I would like to welcome Eric J. Krause to the Different Outcomes blog. Eric is here to discuss his latest book, a young adult paranormal novel, Ghost Betweens. He is also the author of the exciting young adult science fiction novel Way Over the Line. In addition to writing novels, Eric writes mind-blowing speculative fiction stories that contain some wicked irony. He is an active member of the online writing community, sharing writing advice, as well as publishing a weekly writing prompt.
Please tell the readers a little about yourself?
I’m a speculative fiction author for kids, teens, and adults. I’ve had a number of short stories published by various online ‘zines, and I’ve self-published three books–a book of short stories called The Breath of Life and Other Stories, a science fiction/baseball book for the tween set called Way Over the Line, and my newest, Ghost Betweens, a YA Paranormal Romance/Adventure. I live in Orange County, California, not far from Disneyland, with my wife, Amber, and our dog, Spike. My wife works at Disneyland, so I’m able to enter the park quite often for free, which is a huge perk, especially since I’ve found it’s quite a nice place to write. I try to get there at least once a month to spend an afternoon and evening either planning a story or actually working on a first draft. The creative energy is outstanding!
What writers have influenced you?
Stephen King has always been a favorite, and whenever I read his works, I feel like writing. Orson Scott Card’s Ender series has inspired me to write, as well. There are plenty of other works that have inspired me, but those are the two that jump out.
How does living near Disneyland inspire your writing?
The joke I make in my writing bios is that I try to grab the spare creativity that bleeds off the place, but really I simply like writing there because it’s a fun, vibrant atmosphere. In between words or ideas, I can sit back and watch people have fun, and when I feel like it, I can wander around the park. It’s a great way to get the creativity flowing. Plus it’s a nice change of pace from my writing desk, so that doesn’t hurt, either.
A Ghost Between, a person with special ghost helping and fighting abilities, is such a great idea. Tell us a little about what a Ghost Between is and how you came up with this concept?
Ghost Betweens have plenty of powers when it comes to the supernatural. They can see and sense spirits much easier than most people, they can turn themselves invisible to ghosts, and they can “read” the spirits so they know about them in life and why they have not moved on. Their strongest powers, though, only work with their partner. Josh and Whisper, the two main characters, find themselves paired up together. They can scare off ghosts (like when Pac-Man eats the big power pellet, as Whisper describes it), stun ghosts, and banish the spirits. They need only to be touching and concentrating. The stronger the Ghost Betweens, the more powerful their shared power, and Josh and Whisper prove to be exceptionally powerful, which is mirrored in their relationship. While the main thrust of the book is in fighting the supernatural, Ghost Betweens also use their powers to help other spirits who missed their portal to the other side get there. This proves to be a much more fulfilling feeling for the Ghost Betweens.
As for where I got the concept, it just sort of evolved as I plotted the novel. I didn’t consciously borrow the concept from anywhere in particular. I knew my main characters needed to have the ability to fight off the demon (the main villain of the story), and as I got to know Josh and Whisper, I realized they had a strong bond, so that helped in crafting Ghost Betweens.
I think we all have passed a creepy place in our town and wondered if it is haunted. Is the farm in Ghost Betweens inspired by a real place?
Like the fictional town of Citrus Valley, my own town is more suburbia than anything else. It’s mostly all houses and strip malls, but there is still a small farm in the community. Unlike the haunted one in Ghost Betweens, this one is still inhabited, if not fully functioning, and, to the best of my knowledge, not haunted. There used to be a stand out in front that sold fresh produce, and the owners used to hold small events at the farm. One day I drove past, and the sign out front had an advertisement for an Easter Egg Hunt on the grounds. My writer mind immediately began playing the great game of “What if…” and I wondered what it would be like if that farm was abandoned but those signs kept changing and offering up events and other such things. I’d originally planned the story to be more of an adult horror, but through multiple stages of the project, it evolved into what you can find in the book now.
Do you believe in ghosts? How do you know about ghosts? From books, movies, TV, experiences, other?
For the most part, I believe in ghosts. I’ve never actually experienced anything supernatural (to the best of my knowledge, anyway), so I could potentially be swayed either way, but I think there are too many strange stories out there for ghosts not to exist. When I watch ghost investigation shows (Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel is my current favorite), I can’t help but be skeptical about their evidence. There is so much the cameras don’t show, plus fancy editing before it makes the TV screen, that you have to take what they present as evidence with a grain of salt. But having said that, I still believe.
As for my knowledge of ghosts, it’s mostly from pop-culture and books. I’m not much into monster movies, but if they have ghosts, I’m usually in. I’ve never put in any sort of research on a technical level or gone on ghost hunts. When I write about ghosts, it’s all, like I said, from a mix of stories and pop-culture. My accounts are truly fictional.
