It's October and Hallowe'en is approaching, so our attention is inevitably turning to the supernatural. We thought it might be fun to do a short question-and-answer session with our mascot here at the Plaid Raccoon Press regarding The Ghost Man.
The Raccoon: The Ghost Man was your first novel. Where did you get the idea for it?
A: After leaving the public service to write full time, I spent almost a year researching my family history. The McCanns emigrated from Ireland in the early 1840s and settled in North Crosby Township, near Westport, Ontario. After a year I'd accumulated quite a bit of information not only about my family but the township in general, and I wanted to do something with it. I considered writing a local history, but my son, who was into the paranormal at the time, suggested I write a ghost story. So I did.
The Raccoon: Where was it published?
A: The novel was originally published by a small press in Alberta in May, 2009. I though my dreams of being a published author had come true, and didn't realize that the responsibility for marketing the book lay entirely on my own shoulders. Thankfully it was a short-term contract, and when it expired I re-acquired the rights and published it through our Plaid Raccoon imprint on February 13, 2013 -- 2/13/13. The significance of the date didn't strike me until later. Serendipity!
The Raccoon: Tell us about the main characters, Simon Guthrie and Dr. Doris Fowler.
A: Neither character is based on anyone in particular, which I suppose is a bit of an accomplishment for a first novel. I was an avid foodie at the time, and the idea of working with a protagonist who is a former celebrity chef really appealed. Simon's sudden descent from fame, his long recovery from injury, the near-death experience, and his subsequent encounters with earthbound ghosts of the dead all struck me as a fascinating combination.
As for Doris, I wanted a character opposite Simon who is equally accomplished in her own field--Canadian history--but lacks Simon's natural affability and self-confidence. As an academic she's naturally predisposed to look for rational, material answers to the phenomena Simon claims to be experiencing, and when she begins to experience them as well the shift from rationalization to fear and profound sadness brings out a side of her character previously hidden, particularly from herself.
The Raccoon: Why the cover change?
A: The cover of the original 2009 edition used a photograph taken by my son. Unfortunately he hated it, so after repatriating the novel I designed a new one. It's now five years old, and I've never been completely satisfied with it, so I thought it was time for a fresh look.
The Raccoon: How do you feel about the novel now, nine years later?
A: I'm a writer, so of course there's stuff I'd like to go back and change. But I won't, because on the whole I really like the story and the characters. The best part is that people still come up to me and talk about how much they enjoyed reading it. If they liked it that much, then that's good enough for me.
The Ghost Man is available from Amazon here. It's also available from Kobo, Barnes and Noble for Nook, and iTunes.