Today I am thrilled to welcome E.J. Copperman, author of the Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries.
There is a danger in writing about a woman who can see ghosts. (Actually, there are many dangers inherent in writing about a woman who can see ghosts, although none of them are physical dangers, which is a help.) In making up ghost stories, there is the implicit problem that it’s possible to trivialize death. Not something I want to do. In fact, I prefer death not have my home address or even be able to text me.
Writing mystery novels requires a number of elements that, if badly used, create a formula, and if well used, constitute a possible Agatha Award. There should be a puzzle to solve, or else this would be a “literary novel,” which might be the stupidest term ever coined. (What novel is not literary? One on a spoken word disc?) There also, in our fictional work of fiction, should be characters the reader will come to care about. There should be relationships among the characters that grow and evolve as the series—this is going to be a series, or did I not mention that?—continues. There should be plot and dialogue and action and all the things that make any novel fun to read. (Except for the ones that are downright depressing, which show up on Top 10 lists and win awards, but only succeed if the reader is a hair short of suicidal upon closing the cover.)
And there should be some serious jeopardy for the main character. That’s where the danger in writing about a woman who can see ghosts enters the picture.
In the Haunted Guesthouse series (whose latest entry, Chance of a Ghost, published February 5), I write about Alison Kerby, a divorced mom who has purchased a huge Victorian on the Jersey Shore—and it should be noted that the latest installment, as all those that preceded it, takes place pre-Sandy—to turn into a guesthouse. And waddaya know, she finds out the place is infested with two ghosts, assuming two constitutes an infestation.
It has also been established that Alison’s young daughter Melissa and her not-all-that-old mother Loretta are also both capable of seeing the spirits of people who have passed on but haven’t cleared out. And therein lies the rub. If there were one aspect of the Haunted Guesthouse series I would like to take back—and there isn’t—it would be Melissa’s ability to see ghosts.
Sometime in every book I’ve written, there will come a moment when Alison’s life will be in danger, or at least perceived as being in danger. That’s an author’s way of heightening the stakes of the story, of making the reader more uneasy about the outcome, and of helping the reader care more about the character, which is the most important element of the series. But the question begs itself: If Alison dies, won’t Melissa still be able to hang around with her? Won’t Loretta still be able to visit? Wouldn’t Alison have a chance to connect better with Paul Harrison, the ghost trapped in her house, with whom she’s had an uneasy flirtation since the first book?
What’s so bad about dying, anyway?
Now you see the problem: By creating ghosts who aren’t all that scary (Paul hangs out with Maxie, who is volatile and unpredictable, but loyal and a little fragile, too), I have opened a door for Alison that isn’t open to most non-ghost-seeing protagonists. It doesn’t seem like losing her life would be all that big a change in her existence. And if she loses that sense of danger, that dread of dying, if being a ghost is an appealing way to spend eternity, Alison’s jeopardy might just as well be the risk of losing on a game show with Alex Trebec.
I’ve taken a decent number of steps to head off any sense of “ho-hum” about Alison being scared of dying. For one thing, Paul and Maxie have made it quite clear that being dead is no fun at all. They can’t communicate with most people they loved (Maxie’s mom drops by every now and again and they “converse” by computer); they can’t enjoy any physical sensation, including food or drink; they really can’t touch; they don’t know what next level of existence, if any, awaits them.
Also, in the universe the Haunted Guesthouse series inhabits, there are no rules. There is no consistency. Nobody seems to be in charge. Maxie can move outside the guesthouse at 123 Seafront Avenue, but Paul can’t. Paul can mentally contact other ghosts, but Maxie can’t. Some spirits move on to another plane of existence, but not all, and the requirements to do so are unknown.
More to the point, not everyone who dies becomes a ghost.
With that in mind, and the strong possibility that she might not be able to stay with Melissa or her mother, that she might lose everything in death as most living humans seem to do, Alison’s fear of dying is just as strong as it would be if she were unaware of any post-death existence.
Or, at least, that’s how I’m explaining it. If you have a better idea, get writing.
About This Author
E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, whose recent eSpecial novella A Wild Ghost Chase was published December 31, and whose latest full-length novel Chance of a Ghost was published on February 5. E.J. lives in New Jersey and has heard all the jokes.
Find out more on his webpage here.
Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
Chance of a Ghost
(A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery)
4th In Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 5, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Dominick Finelle
Cover Design by Judith Lagerman
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book File Size: 552 KB
Would you like to win a copy of
Chance of a Ghost (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery)?
Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!
U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.
Leave a comment for E.J. for 5 Bonus Entries !
If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End February 27, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
Comments on “Cozy Wednesday with Author E.J. Copperman (Giveaway too!)”
Thanks for the interview / giveaway. I enjoyed your take on the dangers of being to comfortable with the ghost world.
Thanks, Vanessa! Oddly, it’s not something that occurred to me until I had already written the first book in the series, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED. Then, it became: Uh-oh–what do I do NOW?
Interesting concept. I must look for #1 in the series, too.
E.J. I love the series, but I think you already know that. I hope The Haunted Guesthouse series runs to at least ten books, and then keeps going (for as long as your fertile mind can write it).
Well, it’ll run at least seven books altogether, Nora. Which means I have at least two more to write…
I love the cover and the your take on ghosts. A great post and I enjoyed reading about you ghostly friends. Keep up the good work and thanks for the giveaway.
I agree, there is nothing bad about dying, it’s the living part that’s not so great. I also agree that it takes a special kind of person to write a good ghost story, because as many of us know, there are a lot of bad ones out there. Thanks for the good ones.
