◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hi Jason! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jason Arnopp: Hi there DJ! Thanks for having me here. I’m a writer of scary novels, who also tries to make you laugh from time to time. My background’s in journalism, originally rock journalism for the weekly UK magazine Kerrang! The exclamation mark is in the mag’s title, by the way. My first novel for Orbit Books was 2016’s The Last Days of Jack Sparks, about an arrogant celebrity who sets out to prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist and ends up in trouble with certain parties when he laughs during the exorcism of a teenage girl. And now here we are with Ghoster.
DJ: What is Ghoster about?
Jason: It’s about a paramedic called Kate, whose boyfriend Scott disappears on the eve of her moving across the country to live with him. When she breaks into his apartment, all his possessions have disappeared too… except for his mobile phone. As a self-identified phone addict, should Kate crack into Scott’s phone to find out where he’s gone and why he’s done this to her. Why do scratches keep appearing on the inside of the front door? And why does she feel so very watched?
Beyond that summary of the premise, Ghoster is about modern dating, digital addiction and exactly what the hell the internet might have done to our brains.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Ghoster?
Jason: In terms of real-world influence, as with The Last Days of Jack Sparks, the story was driven by my concerns about the dark sides or consequences of all this hyper-connectivity. I certainly feel like my attention span has reduced a fair bit over the last 10 years and I’m none too sure of how I feel about that.
In terms of the influence of other authors? It’s always hard to tell which other authors have influenced you, because I believe that most books you read rub off on you in some way. The one I’m most conscious of, though, is Chuck Palahniuk. I really like Chuck’s approach to writing and agree with many of the principles that he adheres to, such as setting a scene with the use of a moving picture, rather than describing it like it’s a still photograph. Here’s an example of how I use that principle in Ghoster: I describe different parts of a coastline by following a seagull’s flight towards it. As Chuck says, “People hate slide shows, but love movies.”
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Jason: Let me tell you a little about Kate. On the surface she’s a seasoned, snarky and professional paramedic. Inside, she’s terrified of being alone – a potential flaw that has stayed with her since childhood. Kate’s fear has morphed into a string of unfortunate relationships and an addiction to the online world. Hopefully most of us, if we’re able and willing to admit it, will identify with the latter. Perhaps the scariest thing about Kate’s addiction is that she recognises it, but just can’t seem to shake it. And when Scott disappears, leaving only his phone behind, she embarks upon a downward spiral…
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
Jason: Kate’s friend Izzy is my favourite side character, because she’s the kind of friend we all want to have. The kind of friend who will tell you, to your face, that you’re wrong, or you’re worrying too much, or straight-up being an idiot. She’s also the kind of friend who will be there for you whenever you need her, regardless of whether you deserve that level of loyal friendship. Izzy’s also, I think, amusingly blunt.
DJ: What is the setting of Ghoster like?
Jason: The book is set mostly in Brighton, the UK town where I live. Brighton is a coastal town, a seaside resort which comes alive in summer, then relatively dies down as we reach autumn and the evenings grow progressively darker. Kate and Scott’s relationship starts when summer begins and they enjoy bright months in Scott’s swish apartment, complete with luxury sea-facing balcony. When Scott disappears, it’s no coincidence that summer has long gone and the shadows are getting longer. These authors, with their symbolic use of seasonal change, eh?
DJ: There are many different definitions of horror in genre, so I’m curious, when you write “horror”, how is it that you try to scare your readers? Do you go for gore? Shock? Maybe build up tense moments? Or perhaps it is the unknown?
Jason: Any of the above. When it comes to scaring the reader, I’ll use any weapon in my armoury. Anything I can get my hands on. Everything is valid if it creates the desired result, in the same way that a comedian will do anything to get a laugh. There isn’t much gore in Ghoster, though. Certainly, there’s little compared to the occasional explosions of violence that punctuated The Last Days of Jack Sparks. Every story is different, but I want them all to scare the reader. Ideally, I want the reader to think about my stories at 3am.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Ghoster?
