I had the idea for the book ten years ago, but I began writing it three years ago. It’s about a ghost called Katie King and her male alter ego John King, who was first believed in in 1840s America. On the one hand it tells her story through a mixture of real and created documents, but on the other hand it uses her story to explore issues of faith, belief, intimacy, reality and unreality.
The original idea for the book was regarded as too strange. It wasn’t until I found Granta and an editor who believed in what I wanted to do that I could write it. By then I had a reputation as a writer too, so that helped.
I’m slightly overwhelmed and very pleased by the reception the book has received. It hasn’t had a single bad review (yet!) which virtually never happens for any book, so that is just fantastic.
Being commissioned and published by mainstream popular publishers means you have an understanding of the market. This allows you to help and encourage students because you know what publishers are looking for and what the industry is interested in.
Hopefully the book’s success helps my students feel inspired because they feel they’re being taught by people who have achieved what they want to achieve, and it shows them that it’s possible. It can take a long time to get to where you want to be and we always encourage students not to give up.
Creative Writing at Middlesex takes an interesting and wide spectrum approach to writing. We regard genre writing as a valuable and worthwhile form of writing which isn’t the case in all universities. We offer wide perspectives in screenwriting and film scripts, and there are great opportunities to collaborate with film and journalism students during the course.
To promote A Ghost’s Story I worked with MA Film student Nayomi Roshini, who made a trailer for the book. It’s absolutely brilliant and both Granta and my agent, Peter Straus at RCW Agency are now using it on their websites.
Writing can be quite solitary in the initial stages so I love teaching. Listening to students, their views and how they see their world can be very inspiring.