Friday, May 31, 2013

The Ghosting of Gods: interview and review

Happy Book Birthday to The Ghosting of Gods by Cricket Baker! We are featuring the author and her new book today at Reader Girls. Our interview with Cricket is below and our review too. Have a wonderful Friday!
The Ghosting of Gods by Cricket Baker 
Paperback, 339 pages 
Published May 31st 2013 by John Hunt Publishing

Jesse is an apprentice exorcist who defies his priests when he learns his sister is in danger even though she’s dead. When he’s exiled to a haunted world, Jesse must unravel the mystery of ghosts if he is to save her. He plunges into a deadly game of hide-and-seek. The players include denizens draped in monkish robes, ghosts with matted eyes, the dead who tunnel underground in terror, and...Elspeth.

A coven scientist, Elspeth is both respected and feared for her abnormal spiritual powers. Jesse needs--craves--the knowledge of ghosts which she possesses. But is Elspeth a spiritual prodigy, or dangerously insane? The coven scientist begs him to trust her. He doesn’t. But he wants to. 

Caught in a world on the brink of spiritual evolution, Jesse struggles to understand Elspeth even as frightening contacts from his sister force him to face the secret, shattering meaning of a verse he knows well: Blessed are the poor in ghost.

with author Cricket Baker

1) When did you know you wanted to write?
As a kid. I was a bookworm, and it seemed obvious that being an author would be way better than becoming a Hollywood actress or a rock star. Once I grew up, I thought the chances of being published were so slim that I should just enjoy reading books and forget trying to write them. It seemed too hard. But then, one fateful day, I turned the last page of Maeve Binchy’s The Glass Lake. I grieved. A pain literally ripped my chest because I did not want to let go of Maeve’s characters. It came to me, then: As an author, you can create characters and never let them go. Not if you don’t want to. Not if you can’t.

2) Is The Ghosting of Gods your first book?
It’s the first novel I’ve finished, and it took many years to get it right. It took many writer workshops, conferences, critiques, and rewrites for me to develop my craft and find my voice. I sound like me now. For a long time I tried to write like other authors.

3) Can you tell us when the spark for Jesse's story came and share a little of your writing journey?
The first draft of my novel was totally different from what it evolved to be. I liked haunted settings, so first I wrote a story in which this boy finds himself in a haunted world. It wasn’t very good. Critiquers at writer workshops noticed this. And pointed it out. Many drafts later, I had a story which caught the interest of an editor or two, but they didn’t “fall in love with it.” Here’s what changed it all: I heard agent Donald Maass advise that authors not try to write a story to appeal to the masses. He basically said to write from your own particular perspective without worrying about who you would turn off. It took awhile, but I opened up and wrote the story that only I could write. The book became ghostly and spiritual. (Not religious, but spiritual.) I quickly received a different sort of response. I was a finalist in a contest. Soon after, a publisher offered a contract just two days after receiving my novel. After so many years of rejections, I was stunned. Happily, happily stunned. And relieved. I’d been afraid my story wouldn’t go out into the world after all.

4) What is Jesse's world like? What is an ordinary day for him?
He plots to save his dead sister. He lurks near secret meetings held by priests, trying to overhear what they whisper about him. He sleeps as much as he can during the day so that he can slip unseen into cemeteries at night. And he tries to hide all of this from his friends, to keep them safe.

5) Where is your favorite place to write?
Oh, I write on my couch with my laptop and a dog cuddled on each side of me. The important thing is to have quality headphones so as to listen to a thunderstorm soundtrack. That’s how I “go” to scary places. It may be corny, but it works for me!

6) Is this a series?
I have a legion of pages filled with notes for a sort of sequel. Some of the characters will be back, and some won’t. I’m not really writing that story right now, though, as I’m working on another. Just making notes when an idea strikes.

7) Do you have a favorite scene? Any scenes difficult to write or surprise you along the creative way?
One of my favorite scenes is when Jesse meets a seer. Though The Ghosting of Gods is not a romance, this scene has erotic undertones, and it’s always “worked.” It’s one of the few scenes that was in the first draft of the book and is still around. As for difficult scenes to write, that would be the first and last scenes. They must be perfect. And there was a surprising scene, yes. Jesse did the one thing I never thought he would do. I allowed it. It’s in the book, toward the end.

