So what did I say about friendship and reviewing the other day?
I’ll come clean here and say that Mortal Ghost by L. Lee Lowe is not just a book written by someone I know and like, but it’s a self published novel, so didn’t come my way via a publisher. In fact, when we first met on the Internet, Lee had already got some of Mortal Ghost to read online, but although I read the first couple of chapters, I really didn’t want to read on screen.
It was also available to download, but again, I didn’t want to print a whole book. (Good thing, perhaps, as it’s really quite long.) Then one day a Lulu printed copy plopped through the letterbox, courtesy of Lee herself, which was very kind.
Lee has some strong opinions on the publishing world, and wants to do things on her own terms, which is why she is happy to let people download her books for free, rather than worrying about making money. I can understand her yearning for independence, apart possibly for the money aspect.
Mortal Ghost is a novel with a supernatural element to it, rather in the vein of a Tim Bowler story. It’s about the teenager Jesse, who sleeps rough and is found by Sarah in the park. She brings him home with her. Her family is anything but conventional, so this works well. Then many, many inexplicable things happen, and it’s as hard for the reader to know what’s going on, as it is for Sarah and her family and for Jesse himself.
Jesse has a violent past, and odd pieces of violence keep cropping up wherever he goes. It took me a while to understand that I could never work out where this story was going. Knowing Lee’s background as an American living in Germany, I still found it hard to place where the book is set. It could be Britain, or it could be intentionally non-specific. I feel there is a mix of all three countries.
I was beset by doubts through a lot of the book, but in the end the plot works. Whether a conventional publisher would have allowed it is another question.
As for its self published status, you can tell that it would have been different had an editor been involved. I struggled a little with the fast changing points of view. They work in this story, but could have been clearer. Similarly there were other details that would be obvious to Lee, because it was all in her head, but which would have benefitted from an outsider’s perspective.
But all in all I have to admire Lee for all her work, done without all the usual publishing support. It takes someone strong to do that. Someone unusual. The slightly flaky mother in the story reminded me of someone…
Here is a link to a recent interview with Lee, which will tell you more about her and her writing. (I went looking for a photo of Lee, and I found one eventually, but decided not to in the end.)