Several weeks back, I posted a review of Matt Power’s Ghosts of Manor House. It was, is, and continues to be an excellent haunted house story. I am hoping that many of you buy it. Want some buy links? Here! Here! and Here!
I really want to share the brilliance of this piece. With Matt’s permission, I will be giving away a free, signed copy of the paperback book. That means it’s contest time again! I will be posting the details of the contest soon. But the important thing to know right now is that I will mail the book to the winner when the contest is over.
Here’s a brief synopsis. In the wake of a family tragedy, Edmund takes his wife and daughter to Manor House for a retreat. He hopes their time spent at this house will provide the healing they need. Manor House comes equipped with a staff of servants…and much, much more! There is more to Manor House than meets the eye, as Edmund will find out.
Manor House has its ghosts, as the book’s title suggests. But what makes this book so appealing to me is that Manor House is more than just the sum of its ghosts. Manor House is an entity unto itself – it’s my kind of haunted house! In addition, a tall, creepy tree stands over the house. Like the house, the tree has a consciousness; a will. It influences the events of the story. It even has a name – Mr. Travels.
Let us dive into a deeper analysis of these entities that Matt has created. What is their nature? How did his imagination conjure such things? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but perhaps Matt does. Let’s find out! I interviewed Matt Powers and I have posted a summary of the first part of our interview. I hope you will find it enlightening.
Matt’s influences and the nature of Manor House and Mr. Travels
Before reading a novel, I always say that one can get an idea about its content by knowing the stories that influence it. Matt shared with me several of his influences.
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
The Club Dumas by Artura Perez-Reverte
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Woman In Black by Susan Hill
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
The Shining by Stephen King
Hell House by Richard Matheson
The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman
Matt went on to single out three of these books.
I had/have a tough time finding good haunted house books. After reading Hill House and The Shining and Hell House I had trouble finding other haunted house stories that were the kind I liked. Which is one reason I wanted to write GoMH.
I asked Matt his opinion on why these three books are so good.
To me a haunted house is an entity, a being with needs and desires. A haunted house has a history and a certain mysterious power to it (which he then said summarizes the houses in those three stories)
I asked Matt if he thinks Ghosts of Manor House meets his own criteria.
I think I succeeded in writing a haunted house book the way I like haunted house books. It has all the elements I would expect. Of course, in the end, it is my readers that will decide.
As one of his readers, I decide that he has succeeded. Matt went on to say:
I wanted my house to be a part of the story about the people and the ghosts.
As far as the story itself, I always like twists – things that make the reader wonder guess, and think. When the book is over I hope readers of GoMH think about the people and what motivated them. Is Manor House a good entity or evil or misguided or none of the above? The fact that people may think about that means that the house must have registered some thought and needs and personality to them.
So far this discourse has been all about Manor House itself. But we can’t forget about Mr. Travels – the scary tree! In the back-story, the tree’s branches were used to hang people, a long time before the events of the story. I asked Matt is there was a specific inspiration for Mr. Travels.
Mr. Travels came to me after thinking about other entities that could be affected by death – how they may have changed and came to be what they are.
I thought that Manor House needed a buddy, someone to offset him a bit. And I always imagined this big creepy tree in the yard and then starting thinking about all the death this tree probably has seen. Through the ages of hangings and such. Then I figured, the tree probably drew those deaths to it and that is what makes Manor House and Mr. Travels similar. But they are also different. Mr. Travels has a need to kill and take the souls of the living. Manor House wants the souls to have company and not be lonely.
So that wraps up our exploration into Matt’s influences and the nature of Manor House/Mr. Travels. In Part 2 of my interview with Matt Powers, (Coming soon!) we will explore the publishing process of an indie author. How much work is involved? (Short answer: A LOT!) What does an indie author have to do get his work noticed? (He has good ideas.) Also, we discover what Matt does when he is not writing books. You will be surprised!
So stay tuned – more details on how you can win an autographed copy of Ghosts of Manor House are up ahead!