Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry

In book review, sunday salon on June 8, 2008 at 7:22 am


  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786018151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786018154
  • To purchase, click here.
  • I realized very quickly that I was in for an exciting thrill ride when I started Jonathan Maberry’s Ghost Road Blues. The very first chapter set the pace for what was to be an exciting chiller with some deadly and some undead villains that got my heart pumping. The first book in a trilogy, Ghost Road Blues won the Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel.
    The Town of Pine Deep Pennsylvania has become a hot tourist spot for those who are looking for a great Halloween horror ride. The citizens have built a business out of scaring the heck out of visitors every year. This year, however, Pine Deep is in for more than they bargained for. A secret past experience thirty years before had left something buried in the woods, something that terrified the town years ago. Now that something has returned and it is drawing into Pine Deep a monster of the human variety, Karl Ruger, who’s body may be human but without a soul. Now the citizens have a fight against evil on their hands and it’s one that they may not be able to win.
    I was exciting to read this book and it did not disappoint. With remarkable action scenes and wonderfully descriptive characters, I was hooked from the beginning and now I am more than anxious to continue the saga of Pine Deep in the following books, Dead Man’s Song and Bad Moon Rising.
    1. When you starting Ghost Road Blues did you have the trilogy already in mind or did they come one at a time?

    Ghost Road Blues was created and pitched as a series.  I knew from early in the writing of the first draft that I was telling a big tale.  I wanted to explore the lives and relationships of a fair-sized cast of characters, and to build a lot of intertwining storylines.  Knowing that it was a trilogy also gave me the time to develop realistic characters; I didn’t want to write a supernatural tale with just heroes and villains.  I wanted to explore how real people –with all of their foibles, flaws and fractured lives—would cope with an increasingly unreal situation.

    One thing that confused readers, however, is the fact that the publisher opted not to mention that this was a trilogy.  It was a marketing decision that I understand but do not agree with, and it confused a lot of readers who got near the end of GHOST ROAD BLUES and were wondering how I was going to tie up so many plotlines in the last few pages.  More got confused when they bought DEAD MAN’S SONG thinking it was a standalone book.  So, in BAD MOON RISING (due out May 8), I tried to buffer that for any new readers by providing an author note and a series of fake newspaper articles that provide the backstory.

    2. Wow, you won the Bram Stoker award for best new novel and where nominated for best novel. What does that do to a debut author’s head? Motivate you or scare you?

    It does a couple of things.   First, it gives you a big shot of confidence.  To have been nominated just for ‘First Novel’ would have been good enough but to have it then nominated as the best novel of the year really made me believe that I’d made the right decision in trying my hand at fiction.  To that point in my writing career I’d been a nonfiction guy, doing magazine articles and nonfic books. Now I consider myself as much a novelist as a nonfic author.

    But the experience is a reality check as well.  If you’ve been praised for your writing and won an award then you have an obligation to your readers (and yourself) to make sure that you continue to turn out quality products.
    One other neat side effect…I got to meet Stephen King.  He won the category for Best Novel with his critically-acclaimed LISEY’S STORY.  Which takes the sting out of losing, ‘cause if you’re a horror writer there’s no shame in losing to Stephen King.  After I won the Stoker for Best First, my editor at Pinnacle invited my wife and I to be her guests at the Edgar Awards (the mystery awards) at which Stephen King was being honored with the Grandmaster Award.  I got a chance to meet King and his wife, Tabby before the ceremony.
    One side note…I just won a second Stoker Award, this time for nonfiction –which is something of a twist.  The book is THE CRYPTOPEDIA: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange and Downright Bizarre, co-authored with David F. Kramer.  The awards were held at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, UT two weeks ago.

    3. As I mentions, Ghost Road Blues is the first in a Trilogy. Can you give the readers an idea of what they are looking forward to in Dead Man’s Song and Bad Moon Rising?

    Each book in the Pine Deep Trilogy has a slightly different theme and flavor.  GHOST ROAD BLUES was essentially a chase story and by following escaped killer Karl Ruger the reader is brought to the town of Pine Deep and there things go wrong for everyone as a bigger and older evil force begins to exert its will, so that by the end Ruger is a servant of this greater evil.

    DEAD MAN’S SONG is more of a mystery.  Several characters begin to investigate the goings on in Pine Deep.  One line of investigation starts with the events in the previous book and we follow Dr. Weinstock as he uses forensics to make a very unnerving discovery.  Another storyline follows the series’ main hero, Crow, as he and reporter Newton explore the town’s history of mass murder, and the supernatural legends associated with it.  At the same time the villains are moving behind the scenes preparing for a major attack on the town, the Red Wave, which they plan to launch on Halloween.

    BAD MOON RISING is an action book.  The Red Wave strikes Pine Deep during the Halloween Festival, when the town is crammed with thousands of tourists and celebrities.  Crow and his friends are outnumbered.  We also see tragedy strike our dwindling team of heroes.  This book is also about transformations.  Each of the characters in the story goes through a major change and how they manage those changes will determine whether Pine Deep, and the world, survive.  One hint: even with the good guys, not everyone gets out alive.  This book has some real surprises and it was a hell of a lot of fun to write.

    4. Ghost Road Blues received some great reviews by some heavy hitters of the horror genre (name drop Stephen King here), who are some authors you enjoy reading?

    I read all genres and I read a lot.  Even when I’m driving I have a book on disc playing.  My current favorites are Peter Straub, James Rollins, James Lee Burke, David Morrell, Jay Bonansinga, Randy Wayne White, John Connolly, L A Banks, Duane Swierczynski, D H Dublin, Gregory Frost, Kelly Simmons, Ken Bruen….the list just goes on and on. 


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