Interview: Mickey J. Corrigan, author of "The Ghostwriters"
If you're around my age, I probably know what you're thinking. You're picturing a bunch of plucky kids with pens around their necks, running around and solving mysteries with the help of a disembodied spirit that's super fond of typing in 62-point font. Well, that's not what this is about. BUT...it is an interview with the author of a book that's right up my alley. Ghosts? Check. Mystery? Check. Dark humor? Yes indeedily-doo. So keep reading and check it out!
What inspired you to write about a writer being haunted by the ghost of a recently deceased author?
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is one of my all-time favorite novels. When the author died in 2010, I wondered if his estate would release the novels he had held back from publication during his lifetime. Rumors had circulated for years about a sequel to his classic story about a young man hanging out in Manhattan while slowly (and somehow hilariously) falling apart. In 2013, a documentary on the reclusive author was released and the producers claimed his unpublished novels would follow. So far, they haven't.
In my novel The Ghostwriters, a young writer meets the ghost of the famous novelist JD Balinger, who convinces her to help him write a sequel to his classic novel The Watcher in the Sky. Jacy McMasters has some issues she's dealing with, and they come to a head while she's ghostwriting with her ghost.
I have done quite a bit of ghostwriting, some for minor celebrities. I can imagine what it would be like to ghostwrite with a top author. Not easy, no matter whether he were alive or dead.
What’s one trait Jacy has that you wished you shared?
I admire her intensely creative imagination. She's an amazing world builder. As for her life, it's kind of terrible. But she does live in Manhattan and can walk everywhere in that city. I would love that.
You have an impressive backlist of fantastic titles—what sets The Ghostwriters apart from the rest of your novels?
Like my other novels, The Ghostwriters is dark, humorous, and strange. As usual, my narrator is an outsider, a young woman who looks at the world differently than most. She's plucky, funny, smart, and independent. And a bit crazy. Unlike my other protagonists (which include a hooker, a hit woman, and a mental patient), Jacy McMasters is a writer. She's ghostwriting fiction, something I have done more than once. It's bizarre experience, writing someone else's novel. You have to remove the entire story in great detail from the other person's imagination, then translate it into words on the page. I enjoyed poking fun at the process by using a dead celebrity in need of a ghostwriter. Normally, the person is still alive when they hire a writer.
My books tend to be cautionary tales, in a sense. In The Ghostwriters, Jacy needs to deal with her past, her family issues, before she can grow up and live a healthy life. Writing helps her to do this. Which I believe writing can do for many people. It's healing. It made sense to me to share that concept with readers, many of whom are writers or hope to write one day.
What’s your favorite line of dialogue from The Ghostwriters?
After meeting the celebrity author's ghost in a drunken state, Jacy wakes up the next morning and heads for the shower. And there he is again:
I screamed once or twice before he uncrossed his spidery limbs and said, "Don't be a ninny. You know who I am, that I come from you. From your own deranged mind. So what's the sense of yelling, disturbing your neighbors?"
He had a point. I calmed a little and said, "You may be an illusion, my illusion. But that sure as fuck does not mean you can stay in my bathroom while I shower."
If you were in Jacy’s situation, how do you think you would fare?
I would hope that I could keep a sense of humor. Jacy works hard to write (and love) her way out of the stultifying trap of a lousy childhood, bad parenting, and early loss. My own young adulthood wasn't pretty, although it was not nearly as dramatic as Jacy's life. Writing helped me to take a deeper look at my past, decipher my subconscious mind, and let go of obstacles to personal happiness. So I would guess I might have done okay if I were Jacy. Although I might not have had the guts to… Well, never mind. No spoilers!
If your book was a meal, what beverage would you recommend pairing with it and why?
I might start out with a shot of Stoli fresh out of the freezer, followed by a pint of Guinness, then a cup of double-dose Colombian coffee. Ugh. But that's what Jacy would have.
by Mickey J. Corrigan
She's ghostwriting a book for a famous author—a recently deceased one. A struggling writer living in Manhattan, Jacy McMasters is the first to admit she's a terrific liar and a screw-up. Then the ghost of the famous novelist JD Balinger asks her to "channel" a follow-up to his classic coming of age book The Watcher in the Sky. Along with her new boyfriend, a bear of a man who has no patience for mind games, the ghost in Jacy's head forces her to confront a lifetime of secrets—dark secrets. Secrets she's been keeping from herself.