A Guest Post by Ripley Patton—”Ghost Hand: Why ‘This’ Story?”—Plus, Ripley’s Kickstarter
I was privileged to get to know Ripley Patton when she was living in Christchurch and taking the initiative to “kickstart” SpecFicNZ into life. Yes, it took an American to do it, even though we have plenty of people actually writing fiction of the SF/Fantasy/Horror variety here in Aotearoa-New Zealand. So kudos to Ripley, and her original core team, for making it happen.
Ripley has since moved back to the United States with her family, but while in New Zealand she was working on her novel Ghost Hand, which I had the pleasure of reading as an early “beta reader.” She has recently decided to self-publish Ghost Hand, embarking on a kickstarter to do so. As a way of showing author collegiality for the project, I have invited Ripley onto “…on Anything, Really” to guest post on why she chose to write this particular book, amongst the myriad of book ideas and possibilities that surround any author.
Ripley Patton’s Ghost Hand: Why This Story?
by Ripley Patton
One of the things people often ask a writer is “Why this story?” Why did you choose to write this genre? Why that world with those main characters? What about this story called to you over all the other stories banging around in your head?
Those are all good questions, questions I had to answer for myself as I set out to write my first novel, Ghost Hand, a YA paranormal thriller.
Why that Genre?
The first question I’d like to address is why a 43-year-old woman would want to write Young Adult Fiction.
YA is what I love to read.
Given the choice of reading a YA book over a book written for adults, I will always choose YA. YA doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a sense of humor, a youthful vitality, and a purity of voice and perspective I enjoy. A wise writer creates the stories they themselves want to read.
My writer-self is a teen.
I started writing at the ripe old age of thirteen, and I honestly think my writer-self is still that age, sighing at the boys and worrying about what I look like and what people think of me. There is something magical about telling a story from that age. As teenagers, we are creatures of childhood and whimsy, and we are also fierce independent adults, all wrapped in the awkward and beautiful package of adolescence. And yes, there are also zits.
I have teenagers.
I currently live with two amazing teens, my 14-year-old daughter and my 16-year-old son. Reliving adolescence through their eyes has given me a new perspective, a new appreciation for the challenges teens face, and a deep desire to address those issues and experiences through my writing. Plus, my kids read my work, and they won’t let me get away with bad YA writing.
Why that World?
Coming from a short story writing background, I knew that writing a novel was going to be a challenge, especially in the world-building department. I knew I wanted to write a fantasy because that is my first love, but I was humble enough to realize that I was not ready to create an entire world from scratch. Conventional wisdom says “Write what you know,” so I decided to set Ghost Hand in this world, current day earth, in my very own hometown, but with one slight change. What is that change? An anomaly. A rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Kids are being born with ghost limbs, ethereal, glowy, see-through limbs where their flesh-and-blood limbs should be.
Why that Character?
I love strong young female characters. They represent who I am and who my daughter is. But so often in modern YA, the strong female character is just a romantic prop. She is an object of desire, rather than a character in her own right. I love the paranormal, but paranormal romance always leaves me feeling cheated. So, I decided to write a paranormal thriller instead. In Ghost Hand, my main character, Olivia Black, solves her own problems and rescues herself. Is there romance in Ghost Hand? Yes. Is it the main challenge my characters must navigate? No way.
Why that Theme?
When I think about what really called to me about the Ghost Hand story, it was the theme more than anything else. For fifteen years my husband, who is a therapist, worked with troubled teens. So many of today’s teens are the walking wounded. They have had experiences beyond their years, and they carry the internal wounds to prove it. In Ghost Hand I wanted to explore the reality of the emotional burdens teens carry. I wanted to ask the questions: “What if someone could reach inside of you and pull out your deepest, darkest hurt? What would it look like? And what power would it still hold over you?”
These are the questions Olivia has to face when she discovers that her ghost hand can do just that. It can pick-pocket the soul.
Want to Know More?
Thanks to Helen for letting me share on her blog about Ghost Hand. And thanks to you, her readers, for listening. Want to know more about the book? You can read the first two chapters on my website HERE.
Ghost Hand is a finished, polished YA novel of 84,000 words, but it isn’t available for purchase quite yet. I recently commissioned a professional cover design for Ghost Hand, and I am currently running a Kickstarter Project to raise funds for a professional edit and the first print run and e-book versions of the book. You can pre-order a copy of Ghost Hand and support its publication at the same time by backing it today. Pledges are made securely through Amazon, and you aren’t charged a dime unless and until the project succeeds.
I hope you will consider helping me make Ghost Hand a reality.
About Ripley Patton:
Ripley Patton grew up in the wilds of southern Illinois, much like her main character, Olivia Black, and that is where she first began writing. She has had over twenty short stories published in magazines and anthologies and her story “Corrigan’s Exchange” won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story 2009.
Ripley recently spent five years living in New Zealand where she survived two major earthquakes and started a national speculative fiction writers association, SpecFicNZ, because there wasn’t one.
She now lives in Portland, Oregon with two teenagers, one cat, and a man who wants to live on a boat.
To check out Ripley’s Kickstarter Project for Ghost Hand, please click HERE.