Gap Year in Ghost Town

Buy Gap Year in Ghost Town here.

Shortlisted, Aurealis Awards Best Fantasy Novel

CBCA Notable Book

Cover Blurb
Let’s get this straight – ghosts are everywhere. And they’re dangerous. This is why my family has hunted them for hundreds of years.

The Marin family run a two-man operation in inner-city Melbourne. Anton has the ghost-sight, but his father does not. Theirs is a gentle approach to ghost hunting. Rani Cross, combat-skilled ghost hunter from the Company of the Righteous, is all about the slashing.

Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – but with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, they must find a way to work together.

And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must use his gap year to decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost-hunting biz …

Gap Year in Ghost Town is smart, funny and scary with extra action and attitude.


The Story Behind the Story
I wrote Gap Year in Ghost Town because I wanted to write a ghost story. Forever, I’ve been a fan of scary stuff, particularly if it has a contemporary setting – because the contrast between ancient creepiness and modern life can be particularly unsettling.

But, being who I am, I wanted to do it my way, and that almost always includes humour. So a comedy ghost story – why not? It’s a great tradition. Frankenstein was published in 1818 and parodies hit the streets not long after. In the world of movies, comedy horror has a long lineage, up to and including Ghostbusters.

Another challenge I set myself was writing something set in Melbourne. After years of writing stories with imaginary or historical settings, I thought it time to have a go at writing something set in the city where I live. It was a fascinating experience. Instead of having to stop, often, and wonder how far it was from Imaginary Place A to Imaginary Place B, I simply knew how far it was from Thornbury to St Kilda, how to get there, and the pitfalls of crossing the city.

A contemporary setting also allowed me to riff off popular culture. I love pop culture, and being able to name check faves was a lot of fun, but I also hope it brings a sense of contemporary vibrancy to the story. Cards Against Humanity, anyone?

GYIGT is also, deliberately, what I call a Voice Novel. I chose to write in the first person and allow Anton, the main character, to speak off the page to us. Yes, he’s an unreliable narrator, as they all are. What he believes, especially about himself, may not actually be the truth. Then again, what eighteen year old has a perfect idea of who they are and where they fit into the world.

I wanted GYIGT to be funny, scary and personal. When you read it, I hope you feel that I’ve achieved these goals.

Gap Year in Ghost Town Begins
Let’s get this straight – ghosts are everywhere. I can see them. You can’t. And, see them or not, they’re dangerous.

This is why my family has hunted ghosts for hundreds of years: to protect people like you

And don’t forget that this whole thing is abso-freakinglutely serious, so whatever you do, don’t mention any of those movies. Or sing the song. Especially don’t ask me who you gonna call.

Just don’t.

As part of a great ‘Try Before You Buy’ gap year experiment, I was out hunting ghosts one night. I was concentrating on one ghost so hard that I didn’t realise another was sneaking up behind me.

The ghost in front of me was a Lingerer. When I first saw it, I thought it was a Weeper, but I was wrong. No tears, no sobbing. It was elderly – no surprise there, most ghosts are –male, and had those old Victorian clothes on. A bowler hat, a longish coat, high collar and tie. Nice moustache, too, as ‘taches go. Melbourne has plenty of ghosts like this, being a great Victorian-era city.

You pick up a bit of history when you hunt ghosts.

Okay, so details like this would be tricky to make out at night, even on an ordinary living human being. That’s where the benefits of being in the family business come in.
I can see in the dark, as long as I’m wearing the family-heirloom pendant that also helps me track down ghosts. It’s not as clear as daylight, but it’s a lot better than those night-vision goggles the military use. The world is made up of greys, blacks and silvers, but hi-def enough for me to get to work.

The Lingerer was skittish, and I was having trouble rounding him up. Anyone watching would have thought I was having some sort of attack, standing all by myself in the darkness of the old Conservatory surrounded by fuchsias, hydrangeas and begonias (I read the signs) waving my arms around like a traffic cop on a really bad day.