By E. Chris Garrison
My Road Ghosts is a trilogy of urban fantasy books (and a short story) that has both supernatural horror and comedic elements. It's an organically-grown set of stories, that is, they weren't planned out far in advance. Like fractals in math, and grown crystals, my stories grow from a seed to become more complex as they go along. I'd like to share how the series came about, and how it grew from small ideas to bigger ones.
It wasn't meant to be horror. Maybe it still isn't. The initial thought I had about the first book, Four 'til Late, was that it was going to be a "haunted road trip". Why? Well, as I've mentioned elsewhere, my writerly uncle Chuck had passed away in October 2007, and in my grief, I wanted to write a book to honor him. He and I used to take all kinds of fun road trips together; we went to Memphis, Daytona Beach, Atlanta, and even New Orleans together over the years. The character "Uncle Gonzo" is pretty close to what Chuck was like, rough on the surface, but caring and intellectual underneath. Me being me, I wanted a fantastic element to the story, and since my wife and I had been a part of an amateur ghost hunting group for a few years, I thought I'd spice the story up by making the road trip haunted.
So sure, it has ghosts and demonic possession, suspense and deadly danger, but it was meant to be urban fantasy, not horror. Which is why I often call it "Scooby Doo for grownups". I mean, the characters do go around in a minivan, chasing or being chased by supernatural monsters, right?
That first book was meant to be one that stood on its own, because at the time, I couldn't imagine writing more than one novel. That first time felt like one of my biggest accomplishments to date, and the thought of doing it again, and again, and many times more, just didn't occur to me. So there was no master plan for the Road Ghosts trilogy at that time. Once I finished Four 'til Late, I was pleased with what I'd done, and got much encouragement from my critique group (even if that first draft taught me that I had a LOT to learn).
And then, over the following summer, I had a dream, starring Brett and Lizzie, two of the main characters of Four 'til Late. I woke up laughing, because that particular dream had a punchline. I hurriedly scribbled down everything I could remember before it faded. In the dream, Brett and Lizzie find a feral preteen girl out in the woods who was feasting on roadkill. They soon realized that the girl wasn't really human anymore, and was actually a ghoul. Brett and Lizzie argued about what to do with her, but eventually Lizzie won out and they took her home. Since she could only subsist on rotting meat, Lizzie figured out a solution: they would take the little ghoul to a nearby McDonald's dumpster every night. My first intent was to write a short story based on that dream, but it didn't quite work. I kept thinking there needed to be more than just that story. Eventually it became clear to me that this was another novel, begging to be written, and Sinking Down was born, and that dream became the first couple of chapters of the book. The overall plot was the reverse of the first book; instead of running away from supernatural monsters, they had to save one from unscrupulous humans.
Me and the Devil was the final novel in the series, and if you asked me at the time, I'd have told you that it didn't feel right not having a third book to make a trilogy. But the more I thought about it, I realized I'd left things pretty unravelled at the end of Sinking Down, loose ends nagged at me to be knit together and unfinished plots resolved. It was clear that the main character, Brett, was a quite flawed human being, whose personal issues had driven much of the other books' plots as much as any external threats had. This was the book where he had to confront those figurative inner demons in a more literal way.
Secret: All of these novels were written before Seventh Star Press offered to publish them. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to revisit the books as a set as I worked with Joshua Leet, my SSP editor. Josh has a great sense for overarching plots and character development, and his insights helped me put more emphasis on the things that tied the books together, creating a more solid series than I'd had before. So while I didn't start out with an overarching structure for the books, the editing process helped find and highlight the structure that had grown with the stories.
The Road Ghosts Omnibus also includes a short story, "Spectral Delivery" which fits somewhere between the second and third books. It's different than the other stories in that it's not from Brett's point of view. Instead, it's told by Enid, a coworker of Brett's at King's Pizza. The story follows Enid and Brett on some rather haunted pizza delivery runs on Valentine's Day night.
