Lynne Sturtevant is a nonfiction author of practical how-to guides who broke into the contemporary fantasy genre with The Off-Kilter Chronicles. In 2022, she released book two in the series, The Ghost of Walker’s Gap, described as a “wonderfully wild romp” that will have readers cheering for the protagonist to “prevail against supernatural mischief and humans alike.” You’ll find Lynne on Facebook and at LynneSturtevant.com and HiddenNewMexico.com. Read more about Lynne’s writing in previous SWW interviews: 2020 (her nonfiction releases) and 2021 (The Off-Kilter Chronicles). Visit Amazon for all of Lynne’s books.
What is your elevator pitch for The Ghost of Walker’s Gap?
Ginger Stewart doesn’t believe in ghosts—until a dead artist materializes in her back seat. New to Walker’s Gap, the most haunted town in West Virginia, Ginger soon discovers ghosts aren’t the only ones disturbing the peace. A mining company wants to strip the surrounding hills of their riches. But they’re searching for treasure in the wrong place. Something much more valuable than coal is hidden beneath the historic town’s brick streets.
What challenges did this work pose for you?
When I wrote The Good Neighbors, a contemporary fantasy about fairies running amok in the hills of West Virginia, I wasn’t planning a series. But readers hoped my main character Ginger would have more paranormal encounters and supernatural adventures. So, bringing her back, deciding what other characters would carry over, and making sure there was continuity was a challenge. It was a fun challenge, but a challenge, nevertheless.
How did the book come together?
I started this book during NaNoWriMo 2020. I didn’t have an inspiring story idea, but I really wanted to write another novel. I know a lot about ghosts and the clock was ticking, so I went with that. I had a tour company that offered ghost walks before moving to Albuquerque, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ghost stories from a literary and structural perspective. I guess I was ready to write it because I took it from vague idea to available on Amazon in just over a year.
What was the most difficult aspect of world building for the book?
Although I loved writing about the hills and hollers of the southern mountains in The Good Neighbors, I needed a different sort of setting for my ghost story. So, I created an imaginary river town. Some readers have said they’d like more stories set in Walker’s Gap. We’ll see.
For those who haven’t read book one, The Good Neighbors, tell us about your main characters.
Ginger, my main character and narrator, is a snarky, overweight, middle-aged woman struggling with financial issues, job insecurity, and housing difficulties in addition to the various annoying supernatural entities who keep dogging her. Because she is a visiting home health aide, she spends a lot of time with older people, some of whom are helpful and many of whom are decidedly not. In this story, Ginger butts heads with Birdy, a feisty 80-year-old with Appalachian magic running through her veins. Can they find a way to work together and restore equilibrium to the supernatural citizens of Walker’s Gap?
What makes this novel unique in the paranormal fantasy market?
My characters are not typical for this genre. They are older, poorer, less educated, and much more down to earth. No glamorous witches, bare-chested vampires, or misunderstood teenagers with psychic abilities. My settings are different, too. I like the idea of strange things bubbling up in very unmagical places.
What was your favorite part of putting this project together?
I loved delving into the legends and lore of Appalachia: spells, curses, moonshine, folk remedies, prophetic dreams, soup beans with cornbread, creepy dolls, the whole ball of wax.
Any new writing projects?
A third Ginger story is in the works. It’s not coming along as quickly or as easily as The Ghost of Walker’s Gap. However, I’m confident that Ginger and Birdy (who makes a repeat appearance) will find a way to get to the bottom of what’s plaguing the few remaining residents of an abandoned coal company town.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.