PSS Chronicles, #1
Word Count: approx. 84,000 (Novel)
Olivia Black just discovered that her ghost hand, a rare birth defect, can do more than light up a room. It can reach into people and pull things out. Things from the darkest depths of the human psyche never meant to exist in this world.
Olivia can pickpocket the soul.
But she can't control her ability, or the strange items it extracts, and the only thing between Olivia and the men bent on taking the power of her hand is a boy she barely knows and doesn't trust.
1) What’s the basic premise of Ghost Hand?
Imagine our world, but with one slight adjustment; twenty-one years ago babies started being born with a new and rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Children with PSS are born missing a physical part of their anatomy (a hand, or arm, or leg, or ear), but that part is not completely gone. In its place they manifest an ethereal representation of their missing limb made out of pure energy, often with its own unique properties and abilities. This first book of the PSS Chronicles follows the life of seventeen-year-old Olivia Black, who has PSS of the right hand, thus the title Ghost Hand.
2) What inspired the idea for this book?
The inspiration for PSS was the real phenomenon of phantom or ghost limbs that amputees often experience. Frequently, people who have lost limbs, or even been born without them, can still feel the presence and sensations of those missing limbs. For Ghost Hand, I simply asked myself the question "What if those limbs really existed in the form of raw energy? What would people be able to do with them? And how would society react?"
3) Who is the audience for this story?
Ghost Hand was written with an upper YA audience in mind, but I have had adults of all ages say they loved it. If you love unique, paranormal, page-turners then Ghost Hand is for you.
4) How would you define the genre for this book? Are there any underlying themes?
Ghost Hand is a Young Adult Paranormal Thriller. It does have some romance, but romance is not the driving force of the story. Ghost Hand grapples quite honestly with the themes of death, grief, and body image. I was also striving to create a strong, kick-ass, female main character that didn't turn into a puddle of mush every time her love interest entered the room.
5) How would you describe the heat level?
Sweet and Mild. At least for this book. Fans have already begun to express a desire for me to turn up the heat in book two though.
6) What sets Ghost Hand apart from other books in the genre?
The idea of PSS is very unique, and I've had numerous readers and reviewers say that the story depicts the condition so well they actually thought it was a real birth defect until they looked it up on the internet and discovered I invented it for the story. I have also had reviewers say that the way I build the romance between Olivia and Marcus is the most natural and organic romantic relationship they've seen in a young adult paranormal book.
7) Will Ghost Hand be part of a series? If so, can you tell us more about it?
Yes, Ghost Hand is the first book in the PSS Chronicles, set to be three books so far. Book two of the series, Ghost Hold, which I am currently writing, is slated to release in September 2013. Without giving too much away, all three books follow Olivia Black, the girl with the ghost hand, as she breaks away from her small hometown out into the wider world to discovers that PSS, and her hand's own special ability, have ramifications for herself and society that she never imagined possible.
8) Who did the cover art for your book?
The cover art for Ghost Hand was done by Kura Carpenter Design. Kura is a cover designer I met through a writers association I started when I lived in New Zealand. She did an amazing job and gave me just what I was after. I LOVE the cover of Ghost Hand and have a huge movie-sized poster of it in my living room.
9) What is your favorite scene or line from Ghost Hand?
Ack. This is so hard to choose. It's like asking me which of my children I love the most. I love them all. But, one of my favorite scenes is probably when Olivia has to give Marcus CPR in the cemetery. And a favorite line from that scene is "He was so much less annoying when he was dead."
10) How did you choose the names of the characters in Ghost Hand?
Ha, I was hoping you wouldn't ask that. For Olivia, I actually went and looked up the most popular baby names from about seventeen years ago. Unfortunately, I think almost every YA writer I know did the same thing because I've seen an explosion of the name Olivia in YA books lately. So, I learned my lesson on that one. Most of the other names just magically popped into my head while I was writing the book. Except for Mike Palmer, who I actually named after a really nice guy I know, but I changed the last name slightly. The only problem is whenever I talk about the book, I accidentally call Mike Palmer that guy's real name, so I won't do that again either.
11) Can you give us some better insight into one of the characters in Ghost Hand?
