Interview: Stuart R. West author of Ghosts of Gannaway

Stuart R West-1Multi-published author, Stuart R. West explores the hidden underbelly of the Midwest with horror, heart and humor in YA and adult thrillers. His debut YA thriller about bullying, Tex, the Witch Boy, was released to acclaim; teens and adults alike suggesting it should be taught in schools. Read more about West’s books at his blog, Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley:

GHOSTS OF GANNAWAY is your latest release. Kindly give us a summary.

Thanks for having me! Ghosts of Gannaway is an ambitious historical saga that takes place in two West-GhostsOfGannaway2timelines: 1935 and 1969, neither of which I knew too much about until I did my research. And research I did! In 1935, the small mining town of Gannaway, Kansas, prospers under the leadership of town founder Kyle Gannaway. Tommy Donnelly, the youngest foreman in the town’s mining history, struggles to make changes for his men. But obstacles—greed, racism, a Native-American curse—stand in his way. And there is the problem of something affecting the miners, something evil. Something to do with ghosts.

In 1969, environmental scientist Dennis Lipstein is assigned to study the toxins in the town’s water and air. But to do so, he first has to unravel the mysteries of Gannaway. And why the ghosts are restless.

(Whew. I know you asked for a brief summary, but there’s a lot going on!)

How did you come to write this story?

Actually, out of curiosity. And a heavy sadness. My wife grew up in Oklahoma. Once on the way to Tulsa, we traveled through a skeleton of a town, Picher, Oklahoma, the true basis for Gannaway, Kansas (except for the ghosts, of course. I think. Heh.).

A shell-shocked town, broken down, uninhabitable. Sad and haunting. Buildings were destroyed, windows and walls blown out, reduced to mere foundations. Evocative graffiti painted the walls, the usual suspects. But there were also warnings that raised the hair on my neck. “Beware you who enter…”

I wondered how a town could’ve been reduced to such a sad state. The true story behind Picher’s rise and fall was fascinating, something I wanted to hook suspense, scares, ghosts, heroes, villains, and a timely love story around. I hope I did it justice.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Yes! From now on, I’m keeping my tales set in the here and now! The research took nearly a year. And, um, some of the residents of Picher, Oklahoma, were less than accommodating, let’s say! Beware towns that fly Confederate flags on burned out buildings!

Do you have a favorite place to write?

The sofa. Alas, my butt prints are forever fossilized there, uncomfortable for visitors.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I wasted 23 or so years of my life as a graphic artist at one of the worst corporate companies known to mankind. Near the end, before they shuttered their doors, they couldn’t afford to pay the trash bill. Rats—both animal and corporate!—scuttered down the plant aisles.

Is there a book out there you wish you had written?

Yeah. Usually every one I’ve just read. Sigh.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

Not ask. Tell. “You look just like Channing Tatum.”

What’s next for you?

Coming soon from Books We Love Publishing will be the first in (what I hope to be) a series of darkly humorous suspense thrillers involving a mega-corporation that sponsors serial killers. Yep, you heard it right. Look for Killers, Incorporated this fall.

After that, I have a horror comedy coming out about a stand-up comedian who ticks off a demon one unfortunate night (“Demon With a Comb-Over”) and a saga revolving around the world’s worst bed & breakfast (“Dread and Breakfast”).

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