I wouldn’t say there’s NOTHING bad about dying; for one thing, it cuts back on one’s ability to play tennis. But I appreciate the kind words about the books and hope you continue to enjoy them.
Fantastic series that just keeps getting better! Thanks Mr. Copperman. I love laughing, but when you’re reading a mystery series and keep laughing, you get strange looks. I’m looking forward to reading books five, six and seven, and laughing even more. I also like how you build the tension in the books with Allison getting herself into trouble and finding a way out. As for dying, well, I’d rather live a little longer.
What an interesting post. Your books sound intriguing and captivating.
I enjoyed learning about your books and your writing. A unique and creative talent.
I have had this series on my radar for awhile. Would be so nice to win.
Love the cover! Looking forward to reading this series! (on my TBR list).
I enjoyed books #1 and #3 so much. Yes., out of order. I have #2 in my sights. I enjoy everything about the series.
Just put this on my TBR list. Looks good and reminds me of when my Dad told ghost stories about a house his family lived in. Thanks for the giveaway.
I enjoyed your article on mystery writing and ghosts ~ can’t wait to read your new book! Cheers ~
i enjoy mysteries love to read yours
What fun with mysteries with ghosts.
I enjoyed your explanation of why someone who can converse with ghosts still would fear death. Now I wondering if you will use Hurricane Sandy in one of your future books of this series.
Actually, Sue, the storm came as I was more than two-thirds of the way through the next (5th) Haunted Guesthouse book, currently being called THE THRILL OF THE HAUNT, but it was too late to add more than a few cursory references, and the book will come out over a year after Sandy. So we’ll see how that plays out in future books.
It must be exceedingly difficult to get the right mix of allure and fright in interacting with ghosts.
Glad to hear at least 7 books are scheduled. Best wishes for success with all.
Frankly, Liz, not so much fright in my books. A little, maybe, but not a lot.
I don’t believe in ghosts,but I’m curious to reading the book..
You don’t have to believe, Gloria. I don’t believe in witches, but I liked the Harry Potter books.
I haven’t read any of this series so I am going to have to add it to my book wish list – always looking for new books to read
Sounds like an intriguing book. Thanks for an interesting post.
Sounds very interesting. I love mysteries and also stories with ghosts in them.
Ghosts and a mystery two of my favorite things. Thank you for the chance to win
I really like this cover, and yes, I sometimes judge a book by it’s cover when I’m looking for something good to read.
Interesting article and a great series! So glad there will be more books.
Please delete my entry – I’ve just won on another site! Thanks – Karen
Nice guest post! Glad to read about the book and series. Thanks for the chance to win.
Thanks for your pot E.J. I enjoy reading and hearing about what the authors have to say. I love when I find myself caring about a character,and making that connection is sometimes difficult in a ghost story. Looks like a fantastic book and will be adding to my TBR list 🙂
Just to keep the narcs off our trail, Sarah, let’s agree that you meant, “Thanks for your POST, E.J.”
I would love to read this series. It sounds very good. Thanks for the giveaway.
This is one of my favorite mystery series and I enjoyed reading this thought provoking article. I like Alison and Melissa and always find myself emotionally invested in them when I pick up a new book in the series. But my favorite character, I think, is Paul. I know it isn’t possible for a real relationship to develop between Paul and Alison, but I always feel a bit melancholy that the two can never be together.
Anyway, thanks for the giveaway, and I will be looking forward to reading this latest addition to the series, whether I win it here or not.
love this series- I love how each book builds on a family aspect with the ghosts and Allison and Melissa.
I wasn’t sure if I would like paranormal cozies but I absolutely LOVE this series. I really like all of the characters and its been fun to watch them develop. Glad to hear books are more on the way. Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂
Your book sounds really intrigueing. I don’t know what I would do if I began seeing ghosts/spirits. I’m interested to see how your characters handle such a stressful, frightening situation. I am grateful for the chance to win it – thanks.
This series sounds fascinating. I’ve just put it on my TBR list. Thank you so much for the introduction.
Hate to say I have not come across your series before now, and after reading your interview on here, I can’t wait to get started reading all of them!
It’s never too late, Donna. Thanks! Hope you enjoy the books!
sounds interesting.thanks for the chance to win
Looks intriguingly good. Hope you have a lot of success with the series. How many books will be in the completed series?
Don’t know how many there’ll be in total yet, Diva. For certain, there will be at least seven (and at least one e-book special novella) in the series. But after that? Don’t know yet. Hope you take a look!
I have often found that the way an author writes is a clear and usually accurate indication to their writing style. That is one reason I try to read blogs from authors that I am not familiar with. Sadly, that incudes you Mr. E.J. But I feel that is about to change. After reading four blogs of yours today, and a preview of uour newest, I believe I will be on your new fan list. Looking forward to the series. Going to start with #1. And I am sure you already know this, but that book cover is great. It is actually the very thing that caught my attention and made me stop long enough to read more. Never underestimate the power of a cover. :). I love it. Good Luck Mr. E.J. Copperman.
Well, Mr. E.J. you can clearly see why I am not an author. 🙂 I meant to say in the above comment that when reading blogs, comments, emails, etc from an author, I can often tell if I may like their writing style in their books. One can pick up on the possible sense of humor level the author may include in their books , the flow of the story , etc. I hope it is true in your case, as I have enjoyed reading your blogs .
great story … can’t wait to read it all.
could get lost in that wall paper
love mysteries and the paranormal – this looks like a great book.
Love the cover! This sounds like a fun read.
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