Author Spotlight: The Ghost of Grover's Ridge by James Hartley
Out of work paranormal investigator Ken Parker arrives in Groverton, and meets and falls in love with cute red-headed Jinny Talbot. He gradually realizes that there is magic going on, and a battle looming, a continuation of a war that took place seventy or eighty years earlier. He discovers that Jinny is a witch, and that those who fired him from his job are the opposing warlocks. And then he finds out that he is also a witch, and he joins with Jinny and the witch covens to fight the warlocks and the Ghost of Mordecai Grover.
Read an Excerpt!
Ken walked into the restaurant, his head still spinning from absorbing the events told by Volume 2 of “The History of Groverton.” Jinny was sitting at a table talking with another girl about her age. Although the second girl had her back to him, she looked familiar. Jinny looked up, saw Ken, and said, “Oh, hi. I want you to meet my best friend from school. She just came back to town for a vacation.”
The second girl turned her head and Ken realized it was Violet Orlando, the department secretary at Montcalm. She looked startled to see him, and said, “Dr. Parker! Ken! What in the world are you doing in Groverton? When the SOBs threw you out, this is the last place I would have expected you to end up.” Then she looked back and forth from Ken to Jinny several times and her face lit up. “I see. You two are an item, right?”
Jinny smiled and said, “Yeah, Violet, I guess that says it. Ken, come sit with us.” He walked to the table, paused to kiss Jinny and then sat, not saying anything.
Violet broke the silence. “Well, Ken, what do you think of Groverton and the great events taking place here? Don't you wish you had come here while you were still doing research ...” As Jinny began making shushing motions, she stopped abruptly. Then, looking at the strange expression on Ken's face, she said, “My God, Jinny, you haven't told him?”
Ken said in a dull voice, “No, she hasn't told me, but I know. I got hold of Volume 2 of the History, and I read it. I know.” He paused for a moment, then turned and said, “Jinny, you're a witch, aren't you?”
Jinny just nodded, a blank look on her face.
“You've been lying to me. About the town, about everything. Why, Jinny, why?”
“Please forgive me, Ken,” she said, the ceiling lights sparkling in the tears forming in her eyes. “I wanted to protect you. We're expecting bad things to happen, terrible things. I thought if you knew nothing of it you would be safe. I could sense that if you knew of the upcoming battle you would want to join in with me…my friends…my fellow witches.”
Ken grabbed her and kissed her. “Jinny, Jinny! Of course I would want to join in with, with, who are these other witches?” He turned to look at Violet, stared a minute, then said, “You're a witch too?”
“Well, duh!” she replied. She seemed much less upset about Ken finding out than Jinny had been.
Ken continued, “I imagine a lot of the people in town are witches too, aren't they. Your grandmother, Mr. Brentwood—”
Jinny interrupted him. “My grandmother, yes, but not Mr. Brentwood. Most witches are female, male witches are very rare. Right now there is only one male witch in all of Groverton.”
“One?” Ken asked. “Who is it? Anyone I've met?”
Violet broke in, saying, “Is he always this dense, Jinny?” She turned to Ken and continued, “It's you, dummy! You're a witch, and if you'll stop denying your abilities, a very powerful witch at that!”
Nobody had noticed Mamie approaching the group, but now her voice came from behind Ken. “Very powerful, yes, Violet. But we do not know if he is committed to good, to the Goddess. Is he truly a witch, or,” her voice dropped, “is he a warlock?”
“Priestess,” said Violet, “I have worked with this man for several years, and I am certain he is good. He is in his current situation because Dr. Farley Josephson, a warlock if ever there was one, felt he was getting too close to the truth and conspired with Dr. Oscar Wilton, another warlock, to get rid of him.”
“Grandma, I too am convinced that Ken is good,” said Jinny. “I love him, and he loves me, and I am going to marry him! I could tell if there was evil and there is not.”
Ken was so astonished at her avowed marriage plans that he almost missed what Mamie was saying. “Ken, we must be sure. You must be examined by a group of the strongest witches in town. If you are good, as Jinny and Violet say, it will be proved. But I warn you, if you are evil, it may be very dangerous, perhaps fatal. Will you take the chance?”
Ken thought about what she had said. “If I am good, there is no danger?” Mamie nodded. Ken continued, “I am convinced that you are good, Jinny is good, Violet is good…if I am indeed a witch, I want to be good. I'll take your examination.”
James Hartley is a former computer programmer. Originally from northern New Jersey, he now lives in sunny central Florida. He has published a fantasy novel, "Teen Angel," and has two new fantasy novels, "The Ghost of Grover's Ridge" and "Magic Is Faster Than Light," due out soon. He has had short stories published in Illusion's Transmitter, Written Word Online, Clonepod, Every Day Fiction, Lorelei Signal, Beyond Centauri, Raygun Revival, and the "Desolate Places", "Strange Mysteries 1 & 2", "Book of Exodi" and "Christmas in Outer Space" anthologies. He is currently working on a new novel, "Cop With a Wand." He is a member of IWOFA and the Dark Fiction Guild.