Absent by Katie Williams : When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn’t an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose—she can’t bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all.
I recently read and really loved Absent by Katie Williams so of course I was excited to get a chance to be part of this blog tour! This wonderful book will appeal to all sorts of people. It has ghosts, mystery, suspense, and a fantastic ending! If you haven’t already checked out Absent, maybe this interview will convince you to!
Did something inspire you to write Absent?
My first novel, The Space Between Trees, is about a community’s reaction to a teenage girl’s murder, about how absence—of knowledge, of a person—can become an impactful presence. One of the absences in the TSBT is the character of the murdered girl herself; everyone else is trying to put a story to her, but of course she never gets to tell her own tale. So in Absent, I was interested in writing from the perspective of the character who’d passed away, to give her a voice in her own death. Hence, a ghost story told by a ghost. I should be clear that Absent is a completely separate novel from The Space Between Trees, but its inspiration came, in part, from my first book.
What did you find most challenging about writing Absent?
My editor and I applied the majority of our time and sweat to getting the rules of the ghost world to work with the characters and plot. From possession to ghost physics to the ghost frogs hopping around the high school, we wanted these rules to make both logical and emotional sense. I’m a big fan of fantastical writing, but not when the fantastic is used simply as set-dressing. One of my goals in Absent was to have the experience of the ghost world communicate truths about loss and relationships, identity and growing up.
Have you been influenced by any particular writer’s style?
Oh tons! Here’s a small portion of the list (in no particular order beyond whose name popped into my head first): Ursula K. Le Guin, Alice Munro, Kristin Cashore, Marilynne Robinson, Kelly Link, Elizabeth Knox, George Saunders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Octavia Butler, Angela Carter, Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Toni Morrison…I’ll stop for now.
If you had to choose a place to haunt, where would you be and why?
Well, a library or bookstore. But if we’re going with the rules of my ghost world, I wouldn’t be able to open the books, so on second thought, that’d be a special form of hell, my own Tantalus situation. You know what? A school wouldn’t be half-bad, because you could listen to the lessons and enjoy plenty of good people-watching. But I’d choose a university over a high school for the greater variety of lessons and people.
If you could meet any fictional character who would you pick?
Just to meet? It’ll have to be someone flashy then. Let’s say Delirium from Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Maybe she’ll make me a floating fish balloon.
What was the most exciting aspect about writing Absent?
Writing the ending, not because I’d gotten it over with, but because I felt that the story arrived at its destination.
What is the last book that you read?
Right now I’m reading Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton and swiftly realizing how rad she is. Before that I read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (superb!) and Prodigy by Marie Lu (a solid sequel).
I’d like to thank Katie for coming on the blog today and answering a few questions for me! I love getting to know more about the authors behind the novels.