A Conversation with ‘Ghost Hampton’ Ken McGorry
Ken McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.
Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try https://soundcloud.com/ken-mcgorry). Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.
About the Book
Lyle Hall is a new man since his car accident and spinal injury. The notoriously insensitive Bridgehampton lawyer is now afflicted with an odd sensitivity to other people’s pain. Especially that of a mysterious young girl he encounters outside a long-abandoned Victorian house late one October night. “Jewel” looks about 12. But Lyle knows she’s been dead a hundred years. Jewel wants his help, but it’s unclear how. As if in return, she shows him an appalling vision—his own daughter’s tombstone. If it’s to be believed, Georgie’s last day is four days away. Despite Lyle’s strained relations with his police detective daughter, he’s shocked out of complacent convalescence and back into action in the real world.
But the world now seems surreal to the formerly Scrooge-like real estate lawyer. Lyle’s motion in court enjoining the Town of Southampton from demolishing the old house goes viral because he leaked that it might be haunted. This unleashes a horde of ghost-loving demonstrators and triggers a national media frenzy. Through it all strides Lyle’s new nemesis in high heels: a beautiful, scheming TV reporter known as Silk.
Georgie Hall’s own troubles mount as a campaign of stationhouse pranks takes a disturbing sexual turn. Her very first case is underway and her main suspect is a wannabe drug lord. Meanwhile, Lyle must choose: Repair his relationship with Georgie or succumb to the devious Silk and her exclusive media contract. He tells himself seeing Georgie’s epitaph was just a hallucination. But a few miles away the would-be drug lord is loading his assault rifle. Berto needs to prove himself.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Ken. I am so looking forward to jumping into Ghost Hampton and just in time for All Hallow’s Eve! Is this your first paranormal thriller and, if so, how did you come up with the idea?
Hi — thanks for your interest in Ghost Hampton! So, I’m not your “paranormal type”… However, my wife and I were driving down a shady residential lane in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, one summer day a few years ago when she gestured at a nicely restored old colonial house. As we passed, she said, “I know the man who bought that house. He says it’s haunted.” Oh, really? “Yes. And they told him it was once a brothel.” By the time we got out of the car, I had my title: Ghost Hampton. And I was hooked. I decided to move the action out to Bridgehampton and to contact my grown niece, who’s in fact had a lot of experience with the paranormal world.
Q: What makes your idea unique from other paranormal thrillers out there?
Well, it’s funny! Despite the ever present threat of demonic possession, the unexpected deaths, a murderous drug dealer and a thicket of other issues, most characters just don’t like our protagonist, Lyle Hall, and won’t let him forget it — in fact they often make fun of him, despite his disability after his violent and fatal car crash. They see a Lyle cut down a few notches and some characters don’t hold back.
Q: What was your favorite chapter and why?
There are certain late chapters I’m addicted to that must not be discussed till we all have read this book! In the early going, I have a fondness for Chapter 4 (“An Upstanding Man”) in which our man Lyle confronts his ex-partner, Fraser. Here we see Fraser Newton as an unabashed doppelganger of Lyle Hall, and Lyle also sees his earlier self in Fraser. We get to see how they relate and we get to meet Lyle’s secret admirer.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your characters?
Lyle Hall: Trying to recover from a lifetime of selfishness and greed — and now a catastrophic car accident — Lyle finds that no one who knows him, not even his daughter, believes in him. Especially once he’s seen a ghost.
Georgie Hall: Lyle’s no-nonsense grown daughter is a newly promoted police detective in Southampton. She’s on her first case, a suspected drug gang, when she finds herself the victim of sexual harassment at the precinct house — and it’s linked to her father’s ghost escapade.
Noah Craig: Lyle’s old friend back in grammar school became his adult adversary in court. Lyle on the side of land development and Noah on the side of preservation. But when the “Ghost Hampton” story breaks, Lyle suddenly needs a good researcher.
Silk: Miranda Silkwood, a star in the paranormal-news world, sees Lyle and his ghost phenomenon as the perfect vehicle to take her to big time broadcasting. She uses her good looks to get her hooks into susceptible Lyle.
Rev. Mateo Xerri: The handsome young priest visiting from Malta bears a deeply hidden secret, and a dangerous craving to meet Lyle Hall’s ghost girl.
Jewel: A beautiful, enigmatic girl in Victorian dress who only Lyle can see, launches a paranormal media frenzy with her simple but mysterious plea.
Q: Which character was the hardest to write?
Lyle Hall! Although I’d spent years writing and re-writing him (and toiling under the threat of publishing professionals’ telling me my character would never fly with readers) every chapter he’s in was wrestling match.
Q: You went the self-publishing route. What do you feel are the advantages of doing it yourself?
I’m my own boss! All the profits are mine! (So are all the bills, which are currently outpacing income by, oh, ten to one!) And I only work a half day! (Twelve hours.)
Q: What did you learn about self-publishing that you might not have known before you started?
Everything. I come from the magazine world where, on a monthly, you see your work in print in six weeks or less. And online you see your work appear instantly. Book publishers seem to move at a glacial pace by comparison. Meanwhile, editorial services can be quite expensive. If you don’t or cannot hire your own editor, please find a friend or friends who can give your work a good, critical read. And watch those typos! Then all you need is jacket design, print services, marketing and publicity, distribution to libraries and (you hope) book stores. It’s a breeze!
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
Lyle Hall has a girlfriend.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
Morning and night! (Afternoon, not so much. Siestas exist for a reason.)
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
Time travel. Let’s go!
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you for asking me about Ghost Hampton! Another huge hurtle to cross in self-publishing is meeting people like you!