Weekly Book Review and Five Questions
Featuring: Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite
ONCE A PERSON LEAVES THE MOUNTAIN, THEY NEVER COME BACK, NOT REALLY. THEY’RE LOST FOREVER.
Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late. Hobbs wasn’t nothing but trouble. He’d even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another, Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that. . . .
Review by Holly Michael: Just for fun, I read Ann Hite’s Ghost on Black Mountain under the covers on Halloween night. As a Christian who almost never reads ghost stories, this book shattered my bias. This masterfully crafted work of literary fiction is a cross-over meant for all. If you delight in eerie ghost stories, this book is a must read. For those who only read Christian fiction, the teachings of Christ sparkle on the pages of this book like jewels hidden between the lines. Ann Hite pulls you into the character’s lives and hearts and weaves a compelling spooky mountain tale that haunts you (in a good way) long after you’ve finished the read.
The main character, young and naïve Nellie Pritchard, meets Hobbs Pritchard while serving in a church food line in depression-era North Carolina. Then, the trouble begins for sweet Nellie.
Ann Hite breaks her novel into six parts, told from the point of view of women connected to the charismatic Hobbs Prichard. Each woman’s viewpoint allows us to better understand Nellie, her choices, and her life on Black Mountain. Nellie is warned by the living and the dead to escape from the mountain and from Hobbs, but she mistakenly holds onto love and vows and the good only she sees in her husband, while she puzzles together the truth.
Themes of abuse and love, the powerful and the weak, forgiveness and revenge are beautifully woven into this tale. Mystical settings, eerie atmosphere, beautiful prose and characters with depth unite in this delightful unforgettable tale.
Five Author Questions for Ann Hite:
Holly Q 1: Ghost on Black Mountain was released by Gallery Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster September 13, 2011. Is this your first novel?
Ann: This is my first published novel. My first written novel became a semi-finalist in the ABN Contest in 2009. I’ve tucked it away in a drawer for now. I think all aspiring novelists have to write at least one book they put away. It’s how we learn to write a novel. But I do intend to pull it out one day and give it some Black Mountain magic.
Holly Q. 2: Your Genre weaves literary fiction with Southern Gothic folk-lore and the paranormal. How did you choose this genre?
Ann: I would say that it chose me. But I have a great love for literary fiction and being from the part of the South soaked in folklore and ghost stories, this part came naturally. When I was young I loved a ghost story better than watching TV. There is a family story of murder and spells. I’ve always believed this to be the beginning of my fiction writing love.
Holly Q. 3: What recognition has the book received?
Ann: I’m excited to say Ghost On Black Mountain is one of the ten finalist, out of fifty entries, for the Townsend Prize given every two years to what is deemed the best fiction, and Ghost was nominated for Best First Novel for the Georgia Writer’s Association’s Annual Awards. Head spinning stuff for this fifty-four year old writer who wondered if she would ever crack big publisher’s code. But it truly a matter of writing and rewriting and never giving up. A good book will get noticed in its own time.
Holly Q. 4: Did you ever consider self-publishing?
Ann: When I decided I wanted to be a published novelist, I did my research of the publishing business. I read books that publishers bought. I studied the stats in both traditional and self publishing. I decided I wouldn’t be happy unless a publisher, preferably a large one, wanted to buy my book. I decided if I believed in my book than I should wait out and not give up. After thirty-something rejections and an almost with a small publisher, Simon & Schuster made me an offer. There is this illusion out there that the big publishing houses spend tons of money on promotion. And they do with some books they know are going to be successful, famous memoirs being one category. A novelist with any publisher has to willing to do a lot of work themselves. Being with a large publisher opens doors that smaller publishers or self-publishing authors can’t open. This helps to spread the word to readers a lot faster. For me this was the right decision.
Holly Q. 5: Any advice for aspiring authors?
Ann: Write. So often writers get caught up in groups and discussions to the point they spend all their writing time debating whether to use a period or a comma. They research to the point that they forget to get started writing. Anything to keep from writing. It’s so much more fun to talk about writing. But what it comes down to is placing one’s bottom in the chair each and every day. Turn off the internet. Unplug your land-line. Hide your cell. Write. Don’t think about whether the writing is good enough or not, just write. The more you write the better you become. And finally, read. Yes READ! There seems to be more and more aspiring writers that seem to find the time to read. How will one ever be their best at writing without reading? Every day I make time to read. It’s part of my job ;).
Website for Ann Hite