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Helping A Young Ghost

Author Interview
Jan Burns Author Interview

Ghost Boy follows a group of friends who set out to help a ghost in need and solve a curious mystery while facing a dangerous threat. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

When I was young I loved to read middle-grade mysteries that included adventures. I particularly liked the ones where the kids thought it out and talked to people who gave them helpful information. This enabled them eventually to solve the mystery, mostly without any adult help. These books had a few scary moments, but there was also kid fun to balance things out.

I like history a lot and wanted to include a look at the town’s past mining industry. This helped me to tie some elements of the story together.

Finally, to add another layer to the book, I thought kids might like to read a ghost story. That’s why I included this in the story. I tried to imagine how kids would react to helping a young ghost find peace.

The characters in your story are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I worked on this book over about six years. I’d written eight nonfiction children’s books and hundreds of articles and stories, but this was my first fiction book. My characters changed a lot over that time. At first the dialogue I wrote for them didn’t sound realistic. So, I had my characters write journal entries about themselves and the mystery. I found this to be very helpful.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

When I was researching the historic element of the book I read a lot about the pioneers of this area. They had to be resilient. I tried to show this in the book’s characters. They encountered problems and sometimes made mistakes, but they didn’t give up.

I think this idea of not giving up is an important concept for kids today. Most kids encounter problems of various sorts in their lives. The important thing is for them to not give up on their dreams.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

From the start I wanted there to be three Ghost Boy books. The main characters would stay the same and the books would all feature adventure as well as a mystery.

I’m about halfway through the second Ghost Boy book. In The Secret of Cougar Pass the kids explore a cave that they later learn is said to be cursed. But they want to go back to help a young ghost connect with his long-dead parents.

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What will Tyler Scott do after he finds a boy’s skull and the boy’s ghost asks him for help?

After Tyler Scott finds the skull, he’s shocked when the ghost asks him to help find his dad, who has probably been dead for years. He and his friends Addy and David Jacobson set out on the seemingly impossible quest. They have to work hard to solve the mystery before whoever is watching them does more than just threaten.

In Ghost Boy, by Jan Burns, we see these children setting out on a seemingly impossible quest to help a young ghost. Will their friendship hold up after things become dangerous?

Ghost Boy

Dancing Creek was a dusty old town, a brick and mortar relic of times long past. For Tyler, the old fashion charms it held were also home. Like any old town though, Dancing Creek also held its share of secrets, a fact Tyler learned after making a grisly discovery in the quarry behind his family’s house. By inadvertently stirring up a decades old mystery and a scandal that rocked the small community, Tyler also comes to realize that for every person who’s happy to reflect on the past, there’s another someone who will do anything to keep it buried. Can he help the town finally find closure, or will the mystery endure?

Ghost Boy by Jan Burns hits the ground running from the first paragraph and continues at a steady pace during the remainder of this short book. Painting the image of a picturesque, sleepy town that could be taken straight from the pages of a history book, Burns introduces Tyler, along with his two best friends Addy and David. After finding human remains on his family’s land, Tyler and his friends are naturally curious about who they could be and how they got there. Despite being warned against asking questions, the three decide they simply have to know. What they learn is a story dating back to the days when Tyler’s grandfather was sheriff and Dancing Creek was still an active mining town. As it turns out, the disappearance of a miner and his son has haunted Tyler’s grandfather for years, and is the only case he never solved in his role as sheriff. I enjoyed the solid foundation to this story, setting it up to be an intriguing mystery on its own, but we’re then given a compelling supernatural layer as well. This turns an intriguing mystery story into a riveting paranormal crime thriller.

While Ghost Boy follows some common genre tropes, I found the characters of the story to be well-developed and one of the main reasons I kept coming back to this book. Add to this the seemingly deep back story (or surprisingly deep for a novella anyway) and you have a story that fans of paranormal mystery novels will find hard to put down.

The plot is curious and absorbing, but I felt it was too short. The story is concise and ensures readers are consistently entertained, but I felt like this was a blueprint to a larger more compelling story that begs to be explored further. I would have loved to read more of the history of Dancing Creek and the lives of the characters from its mining days.

Ghost Boy is an absorbing supernatural crime thriller with a captivating murder mystery at its core and a cast of interesting characters that elevate this short story and makes you beg for more.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B0B545QXLN

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