Prairie Books NOW Interview - Ghost Most Foul
Reviewed by: Perry Grosshans
Seeing ghosts adds another layer of stress for young protagonist
The loss of a mentor, whether it be a relative, teacher, or friend, can be devastating to a young person. Imagine then the stress it would cause if that mentor returned as some ghostly apparition.
This is exactly what happens in Patti Grayson's new novel for middle school readers, Ghost Most Foul. Thanks to Coach Nola Blyth, Summer Widden's grade 8 basketball team has never peformed better, and she even names Summer as team captain before the Christmas break. But disaster strikes over the holidays when the coach's plane crashes over the Caribbean. For the next few weeks, Summer tries to deal with her grief, but when she, and only she, starts to see Coach Nola's ghost, the stress starts to get to her, and she finds that only her friend Dodie can help her fiure out what it all means.
The idea for Ghost Most Foul came to Grayson while she herself was conteplating the recent passing of a colleague, a teacher who had taught one of her own children, and who was a very positive influence.
"This made me reflect on the influences that teachers, coaches, and mentors have on the lives of youth," she says. "I thought about how words spoken by someone can resonate and leave a permanent impression in another's life."
Grayson is a selef-proclaimed scaredy-cat when it comes to spooky movies and books, so for her to delve into a ghost story might seem a little strange at first. But when it comes to personal accounts of people and their stories of encountering ghosts, she becomes intrigued.
"My mother had a spooky sixth sense about things when I was younger," she says. "I remember one particular day when she 'paced the floor' continuously. Late that afternoon, our family received a telegraph bearing tragic news that she couldn't possibly have anticipated."
It was with this sense of gently mystery Grayson tackeled the ghost part of her story in Ghost Most Foul.
"I wanted to maintain a balance that left the reader with a shred of hope that the haunting could actually be for positive reasons," she says.
The mental stress that Summer deals with in Ghost Most Foul can be all too real, and it was something Grayson wished to explore. "I wanted to maintain a realistic edge along with the layer of the paranormal," she says. She adds that times have changed since she first wrote the book.
"The dialogue surrounding such things as bullying and mental health has subsequently opened up so much in the past five years or so," she says.
While she hopes that readers enjoy the book first and foremost, her bigger hope is the book reaches out to people.
"I hope the book might have some ability to resonate at a deeper level - that the reader might recognize their own similar predicaments or event their own foibles, and be moved by this emotionally or actively."
This article originally appeared in Prairie Books NOW.