Author draws on past to write ghostly new work

Christine Paice with her new book, The Word Ghost, which she began writing in 1995. Picture: DAVID HALL

Christine Paice with her new book, The Word Ghost, which she began writing in 1995. Picture: DAVID HALL

YOU can tell by the look on her face that author Christine Paice is extremely proud of her fourth book, The Word Ghost, which she launched in Kiama recently.

Paice is the author of two published collections of poetry: Mad Oaks and Staring At The Aral Sea and a children's book, The Great Rock Whale, which was published by Hachette Australia in 2009.

The Word Ghost has been a bit of a long-term project according to Paice, and has "changed shape" a lot over the past four years.

She started the book in 1995 and there were periods when she wouldn't look at it for years on end.

"Sometimes I sat at the computer thinking 'what in the bloody hell am I doing?', but I knew where I wanted the story to finish," she said.

"I wanted to write about a place I remembered intensely from my past in England during my teenage years and in fact there is probably a sort of autobiographical theme in parts of the story."

The Word Ghost is set in 1973 and features 15 year old Rebecca Buddle, who is madly in love with Dave, but after a few months is forced to move with her family to Brightly.

But unbeknowns to Rebecca there are weird things going on inside their new house and the village.

"The house is haunted by the ghost of Algernon Keats, grand-nephew of famous romantic poet John Keats, who passed away before he could write the poetry he was meant to write and sees the whimsical Rebecca . . . as his way of producing his work.

"There is a whimsical sadness to the story, but more than a 'coming of age'. It was more like a 'coming of words' story as Albernon tries to convince Rebecca to help him, to no avail."

The book has been published by Allen and Unwin.

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