Echo Moon finishes the Ghost Gifts trilogy, beginning with Aubrey and her souvenirs from ghosts she helps that she calls “ghost gifts,” through her marriage to journalist Levi St. John, to their son’s story of his past life, wherein he envisions shooting his true love Esmerelda Moon—Esme. Spinella pulls the reader into an early 20th-century culture of supper clubs and amusement parks, showcasing Luna Park of Coney Island, with its rides, performers and customers. We even witness the shadier “rides,” “performers,” and “customers” of the Elephant Hotel, a brothel set on the edge of the park. The hotel is real, but turned brothel after the heyday of the family-oriented park, and pulls Spinella’s story into the historical fiction genre as she carefully blends it into her novel.
In Ghost Gifts, Aubrey solves the mystery of Missy Flannigan’s decades old, cold-case murder with a recalcitrant Levi St. John, and they reluctantly fall for each other. In Foretold (Ghost Gifts #2), Aubrey and Levi are raising their son Pete, who suffers nightmares that are actually visions of his previous life as a photojournalist in WWI. The investigation of a John Doe (who turns out to be Aubrey’s friend Zeke) murder in which Levi is assisting culminates in the kidnapping of Pete, who is of course rescued by his parents. In Echo Moon, Pete finally solves the murder of Esme, with the help of Zeke’s niece Emerald—Em. Spinella spins coincidences into relevant evidence and drops the solution out of nowhere, but it all makes perfect sense. She has a way of surprising the reader without making the reader feel dumb for missing clues, and her characters are colorful and complex.
I received an early copy of Echo Moon from the publisher in a giveaway. Thank you, Laura! I love it! Visit her website to follow her on social media and purchase her books. Tell me a personal experience with the paranormal in the comments, and I’ll choose a random winner to send my ARC of Echo Moon!
Laura Spinella gifted me a digital copy of Ghost Gifts and an autographed copy of Foretold in a giveaway, and I loved them! So I wanted to spread the book passion. I’m pretty excited that she agreed to be on my blooming little blog. She’s supportive of other writers, no matter where they are on their journey. Some of her besties are writers.
Describe your writing environment and process, including research.
Most book writing occurs in my sunroom, which is…sunny! The room has a great vibe and it’s really where I do my best work. My desk faces the only wall in the room, so that provides a bit of built-in discipline. But the wall is covered in a collage of old postcards. They’re all of my hometown, Bayport, New York. The postcards provide a lot of inspiration. Interestingly, one card plays a pivotal role in my next book, Echo Moon.
Lots of writers like to work in coffee shops, libraries, or other people-oriented locations. That’s just not my style…or maybe I’m just lazy. I’m most comfortable in my own space, but I can and have worked in some unusual spots. When my middle daughter was a teenager, she was quite ill and spent a lot of time at Children’s Hospital in Boston. (She’s fine now!) I wrote most of my first novel, Beautiful Disaster, in various hospital rooms, sitting on linoleum floors, or in waiting rooms.
As for my research team? Mmm…that’d be the renowned team of Me, Myself & I. Naturally, I reach out to experts when necessary, but I do all the leg work. Last summer, I traveled to NYC to research early 20th century tenement housing, as well as making a trip to Coney Island. A portion of Echo Moon takes place in Luna Park, an incredible amusement arena that was a singular sight back in the day. Getting a place so rich in history right took a lot of research. Luckily, Coney Island’s museum curator couldn’t have been more helpful.
Talk about the publishing process.
My first novel was published in 2011—Beautiful Disaster. The book did well and went on to be a RITA finalist. I always say I wrote the first draft in about six weeks. From there it was about six years to publication. That included the learning curve of writing a novel, to securing a literary agent, to actually selling the book. The book was published on the cusp of e-books, so it was a very different world in terms of publishing.
Echo Moon, my latest, is due out May 22nd. It’s the last installment (after Foretold) of the Ghost Gifts Novels. Ghost Gifts was a Kindle First, which is an Amazon program that opens your book up to a huge audience. I really had no intention of writing any more “ghost stories.” Ghost Gifts did very well and Montlake, my publisher, asked me to continue with the main character, Aubrey, Ellis, for two more books. I hadn’t anticipated anything like this.
Contractually, my next book was slated to be a women’s fiction novel, Unstrung. Looking back, I wish we’d put Unstrung on hold; the book kind of got lost in theGhostGiftsshuffle. But Montlake has a fantastic publishing team in place—I really couldn’t ask for more in terms of a team effort, particularly the editing folks. They are top shelf.
As far as in the moment publishing, we’re just gearing up Echo Moon marketing. I have a brand new street team, accessed via Facebook. I’ve always loved visiting with book clubs, and I thought this would be as close as I could come to creating an environment like that—a place to chat and chill with readers.
Tell me about your support system and reciprocity.
Naturally, readers are everything. You start with two or three readers and hope your writing attracts a larger audience. It’s an ongoing process in an extremely competitive market. I have a small group of published authors who are also close friends. One of them is my critique partner, so we trade a lot of publishing stories and share the stressful moments.
I had no author support when writing Beautiful Disaster—no real beta readers or other writers to share my work with. In fact, it’s kind of surprising I succeeded on any level! I learned, I think, from reading. I did end up with an extraordinary agent who gives incredible editorial advice. That said, I’m still a fairly private writer. I’ve grown in terms of a public persona, and I really do enjoy that part. But the writer in me is drawn to the solitude of the craft.
Elaborate upon life influencing writing and vice versa.
I’m not sure that my everyday life influences my writing all that much. When I go in that sunroom, it really feels like a whole other world. Writing, on the other hand, largely influences my everyday life. I’m fortunate to have an extremely supportive family. That’s code for they let me do my thing without a lot of fuss. Unless it’s crunch time, probably when I’m three months out from deadline, I try to keep to set writing hours. Those deadline months can get stressful because no matter how much time you have, it never feels like enough.
What pleases you the most about your chosen career?
Ha! Well, this would be easier to answer if I felt like I chose writing. I think writing chose me. It’s a strange life, a writing life. It’s isolating, exhilarating, frustrating, and fits into very few boxes. It can be difficult for other people to relate to, which is frustrating in an entirely different way. But that’s not what you asked, is it? Every time I finish a novel, there’s a brief moment where I sit back, look at the thing, and say, “Geez. How did that get there?” I like that moment a lot.
Aubrey Ellis grew up learning to control the physically ravaging and emotionally draining interactions with ghosts who insist upon her assistance, ghosts who always leave tangible evidence of the encounter. As an adult, she’s settled into a position as a real estate columnist that gives her the opportunity to connect with and aid those who have passed on to continue their journey without too much damage to herself. Then she’s sucked into a decades old unsolved murder after new evidence emerges. Her reluctant partnership with fellow journalist Levi St. John takes her in new and unexpected directions, personally and professionally, and she comes fully into herself.
Although Spinella is designated a romance writer, I found the romance to be an integral part of a paranormal story and not the focus. She spins a ghost story so enchanting that I looked forward to meeting the ghosts and cheered Aubrey on when she succeeded in convincing Levi of her gift / curse. I love when writers understand human emotions, building character integrity and deepening genre novels. Spinelli is brilliant at laying down the elements that came together later in the story, doing so without distracting from the current scene. The tension builds as the story veers from the apparent guilt of one character to another, and I did not guess the true culprit, even with the hints sprinkled about everywhere.
Readers who are intrigued by the possibility of the existence of ghosts and the ability to converse with them will like this story. If you liked the television series Ghost Whisperer, you will love Aubrey’s story.
Thank you, Laura Spinella, for gifting me the digital copy of the first Ghost Gifts. I love it!