Tag Archives: Helen Grant

Ghost in the press

I might not have anything new and fresh to say about Helen Grant’s Ghost, what with the lack of a second launch this week. But luckily this ‘mum-of-two’ has got herself mentioned in the local press to mark the occasion.

Sunday Post

Isn’t it incredible how women still have children when they are mentioned for any reason at all, while I’ve noted a distinct lack of dads-of-two – or any other number – writing books? (Despite that, it’s a very good article.)

No multitasking for the men.

Strathearn Herald


Snow stops play

So. Snow.

It can be quite annoying, at times. Even if all that white looks pretty, what with the beautiful light coming into your rooms and everything.

We had a full Thursday planned. I was going to Edinburgh for some Swedish church stuff. Daughter was flying in from the continent to join me. (At one point it looked like both the Resident IT Consultant and Son were going to come along too. Unheard of.)

After that we were going to hang out somewhere nice for a bit; maybe Dishoom.

And then we’d go to Blackwells and launch Helen Grant’s Ghost again.

But you probably know what happened. Snow closed airports and railway stations and the trains and the planes went nowhere. One Scottish children’s author managed to leave the country on what must have been about the last plane out of Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Ghost was postponed. Personally I blame this weather on the children’s author who was going to chat to Helen about her book at the launch. She had gone out and bought garden things, envisaging some imminent opportunity for sitting out in the garden over drinks.

At one point it looked like church was cancelling itself too, but with the help of higher powers the minister found a train out of Newcastle. On the other hand, I doubt she had many ‘customers’ as I suspect most of the others couldn’t get anywhere either. I certainly couldn’t.

And with snow closing Geneva airport as well, Daughter could no longer blame it all on the UK and its way with snow.

I remember The Big Snow in 1968. It’s just that back then we had few plans for our time. It didn’t matter too much. Today, Son is/was due to go somewhere [ridiculously far] for the day. Dodo’s family are/were coming north for the weekend. The Resident IT Consultant even had to cancel a phone call due to snow.

But it does look quite nice.


Is last best?

I’d been all set to muse a bit about third books in trilogies, when Helen Grant mentioned another [potentially bad] aspect of writing trilogies, at her Thursday launch.

When asked about the likelihood of a sequel for Ghost, and the question then sliding quickly on to trilogies, Helen pointed out that one awkward thing about them is that for the author who carefully plots books one, two and three, there is much that needs to be written after the first book. But if that doesn’t sell well, the publisher might decide against the next two books.

And then where will you be, a third into a story and no end in sight?

It is, of course, what initially happened to Nick Green’s The Cat Kin. He self published the second and third books, before the whole trilogy was picked up by Strident.

But as Helen said, while she was lucky with her Forbidden Spaces trilogy and it did get published, there was perhaps rather too scant attention from the publisher towards the end.

So, there is every reason to stick to standalone novels. There is always the possibility of sequels by public demand.

Anyway, what I was really getting to here, is the seeming lack of interest from publishers when book three is about to be born. Increasingly, I hear nothing about the ends of trilogies, and there are no review copies available.

I always feel a bit guilty at this point. Am I merely seen as looking for a free book for my own reading pleasure?


While I can see there might be less of a need for a big fanfare or a highly publicised launch for the end of a trilogy, a few review copies won’t cost much, compared with other kinds of advertising. Maybe not send out unsolicited book threes, but send to anyone who inquires?

Because I feel third books have often been the best. It’s as if the whole trilogy has been moving towards this point. Not that it’s only a book much the same as the first two and what’s the fuss?

Helen’s Urban Legends was riveting. Especially page 38! And the third books in Michael Grant’s Front Lines and Lee Weatherly’s alternate WWII series were masterpieces of great YA writing. Maybe publishers assume that the fans liked the first ones, so they will discover a way to the end, without reviews or mentions of the books.

These days I find myself looking at sequels to books I’ve never heard of, or the last in a series of books where the publisher has dutifully sent out both proofs and finished copies, when I’ve not shown interest in any of them.

(And, I don’t actually know this, but did J K Rowling get a contract for all seven Harry Potter books? From the start, I mean. Also, there didn’t seem to be any lulls in the publicity when we got to books five, six or even seven. We should have been tired of them by then, surely?)


Ghost has launched

‘Are you turning left?’ I asked, as my kind driver for the evening, Moira Mcpartlin, indicated. In the end we went right. And it went right, all the way to Perth, where Moira parked the car twice. I’d not had my walk for the day, so that was good. We even asked a policeman where we were. Or at least, where we were going.

Clare Cain, Helen Lewis-McPhee and Helen Grant

To Helen Grant’s launch for Ghost, in case you have been left wondering. Our host at Waterstones ran between unlocking the shops’s front door, to unstacking chairs, serving drinks and selling books. We provided advice as to whether we thought the banner for Ghost was likely to topple and hit the Helens as they talked.

Because you can’t have too many Helens. Last night it was Helen Lewis-McPhee who grilled Helen Grant on her ‘often dark and shadowy mind.’ After an intro-duction from publisher Clare Cain, Helen Grant read from her book, choosing the windowsill chapter early on, to avoid too many spoilers.

