Ghosts. They are everywhere.
And they know a lot about what is going on in the world.
Author Jaime Lee Moyer has taken the ghosts-knowing-all idea and placed it directly into a fantasy series set during and after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. A great period to work with. In many ways, that time was the bridge between the Victorian Era and the modernizing post-World War I era. There are a lot of opportunities for great stories during that time and Jaime Lee Moyer found one!
Or rather two. Her debut novel, Delia’s Shadow, published in September 2013. Author Jim C. Hines is quoted as saying, “Delia’s Shadow is an engaging debut novel, one that cost me a good night’s sleep.” Whenever a book costs sleep, it has to be good.
The second book in the trilogy, A Barricade In Hell is now published. I decided to interview Jaime Lee Moyer, to see if she truly does believe in ghosts.
Here is that interview!
INTERVIEW: A BARRICADE IN HELL BY JAIME LEE MOYER
Shawn Speakman: A BARRICADE IN HELL is now published. Tell Suvudu readers a bit about the book, its predecessor, DELIA’S SHADOW, and the world you have conceived?
Jaime Lee Moyer: A BARRICADE IN HELL and DELIA’S SHADOW are both set in San Francisco, and follow the same characters.
Delia Martin has seen ghosts her entire life, but only as glimpses of someone watching from the corner of a room, or walking through walls. That changes after the 1906 earthquake. Delia flees to New York in an attempt to escape the flood of ghosts, and she finds respite from ghosts for almost three years. Then she wakes up one morning to find the ghost of a young woman standing at the foot of her bed.
In the opening to DELIA’S SHADOW, she returns home to San Francisco, driven there by a ghost who haunts her relentlessly, silently demanding that Delia do something. Delia names her persistent haunt Shadow, and tries to figure out what Shadow needs her to do. At the same time, Detective Gabe Ryan is searching for a serial killer who is using San Francisco as his personal hunting grounds. Gabe’s hunt to find this man and stop him from killing again, and Delia’s search for answers about Shadow come together. The two of them turn out to make a great team.
A BARRICADE IN HELL takes place two years later. Gabe and Delia have been married for two years and are very happy together, but the loss of a child—and the prospect that Delia’s involvement with the spirit world means they will never be parents—casts a shadow on that happiness. Delia has spent the last two years working with her mentor, Isadora Bobet, to learn more about her abilities in order to deal with the ghosts who continue to flock to her. She’s stronger, wiser.
WWI has been raging in Europe for years. At the time the story takes place, the U.S. was on the fence about entering the war and debate raged all over the country.
A traveling evangelist arrives in San Francisco, delivering pacifist lectures and declaring it’s God’s will that the U.S. stay out of the war.
The police commissioner’s son-in-law is murdered. Young people begin disappearing all over the city, from all walks of life, and the murder of an older man and his granddaughter in Chinatown comes to light. Bodies begin washing up under piers. Gabe and his partner, Jack, are convinced that all these murders lead back to one person, but proving it is another thing entirely.
A new ghost appears in Delia’s life, a young girl of no more than five. This ghost is determined to haunt Gabe, and a threat that Delia can’t banish easily.
That’s about all I can say without massive spoilers. Reading the stories is much more fun than reading summaries, I promise.
The world these books take place in is full of things that most people can’t see, and don’t know exist. Delia and Isadora can see; a mixed blessing to say the least. With power and ability comes great responsibility. They do their best to banish the dark things that creep into the world, and protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Shawn Speakman: The book is set in 1917. What kind of source material did you pull from to make it feel authentic to the period?
Jaime Lee Moyer: I used all the primary sources I could find for this series, but the Library of Congress is the source I used the most. The LOC is in the process of digitizing all their records, including newspaper photographs from the 1910s, and the amount of material available online is incredible. Many of these news photographs had links to the accompanying newspaper archives, so I got to read the story that went with the photographs.
The City of San Francisco also has an online, virtual museum with photographs dating back to the 1800s, and articles written by people living at the time.
All of these sources gave me insight into what was important to people living in 1917, how they lived and what they thought. I was able to see the cars they drove, the clothes they wore, street scenes, buildings, and even the types of furniture common at the time.
I feel very lucky that I had all of this material to draw on.
Shawn Speakman: Readers don’t see a whole lot of stories featuring ghosts at the moment, the field dominated by werewolves, vampires, and zombies. What drew you to use ghosts?
Jaime Lee Moyer: When I first started thinking seriously about the story in DELIA’S SHADOW, one of the first things I realized was that Delia was being haunted. The person following her everywhere was a ghost.
And the more I thought about the fact that Delia can see ghosts, and that those ghosts are everywhere in the city of San Francisco, the more important ghosts became to the books and the stories. Ghosts, haunts and phantoms turned out to be a bridge…or a link between the fantasy elements in the books, and the murder mystery part of the story. That wasn’t something I planned out from the beginning, it just sort of evolved.
Another thing that evolved, and that I loved, is that ghosts can be almost anything I want them to be. They can be strong and slightly evil in an amoral way, or they can be sad, lost, and confused about finding him or herself dead. No two ghosts had to look or act the same. No two ghosts followed the exact same rules, or had the same motivation.
That was tremendously freeing.
Shawn Speakman: Do you believe in the supernatural? Specifically ghosts?
Jaime Lee Moyer: I like to think of myself as grounded in reality, science and things that can be proven. But I write fantasy and books that include magic, so grounded in reality is a relative term.
Every culture has some kind of legend or mythology involving ghosts. Stories about haunted houses, a haunted wood, or spirits who appear at the same time, in the same place for centuries, are told almost everywhere. We’ve all heard ghost stories told in the dark. More than likely we’ve told a few ourselves.
The truth is I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts or not. Maybe? So many events and phenomena, things people see and experience, can’t be explained with one hundred percent certainty. There is always that little nagging doubt, at least for me. It goes with keeping an open mind, or asking too many what if questions.
And it’s part and parcel of having a writer’s imagination.
Shawn Speakman: What are you currently working on? And when can we expect it?
Jaime Lee Moyer: The third Delia Martin book, AGAINST A BRIGHTENING SKY, will be out in 2015. I recently finished revising the first book in a new series, A WAR FOR PHILADELPHIA, and sent it off to my agent. The current work in progress, which is still in the research and note taking stage, is titled A PARLIAMENT OF QUEENS.
Neither novel is sold yet, but I have high hopes for both.
To learn more about Jaime Lee Moyer, visit her website at www.jaimeleemoyer.com!