Ghost Game Becomes Novel
Exclusive Authorlink Interview with F. J. Lennon,
Author of Soul Trappers
In F. J. Lennon’s iPhone game turned novel, Kane Pryce is accustomed to sending evil spirits to their eternal torment, but when he meets the ghost of a playful little boy mischievously haunting a church, he becomes obsessed with finding the boy’s dead mother and reuniting them, even if it means battling powerful demons from hell.
always outline everything before I write.”
AUTHORLINK: How much of the story did you know when you started writing?
LENNON: I always outline everything before I write. There’s the occasional surprise when a character does something unexpected or I think of something on the spot that’s not in the outline, but those moments are rare. I’m the kind of writer who has to know the route to the destination before I turn the ignition.
Since the story was adapted from the Soul Trapper iPhone game, I already had the major elements fully plotted before I wrote the novel. But the novel goes much deeper than the game ever could—especially in regards to the character and background of the protagonist. For example, Kane is a talented musician in the novel, but that side of him doesn’t even exist in the game. Music plays a very important part in the novel, so that was an exciting surprise that came during the novel writing process. And there were several story revisions and additions to the novel that give it an emotional depth that the game lacks.
AUTHORLINK: Where did you get the idea for a soul trap?
LENNON: The idea and the character came during a late-night bottle feeding a few weeks after my daughter Olivia was born. What if you took the notion of catching ghosts a step further and treated it seriously? What if you could not only trap a ghost, but project your own soul into the trap and communicate face-to-face with that ghost—find out why the ghost won’t leave. Help the ghost or banish the ghost? That notion opened up the storytelling possibilities.
AUTHORLINK: Did you study demonology for this book?
LENNON: Yes. An unsettling experience at times.Amazed by the structured hierarchies in demon mythology. Kind of like military ranks, i.e. Valefar is a Duke of Hell commanding ten legions. Kind of gives you the feeling that Hell’s a big, crowded place.
spent a great deal of time exploring and researching
some very dark and disturbing places . . .”
AUTHORLINK: Did Kane’s demons and ghosts haunt you?
LENNON: Yes, but more on Devil’s Gate, the follow-up which is coming in 2012. That story is grounded in real world locations and events. I spent a great deal of time exploring and researching some very dark and disturbing places—truly haunted locations—that had a profoundly negative effect on me. I’m a firm believer that if you go looking for ghosts, you’ll find them. Or they’ll find you. And they’re hard to shake off.
AUTHORLINK: How long did Soul Trapper take to write?
LENNON: I wrote the first draft fast, in just over three months. But I learned the valuable lesson that writing is rewriting. I spent an additional three months rewriting, polishing and tweaking before submission, and then two additional rewrites after the book was acquired.
AUTHORLINK: Did you ever have demons of sorts that seemed to keep you from finishing the book or getting published? Did it ever seem like you might have to sell your soul to break in?
LENNON: Ha! I’m still a scared old Catholic altar boy at heart, so selling my soul was out of the question. The demons that I’ve had to battle in regards to my own writing endeavors have always been: I’ll get to it someday. At the point Soul Trapper came along I was mid-life, mid-career. I suddenly realized that someday was now or never. It’s a load off my mind that that pivotal crossroad is behind me. No matter where it leads from here, I can feel proud knowing I took action to achieve my dream of being a published novelist.
AUTHORLINK: How did you find a publisher?
LENNON: I’ve known my agent for fifteen years. His wife and I became friends during a computer game project we both worked on in 1995. I caught up with him in 2008 and mentioned the Soul Trapper iPhone game. He agreed to take a look at it. The story appealed to him so he suggested I take a shot at writing it as a novel. I submitted the first seven chapters and he read them and advised me to finish the book. Once we got the manuscript in good shape, he agreed to represent it. Emily Bestler of Atria Books acquired Soul Trapper and gave me a three-book deal. It was a phenomenal feeling to know that the story would continue past the first book and that the series had found a home with such a prestigious editor and publisher.
best part of the process was holding the hardcover in my hands . .
AUTHORLINK: What was the best/worst part of the publishing process?
LENNON: The best part of the process was holding the hardcover in my hands and knowing I was being published by Simon and Schuster. My favorite author is Larry McMurtry, a long-time Simon and Schuster author. I remember reading Lonesome Dove many years ago and being so moved and so inspired that I decided on the spot: This is what I want to do and this is where I want to be published.
The worst part of the process is the waiting. Lots of waiting. . . and, of course, worrying. Waiting for my agent to read the book and give me his verdict. Waiting to see if any publishers would be interested. Waiting a long time from the point where the book is acquired to the day it’s actually published, wondering every day if it will be accepted and find an audience. Waiting to see what critics and customers will have to say after it’s released. Patience is definitely required.
of the reasons I’m published is that I just kept at
AUTHORLINK: What advice do you have for other writers hoping to publish their novels?
LENNON: Don’t quit. One of the reasons I’m published is that I just kept at it. I’ve written several books. Some were published, some weren’t. You just have to keep writing, keep getting better, and learn to not let the rejection cripple you.
Make sure your novel is finished and polished before you try to submit it. As an unpublished novelist, don’t think you’re going to sell an idea or write a proposal and land a deal. You have to write your book. You need a finished product in hand to have any chance of beating the odds. And you’ll only get one read with a prominent agent or editor, so take the time to ensure your manuscript is as good as it can be before you send it.
F. J. Lennon:
Lennon has finished his second Kane novel, Devil’s Gate, and is starting the third. He also has a new interactive game in early design. More information is on his website: www.fjlennon.com, Facebook page, and author page http://authors.simonandschuster.com/F-J-Lennon/70031161.
About Regular Contributor:
Diane Slocum has been a newspaper reporter and editor and authored an historical book. As a freelance writer, she contributes regularly to magazines and newspapers. She writes features on authors and a column for writers and readers in Lifestyle magazine. She is assigned to write interviews of first-time novelists and bestselling authors for Authorlink.