Passion is a character that a lot of people just love, including me, even though there isn't a lot of direct character development of her in the first book. Everything we learn about her is from Olivia's somewhat biased point-of-view. Fans have asked me to have more of Passion in Ghost Hold and, thankfully, that was my plan all along because I want to find out more about her as much as anyone.
12) If a movie was going to be made of Ghost Hand, who would you envision in the roles of Olivia and Marcus?
I am terrible at casting actors and actresses for books. However, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Hayao Miyazaki anime films. His films have such an amazing sense of darkness, strength, girl-power, and magic, all wrapped in his delicate Japanese sensibilities. I could totally see him doing Ghost Hand, and if he ever did I would die of happiness.
13) Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I have two teenagers, a 15-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son, who both beta read my books and help me make them more current and realistic. They've kept me from embarrassing myself with bad dialogue more than once. And my husband is the most supportive man EVER. I feel really lucky to have a family that supports my writing in every way possible.
14) Where can readers find your book? Is it available in ebook, print, or both?
Ghost Hand is currently available in both print and ebook formats through Amazon HERE.
15) Where can readers find you online?
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | My Website
Five minutes into my Calc test, I glanced up and caught the new guy staring.
He sat across the aisle from me, his eyes locked on my glowy, see-through right hand and the pencil that hovered between my fingers, never quite touching them.
I slowly set my pencil on my desk.
His eyes tracked my movements, still staring.
I raised my fingers and wiggled them at him in a cheesy little wave. Normally, that was enough to make people turn away and try not to notice my ghost hand. But not this guy. Instead, he looked up, straight into my eyes with this way-too-intense gaze.
EXCERPT from Ghost Hand
Copyright Ripley Patton
Since I mentioned the CPR in the cemetery scene, I thought I'd share it as the excerpt. I have cut a few sentences out so as not to give away any spoilers and, to set the scene, all you really need to know is that Olivia and Marcus have just taken a rather violent tumble down a hill and landed under a hedge. And Marcus appears to have stopped breathing.
* * *
I wrestled my way out, pushing against the trunk for leverage, clutching at branches and grass to pull myself free. Once I rolled off his chest, the rest was pretty easy.
I yanked off my backpack and set it beside me, then reached into the dark under the hedge and felt for his arm, wrapping my hands around it. It wasn't cold yet, or stiff. How long did that take? How long after someone stopped breathing could you still revive them? I had no idea, but I had to try. First though, I had to get him out from under the damn bush.
I pulled, but he barely budged. I got on my knees and put my back into it. That was enough to get one shoulder and half his head out. After that I was able to grab under his armpits and drag him out so that his whole head and chest were clear.
Now, I just had to remember the CPR class I'd taken freshman year so my mom would let me babysit the Waverly twins. First, I was supposed to check for breathing. I'd already done that. Next, check for an obstruction. His mouth was hanging open, but all I could see was his tongue. It wasn't black or blue or swollen, and it didn't look like he was choking on it, so I left it alone.
I pinched his nose closed, and bent over his head, terrified that any moment those blank, open eyes were going to focus on me and he was going to laugh in my face. It was psyching me out, so I closed my eyes. I felt my lips touch his face. I had to open my mouth surprisingly wide to span the distance around his mouth, and then I realized I hadn't taken a big enough breath. Crap. I pulled away slightly, gulped in some air and dove back toward his mouth like I was bobbing for apples. Huff. Take a gulp of air. Huff. How many times was I supposed to breathe into him? Just a few more for good measure. His mouth was warm, but not firm. I began to see flashes of light on the inside of my eyelids. Maybe I was huffing a little too much. The last thing we needed was for me to pass out on top of him. I pulled away and turned my head so my cheek was just above his mouth. Come on. You can do it. Breathe back at me.
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Ripley Patton lives in Portland, Oregon with one cat, two teenagers, and a man who wants to live on a boat. She is an award-winning short story writer and author of Ghost Hand, a young adult paranormal thriller, and the first book in the PSS Chronicles Series. Ripley doesn’t smoke, or drink, or cuss as much as her characters. Her only real vices are writing, eating M&Ms, and watching reality television.
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