James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS: A Reader’s Report

For those of you just catching up to this manuscript and its path to publication, over the last year my literary novel MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS has been making its way through the process of acceptance at Story River Books, the new fiction imprint now operating under the auspices of the University of South Carolina Press. The editor-at-large, well, his is a name you might’ve heard: Pat Conroy. Only one of my principal influences, yo.

And… from the whispers on the wind, it’s looking pretty good.

As far as I know.

As another, more established author put it, the scribe is privy to very little regarding the processes and activities at the publishing house surrounding his manuscript. This I can now say seems fairly accurate.

However… despite the modest indicators tilting positive throughout this long period of quasi-semi-acceptance, it was only a couple of weeks ago that my inbox featured an actual report on how the book is being received. These remarks came from a reader on the periphery of the process, one who shall remain anonymous:

“[MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS] is like nothing I’ve ever read before… AT ALL. A good thing, in my mind… it is certainly draining and wrenching, also intriguing, funny, moving.”

“…I was so moved by the ending. Thank you for giving those characters a graceful sendoff. Devin is a wonderful, wonderful character…”

“I am probably a complete freak, but I actually found Billy somewhat sympathetic. Is that just wrong…? He’s one of the most complicated characters I’ve ever encountered in a book.”

“The novel is quite powerful, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s very daring, I think, in both style and scope, and so full of heart. Whatever happens, it’s a magnificent piece of work that you should be proud of.”

Okay, then.

I have to tell you all something… I did set out to write a book like the one this media professional has described reading, including the bit about ‘Billy.’ I had in mind that this character would be one of the more complex creations many readers might have ever encountered: a deranged, murderous lunatic for whom it is at times possible to feel genuine pity, if not outright sympathy. I set out to achieve this not out of hubris, only as a challenge to myself as an artist. To have heard this response in such detail feels terribly gratifying, to say the least.

So, as the process wends its way onward, this particular author rests easy at night knowing his baby seems cute and precious to other people too, so to speak. More on MoHG as developments warrant.

In the meantime, however, let’s all go out and support this new local press by purchasing its initial publication, John Warley’s fine novel A Southern Girl, a book that has gotten this new venture off to a classy and satisfying literary beginning. Whether I eventually make the cut or not, it’s nice to know that again this year (after the DOGS OF PARSONS HOLLOW failure to launch in 2013), my work is being judged in a positive light by individuals at the highest level of publishing. Truly, whether or not MoHG is ultimately accepted, the honor and privilege of being in the mix at Story River has already constituted one of the great achievements of my life. Onward.

A manuscript of mine that's on the move these days with a presitgious publisher. Keep fingers crossed for me.

A manuscript of mine that’s on the move these days with a presitgious publisher. Keep fingers crossed for me.

About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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