If I had to sum it up in just a few words, I’d say Ghostwriter is a novel about the healing power of love, redemption and forgiveness. It’s a novel about the ghosts that haunt us all: regret, and how forgiving ourselves is sometimes much more difficult than forgiving others.
I started writing this novel years ago, the way I wrote all of my novels: in my mind. And when I had finished it, I tucked it away in my memory, never expecting it would see the light of day. I never thought I’d be an author. But life has a way of surprising us sometimes.
Back in September of last year, I read Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard, and that book literally changed my life. After I finished it, I went to Amazon to leave a review. As I was reading reviews left by others, I came upon one which said the book had once been Twilight fanfiction. My review never did get written because I started looking to find out what fanfiction was and made an amazing discovery.
All my life, I had been “re-writing” books and movies in my head, giving them plots I liked better, or sending the characters on new adventures. I had no idea other people did this, or there were massive online communities dedicated to it.
Tentatively, I began writing a story of my own. It garnered about a dozen regular readers and I was tickled pink. Not only were people reading my story, they seemed to like it! Emboldened by my success, I started a second story and that’s when everything started to change.
To my utter astonishment, I had 150 readers the first day I started posting the story. Two weeks later, it was up to three thousand and by the end of the month, that had doubled. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I had expected anonymity, to cast my stories out like pebbles into a large pool with barely a ripple to mark them. I didn’t expect all of that attention, and I certainly never expected the email I got in February.
It was from a woman claiming to represent The Writer’s Coffee Shop, the original publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey. She asked me if I would consider writing an original story for publication. I remember staring at the email thinking, “This can’t be happening.”
Some days, I still feel like that.
I was skeptical. I’d never heard of a publisher approaching a writer. I thought the only way people got published was to send out reams of manuscripts and bravely face the inevitable rejections. Since I’m not bold enough, or thick-skinned enough, for such endeavors, being published wasn’t even a possibility that had crossed my mind. However, the offer was real.
They asked me if I had any ideas for novels, and I almost laughed. My head is full of novels. As I mentioned before, I’ve been “writing” in my mind since I was a child, for my own amusement.
I gave them a few examples, including a story I’d tentatively titled Ghostwriter. I wasn’t sure they’d like the title or the plot, because it’s not your average romance. But that was the one they chose to be my first novel.
I’m often asked where I get my ideas, and I can honestly say, “Everywhere.” I never know when something I encounter during the day will set off my imagination. For me, every story starts with the question, “What if…?”
Ghostwriter started with an article I read about the “Iron Harvest,” which is the yearly “crop” of unexploded bombs uncovered by farmers in the soil where battles of WWI took place. Millions of them remain, and at the rate they’re being recovered, they’ll still be discovering them hundreds of years from now.
The numbers the reporter used in the article were astounding. I couldn’t believe they were correct, and so I started searching around on the internet. In the course of my research, I discovered the American Field Service, a volunteer ambulance organization, and from there, I learned about how many writers had been ambulance drivers during WWI, including Ernest Hemingway, Somerset Maugham, and E. E. Cummings.
A story began to form in my mind about an idealistic young writer who volunteers to go to France to save lives and is changed by the horrors he witnesses. Once Seth was born in my mind, he developed a very distinctive voice. It wasn’t long before I realized his was the voice of a ghost, a man both haunting and haunted. Then, I met Sara, the young woman who helps him fight his demons, and in combatting them, learns to face her own.
It’s amazing how much my life has changed in just a year. After Ghostwriter was complete, I began work on my second novel, The End of All Things, which will be out January 24th. I’m also taking part in NaNowriMo this year, finishing up my third novel.
I can’t wait to see what will happen next.
About the Author
Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot…. though only in her head. Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.
Her first novel, Ghostwriter, was released October 11, 2012, and her second, The End of All Things, will be released January 24, 2013.
After being laid off from the newspaper where she worked as a
journalist, and losing her boyfriend in rapid succession, Sara Howell is looking to downsize before her dwindling savings run out. Things are finally starting to look up when she lands a job ghostwriting the biography of a popular politician and rents an isolated island house which turns out to have once been the home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
But when strange things start happening, as objects break, or go missing, and terrifying visions appear, Sara begins to wonder if Seth ever left, or if she is losing her mind.
What happened to Seth is a secret closely guarded by the family to this day, a family that seems to exist under a terrible curse. Through an old trunk of letters she discovers in the attic, Sara unravels the mystery and becomes caught up in a tale of greed, lost love and the horrors of WWI.
When Sara realizes she is not going crazy and that Seth Fortner’s spirit still haunts her new home on the isolated island, she begins to draw him out of his shell bit by bit. She will discover what happened to the idealistic young writer who went to the battlefields of France to save lives, and to his beautiful bride to destroy the love between them, and what led Seth to make a terrible choice which would have consequences
that would echo for generations.
They gradually fall in love in their world of dreams, dreams which swiftly become more attractive than reality, as Sara learns from a ghost how to truly live. Will she be the one to break the “Fortner Curse” by helping Seth conquer his demons, and heal both of their hearts in the process?