Grace's Ghosts by Stephenie Wilson Peterson Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Grace and her feline best friend, Midnight, have a secret: Midnight is a ghost. But then again, so are the rest of Graces' friends.
Since she's the only person in hundreds of years with the ability to see them, the many ghosts of Tansy have flocked to Grace since birth. She doesn't mind. She prefers the company of the dead to that of the cliquey kids at school.
Grace is happy with her strange life, until one day, the ghosts tell her about the secret her town has hidden for centuries. There's a reason there are more ghosts than living people in Tansy. Three-hundred years ago, a lonely witch cast a spell that mistakenly trapped the soul of every person to ever set foot in the tiny town. So when the spirits beg her to find a way to break the curse, Grace is eager to help.
As she searches for answers, Grace makes discoveries about the secret her family hid for generations and a world of magic hidden in her own backyard.
Grace soon realizes that if she succeeds in breaking the curse, she'll lose Midnight and all of her ghost friends, but if she fails, everyone living in Tansy will face the same fate. Can Grace break the curse before it's too late?
I'd never been afraid of ghosts. Actually, it was quite the opposite. I was more comfortable with the dead than with the living. The many ghosts of the tiny mountain town of Tansy had followed me as long as I could remember. Ghosts, unlike people, never bothered me a bit.
It was the living, with their cliques and their judgment, who made my skin crawl. Sixth grade hadn't been easy for me. Not that any year of my education had been pleasant. Let's just say that kids who see the dead weren't exactly considered cool at my school. My outsider status with the living was well-established: I was the strange kid who talked to people who weren't there. But the living citizens of my town were the ones who were missing an entire world. I was the only one who knew Tansy's biggest secret. You're never truly alone in this town. Though few people live here, thousands spent their afterlives here.
I managed to avoid uttering a single word to another living person for the first half of my last day of sixth grade. Slouching in my chair in the back row, I hoped to go unnoticed by the other kids. Less than three hours of school remained before summer freed me from their torment for eight whole weeks. Most of the time, I didn't mind my outsider status. I had friends. They just lacked heartbeats. It was hard to be the weird girl in school, but I always had my cat, Midnight, by my side, rubbing up against my ankles when some bratty kid tormented me.
Midnight was dead. He didn't run in front of a car, die of old age, or get attacked by a coyote in the woods. He had always been dead, at least as long as I'd known him. Midnight was a ghost.
Semi-nomadic, Stephenie and her family currently live near Raleigh, North Carolina. Her kids are Texans at heart and Stephenie and her husband grew up just outside of Seattle. Stephenie writes, creates art, and homeschools her three amazing kids. Stephenie loves to hike with her family and drink lots and lots of coffee.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Grace’s Ghosts?
The protagonist is a twelve year old girl named Grace. She doesn’t have a lot of living friends, but she’s the most popular girl in town among the dead. She’s the only person who’s been able to see the many ghosts of the town of Tansy for more than 300 years, so the ghosts have flocked to her since she was a baby. Grace, like a lot of tweens, is a bit unsure of herself when the story starts, but she grows a lot and gains confidence as the story unfolds.
Her best friend is her cat, Midnight. Like nearly all of her friends, Midnight is a ghost. The ghostly kitty stays by her side at all times. He goes to school with her every day. He makes sure she’s never lonely. Midnight is probably my favorite character in the book.
Grace’s family plays a big part in the story, especially her mom and grandma. They’re strong women who Grace can really look up to, but they are not without their faults.
The many ghosts of Tansy make up most of the cast of characters. They all have unique personalities. Most of them are friendly toward Grace. A few aren’t. But they all are ready to move on into the Light, and they need Grace’s help.
Grace’s only living friend is a boy named Bain. He’s a bit quirky, but he’s funny, supportive, and Grace thinks he’s cute. He helps Grace throughout the story.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have! Quite a few, actually. Right now, my agent is working to find a publisher for my other books. I’ve written two other middle grade novels, two chapter books, and five picture books. I’m working on another middle grade novel as well as a picture book.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I like some background noise. If it’s too quiet, I get distracted. I don’t like playing music with lyrics, however. I find myself typing the words to the songs on accident. It’s not as bad if I’m in a coffee shop where there’s other background noise, but at home, I only play instrumental music. A coffee shop is the ideal place for me to write because there’s noise, but none of it is my problem. At home, my kids or my dogs make noise and I know I’m responsible for whatever mess happens while I’m working, so each sound distracts me.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I go into a story with a main character, a setting, and a rough idea of where I want to take the story. Then I write a few chapters to get to know my characters a bit. After I’ve spent some time getting to know them and how they react, I write a rough outline. I base it off the book Save the Cat. I never hold myself to my outlines, but I like to have a general idea of where I’m going.
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