Scooby Doo meets Supernatural in Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper by J L Bryan – Review, Giveaway & Interview
“Well, let’s go check out the dark basement of the abandoned insane asylum. Nothing could possibly go wrong down there.”.
- What inspired you to write Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper?
I was interested in writing about ghosts because, unlike pretty much any other kind of paranormal critter (vampires, werewolves, etc.) it’s not clear whether ghosts are real or not. I thought it would be fun to write a detective series about a character who deals with them all the time.
- Have you ever had a ghost experience before?
One time my wife and I were staying with some friends who lived in an old house in Athens, Georgia. We slept downstairs and were the only people on the floor. We were both awoken at the same time by a deep male voice saying “shoo, shoo” just a few inches above our heads, like someone was leaning over us and talking. Nobody else was in the room. We didn’t tell our friends about it until they’d moved out of that house.
- What made you choose to write in the paranormal genre?
I’ve always been interested in the supernatural and sort of looking into mysterious and unexplainable events. I also think that we can learn about ourselves through imagining human beings in extreme circumstances, whether that’s dealing with paranormal monsters or a dystopian future society.
- What was your favorite scene to write in Ellie Jordan?
Probably the ghost ones, like early on when she’s first encountering the ghost in the house, or later when they have to visit the abandoned old insane asylum to look for clues.
- Which character was your favorite to write?
I really enjoy writing both Ellie and Stacey and how they interact with each other. Their psychic friend Jacob is becoming more and more fun to write with each book.
- Do you have a dream cast for any of the characters?
I don’t because I don’t keep up with newer actors very well. This would be a really interesting blog post if someone else wanted to do it, though (hint, hint!).
- What is your writing process like?
I have a toddler, so I pretty much just write whenever I can. A lot of times that’s late night! I try to hit specific wordcounts, but it always goes slowest earliest in the first draft and gradually picks up steam. Then I go through a number of drafts before sending it for editing.
- What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
I’ve actually done kind of a silly amount of research for this series, and I still do. First, I’ve read or listened to as many true (or supposedly true) ghost stories as I can find. I wanted to learn all about what real ghostly experiences were like, instead of following other fiction. I also researched the real technology and procedures used by ghost hunters and applied those to Ellie’s investigative process. My goal has been to make it is as realistic as possible as far as reflecting “ghost culture” in the real world.
- How many books are you planning for the series?
Eight or ten right now.
- When you were a kid, what was your favorite ghost story you heard?
There was an old house in an overgrown field near where I grew up. People would say it was haunted. I think that was the scariest one because it was so close and I could have walked inside the place if I wanted to (but I didn’t want to). I don’t even remember a specific story about it, people said different things. I did watch a lot of Scooby-Doo as a kid, too. And I was obsessed with the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, which are about a certain kind of ghost.
- When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was thirteen and wrote a book about a delusional kid who dressed up in a dog costume and tried to fight crime, despite his lack of any superpowers or anything. It was called Dogboy.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Ellie Jordan?
How many real or supposedly real ghost stories are out there. I’ve read several books about ghosts just in the Savannah area alone. There are lots of books and websites that collect people’s ghost stories, and lots of people have personal stories if you start asking around. There are at least a dozen “ghost reality” shows on TV, where haunted buildings are investigated with technology or by psychics, or people recount experiences they claim to have had. The abundance of ghostly experiences by real people has made researching and writing the series much more interesting to me.
- Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read widely, not just in your own genre, read lots of books on craft, and write every day. Commercially, you want to write in a popular genre and make sure you have quality book covers that reflect the correct genre.
- What is your favorite genre to read or watch?
I like to read historical nonfiction, biographies, things like that. Nonfiction is great fuel for your imagination.
- If someone dared you, would you spend the night in the house in the story?
No! Not unless Ellie had cleared the place first.
- Is there a genre you’d like to write but haven’t yet?
I actually write some science fiction on the side, but it hasn’t done as well as the supernatural stories so I don’t focus on it.
- Why did you choose to have the book take place in Savannah, Georgia?
- It was an easy choice for me because I live in Georgia and have visited Savannah several times (and I’m always willing to go back for more research!). Some of my ancestors were present at the founding of that city. So I wanted to write about a city with which I was familiar, and Savannah is a great setting, with lots of old mansions built in every style and centuries-old graveyards, plus the city is built on top of multiple native burial grounds. It’s believed to be one of the most haunted cities in the country among paranormal researchers and among people who live there. Most of the buildings in the Historic District have at least one ghost story attached to them. It seemed like a place where professional ghost hunters would really have their hands full!
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories.
He is the author of The Paranormals series of horror novels (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death) the Songs of Magic series for younger readers (Fairy Metal Thunder, Fairy Blues, and Fairystruck…so far) and other books. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, their son, and some dogs and cats.
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