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AUTHOR: Shaunda Kennedy Wenger
BOOK TITLE: The Ghost in Me
PUBLISHER: Essemkay Company Productions
BUY LINK: http://www.amazon.com/The-Ghost-in-Me-ebook/dp/B004GUS88Q
GIVEAWAY?: Yes! Paperback copy (US), or ebook International
Tell me a little about your book. Myri lives with ghost named Wren. The dreams and desires of both girls become entangled and crossed when Wren decides to “step into” Myri to help her get through an uncomfortable situation. Unfortunately, Wren “helps” Myri a little too much and both girls find themselves stepping toward unthinkable and uncertain futures.
What gave you the idea for this particular story? I started out writing about two characters who were going to have to deal with acting in a play that was taking place in a haunted theatre. I wanted them to meet a ghost who would help them turn the tables on a bully, who was also in the play. Early on in the writing stage I decided to turn the tables on the story and make the ghost become the problem and put the bully into the sidelines in one of the supporting threads.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I’m a part-time writer, a part-time teacher, and a full-time mom. I’m not sure how I get any of my writing done, other than I believe that the 100% scale is wrong; because I am tipping well past 100% when it comes to the allotment of my time. I’m not sure where it all goes. But being a fast typer helps when I start getting behind. Of course, maybe that’s what I’ve settled for – being perpetually behind. Maybe I’m accomplishing all that I possibly can at this stage in my life and not a page or book more.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? After my third grade teacher had us make, write, illustrate, and cover our own books. I was hooked! (However, I did have my doubts. Even then, I had the inkling of an idea that some kids were better at this writing stuff than me. Especially when it came to penmanship! Thank goodness for computers and printers!)
What do you hope readers will take from your writing? I hope that they believe that like my characters, they are capable of anything they put their minds to doing. I hope that they believe that like my characters, they are all unique, and they are all special, and they are all worth every ounce of preciousness on Earth.
Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why? I write Middle Grade/Young Adult novels and Children’s Chapter Books. The Middle Grades (The Ghost in Me and Reality Bites, Tales of a Half-Vampire) have dipped into the paranormal genre, while the Chapter Books have landed in the Fractured Fairy Tale genre. I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite. Oh, heck. Yes, I can. I love the read-aloud and share-ability of my Little Red Riding Hood, Into the Forest Again. Oh, wait. I guess I could also say the same thing about The Ghost in Me or Reality Bites. … It’s hard to choose because I still read aloud at bedtime or down-time with my kids (even though they are older), and that’s what I envision will happen with mine in other families. When I write my stories, that’s what I aim for. Read-ability. Stories that sound good, whether they’re shared through being read aloud, or enjoyed silently.
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? The toughest part of being a writer is giving myself the permission to step out of my “Shaunda” hat and into the hat of whatever character I’m writing for or about. My characters don’t talk like me or think like me, so I always need to let go of the filter that “writing through me” places on them. The hardest part of getting into the place of my character is letting go of that filter, or simply letting go of myself and the worry of what people might think if they were actually in my head. But amazingly, once I do, the writing gets easier, and the stories feel more real.
Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it. The mail-order chair (that arrives at Myri’s house) that is possessed by a ghost is based on the experience of a neighbor of mine. She had a chair that seemed to have an “attachment.” She would always see a “ghost” in the hall where this chair sat. Eventually, she ended up having the chair blessed. For her, the situation was an ordeal. For me, it was one of the funniest things I’d heard come through the grapevine, and I ended up putting it in my novel. (Shhh! Don’t tell my neighbor. I don’t think she knows how her problem ended up in The Ghost in Me.)
How much is your protagonist like you? How different? Like Myri, I was incredibly shy as a young girl. I didn’t step out of my shell until I was in high school, when I decided to stop caring so much about what people thought of me and started feeling more comfortable with being myself. Unlike Myri, I have never carried on a conversation with a ghost; although I have a feeling I might have lived with one during my college years. (But that’s another story!)
What kind of research did you do for this type of story? I’ve always been interested in the idea of ghosts, so I’ve paid attention to these sorts of tales throughout my lifetime. Most of the details in the story were a part of my beliefs or perceptions of how living with and interacting with a ghost could be, if this situation could actually occur. I didn’t research anything in particular, other than picking up tidbits on “new age” meditation techniques and some interesting methods on theatre instruction that I ended up fitting into the novel.
What about your book makes it special? Possession by ghosts is always deemed to be a horrible thing (and maybe it is, if it actually occurs.) In my book, the possession is initially offered as a favor—as a way of helping my main character, Myri, get out of an uncomfortable situation. I like to think The Ghost in Me offers a different slant, a G-Rated version for younger readers interested in the paranormal ghost genre.
What is your marketing plan? For the time being, my biggest plan is to try not to drown in a marketing agenda. Marketing takes so much time away from my writing. Unfortunately, it’s one of those tasks that writers can’t avoid putting some effort into. For me, I try to set a lid on how much I do each week. One “lead” or foothold always leads to another, but each step taken in marketing seems to be a step taken away from writing, so I have learned to put limits on how much I’ll do each week or on each project.
Where can people learn more about you and your work? I blog and have fun at www.shaundawenger.blogspot.com
Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book? Step out of yourself and into your character, and then go with where the story leads. Also, remember that when you were a child, you did not have the advantage or hindsight of an adult point of view. Neither should your character.
What’s in the future for you? I have a few projects in the works. I will not jinx myself and give away too many details, but they are all keeping me busy and most involve writing. I’m lucky to be in love with what I’m doing. All I need to do is find the strength and time to get my way to the finish line.
SYNOPSIS for The Ghost in Me: Myri Monaco has problems she doesn't know how to deal with: a crush on her best friend's boyfriend, a mother who's dating her science teacher, and a "punishment" for a science project that lands her in auditions for the school play (the last place she wants to be). But most girls don't have a ghost living at home who is willing to "trade places" whenever she's needed. Will ghostly possession be an easy solution when problems collide? Or will Myri lose everything to a ghost wanting to fulfill her own desires?