Today, we welcome Sonia Gensler to Kid Lit Frenzy to answer a few questions about her new Middle Grade novel, GHOSTLIGHT. Thank you Sonia for stopping by and for the great responses. I am so excited to share them and your book with readers.
First, check out the official book trailer:
Writing a scary ghost story Middle Grade novel can be hard. You need to find just the right balance between scary and not too scary. What are those boundaries for you and how did you work that out in Ghostlight?
This is an interesting question, because for me it might have had more to do with personal rather than age group boundaries. I am not a fan of gore in fiction, nor do I like an extended emphasis on physical terror. I really prefer to read stories of mystery, dread, and the slow burn of psychological horror.
That said, there is a moment in Ghostlight that could almost be compared to a “jump scare” in a movie—and in that moment things look pretty disturbing—but there’s more to the story! My intention was for young readers to enjoy a hair-raising moment, but soon after they would realize that the real horror behind the terrifying moment was a betrayal of friendship.
Any weird or strange things happen while you were working on Ghostlight?
I wish! Writing any story usually involves hard work that would seem quite boring to an outsider. However, before I started writing Ghostlight, I did stay in the bed & breakfast that inspired Hilliard House. I arrived at the house with mixed feelings. Part of me really wanted to have a ghostly encounter; the other part of me knew that I would be scared out of my mind if anything spooky happened—particularly because I was staying there by myself. As it turned out, I had a quiet night at Lylewood Inn. I have since learned that there may actually be a presence at the house. The owner has video-recorded spectral images during the night, but the presence seems quite benign. No moments of terror!
What was the scariest book you read as a 12 or 13 year old? What was the scariest movie/TV show that you saw as a child? Why? And do you think books or movies are scarier? Why or why not?
I did not read many spooky books as a child because I was oversensitive. Creepy stories would either give me nightmares or keep me up all night staring at the shadows in terror. I remember my brother having an illustrated book of horror film monsters that disturbed me for most of my childhood. My mom had a paperback of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot that included photos from the movie adaptation. Oh, the horror! And yet, I was so intrigued by these stories and couldn’t help taking a peek. Personally, I think films are scarier than books, but in either case I need to care deeply about the characters for the horror to really get its grip on me.
Though we still have about a month to go before Halloween, people are already starting to think about their costumes. What is on your short-list for costumes?
I’ve always had terrible luck with costumes. When I was trick-or-treating age, we never had enough money to actually buy costumes. Instead Mom would make them, and though they were very creative, they also were fragile and flimsy. One year she dressed me as the Headless Horseman, but I couldn’t see very well and ended up falling into a prickly bush and tearing the costume.
My dream costume would probably be something Gothic—a Victorian mourning dress with an elaborate veil, perhaps. Maybe under the veil my face would be painted to look ghostly or skeletal? That sounds deliciously creepy, but I’m sure I’d be fainting from the heat in such a heavy costume!
Any new projects that you are working on that you can share with us?
My new projects are still in early stages, and therefore it’s difficult to share anything specific at this time. But stay tuned and rest assured that there will be all sorts of Gothic elements in the next book—remote country houses, dark secrets, hauntings, betrayals—all my favorite stuff for fiction!
About the book:
Things that go bump in the night are just the beginning when a summer film project becomes a real-life ghost story!
Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.
Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.
As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?
More about the author:
Sonia Gensler is also the author of the young adult novels The Dark Between and The Revenant. She grew up in a small Tennessee town and spent her early adulthood collecting impractical degrees from various Midwestern universities. A former high school English teacher, she now writes full-time in Oklahoma. To learn more, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit soniagensler.com. Twitter: @soniagensler
Check out the final stop on the blog tour, tomorrow, at the Mother Daughter Book Club.
Also, don't forget to enter the giveaway to enter for a chance to win a copy of GHOSTLIGHT. Please note that participants must be 13 years or older and have a US mailing address.