Mary Logue is part of the everything-old-is-new-again vanguard. The accomplished Minnesota author has written more than 25 books, but she’s publishing her latest novel in a form that was popular more than 100 years ago: the newspaper serial. Every day for the past three weeks, an installment of her novel, “Giving Up the Ghost,” has run in the Variety section. We decided to check in with Logue mid-run (the series ends July 28) to answer readers’ questions about how she writes, where her characters come from and whether or not she really, truly believes in ghosts.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: I wanted to write a ghost story. They’ve always fascinated me. And I’m a sucker for a love story. I think when they’re well done, they can be extremely suspenseful. And for me suspense is the name of the game. I do see this story as both a love story and a ghost story, mixed together. Also, I had a lot of little vignettes from my life that I wanted to put someplace.
Q: Are you writing new chapters every day, or did you write the whole book at once?
A: Wouldn’t be wonderful if I could write that fast? The book was a done deal.
Q: How does publishing your book in the newspaper feel different from publishing an actual physical book? Or does it?
A: I’m much more aware of a whole body of people reading my work. More like it’s on display in a museum and they’re walking around looking at it and I’m standing there, trying to gauge their reactions. When a book is published, it’s much more removed from me. I usually haven’t been working on it for a year or two. This feels much more immediate.
Q: Some of the writing in this book is slightly more saucy than I’m used to reading in the paper. Did you have to edit your original story for print?
A: A few words, but I won’t go into them here.
Q: You write so authentically and poignantly about grief. Are you writing from personal experience or did you need to research the topic?
A: Thank you. I’m afraid few people reach my age and haven’t experienced grief. Certainly research — in watching other people, and then my own losses.
Q: Is the ghost of Richard symbolic of Wendy’s grief? Is she really seeing him?