REVIEW: Ghost Maven
I was lucky enough to get asked to do an honest review of “Ghost Maven” by Tony Lee Moral. I also conducted a Q & A session with him about himself and his previous works. Here is goes!
So, what have you written?
I specialize in mystery and suspense, and have written three books on Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense. My second novel, Ghost Maven, has just been published. Because of my background writing and studying Hitchcock, I use his tools and techniques for creating suspense. I talk about these principles in my book Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass, which is a writing manual on how to construct a thrilling screenplay.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
The main character is 16-year-old Alice Parker, who has just moved to Pacific Grove, California with her father and little sister, Sophie, after her mother’s passing. Deathly afraid of the water, Alice is determined to conquer her fear by getting involved with her high school Kayaking team. During one particular outing, a strange fog rolls in and Alice becomes disoriented and eventually thrown from her Kayak. Struggling to reach the surface, Alice begins to drown when a mysterious stranger, Henry, rescues her. Against all rules, they begin to see each other. Thus begins an incredible journey and romance that transcends the boundaries of the fourth plane.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
Ghost Maven is the first book in a series featuring Alice and her ability to communicate with the after life and slay ghosts. In the next book, Alice begins to fully realize her powers and it will be a very exciting time for her, as her enemies in the first chapter seek vengeance. She will also continue her relationship with Henry and discover new and exciting things about him and what it means to be a ghost and to be human.
In the second book, Alice discovers her powers to be a Ghost Maven, and it’s a very exciting time for her, but also very dangerous. So the book is going to be very dark, as Alice comes to terms with who she is and what is her destiny. Writing a sequel is very rewarding for a writer, as your characters are already fully formed, you know their likes and dislikes, and so does the reader, so you can push the characters further.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
Yes I have a trailer for Ghost Maven, which was made by Melissa Carrigee, Cactus Moon’s Creative Director.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I write a detailed synopsis of the book, breaking down the chapters, looking at the story beats, cliffhangers and turning points. As I specialize in mystery and suspense novels, I wrote another book Alfred Hitchcock’s Moving Making Masterclass. This is a filmmaker’s and screenwriter’s manual, which breaks down scenes, composes log-lines, examines dialogue, character development, and the use of location and props to advance the plot.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Relax, and enjoy your age. Don’t worry about the future, and forget about the past, concentrate on living in the moment. It’s important not to have regrets in life, seize opportunities, and do your best to fulfill your creative potential.
Which famous persons, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Alfred Hitchcock, because I’ve written three books on the Master of Suspense, and currently writing a fourth on his reputation. His films have inspired me and are textbook examples of film-making and screenplay writing. F.Scott Fitzgerald, as he is my favorite author, his prose is elegant, simple and elegiac. I love The Great Gatsby, the world Fitzgerald lived through and created, and the characters who populate that world. Winston Churchill, because he epitomizes everything great about being British, what I love about England and the country where I was born. His stoicism and heroism is something to be admired.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The first three chapters are usually the hardest parts of a novel to write, because I find I am continually rewriting them. They are crucial to hook your readers, and are often the first chapters you send to agents and publishers. These chapters were continually rewritten, not only to entice others to read the story, but for me to have the confidence to want to publish and market the book. If you’re absolutely certain you have a good story that needs to be told, I believe you will succeed.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite part of the book was writing the chapters when Alice and Henry fall in love. Capturing the excitement of a teen, getting to know someone for the first time, sharing experiences and enjoying the beauty of nature are all essential parts of our human DNA, and capturing those on the page is very rewarding as a writer. Combining these with my personal experiences of living in Monterey, the novel is surprisingly autobiographical.
Was this book inspired by something in particular?
I lived in Monterey Bay for two years, as I was working for National Geographic Television. I’m very familiar with Monterey, Pacific Grove and the Big Sur where the novel is set. In fact I lived at the very address on Forest Avenue in Pacific Grove where Alice lives. I often wonder about the Afterlife, as I’m a zoologist and psychologist by training. My scientific pragmatism is at odds with my romantic nature, but I think it would be disappointing if there were only blackness after we died. More than that interest, I wanted to chart the relationship of two young people falling in love, and the joys of being alive.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I have three other novels I’m seeking to publish. The first, is a middle grade story about an alien boy who is stranded in New York City and has twenty-four hours to return home, or else he will be stuck on Earth forever. Two other books follow the adventures of actress/sleuth Catriona Benedict in New York City and Italy, which are murder, mystery and suspense novels. I’m also writing a very revealing biography on the film director Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve written three books about him in the past, so his work has been a big influence on my writing.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I have a website dedicated to Ghost Maven www.ghostmaven.com and for my Alfred Hitchcock books www.alfredhitchcockfilms.com. Plus I have a personal website www.tonyleemoral.com. I also run a production company for my television and documentary work www.sabanafilms.com
Okay, now for my review of the book. I received the book as an e-book advanced readers copy from Mr. Tony himself. I read this book pretty fast, but I did have some troubles with it. There are a few main characters; they are Alice, Emily, Sophie and Henry. The story takes place in Monterey Bay California, which is cool since I’m based in California.
The first of a few problems with this book was the layout, which might just be because it’s an uncorrected proof, is that there were a LOT of blank pages and the font size changed a couple of times. I know that has nothing to do with the story, but it did bother me since I was reading this on either my phone or tablet. Scrolling more than needed was not fun.
There was some insta-love which is something I absolutely hate in books, especially if they’re supposed to be somewhat thriller-ish. I didn’t like how instant it was, like she saw the gent and instantly was in love with him. It felt almost like I was reading a contemporary novel, which I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be. There was also this love triangle going on, which is very troped in young adult fiction.
There were also not a lot of story building, in my opinion, in the beginning with the random characters that were mentioned in the beginning of the book. I didn’t even understand the prologue; to me it didn’t add anything to the story at all, it was kind of just there. I also knew what was going to happen before it happened at the end of the book, which is unfortunate.
The good points!
I could slightly relate to a few characters, mainly Emily since I am into the psychic thing and loved that she was slightly unconventional. The other characters were too cookie-cutter for me. I liked the cover image and the thought of something different from an indie author. The story was good, but just needed a small amount of improvement. Would I read the next book? Yes, I need to know what happens to Alice and Henry! Would I recommend this book? Maybe, it really depends on what the person is looking for and what mood you’re in to read. I would totally purchase a physical copy to have on my shelf and loan out to friends, even though I had issues with it.
Thank you Tony for letting read and review this book! I’m hoping to get to read the next one in the series if you’ll let me!