The idea of the story was to have an easy introduction to the world of the Road Ghosts from an outside point of view, a sampler of sorts. I ended up having a lot of fun telling a Road Ghosts story from a very different angle like this, and very much enjoyed Enid's wry sense of humor about the strange events she's drawn into as the story goes along.
Whether it comes off as horror, urban fantasy, or something else, the Road Ghosts series is definitely its own thing, grown from the idea of "a haunted road trip" into a world full of characters, monsters, and a side of humor.
About the Author
Chris has two series published by Seventh Star Press, the Road Ghosts trilogy and its companion series the Tipsy Fairy Tales. These urban fantasies feature ghosts, demonic possession, and sinister fairy folk delivered with a “lightly dark” side of humor.
Her latest series is Trans-Continental, a steampunk adventure with a transgender woman as its protagonist. The series is set in one of the worlds in Chris’s dimension-hopping science fiction adventure, Reality Check, also published through Silly Hat Books. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com in 2013. Silly Hat Books released Alien Beer and Other Stories, a collection of her short stories, in 2017.
Chris lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her wife, step-daughter and many cats. She also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape. Keep up on the latest news and releases from Chris at https://sillyhatbooks.com/
About the Book
by E. Chris Garrison
Somewhere Between Scooby-Doo and Supernatural
The Road Ghosts Trilogy introduced readers to E. Chris Garrison, one of speculative fiction’s most gifted voices. Presented here for the first time in a single volume, you’ll meet amateur ghost hunters Brett and Liz, along with their friends Gonzo, Jimbo, and Frannie. Go along for the ride as the gang chases ghosts and battles demons, ghouls, and stranger things up and down the interstate highways of the Midwest.
The Road Ghosts Trilogy spawned several short stories (such as “Spectral Delivery,” included here!) and introduces readers to “Skye” MacLeod, whose adventures continue in Garrison’s popular Tipsy Fairy Tales Series. This omnibus volume includes:
Four ’til Late (Road Ghosts Trilogy, Book 1) Brett, Gonzo, Jimbo, and Liz embark on a road trip with dangerous detours, dreadful dreams and dire warnings. Along the way they discover that some spirits leave you with more than a hangover and regrets. Turn up the radio and get moving, because the road ghosts are waiting.
Sinking Down (Road Ghosts Trilogy, Book 2) Brett and Liz are back in over their heads when a forest hunt for a roadkill-eating creature offers up a ghoulish little surprise. Worse than that, they find that Brett’s fate is linked to the creature’s. So it’s back out on the road, with unexpected pit stops with a greedy ex, a convention of ghost hunters, partying with fake vampires, and drinking and fighting alongside Uncle Gonzo.
Me and the Devil (Road Ghosts Trilogy, Book 3) Brett, Liz, and Gonzo undertake a difficult three-night webcast leading up to Halloween. If they’re successful, they may finally get the recognition Brett seeks. But ever since the events in Sinking Down, Brett has been a little… off. On the first night of the webcast, Brett’s sudden tantrum both boosts ratings and terrifies his friends. As Halloween approaches, Brett’s friends find themselves in a desperate fight to save his soul — and his life.
“Spectral Delivery” (Bonus Short Story) Meet Enid, a pizza delivery trainee who’s stuck riding along with ghost-geek Brett on Valentine’s Day night. Her boyfriend begs her to try to get off early, but things get weirder and weirder as she and Brett encounter the paranormal at every stop.
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3/5 Beauty in Ruins https://beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.com/ Guest Post
3/6 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape http://www.mylifemybooksmyescape.wordpress.com Author Interview
3/7 Sapphyria's Books https://saphsbooks.blogspot.com/ Top Ten's List
3/7 Book in the Bag http://bookinthebag.wordpress.com Interview
3/7/18 Jorie Loves A Story jorielovesastory.com Review
3/8 Sheila guests and reviews http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com Guest Post
3/10 Jorie Loves a Story jorielovesastory.com Video Interview
3/11 Deal Sharing Aunt https://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/ Review