Thursday, August 01, 2019

My new book Ghost Stories is available today:

Cover image: Graham Fletcher (by courtesy of the artist) /
Cover design: Daniela Gast (2019)

The official publication date for my new collection of short fiction, Ghost Stories, was yesterday, 31st July 2019.

It's been a great pleasure to work on it with the team at Lasavia Publishing on Waiheke Island: editor Rowan Sylva, designer Daniela Gast, publisher Mike Johnson, as well as the other members of the collective. I also owe a big thank you to Graham Fletcher for the use of his cover image, and (as always) to my lovely wife Bronwyn for invaluable advice at every stage of the process. Thanks, too, to Tracey Slaughter for the use of that blurb quote.

So how do you obtain a copy of the book? That is, after all, the $64,000 question. If you wish to order one online, it's available from any of the following websites:
RRP: $US 15.00 (+ postage)
RRP: £UK 12.28 (+ postage)

Book Depository
RRP: $NZ 29.44 (free postage)

Wheelers Books
RRP: $NZ 49.50
As usual, the Book Depository seems to offer the best deal, but remember that copies can also be purchased at a discounted rate, $20, at the Waiheke Market, or (for that matter) directly from Lasavia Publishing:
Lasavia Publishing
37 Crescent Rd West
Waiheke Island
Auckland 1081
Lasavia Publishing: Editorial

RRP: $NZ 20.00 (+ postage)
We're planning a big launch party later in the year, which I'll describe in detail here on the blog once all the arrangements are finalised, so - if you prefer - you could wait until then. But I know what eager beavers some of you readers can be!

So what exactly is the book about? The easiest thing might just be to quote from the blurb:
David Foster Wallace once wrote that 'every love story is a ghost story.' Not all of the stories in Jack Ross’s new collection are about love, but certainly all of them concern ghosts – imaginary, real, or entirely absent. As it turns out, there are even stranger things in the world: from haunted hotel rooms in Beijing to drunken poetry readings on Auckland’s North Shore. Or perhaps, as the Mayan prophets foresaw, the world really did end on the 21st December, 2012, and 'all bets are off, all the rules have changed, and – new Adams, new Eves – we have to find the courage somehow to start naming the strange new things we see.'

'There’s no one in New Zealand literature exploring the dark ways of narrative with the alchemical touch of Jack Ross, and his gift of spinning tales which jump "from track to track on the time-space continuum" never fails to leave me exhilarated, in outright awe'.
- Tracey Slaughter

Jack Ross works as a senior lecturer in creative writing at Massey University. He is the author of five poetry collections, four novels and three books of short fiction. His novel The Annotated Tree Worship was highly commended in the 2018 NZ Heritage Book Awards. He has also edited numerous books, anthologies, and literary journals, including brief, Landfall, and Poetry New Zealand. He blogs at

And here's a - slightly more informative - abstract I composed to send to my masters at Massey University, who insist on full details of every publication by their staff:
This is a set of ten short stories, with two essays: 'The Classic New Zealand Ghost Story,' an introduction to the collection as a whole; and 'Kipling and the Cross-Correspondences,' an account of the alleged attempts at communication from the other side by various dead members of the Society for Psychical Research in the early years of last century. The stories, too, are grouped around the common theme of ghosts and ghost stories, but in some rather unexpected ways. Two ('The Scam' and 'The Cross-Correspondences') are set in China, but most are explorations of the haunted landscapes of the New Zealand's North Island, from Featherston and Eketahuna to Raglan and Auckland. All of them (with the exception of 'Paragraphs') have been previously published in periodicals or online.

Now those of you obsessed (as I am) by numerology, might well have noticed an ominous feature of that list of publications in the blurb above. My breakdown of books now stands at:
5 poetry books
4 novels
3 short story collections
+ 1 stand-alone novella
= 13 in total
Yes, this is indeed my number thirteen!

All I can say is that nearly as many traditions see thirteen as a lucky number as fear it for being unlucky.

Mind you, I could fudge the count a bit if I wished. I could count my novel The Annotated Tree Worship as two books rather than one, given it appeared in two separate volumes. But they are intended as interlinked novellas, and were never really meant to be read independently.

There's also the fact that I've published 16 chapbooks at one time or another. That would bring up the total to an innocuous 29!

And then there are the various books and anthologies I've edited (15 in all, it would appear). That would bring us up to 44.

But these expedients would really just be cheating. So far as I'm concerned, I've now written 13 books, so I've taken some care to make the thirteenth as appropriate as possible. It is, after all, an exploration of the paranormal, the supernatural, as it manifests (for the most part) in some of the gloomier parts of New Zealand ...

I hope it's enjoyable. I know not everyone shares my fascination with such matters, but a great many people do. And I would argue that most of these stories can be read in a variety of ways: as actual 'ghost stories' being just one of them.

