Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Digital Books and Tramp Printers: Why I wrote The Haunted E-book...

Why write a ghost story about something moderately obscure and not, on the surface, very scary at all?  What's the deal with a "haunted ebook" anyway?  And why use a hyphen in the title ("E-book")?

I have answers to these most burning questions of our times.

The idea of an evil, supernatural book isn't new--see the Necronomicon, for example.  But I'm always curious about how changing technology can affect our daily lives, our pop culture and our mythos.  This is why some of my stories are science fiction.

I had an idea about a ghostly ebook that infected different devices--your radio, your TV, etc. so that you couldn't escape the story no matter how hard you tried.  This was just an idle thought, though, until I connected it with the idea of nineteenth-century tramp printers.  These are people who fascinate me.  The letterpress experts in those days lived like hobos, riding the rails from town to town, finding work and drinking their pay.  It was a rare and specialized enough skill that you could get work anywhrere.  So the culture of printers became a restless and nomadic one.  Tramp printers were equally at home in a discussion of Plato or a bar brawl.  I like that.

So, once I made that connection, the book was on.  I've been wanting to do something with tramp printers for a few years, and here was a chance to do something really unique.  On top of that, ebooks have been changing how I read, how I write, and whether I can afford to pay my bills.  I wanted to explore questions about what ebooks are, in comparison to traditional books, as well as issues about the psychological connections between reader and writer. 

And I wanted to do something crazy and different, a story like people have never read before.  You can sample the book and let me know whether I accomplished that. :)

And as for the hyphen in "E-book"--I just think it looks cool.


  1. I just finished reading The Haunted E-Book and I have to say I was sufficiently weirded out and scared. I loved the character Jonah (well as much as you can love a demonically possessed character).

    It's funny I was at historical Williamsburg a few years ago and I stopped inside the printer's shop. I asked the man who was busy making pamphlets on the press there a question and he was so rough and angry with his answer that I just remember standing there with my knees shaking by the time he finished answering my question (I don't even remember what I asked). I had completely forgotten about him until I read your book. They aren't called printing devil's for nothing.

    Great book! I think you give Stven King a run for his money.

    Josie Wade

  2. Ha! Great story about the printer. I guess he kept to the 18th century attitude about customer service, too.

    Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.