Welcome to my tour stop for American Ghoul by Walt Morton! This is a mature young adult paranormal dark fantasy novel.
The tour runs October 19-30th with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.
About the Book:
“A gloriously macabre young-adult tale about the difficulties of being a teenage ghoul in the 1970s. Once readers dig up this clever supernatural story, they likely won’t want to put it down.” – KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Anyone wanting a refreshing story with a young voice full of humor and teenage angst, yet with all the Gothic trappings that have kept the genre popular for over two centuries, give American Ghoul a try! – SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
“I admire Morton’s story-telling ability, his macabre descriptions and his dark treatment of the high school experience from a teenager with a terrible secret. There were moments that chilled me to the bone, but kept me turning the pages to follow Howard’s journey from outsider to anti-hero.” – JACKSONVILLE NAVIGATOR
Free for Kindle Halloween weekend! 10/30-11/1
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was raised in a rural part of Pennsylvania in the 1960’s. My neighbors had a dairy farm where I could touch the animals and it was all very beautiful and pastoral. But there was still a dark side as well, due to certain circumstances, I was around a lot of death growing up and that made me more aware of the dark side of life earlier than normal kids.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
Nobody encouraged me to be a writer but when I was in my 20’s I had an amazing writing teacher in a college class, Frank Ford. He was a real genius as a teacher because he treated me like I was an artist and a peer even though I was just a dumb kid. He was also kind of a Zen-Buddha figure because a lot of his writing advice was very odd and he’d say things like: “Do the work, and that’s all.” Or “When it’s good we all know. Maybe.” Or “Sometimes writing is just writing and sometimes it’s something else.” When you are 22 and hear that, it’s hard to absorb, but later you go “My God, he was so right!”
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I could name a lot of authors but if I only had to pick one it would be Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of TARZAN. Burroughs is rarely read seriously anymore and is kind of a forgotten literary curiosity but I was exposed to his books when I was very young and a loved them and read them over-and-over until I was a teenager and my taste got a lot wider. But Burroughs, what you get is a brave, bold, amazing creative storyteller. He could come up with the wildest story, make it a page-turner, and he never even stopped to worry about how believable it might be. He’s also enduringly popular worldwide, so that tells you his approach to stories can work to reach people.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
Like many writers, I try to take it as a professional practice to write. I may not be working on a novel everyday but I write SOMETHING every day. And when I am working on a novel I currently use Scrivener software, which does a good job keeping me organized. One thing I find very helpful is goal setting. If I feel unproductive I set a stopwatch timer and just work for 9 minutes or 25 minutes or some time so “short” that I must be able to do it. Even if that practice only yields 100 words, it is progress. When I am working hard on a novel I usually have a clear picture of where the story might go and even how it ends. If I have that, I can write 1,000 words in a few hours. If I am really on fire I might get 3,000 decent words in a day. All my writing gets insanely heavily edited and proofread with multiple readers and proofreaders. It took me a long time to figure out how important that phase is but I want the most professional easy-to-read product I can give my readers. I cringe when I read somebody’s book and it’s full of errors.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Even though I had read a lot of different stories about vampires, werewolves, witches, and more, I had never read a good story about a ghoul. People know the word ghoul, and to English-speakers it basically means a grave-robber. Originally the word “ghul” was an evil spirit in Arabian mythology, associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh. So this idea of a ghoul as a monster has been floating around our culture for at least 1,000 years, and I wanted to write a realistic story about what it would be like to be a ghoul, living as a ghoul in the modern world. I saw that it would be difficult, and dangerous, and horrible to have to feed off human bodies, but there could be some awkward and humorous aspects to it as well. Really, it was the idea of rebooting a classic mythical monster, the ghoul, into an exciting modern tale that drove me to write my novel, AMERICAN GHOUL.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
There’s a YA aspect in that the main character is a teenager, but that is almost incidental to the story. What sets it apart is it’s the only novel to really explore being a ghoul, and more than that I think it seriously examines what it means to be a monster in America. And on top of that, it’s very funny. Because I like humor and I like monsters and I really, really like mashing them together in an effective way. That’s pretty rare.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
There is a character in the book, Sebastian, who is the wise-ass sidekick. He says all the rude and improper things that a teenager might say, because he’s barely civilized and just a boiling ball of teenage angst. I love him. But he’s not me. And the main character Howard is not me either. I would say, the book is an attempt for me to remember how horrible high school was in the late 1970’s. I was there, and it was a nightmare I tried to forget. Writing this novel I had to recall some dreadfully dull days and painful memories but it was worth it.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
There’s a climactic scene where Howard, the main character and a ghoul, learns the full dimension of just what he truly is. I think it’s one of the greatest scenes in horror literature, ever. It rocks.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
I want them to have a good time, a fun read, a page-turner and a ripping yarn. This book also looks at what the 1970’s were like in high school and some of the issues that were a problem back then, like bullying, have not really changed much. This is a book that examines how tough it is to be a social outsider in that cliquish world, no matter if you are a monster or not.
10)What are your hopes for this novel?
I have had some great responses and feedback from readers who enjoyed AMERICAN GHOUL and were surprised how much they liked the book. This is the most common reaction. Because I think the ghoul thing, initially most people go “uck!” but there is a lot more to my novel than that. I just want more people to read it with an open mind.
11)What do you have in store next for your readers?
There will be a sequel, though it’s taken me awhile to plan the story. I also am writing in other genres I like, such as science fiction. A friend of mine and a terrific author, Joe Lansdale, he advises to write all the kinds of stories you like and don’t worry so much about your “brand” or fitting a “genre.” I don’t know if that’s great advice but I like his idea and am following his lead. By 2016 I will have three more books out, I hope. Fingers crossed.
About the Author:
Walt Morton is a writer, photographer, and artist. AMERICAN GHOUL, his debut novel, has been called “The Tom Sawyer of horror fiction.”
With this book he is continuing a decade-long exploration into weird tales via photography, film, painting and writing. Walt has lectured at the British Film Institute and studied intensively in five martial arts.
A complete biography of his exploits and interests would be so shocking, improbable and incredible that modesty demands “the less said the better.” He would like to thank Jane Austen, who coined that “less said the better” idea. AMERICAN GHOUL is his first of several books that reinvent the supernatural horror genre. Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, he now lives in California.
His upcoming novels in 2015 and 2016 will include works in horror, science-fiction, and detective genres.