside (and treasured every minute).
5. My heart goes pitter patter for big dogs and fat cats.
6. If I had to choose one mode of travel, I would choose the train.
7. I suffer from math phobia.
8. One time in London I inadvertently spent a night in a homeless hotel, and it changed me.
9. I'm a scaredy cat passenger in a car (as my husband will attest).
10. I'm passionate about ghost fiction and ghost movies.
What a fun idea this is! From the 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die anthology of reviews, I selected The Face by Dean Koontz to cast with my dream team. Here are my choices:
1. Dad aka Channing Manheim. Channing Manheim is known as The Face, the most dazzling of Hollywood actors. I had to go with Matt Bomer from White Collar who truly has one of the most beautiful faces I've seen.
Excerpt for 31 Ghost Novels
Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Source: Pleasanton Library
What it’s about:
When Andromeda Miller returns ten years’ worth of alimony checks to her ex-husband, she is met with a surprise. A job offer. One month’s salary for 10,000 dollars. An offer too good for Andy to reject. North knows that when he sends Andy to the haunted castle she will figure out a way to handle any and all problems—all without missing her 3 o’clock baking session with the child Alice. Andy’s mission is to take care of two orphaned children in a rebuilt castle in rural Ohio, a castle complete with its own moat. Andy arrives at the castle to find two kids suffering abandonment issues, one seedy housekeeper who doesn’t keep house, a derelict structure...oh, and a trio of ghosts. As if that’s not enough, Andy is visited by an opportunistic journalist, an ex-mother-in-law, a mother, a fiance, and an ex-husband convinced he can uncover a charlatan.
Andy is a problem solver and soon has matters in hand. Still, even Andy’s skills are challenged when the ghosts show up. Can Andy trust the beautiful dancing ghost who offers love advice? What are the old specters’ intentions concerning the children?
Miss J and Peter Quint are old specters now devoid of souls, bound to a house that was transported piece by piece from England. Devotees of Henry James will find much fun here with Miss J and Peter and the two abandoned children as allusions to James’s famous ghost novella The Turn of the Screw.
What I thought:
This is a delightful romp with zany characters balanced by the calm restraint of one North Archer who happens to be Andy’s ex-husband but still very present in her thoughts. Readers will love to root for Andy. She’s brave and honest and creative.
I originally picked up a print version of this book and returned it, judging it a bit simplistic. Later, I decided to give this novel another chance in audio format and realized it was too much fun to put aside, and in fact, the story becomes more complex as it moves forward. While some characters are two-dimensional, the children will charm readers. The author does a wonderful job of exposing their hard-won strength in the face of much adversity as well as revealing their poignant vulnerability. They become the impetus for Andy’s character growth. Andy, who never wanted children, evolves into their fiercest advocate and protector against any and all villains.
The author clearly had fun with names. Ensconced in the deteriorating castle is the greedy Mrs. Crumb. Mrs. Crumb, the wicked housekeeper; North Archer, the straight shooter; and Southie, the ne’er do well brother. Whenever authors play with names this way, I think of Dickens. And when authors have fun with names, so do I as the reader.
I enjoyed watching Andy wrestle with her love life. She loves the children, but does that mean she can reunite with their 3rd cousin, who happens to be her ex, the cerebral North Archer? Well, romance is in the air, along with some not-so-friendly ghosts, so you can probably guess.
If you’re looking for a romantic ghost story with a gutsy heroine, if you believe in second chances for family and love, then this is the book for you.
What do you fear most?I fear earthquakes. Ha! The irony of it, you think…I live in California. True, but that’s where my family, friends, and business are located. Recently, my book group read Falling to Earth by Kate Southwood, a heart-wrenching novel about the worst tornado in US history, so I suppose if I lived in the Midwest, I’d fear tornadoes. One way I find tornadoes less scary than earthquakes, though, is that with tornadoes, you often have some warning. Earthquakes can attack you in your sleep. That’s the thing I try not to think about when I go to bed at night.
What is your largest unfulfilled dream? What are you doing towards making that dream a reality?
My unfulfilled dream is to write the perfect book. With every project, blog post, essay, manuscript, I try to stretch myself beyond what I’ve done before. I’m a perpetual student. I read excellent novels, study writing craft, and produce multiple drafts. That’s partly why I’m so slow to put out books. I haven’t written the perfect project yet, but I keep trying.
Tell a story about yourself.
To say I am directionally challenged would be like calling Buckingham Palace a cozy bungalow. The phrase “She can’t find her way out of a paper bag” was invented for me.
I try to compensate. Truly I do. For instance, I always mark my parking ticket with the floor and section. Once, I had driven my husband to the airport back in the days when you could walk people to the gate. When I reached the walkway in front of the airport, I realized I had failed to mark my location. No problem, thought I, as I could see my car from the walkway. Clever me, I noticed that my car was directly in line with a commercial bank. All I’d need to do upon exiting the airport would be to walk in a line toward the bank and I’d reach my car. My daughter and I saw my husband off, and I left the airport confident in my abilities (I have since noticed that in my case confidence bears an inverse relationship to competence). What I hadn’t realized was that the airport was built on a circle. Everywhere I turned, every direction I walked, lugging my 19 pound firstborn for an hour in 90 degree weather, was in a direct line to the commercial bank. By the time we stumbled upon the car, I was exhausted.
A few times my husband (who’s an excellent navigator) was out of town, and I’ve had to transport myself to events with questionable results. Most recently, my daughter and I were driving to my niece’s wedding. (Why is it always weddings that give me trouble?) I had carefully transcribed the directions from Mapquest and was reading them to her as she drove. I was so proud of myself for noting down every turn that would take us to 145 Main Street (but, as they say, pride goeth before a fall). The drive would take 30 minutes; naturally, I had added the 125 percent cushion required by someone with my infirmity. All was going well until we prepared to exit the freeway at Main Street in Vallejo when my daughter turned to me and said, “Doesn’t Allegra live in Vacaville?”
Vacaville, Vallejo…what’s the difference? Back on the freeway, we raced to Vacaville, parked, and ran to the service where we arrived just in time. All part of the plan.
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