8) If the movie was being cast, who would you pick to play Jesse and Elspeth?
I have a new appreciation for casting directors. I had no idea who I would cast as Jesse and Elspeth, so I googled young Hollywood celebrities. And came up with nothing. Jesse and Elspeth are so fully fabricated in my mind, no one in real life seems to match up quite good enough. I’m very sorry.

9) Any thoughts on the world of publishing today?
Today it’s easier for an author to reach directly to her audience via technology and social media websites, so the marketing playing field is increasingly leveled. Readers are making ever more of the decisions which publishers used to make. Readers are better able to choose what they want to read, whereas before publishers had great power to make that decision for them. Honestly, they still do. I appreciate the winnowing of manuscripts by publishers...we all like to read a quality, well-edited story. But I think independent editors and book review bloggers are providing services that readers are comfortable trusting...Things change, don’t they?

10) What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on another supernatural story, though this one doesn’t take place in another world. It’s set in a secluded college town that can’t be found unless you’re invited there. If you are, you’ll meet people you seem to know, you’ll learn philosophy,’ll soon be in the care of a psychiatrist.

About the author:
Cricket Baker
In 2001, Cricket began a journey to fulfill her childhood dream of being an author. Somewhere between raising 3 sons, moving 3 times, pondering the mystery of life and death, and obtaining a Masters of Education, she found time to develop her writing craft. Many seminars, workshops, and book drafts later, she found her voice with The Ghosting of Gods.

Cricket’s writing combines her appreciation of strong storytelling with a passion for haunted settings and deep spiritual questions to create fiction that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

In addition to being a loving wife and mother, Cricket spends time working on her next writing project as well as sharing her thoughts on writing and spiritual meaning through and her blog, Mystical Scribbles of the Scribe.

The Ghosting Of Gods is an interesting read. The author paints a bleak surreal world from her palette of words, submerging the reader in a peculiar world. Interesting enough, this spiritual world reminded me of the Wizard from Oz as a young man traversing an eccentric spiritual other world full of strange characters from priests to exorcists, flaming holly bushes that do not burn, and zealots. I read on the author's website she also referenced The Wizard of Oz, and as a reader I saw that reflection. 

The main character is Jesse, an exorcist, an eighteen year old young guy with a penchant for dealing with ghosts and walking around cemeteries. His closest friend is another guy, the poet spewing Poe. Jesse lost his younger sister tragically and tries to reach her spiritual form in hopes of 'saving' her, despite his actions being against the law of the priests who seem to be in charge in this stark world.

Jesse doesn't always abide by the rules and desperately connects with his sibling, again. This time he is punished. Like Dorothy awakening after the tornado, Jesse finds himself and Poe stranded in a weird plane. A throwback in time? Another realm of existence? That's something he has to figure out besides trying to discover why he wound up in this place. Along the way he meets Elspath, a mystifying spiritualist he questions. Could she hold the answers he seeks? 

The author sheds light on spiritualism, not just on the mix of ghosts found in this book but on the movement itself. Biblical quotes and imagery, Poe is deeply religious despite his referencing his namesake and creating dark poetry. Jesse seeks to help the sister he failed to and lets her memory haunt his existence. Like the ghosts he works with, he is possessed with righting a wrong, no matter the consequence.

The Ghosting of Gods is not for every fan of paranormal tales. This story is a more 'spiritual' story, reminding me of the hero's journey Joseph Campbell discussed in his book and video series, The Power of Myth. I have an affection for his way of thinking and could spend hours discussing his words. The vibe from this story brought forth many questions as I read.

I did find it difficult to get into The Ghosting of Gods. The story immediately shoved me into Jesse's world and I had no basis in which to understand what was going on. Creating a foundation to ease the reader into would have helped, anything to provide a base in which to guide us into this world. I didn't connect with Jesse and I wanted to. His story is very different from much of the paranormal worlds other authors have created in today's market. As I frequently mention to my writer friends, reading is a subjective experience. What I didn't connect with, others may. The Ghosting of Gods is a thought-provoking paranormal experience and is unlike any other book I've read in this genre.

Rating: 3
Cover comment:
I think the imagery genuinely reflects the mood of the story.

Book source:
I received a promotional copy from the author in return for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. Nice review. This seems like an interesting book.