I feel uncomfortable with self-promotion, but 2012 was a difficult year, with a number of health problems and far too little writing that I didn’t delete the next morning. So it was a lovely surprise to receive the following email from a new reader (posted with permission):
This is the first letter I have ever written to an author despite reading an average of 10 books a week for the last 40 some odd years. I discovered smashwords and some of the other places online last year where we can read new author works for free. I so an equal opportunity devourer of literature and Mortal Ghost qualifies as literature.
The characters are well rounded and their development through out your story line draws the reader in until we truly begin to care what happens to them. This is what all such characters should be like. People we can imagine knowing and so we are turning each page to enhance that knowing. Jesse was a heart grabber from the moment we meet him while Sarah sort of sneaks up on you. She was quiet and a counterpoint to the strength of Jesse’s deep well of emotions that he had walled up until he shattered at every turn. You were able to let us gradually begin to see her not as a prop for Jesse but as an important and integral part of the story in her own right. This is often an area that I find even experienced writers can fall down. Their central character is so strong but not as much effort is put into the supporting cast. I am truly glad that you were able to avoid that pitfall.
The plot line itself was complex enough to need every one of those pages. There was a depth in the sub plots is also usually only attributed to “literature”. I remember taking an English class from a woman who was somewhat of a book snob and only those books that had reached the status of classics was considered by her to be “literature”. I always thought somehow she was missing something important. When I took a course in “Children’s Literature” strictly because the title appealed to me, I found out what it was. This professor defined literature as art which contained most of the elements of rounded characters who are capable of learning from their experiences and changing because of it, a well developed plot that doesn’t leave the reader confused and continues to draw the reader in, in which scenery is used to enhance the storyline and evoke feelings and memories in the reader, and last to use time and place effectively.
I would have to say that you didn’t just hit a few of his short list that I noted but all of them. One scene in particular came alive in my imagination. I could literally see a very young ballerina who danced not for fame but for the joy of dance in the middle of a circle of amaranth. I imagined the summer hayfields and how the dust shimmers in the sun during late summer hay season and make even the most mundane seem somehow “more”. This was how I saw Sarah dance. I could list many other instances but then you know what you wrote. At first the time and place ambiguity bugged me just a tad as there where only hints as to where the story took place but after a couple chapters I realiized that the important thing about time and place in this book was that it could have happened anywhere in the world in any time. That ulitmately it was not about two young people and their friends and family in London circa 2000’ish but because the life experiences that were being laid bare here happen around us every day and could have been true anywhen, anywhere.
So after boring you silly with a classroom review of your book, what I really want to say is thank you for sharing this with me. I will enjoy it over and over because for me, reading a book more than once doesn’t matter that I know how it ends. Reading it again means that I will find something new, something that makes me go …”aaah, how did I miss that?” I got a nook for Christmas and haven’t delved into the nook friends thing but this is one that may motivate me to figure it out. I love sharing a really good read and I guess an electronic copy won’t get dogeared and dirty and eventually fall again. I am looking forward to reading the book Corvus that I saw mentioned on your website and anything else you choose to share with us.
Best wishes for a successful career. You have made a great start.
Thank you, B! If nothing else, you’ve given me a wonderful start to 2013.