Helen Lewis-McPhee and Helen Grant

Ghost has been the worst book to write, taking first one year, and then another year to rewrite when Helen’s agent said she should. (Personally I have some strong words to say about that. But this is not the place.) As she put it when asked by someone in the audience, some of the changes were good, others merely made it different. And she’s now ready to write something really cheesy, for a change.

I’m not sure this ‘rather dark’ author does cheesy. Helen believes in ghosts in as much that she expects to run into some old, but dead, friends in the street one day.

She starts and ends her days by going on social media, but between that Helen feels it’s important to experience the day happening, maybe by visiting one of the many falling-down houses she enjoys so much, or other ruins. Helen often takes her son when exploring, whereas her husband is unable to ‘sneak around enough.’ She likes being alone out there, too, being quiet.

Helen Lewis-McPhee and Helen Grant

Asked what she’s working on now, Helen said it’s several different things as she can’t make her mind up. And she ‘cannot say anything briefly.’

Another question was about a sequel to Ghost. Probably not, but she admitted that certain things must happen after the ending to the current book, so…

Helen Grant, Ghost

After all this people mingled and bought books and drank wine and were cultural. (I find Perth a little more grown-up than Stirling. Maybe I ought to go more often.)

Ghost launch Perth

When my copy of the book had been signed, my driver walked us back to the car and drove us safely all the way home, and only once suggested I might be interested in taking up singing.



Several things happened while I was reading Helen Grant’s new novel, Ghost.

I had an early e-version of this Gothic thriller, and I’d been describing to Helen how well it worked reading on the iPad. As I restarted, it sort of began scrolling the pages on its own. As I looked, I saw first a name, and soon after, a place. Both were familiar to me from what I’d been reading so far. ‘Damn,’ I thought. I didn’t want that to happen, and I didn’t want an accidental, electronic, spoiler.

But as I arrived at the end of Ghost, none of those things had appeared in the text, although something closely related to both had in fact happened. And as I got to the last line, there was a ghost of a flicker in my mind, reminding me of some other story. Except I can’t now think what, or even if. It was just rather ghost-like.

Helen Grant, Ghost

This is a beautifully written book. Not that I’d expect anything else from Helen Grant. It was hard to put down, and I did so as seldom as I could get away with. I wanted to bask in this quirky tale about the teenage Augusta – Ghost for short – who’d spent all her 17 years living with her grandmother, in secret, in a rambling but derelict house in Perthshire.

It’s a happy life, but frustrating and lonely, until the day Ghost’s grandmother goes shopping and never returns. And then 19-year-old Tom turns up. Both teenagers are equally shocked by the other, and together they have to try and make sense of Ghost’s strange existence.

Her quiet life in the Scottish countryside continues, while the reader waits for the bombshell that must surely come. What will it be, and when?

You’ll be surprised. At least I think you will be, if you have no unravelling pdf on your hands. Or, could it be that all copies of Ghost will have some kind of ghost inside? Not necessarily the same for all, but you know, some other-worldly hint.

Helen Grant is masterly at quietly worrying her readers.

I will – probably – be OK soon. I’m just not used to psychological thrillers.



Hmm. Eleven already. That year went fast.

This time cake is just about the only thing I can think of. I suppose if thinking about it is all I do, there is no harm. Just don’t bake, Witch!

I have achieved my February tradition of reviewing the latest Front Lines novel by Michael Grant. And I frequently think of all the wonderful authors out there. That hasn’t changed over the years. Nor have they. It would seem authors don’t grey as fast as some of us.

But the publishing world is not the same, and I miss the ‘olden days.’ I really do. My desperate thoughts no longer wonder whether to give up, but more ‘how can I change the way this works, so that it will continue working?’

Because when I have read a really, really great book, and I know that there are plenty more of them, I feel terribly reluctant at the thought of reading some of the ones sent to me, at the cost of a better reading experience with some other book. I am selfish enough to feel my time deserves the best. And the publishers don’t. Not as much, anyway.

I’m sure it will work out. I have heard of libraries. Maybe I can find books there?

Meanwhile, I do have some cream in the fridge. What if I baked just a little cake? I have the tulips already, courtesy of Helen Grant. Two kinds of purple, they are.


The physical Ghost

Helen Grant, Ghost

Six weeks on, here it is; Helen Grant’s Ghost. But only chez Bookwitch, so far. The rest of you can wait another four weeks…

Helen Grant, Ghost

I was a little bit excited at the arrival of Ghost, and decided to photograph it to within an inch of its life. If a Ghost has a life.

Helen Grant, Ghost

Helen has described it as a psychological thriller, with a ghost of gothic thriller about it. And it’s not YA. You might be too young for this book. Whimper.

Helen Grant, Ghost

All the time she was writing Ghost I’d been wondering what Helen could do to her Scottish surroundings, that she hadn’t already done to Belgium and Germany.

Now I know.

Helen Grant, Ghost