Morning all! Today I have a YA paranormal for you with a *gasp!* original premise! (Sorry, cynical Bruce came out for a moment there. I’ll stuff him back into an out-of-the-way cupboard in my psyche. That’s what happens when you let too many emotions out at once!). Now, what was I saying? Oh yes, Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton, was published in 2012 and not only do I have a review for you today, but I also cajoled Ripley Patton into answering some questions about the book for your continued book-related intellectual growth. And even better than that, Ripley has kindly offered to give away a SIGNED paperback copy of Ghost Hand to one lucky winner…in the US. (Sorry, Non-US-dwellers. But read on anyway to find out about a great book and author, and a sneaky special offer!)
I first came across Ghost Hand when it was released in 2012 and immediately put it on my to-read list. The premise struck me as sufficiently different from other YA fare around at the time, and I couldn’t help but have a giggle at the thought of having a ghostly hand that had a mind of its own. I remember thinking at the time that the premise could either be executed with great skill, thereby drawing me in and ensuring the suspension of my disbelief, or executed with great clumsiness, thereby drawing me in and ensuring the suspension of my bladder through laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
I am pleased to say that Patton has achieved the former with this book for me. But allow me to give you a brief overview of the story.
Olivia has PSS – that’s Psyche Sans Soma to you and me – a rare medical condition which means that instead of a flesh and blood hand, Olivia has a hand-shaped pocket of energy attached to her wrist. Up until now, Olivia’s biggest problems have been trying to fit in amongst her peers with her ghost hand, and dealing with her father’s recent death from cancer. When Olivia’s hand suddenly takes on a life of its own at school, reaching into a classmate and causing her to fall unconscious, things begin to spiral out of control. Along with mysterious new boy Marcus, Olivia discovers that there may be others out there interested in what her hand can do – and they’ll do anything to bring Olivia under their control…
Ghost Hand is a thoroughly enjoyable, action-packed, suspense-filled ride from start to finish. Patton had me hooked straight away with Olivia’s down-to-earth (and slightly sarky) narration. The weird ghost-hand action starts in the first chapter and despite experiencing a few periodic giggles at the oddity of having a ghost body part, I was pretty much able to suspend my belief right from the word go. The world building has been nicely accomplished by giving out information about PSS and the political rumblings behind it slowly, with the reader finding out essential information as Olivia does. The interactions between the characters are believable, and while this book does have some teen romance (Bruce’s pet peeve #1), it didn’t detract from the story because it unfolded in a natural, guarded way and was never the main focus of either of the two characters’ attentions.
I was also very impressed by the suspense that Patton has generated here. There is a lot of chasing/running away going on in this book and Patton has managed to imbue a real sense of danger and fear into the action. I also appreciated that the story didn’t resort to wildly unbelievable actions by the teens – when they are forced to defend themselves, they behave with all the misfires and mistakes that one would expect from a young person untrained in reconnaissance and combat. Overall, this was a great read and I’m glad I got around to it, albeit a little late. That’s why we have TBR lists, I suppose! Book two of the series, Ghost Hold, was released in 2013, so on to the list it goes.
Now it’s time for you to find out more about the brains behind this enticing series! Read on to discover Ripley’s answers to our deeply probing questions, and then enter the giveaway at the end.
PSS is such an interesting concept – where did that idea spring from?
The idea for PSS came from an actual medical phenomenon known as Phantom Limb Syndrome in which people who are amputees or were born without a limb can still feel or sense the physical presence of that missing limb. I have a friend who is an amputee, and one day when I was visiting him and we were walking in his back yard, he said, “You know, I can still feel the grass between my toes on the foot that I don’t have. And sometimes I still get a cramp in the middle of the night in the leg that I don’t have.” This was such a fascinating concept to me that I asked myself “What if these phantom limbs really existed? What would they look like and act like? What power would they hold? And how would society react to those who possessed them.” That is how PSS came into being. But at first I didn’t have a name for it. A nurse friend of mine came up with the term Psyche Sans Soma which loosely translated from Greek means”Life without flesh.” And I guess I did a good job of making it a convincing birth defect because readers often tell me that they stop mid-read to go look it up on the internet to find out more about it.
If you had to have a PSS part, which do you think would be the most useful?
I think a PSS hand would be pretty handy. But I also think that a major point of the books is that no one gets to choose a birth defect or the physical challenges and characteristics they are born with. And all the extreme politicking and curfuffle made about such things is really pointless and causes a lot of unneeded agony. All that aside, it is fun to discover what PSS parts the characters have in the books, and what those parts can do.
I don’t think it is ever easy to get your book considered for publication. The process is made difficult on purpose. I had a New York City agent interested in GHOST HAND early on, but by the time I had the manuscript finished, she’d left the business. I then shopped it around for about six months and it was read by several major agencies but not accepted. Ultimately, I decided to publish the book myself and I’ve published the entire series that way. I raise an advance by offering pre-orders of the books through Kickstarter. In fact, I’m just finishing up a Kickstarter Project this month for the third book in the series, GHOST HEART. Then, using the pre-order funds, I hire a professional cover designer, editor, and formatter and prepare the book for publication. And those who back the project get their e-book and signed paperback copies of the book before the general public.
Well, in general and without risking spoiling anything, I can promise that things get harder. A writer’s job is to make their characters miserable, I’m afraid. Of course, there is more exploration of what PSS is and how it works. There is more delving into the main characters and what makes them tick. The romance between Marcus and Olivia has a bumpy ride, but what is real love without some struggle? There is a cliff hanger at the end of book two, literally. In book three, GHOST HEART, I explore the point-of-views of two main characters besides Olivia, one of them being Passion. Finally, I think you can look forward to Olivia coming into her own and embracing the power of herself and her hand.
If you haven’t heard, I believe there will be a fourth PSS Chronicles book, though I expect it to be the last. The plan after that is to write another YA series, dystopian fantasy this time. The concept for it is really unique and based on yet another bizarre medical phenomenon. That series is the one my kids, both teens themselves, talk about wanting to read the most so I’ll write it for them. I love series and I love to read YA, so why not write the stories I want to read myself?
Also, if you want to read Ghost Hand, now’s the time because it is available for FREE on Amazon and Kobo RIGHT NOW! But not for much longer. So after you enter the giveaway, run over there and download it. Shoo!
So now the giveaway. Here’s the details:
* One winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Ghost Hand. The giveaway is only open to those with a United States mailing address.
* The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and have 48 hours to respond to a congratulatory email before a new winner is chosen.
*We won’t be held responsible for any packages lost in the mail or otherwise undeliverable. Sorry.
*Only verified entries will count. We’ll check. So be honest.
Until next time,