Here's a list of the contents:
The Classic New Zealand Ghost Story

The Scam
Leaves from a Diary of the End of the World
Is it Infrareal or is it Memorex?
General Grant in Paeroa

The Cross-Correspondences
Kipling and the Cross-Correspondences

And here's a list of my 13 books to date:

  1. City of Strange Brunettes. ISBN 0-473-05446-9 (Auckland: Pohutukawa Press, 1998) [poetry book 1]
  2. Nights with Giordano Bruno. ISBN 0-9582225-0-9 (Wellington: Bumper Books, 2000) [novel 1]
  3. Chantal’s Book. ISBN 0-473-08744-8 (Wellington: HeadworX, 2002) [poetry book 2]
  4. Monkey Miss Her Now & Everything a Teenage Girl Should Know. ISBN 0-476-00182-X (Auckland: Danger Publishing, 2004) [short story collection 1]
  5. Trouble in Mind. Titus Novella Series. ISBN 0-9582586-1-9 (Auckland: Titus Books, 2005) [novella]
  6. The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis. ISBN 0-9582586-8-6 (Auckland: Titus Books, 2006) [novel 2]
  7. To Terezín: A Travelogue. Afterword by Martin Edmond. Social and Cultural Studies, 8. ISSN 1175-7132 (Auckland: Massey University, 2007) [poetry book 3]
  8. EMO. ISBN 978-1-877441-07-3 (Auckland: Titus Books, 2008) [novel 3]
  9. Kingdom of Alt. ISBN 978-1-877441-15-8 (Auckland: Titus Books, 2010) [short story collection 2]
  10. Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan. by Jack Ross & Emma Smith, with an Afterword by Bronwyn Lloyd. ISBN 978-0-473-22484-4 (Auckland: Pania Press, 2012) [poetry book 4]
  11. A Clearer View of the Hinterland: Poems & Sequences 1981-2014. ISBN 978-0-473-29640-7 (Wellington: HeadworX, 2014) [poetry book 5]
  12. The Annotated Tree Worship (Auckland: Paper Table, 2017) [novel 4]
    • Draft Research Portfolio. ISBN 978-0-473-41328-6. Paper Table Novellas, 2 (i).
    • List of Topoi. ISBN 978-0-473-41329-3. Paper Table Novellas, 2 (ii).
  13. Ghost Stories. ISBN 978-0-9951165-5-9. 99% Press (Auckland: Lasavia Publishing, 2019) [short story collection 3]


Richard said...

Hi Jack. Congratulations! I like all kinds of stories. 'The Green Man' by Kingsley Amis is a ghost story, which I know you like. I liked it. And talking of your novella there was a fascinating story (you mentioned) by James ('The Master' who did some ghost stories) which I also read. It was like a ghost story. One thing I feel you lack in your books is humour [perhaps not, maybe it is well in that novella and also possibly in EMO]*. Perhaps as in the ref. below to Angela Carter (whose work is amazing) this intensity almost overwhelmed your supervisor. Of course there is humour in your own "actual" [?] ghost stories (your ghostly escapades in hotels). I mean, even if you believe in them [in NZ hotels etc) there is a comic sense in the "coincidences".
Numbers interest me also. I always like to round numbers off. I hate odd numbers. 13 I am ambiguous about. It resists. But the numbers that obsess me concern significant dates in my life etc. I did a painting with numbers on it and those numbers are significant (terrible or just bad or good years etc) and also my own birth day, multiples of which obsess me. Like Joyce thus the 2nd of Feb is significant but also 1948. Looking at that number I also (sometimes) check to see if it is a primary number or a square. 48 is 3 x 16. So it is a good number. 13 I can almost accept but not 13.33 say. 13 is there with black cats and so on! It is irrational. [Tony Folari claimed that 3 was "stronger" than 4, although a stronger shape than a triangle is a dome...Something like that. But avoiding certain numbers is a worry...I need to work on it!

Fearing a date or a year is silly. I also touch wood. That is the closest I come to religion.

I will almost certainly add to my Ross collection getting another Ross book!

Re "ghosts" I think I recall you once looked in or read 'Changing Light at Sandhover' by Merrill. [I have never attempted it, I may one day as it sounds intriguing] It is forgotten or not known, he is not "popular", that he won the Pulitzer. But that big tome apparently continued when he got more contacts from 'the other side'. Really strange to base a large book about, well, about real ghosts. About the dead talking to one.
Does it matter if they, Merrill and his friend, were fibbing or taking imaginative liberties?
It might be better if one was a Merrill fan to just accept it as true while reading 'Changing Light...' !

PS. I have just started getting a bit interested in Raleigh as I was reading through Wedde's poetry and (I knew but had forgotten) that Michelle Leggott had done a Masters on his poetry and he was fascinated it seems by 'Sir Walter Rawleigh to his Sonne.' She (or Wedde) and recently another author discusses that and other things. Raleigh could be another one for you Jack if you had taken an interest in his poetry etc. The book on him and his son looks fascinating. Did you ever see the movie 'Smoke'? It is called: 'The Two Walter Raleighs : Famous Father, Rebellious Son and a Shared Tragedy' by Fred B. Tromly. I cant see it in the lib. system. Even on The Book Depository it is $62.00 or so. An online version may be cheaper. But what is 'eerie' about Raleigh's poems is that many are written near his own death, even the night before his execution. And they take on a strangeness thus.

*There may be a sense by people that that book (EMO) is perverse but I feel that and the other books I reviewed ('City of Strange Brunettes' was good but in another category). Maybe in a way also Giodorno Bruno. But I think the strangeness of those books is part of their strength. I cant understand why EMO for example hasn't received attention (more). Of course people want 'realism' but -- what is real?

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

I have ploughed all the way through The Changing Light at Sandover - it's an odd read. It's very hard to tell how seriously he really takes it. Not very, I fear. Far less than Yeats with all his Vision seances. Or Ted Hughes with his seances with Sylvia, I suspect.

Interesting point about Ralegh. I haven't really ever gone into his writing in depth, though I believe his history of the world is interesting.

As for humour, well, I do think there's a distinct vein of black humour in my writing -- certainly in Tree Worship. Some of my narrators do take themselves very seriously, mind you, but that doesn't mean that I mean for readers to do so.

I think I should present you with a special gift copy of Ghost Stories in recognition of your kindness in writing so many notes on this blog, however - expect it in the post!

best, jack