Jason: I enjoyed writing Kate, which was handy, because she’s the dominant voice throughout. Beyond that, there were certain powerful moments that felt suitably big and powerful to write. Like most writers, though, I’m at my happiest in those rare moments when the writing suddenly starts to flow and feels almost effortless. When you know you’re writing good stuff, that’s one of the best feelings in the world. It makes all the other crap or average days worthwhile.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Jason: I like to think that they might discuss whether they would react in the same way as Kate if their partner went missing. Would they open Scott’s phone to look inside? I do tend to sail close to the wind with my main characters, in the sense that they don’t tend to be happy-go-lucky or likeable in the standard way… but this approach also seems to provoke discussions in itself, which is great.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Ghoster? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Jason: I definitely never intend to push a certain message at readers, because I don’t believe that’s why people read books. Instead, my priority is to deliver a scary, funny, entertaining and gripping story, which also happens to explore my own concerns about the dark side of our online habits. I do worry that Ghoster and The Last Days of Jack Sparks could come across as anti-tech diatribes, but they’re not that at all. When you take a two-second glance at my own online presence, you can see that, if anything, they’re a cry for help!
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Ghoster that you can share with us?
Jason: Hmm, I don’t think I have any foodie quotes for you, sadly. Ha. Annoyingly, I can’t remember any exact quote in particular, but I do remember one of my favourite funny moments. Izzy and Kate are texting (the book features a few TXT chats, presented in that format) and Izzy tries to write to Kate that “everything’s gonna be fine”. Unfortunately, autocorrect makes her write “everything’s gonna be funeral”. I’m pretty sure I spent a good ten minutes carrying out research on WhatsApp to check that it would be possible to mistype “fine” in a way that turned it into “funeral”.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Author newsletter: http://bit.ly/ArnoppList
Second newsletter to help creators with motivation and accountability: http://www.jasonarnopp.com/confess
YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/jarnopp
Instagram author account: http://www.instagram.com/jasonarnoppauthor
Instagram rock journalist account: http://www.instagram.com/jasonarnopprock
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jason-Arnopp/e/B0034OVY4U
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Ghoster that we haven’t talked about yet?
Jason: This novel may well have arrived at the start of a whole new era in which we come to realise exactly how addicted we are to our phones. Whether that will work in its favour or not, I have no idea!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Jason: No, I insist – thank YOU, DJ! Great questions.
◊ ◊ ◊
***Ghoster is published by Orbit and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
◊ ◊ ◊
About the Book:
Kate Collins has been ghosted.
She was supposed to be moving in with her new boyfriend Scott, but all she finds after relocating to Brighton is an empty flat. Scott has vanished. His possessions have all disappeared.
Except for his mobile phone.
Kate knows she shouldn’t hack into Scott’s phone. She shouldn’t look at his Tinder, his calls, his social media. But she can’t quite help herself.
That’s when the trouble starts. Strange, whispering phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognise. Scratch marks on the walls that she can’t explain. And the growing feeling that she’s being watched.
Kate refuses to leave the flat – she’s not going anywhere until she’s discovered what happened to Scott. But the deeper she dives into Scott’s digital history the more Kate realises just how little she really knows about the man she loves.
About the Author:
Hello! I’m a British author and scriptwriter, with a background in journalism.
I’m the writer of the terrifying Orbit Books novel Ghoster, out October 2019. Before that, I wrote The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, the Lionsgate feature film Stormhouse, various Doctor Who things, a Friday The 13th novel and script-edited the 2012 Peter Mullan film The Man Inside.
2018 saw me co-author the book Inside Black Mirror with Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones.
Check out my collection of 30 interviews I did as a rock journalist, gathered in From The Front Lines Of Rock.
Work-related enquiries should go to my UK literary agent Oli Munson at AM Heath and my US manager for film and TV, Lawrence Mattis at Circle Of Confusion. See Contact Form.