Monday, November 14, 2016

Talking Books with 'Ghost Hampton' Author Ken McGorry



Ken McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.

Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try https://soundcloud.com/ken-mcgorry). Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.

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About the Book:

Lyle Hall is a new man since his car accident and spinal injury. The notoriously insensitive Bridgehampton lawyer is now afflicted with an odd sensitivity to other people's pain. Especially that of a mysterious young girl he encounters outside a long-abandoned Victorian house late one October
night. “Jewel” looks about 12. But Lyle knows she’s been dead a hundred years. Jewel wants his help, but it’s unclear how. As if in return, she shows him an appalling vision—his own daughter's tombstone. If it’s to be believed, Georgie’s last day is four days away. Despite Lyle’s strained relations with his police detective daughter, he’s shocked out of complacent convalescence and back into action in the real world.

But the world now seems surreal to the formerly Scrooge-like real estate lawyer. Lyle’s motion in court enjoining the Town of Southampton from demolishing the old house goes viral because he leaked that it might be haunted. This unleashes a horde of ghost-loving demonstrators and triggers a national media frenzy. Through it all strides Lyle’s new nemesis in high heels: a beautiful, scheming TV reporter known as Silk.

Georgie Hall’s own troubles mount as a campaign of stationhouse pranks takes a disturbing sexual turn. Her very first case is underway and her main suspect is a wannabe drug lord. Meanwhile, Lyle must choose: Repair his relationship with Georgie or succumb to the devious Silk and her exclusive media contract. He tells himself seeing Georgie’s epitaph was just a hallucination. But a few miles away the would-be drug lord is loading his assault rifle. Berto needs to prove himself.

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Thanks for this interview, Ken. Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?

Thanks for talking with me! Hmm…I wrote my first fiction in third grade – a rip off of “Big Red,” Jim Kjelgaard’s Irish Setter adventure, boyishly reimagined by me with a black Lab and poachers in the Great Northwest (available for feature film option!). Started a school newspaper in seventh grade with friends and made a little money! Much later, spent about 23 years as an editor/writer for Post Magazine, a monthly covering film and TV production. During that time I dabbled in scriptwriting (I’m an insomniac) and that finally morphed into novel-writing: “Smashed,” (out in 2017) and, out now, “Ghost Hampton.”

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun? 

Fun…fun…well there’s golf. It’s time-consuming, expensive and frustrating, but at least I know where I stand (in a sand bunker). Also, I actually work out in a gym. And I’m a songwriter:
https://soundcloud.com/ken-mcgorry. And have a great band! The Achievements record with me and perform occasionally and we have two new songs coming out soon.

Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside? 

Sure:
1. Rush Hour


It was the roadwork on Montauk Highway that made Lyle Hall get the electric chair.
Since last winter, he’d made do with the self-propelled kind—his daughter Georgie called it the “Mr. Potter model.” To Lyle, it said temporary. A new electric wheelchair with high-end options would say permanent.
At 55, Lyle was not ready to say that. He’d made good progress over the spring and summer, strength-training his upper body. A perky female physical therapist came to his house in Bridgehampton twice a week; a tattooed trainer guy beat him up on Fridays. Lyle had the stretchy resistance bands and a rack of light dumbbells in embarrassing lavender in the living room. Dangling in the dining room doorway was the “Torquemada”—a sling-like contraption he used to hoist himself up and perform certain torturous routines.
Any strain or discomfort he felt was north of his L4 vertebra. Lyle had no feeling from the lower back down, since killing Elsie Cronk with his stupid Hummer last October. Almost a year now.
Each week he journeyed to Southampton to the spinal-injury clinic where they worked miracles. Lyle fully expected them to make him their next miracle and the team there was so positive and effusive that they kept the dream alive. As professionals, they didn’t hold Elsie Cronk against him, but they knew. Everybody knew. Even though Lyle and Elsie and an old duffer walking his dog were the only witnesses, they knew.   
            With his SUV piled up on the War Memorial at Bridgehampton’s main intersection, windshield spider-webbed and red, the first-responders, busy trying to free the elderly lady from her big old Ford, initially pronounced him dead. Lyle had a bona fide near-death experience and was comatose for two weeks. But few really cared. Elsie was the tragedy. Elsie had been on her way to her son’s 50th birthday party.
Lyle Hall lived.


Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regard to getting your book written and published, or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

Oh, it’s been part rocky road, part Sisyphean task, with some treachery and some miracles sprinkled in. Literary agents and traditional publishers felt that my central character was too unlikeable, especially for female readership. I decided that, in the age of “The Sopranos” and “Breaking Bad” etc, I wanted a challenging, memorable guy as my lead, saying, “This ain’t ‘Father Knows Best’!” I finally got what I wanted by self-publishing and one of the “miracles” is, readers love Lyle Hall! I’ve been a frequent guest at book clubs, which primarily comprise women, and get tons of online feedback from appreciative readers who enjoyed the ride with Lyle.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

A controversial lawyer’s discovery of a haunted house sets a quiet Hamptons hamlet on its ear.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

It’s reality based, even though it’s a “ghost story,” and it’s funny. (There’s comic relief as Lyle’s neighbors align against him; plus Lyle is kind of humorous in his own way.)

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Well how long does Halloween last? Can I get five weeks? Not a bad Christmas gift either! Then there’s Groundhog Day!

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

Well, yeah! I’m struggling to get the time to get two sequels up and running. They are presaged in this first volume (one reason why it’s 450 pages). The coming titles are: “Ghost Hampton Harrier” and “Ghost Hampton Tomb.” And this first “Ghost Hampton” has been optioned for a feature film (which could be exciting)! And I’m trying to put finishing touches on my standalone earlier novel, “Smashed.” Oh, and then there’s something out there called “Stranger on the Shore.”

What’s next for you?

A nap. Mind if I stretch out right here for a bit? Thanks. Thanks very much…