GHOSTWRITER Excerpt: Watching Ferris Bueller With a Ghost

All this month, I'll be celebrating the second birthday of my novel, Ghostwriter, with excerpts and prizes.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. My hero, Seth, was a witness to the terrible events of that war as an ambulance driver. Sara discovers his letters home in a trunk hidden in the attic of the island house she's renting.

Along with the excerpts, I'll be sharing some photographs that inspired me as I was writing the novel.

In today's excerpt, Sara introduces Seth to some of today's modern technology.

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She gave instructions to Seth on how to eject the disc and replace it with the one she unwrapped from its cellophane package while he fumbled with the player. He removed the disc with extreme delicacy and she realized he must think it was made from glass. He examined it for a moment.

“It’s like a little phonograph record, isn’t it? Where is the needle?”
by Paolo Neo

Sara smothered a smile. “It’s a laser. A beam of light inside the machine.”

His jaw dropped and he shook his head, seeming unsure of whether or not she was joking.

“Picture side up,” she told him and he took Ferris Bueller over to the DVD player and inserted it carefully.

Seth really liked the movie. He chuckled at Ben Stein’s portrayal of the boring teacher. “One of my professors at Duke was the same way. He was utterly brilliant, but could make even the most fascinating topics sound dull. He was also the harshest critic I ever had.”

Sara winced. “Sorry.”

“No, in the end, I was grateful for it. He helped me to be a better writer. He wrote on one of my papers, ‘I’m giving this a failing grade because I know you can do better,’ and I set out to prove him right. I worked harder on rewriting the paper than I ever had before, even though it wouldn’t change my grade. When he handed it back to me afterward, he said simply, ‘I’ll stand in line to buy your first book.’ It was the greatest praise I ever received.”

Sara had to pause the movie multiple times to explain things Seth didn’t understand, such as what Ferris had done with the computer, and she didn’t really understand the mechanics of hacking herself, so it was difficult.

The automobiles in the movie astounded Seth, and he chuckled at the idea the “machine” he had bought after returning from Europe would now be incredibly valuable. He marveled at the images of the city and mentioned he’d once gone to Chicago to meet with an editor, and it had changed greatly since then.

It was odd to explain a video arcade, and then to add they were now obsolete because people had small game systems in their homes. It brought home to Sara how much the world had changed in just the last few decades, so the amount of differences he saw had to be overwhelming. Seth didn’t ask her to stop the movie, though, or vanish, so she took it as a positive sign.

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About the book:

Newly single, unemployed, and with her savings dwindling to an all-time low, Sara thinks things are finally looking up when she lands a job ghostwriting a popular politician’s biography, and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925. Strange things begin to happen as objects break, go missing, and terrifying visions appear, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left, or if she is slowly losing her mind.

She gets no answers from his family who closely guards the secret of his disappearance. Through an old trunk of letters Sara discovers in the attic of her seaside cottage, Sara unravels the mystery and becomes caught up in a tale of greed, lost love, and the horrors of WWI. Will she be the one to break the “Fortner Curse” by helping Seth conquer his demons, and heal both of their hearts in the process?

Available from:

Ghostwriter - Lissa Bryan


Abe Books



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