I really enjoyed the dialogue in Ghost Betweens. It tells the story well, flows easily, the word choices are excellent. It is sometimes funny, sometimes a little romantic. Is dialogue easy for you to write? Give us some advice on writing good dialogue?
I know some writers hate writing dialogue, but it’s my favorite part of the process. It does come easy for me, and I’m glad you enjoyed it in Ghost Betweens. I hope others do, as well. My best advice for writing dialogue is to let it flow naturally. Write as you would speak (but, you know, without, like, all the, uh, breaks everyone seems to, um, make in real everyday, uh, speech). One thing I often notice about some writers’ dialogue is they make all their characters speak too formally–it doesn’t flow like real life. Yes, it’s technically correct, but it sounds strange, especially if you speak it out-loud. For some characters this works; I think we all know at least one person in our lives who speaks in overly formal tones. For example, I had Whisper often speak like this in Ghost Betweens. Not too much, but more than the other characters. It helped me when I penned her words, and it solidified her as a much more solid character in my mind. Hope that advice helps!
You created some very believable and likeable characters in Ghost Betweens. Might there be another Ghost Betweens book? What other writing projects can we look forward to from Eric J Krause?
I’m glad you enjoyed the characters! There is a possibility of another Ghost Betweens book. It all depends on the demand for the first one. If I sell enough copies and find there is enough interest to warrant a sequel, I will certainly write one. My wife has her fingers crossed that this will come to pass. She bugged me about it almost as soon as she finished reading an early draft, which I took as a good sign.
As for future writing projects, I’ve recently signed up with a small press publisher, Hunt Press, to publish a modern fantasy novel called Dragon Guard. I wrote it as a YA title, but it can fit into the general genre of fantasy, in my opinion. Though it is quite early in the process, there is a tentative date of February 2013 for release in ebook and paperback. I’m also currently plotting an adult horror novel, and I’ll soon start work on the follow-up to Dragon Guard (which I plan as a trilogy). I also still write short stories, and I will have one coming out in July. You can follow all of this on my website, http://ericjkrause.com, which also has a link to my blog. So I have plenty on my plate, which means a plethora of future stories for everyone to read!
Thank you, Eric, for taking the time to share with us some of your experiences, as well as your wisdom gained, as a writer. Ghost Betweens is such a fun and spooky read, I encourage readers to get a copy today! For my reviews of Eric’s books please see below.
Book Review: Ghost Betweens by Eric J. Krause
Ghost Betweens is an exciting young adult ghost story. Teenagers that enjoy a scary story and dating romance will really like this book. The author has created a very spooky world on an old abandoned farm. The action moves quickly as the protagonist and his girlfriend race to stop the demon and her ghost minions.
Ghost Betweens is the story of two boyfriend-girlfriend couples in high school. One of the couples, with the aid of a teacher who has studied ghosts, discovers that they have special abilities with regard to ghost hunting. The other couple gets into trouble with the demon. The two main characters, together with their teacher helper, must use their courage and intelligence to act quickly and save their friends. The book comes to an exciting conclusion that I think also contains a good message for teenagers. I highly recommend Ghost Betweens. The story has fun and believable characters, entertaining dialogue, and many scary surprises.
Content note: I would rate Ghost Betweens PG-13 (my unofficial rating) as there is some violence and one adult situation.
book review by Jason Sullivan
Book Review: Way Over the Line by Eric J. Krause
Have you had enough of alien abductions that involve unpleasant experiments? Do you like baseball? If so, perhaps Way Over the Line is for you. This book is a ton of fun. Two best friends, Ryder and Jessie, are abducted by some very cool aliens who want them to join their baseball team. Jessie loves baseball. There is just one problem–he is afraid of the ball!
There is never a dull moment in this middle readers book as Jessie and Ryder prepare for the Over the Line tournament and explore their new “alien” surroundings. Ryder and the very cool aliens know that Jessie has the ability to be a great player and that they need him to win. First, however, they must help him get over his fear of the ball. Jessie also gets some encouragement from a cute alien girl named Aurrie. Unfortunately, some nasty reptilian space pirates also know about Jessie’s potential and they are less than supportive. You won’t want to miss a pitch in this fast-paced story as the last game approaches and the suspense builds.
Eric J. Krause brings the excitement of baseball to life. You will feel as if you are in the batter’s box swinging at a fastball or out in the field with a line drive bearing down on you. He also captures with humor and insight the fun, and the insecurities, of being a kid. Way Over the Line will leave a smile on your face. It is nice to know that some aliens just want to play baseball!
book review by Jason Sullivan
*originally posted Sept. 19, 2011*