From the Nightscape Press Charitable Chapbooks line. One third of all sales of this chapbook will go to support the National Aviary.
It starts with rapping in the ceiling and spirit boards that know them a little too well.
Everly and her best friend aren’t your typical college students. Instead of raucous Saturday night parties, they spend their weekends conjuring up things from the beyond. Ectoplasm, levitation, death photography—you name it, and Everly knows all about it. But while this obsession with the supernatural is only supposed to be in good fun, the girls soon discover themselves drifting deeper into magic and further from each other. Then when one evening ends with an inadvertently broken promise, everything they’ve ever known is shattered in an instant, sending them spiraling into a surreal haunting. Now Everly must learn how to control the spectral forces she’s unleashed if she wants any chance of escaping a ghost more dangerous than all the witchcraft she can summon.
A tale of the occult, unlikely phantoms, and complicated friendships, The Invention of Ghosts is the latest strange vision from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens.
Original art work by Carrion House
Author Interview with Gwendolyn Kiste:
Can you tell us a little bit about The Invention of Ghosts?
GK: The Invention of Ghosts is my forthcoming novelette due out in November. The story follows Everly and her best friend who have been inseparable for as long as they can remember. Now in college, however, they find themselves at a crossroads in their friendship, as Everly becomes increasingly entangled in the occult, intrigued with everything from Victorian mourning rituals and ectoplasm to spirit boards and other methods of divination. Soon both girls discover they’ve gotten more than they bargained for, as their friendship and reality start to unravel around them. It’s a story not only about spirits and the supernatural but also about growing up and complicated friendships and learning how to become yourself and let go at the same time.
The Invention of Ghosts is part of the Charitable Chapbook Series from Nightscape Press, and a third of all the proceeds will go to the National Aviary, a bird sanctuary in Pittsburgh which is one of my very favorite places in the world. Creepy fiction for a good cause!
What inspired you to write The Invention of Ghosts?
GK: My work often explores complicated females relationships, and this story in particular really focuses on friendships and how they can go awry.
With this story, I also wanted to research and explore the occult a bit more than I had in my previous work. I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal, ever since I was a kid, so finally having an opportunity to delve into all the background and history on it and incorporate that into a longer work of fiction was so much fun.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written and why?
GK: That would probably be Phoebe from The Rust Maidens. That book really changed my career and my life in so many ways over the last year since its release, and I spent a lot of time crafting her character, so she’s definitely the one who’s my favorite. At least at this point anyhow! Perhaps another character will come down the line in the future and usurp her position as the favorite child.
What is your favorite horror book and movie?
GK: This is a tough one! My favorite horror book is probably We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It’s not a typical kind of horror, but it’s got that quiet dread permeating every scene, which is exactly the sort of vibe I love in horror.
As for my favorite horror movie, that changes often, but right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about Daughters of Darkness, so let’s go with that one. From 1971, it’s one of the strangest and most beautiful vampire films I’ve ever seen, and it’s so razor-focused on the female characters. There’s a bit of a Carmilla vibe to it, but it’s very much its own story as well. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I highly recommend it!
What genre do you prefer to write in and why?
GK: Definitely horror. It’s the genre I’ve always loved the most. I grew up with the books of Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allan Poe, with Hammer and Universal Horror films on practically constant rotation in our house. My parents got married on Halloween, back in the 1980s when nobody was really doing that. As a result, horror has always felt like home to me. It’s the genre that runs through my blood and always will.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
GK: On some level, I feel like I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller. As far back as I remember, I used to make up stories and have my stuffed animals and dolls act them out. Learning to read was one of the most wonderful experiences because I got to explore so many new worlds. That only enhanced my desire to create and tell more stories of my own. I wrote a lot of short stories growing up, and I did a decent bit of screenwriting as well over the years, but it wasn’t until my late twenties when I finally decided to go back to my first love of fiction and start working on becoming a published author. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I wanted to really give it a try. Flash forward a little over five years later, and I have dozens of short stories out, three books, and a couple more on the way soon, so despite some early trepidation, I’m definitely glad I came back to it.
What’s your favorite color?
GK: Green without a doubt. It’s been my favorite color since I was a kid. It reminds me of forests and spring and pumpkin stems and walking barefoot in grass. Almost every permutation of green delights me: sage, emerald, forest green, spring green, chartreuse. It’s such a versatile and lively color. It feels like being alive.
Do you plot or pants when writing?
GK: A little bit of both. Especially for longer fiction, I like to have at least a vague outline to help guide me along like sign posts on the road. My short fiction, however, is more likely to take a free form approach. It’s fun to just let a story take me as the author on a journey, figuring out those beats and all those turns as I go along. I probably prefer simply allowing a story to form as I write, but as I continue to work on more novels and novellas, I’ve definitely found it’s easier to have an idea of where I’m headed. Otherwise, I’m perpetually like a lost traveler in my own work.
What other new things are you working on?
GK: I’m finishing up my second novel right now and in the planning stages for my third. I’m also working on finishing up some new short fiction, and my longer term plan over the next year is to put together my second collection. I already have enough previously published stories for it, and it’s starting to take shape thematically. So if all goes well, readers will have several new books from me in the foreseeable future. Consider yourself warned!
If there was a zombie apocalypse, what three things would you want to have?
GK: A huge supply of fresh water, a bow and arrow, and my husband. The water is obviously an essential, and the bow and arrow is like a renewable zombie-fighting resource (note: I’m not particularly good at archery, but since this will be the apocalypse, I suppose I’ll just have to learn!). For anything else I might need, I have no doubt that between me and my husband, we could figure out some strange and creative solution, so that’s why he’s the third “thing” I’d have to have!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
GK: Find what works for you. Every writer has a different style, so figure out what makes you happiest. Some authors write every day, and some only write when inspiration strikes. Some have daily word counts, and some loathe word counts. Figure out what you like as a writer, and don’t let anyone else’s advice derail you and your process.
Also, above all else, keep going and keep writing the stories you want to tell. Don’t feel the need to shoehorn your style into what’s popular or what you think others want to read. So long as you’re authentic to your own voice and you keep working on your craft, you’ll continue growing as a storyteller, and you’ll figure out how to get your stories out to the world.
Gwendolyn Kiste is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens, from Trepidatio Publishing; And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, from JournalStone; and the dark fantasy novella, Pretty Marys All in a Row, from Broken Eye Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, Shimmer, Interzone, and LampLight, among others. Originally from Ohio, she now resides on an abandoned horse farm outside of Pittsburgh with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts. Find her online at gwendolynkiste.com
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