Today I’m delighted to have a guest post written by fantasy author Jaime Lee Moyer to share with you! She is here to discuss the ghosts in her Delia Martin books (Delia’s Shadow and the recently-released sequel A Barricade in Hell), particularly how they add shades of gray to these novels. Also, there is a chance to win one of two sets containing both of these books—fill out the form at the end to enter!

Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer
Adding Shades of Gray

I’ve been asked a few times now—why use ghosts in these books?

The easy surface answer is because I could, and because that’s the way the story wanted to be told. As with most things in life, the real reasons are a bit more complicated. I’ll try to explain one.

A lot of the fantasy I’d read was written as head on battles between the forces of good and the forces of evil, the borders between the two crisp and easy to distinguish. The hero never had any moral qualms or questions about what he was doing, never saw the struggle in anything but absolute terms of right and wrong, and was never uncertain. He (it was almost always a “he”) was never really afraid or suffered a heart-rending loss, or if he did, he shrugged it off semi-immediately. There was never a moment, no matter how dire the situation, that the idea evil might actually win was ever seriously considered.

That’s not a completely fair summary of the fantasy I’ve read during my adult life, but it’s not totally unfair either. In any case, that wasn’t the kind of story I wanted to tell.

Ghosts were one way of adding a touch of uncertainty, and a few shades of gray, to the story. That might be even more true for Gabe than for Delia. As a cop, he’d spent his career solving cases by compiling evidence he could see and touch. He had to take Delia and Isadora’s word on faith that spirits existed, and for any ghostly involvement with his cases.

I never saw the ghosts as being wholly good or totally evil. The spirits Delia encounters, or that try to haunt Gabe are largely amoral, with their own agenda and reasons for what they do. Spirits in my world are unpredictable, dangerous, and at times, impossible to control. They will use the living to their own ends and not give a thought to the harm they cause. At other times these ghosts are lost, sad; tragic.

That all combined to keep Delia and Isadora from ever being sure they had the upper hand or that they’d win. They never knew what kind of challenge any one ghost presented, or what danger they might have to face from a spirit. That was true even if the original goal was to let a wandering haunt finally rest.

I decided from the start that shades of gray would extend to my heroes as well. Gabe, Delia and Dora all have a strong moral compass, but they aren’t perfect, and none of them see the world in absolutes, good or evil. They all suffer terrible losses, defeats, lose their temper, and have moments of real despair. The human foes Gabe faces are as unpredictable as the spirits confronting Delia and Dora. Winning is never a sure thing.

In other words, I did my best to make these characters human, with all that implies about frailty and strength and resilience.

So now you know one of my reasons for using ghosts. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide if I succeeded.

About A Barricade in Hell:
In Jaime Lee Moyer’s A Barricade in Hell, Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it’s 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.

That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war.  But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice—take a terrible risk to save her city, or chance losing everything?

About the Author:
JAIME LEE MOYER’s Delia’s Shadow won the 2009 Columbus Literary Award for Fiction. Moyer has sold short fiction to Lone Star Stories, Daily Science Fiction, and to the Triangulations: End of the Rainbow, and Triangulations: Last Contact anthologies, and edited the 2010 Rhysling Award Anthology for the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Moyer lives in San Antonio with writer Marshall Payne, three cats, three guitars, and a growing collection of books and music.

Twitter: @jaimeleemoyer

I have two sets of the Delia Martin books (Delia’s Shadow and A Barricade in Hell) to give away to two residents of the US or Canada! (Please note Canadian winners may need to provide an email address and/or phone number in addition to their mailing address in order to ship the books.)

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Delia Giveaway.” One entry per person and two winners will be randomly selected, and each winner will receive a paperback copy of Delia’s Shadow and a hardcover copy of A Barricade in Hell. Those from the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway; Canadian residents who win may need to provide their email address and/or phone number in addition to their mailing address in order to ship the book. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, July 25. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the books).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.