Friday, November 4, 2016

Guest Blogger:Ken McGorry, Author of Ghost Hampton

Lyle Hall is a new man since his car accident and spinal injury. The notoriously insensitive Bridgehampton lawyer is now afflicted with an odd sensitivity to other people's pain. Especially that of a mysterious young girl he encounters outside a long-abandoned Victorian house late one October night. “Jewel” looks about 12. But Lyle knows she’s been dead a hundred years. Jewel wants his help, but it’s unclear how. As if in return, she shows him an appalling vision—his own daughter's tombstone. If it’s to be believed, Georgie’s last day is four days away. Despite Lyle’s strained relations with his police detective daughter, he’s shocked out of complacent convalescence and back into action in the real world.

But the world now seems surreal to the formerly Scrooge-like real estate lawyer. Lyle’s motion in court enjoining the Town of Southampton from demolishing the old house goes viral because he leaked that it might be haunted. This unleashes a horde of ghost-loving demonstrators and triggers a national media frenzy. Through it all strides Lyle’s new nemesis in high heels: a beautiful, scheming TV reporter known as Silk.

Georgie Hall’s own troubles mount as a campaign of stationhouse pranks takes a disturbing sexual turn. Her very first case is underway and her main suspect is a wannabe drug lord. Meanwhile, Lyle must choose: Repair his relationship with Georgie or succumb to the devious Silk and her exclusive media contract. He tells himself seeing Georgie’s epitaph was just a hallucination. But a few miles away the would-be drug lord is loading his assault rifle. Berto needs to prove himself.

My First Ghosts by Ken McGorry

For all of us, I think, our “first ghost” harks back to some of our earliest memories. Especially if you have older siblings keen to rattle you for being their spoiled little brother. Still, my first ghost memories are pretty benign. “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” a cartoon, actually comes with a peppy, kid-friendly theme song.

Then there’s “Topper,” the 50’s sitcom with Leo G. Carroll. Again, the ghosts were fun – George and Marion Kerby, formerly well-off, now dead, they remain the sophisticated and fun-seeking married couple they were in life. They’re carefree and never get old. And they have a ghost-pet, a big old Martini-drinking St. Bernard. Anyway, as a kid prone to asthma and bronchitis, I had lots of sick days I could spend with the family’s black-and-white TV and reruns such as “Topper.” I learned that there were two ways to go through life all dressed up: stuffy and bankerly, like Cosmo Topper, or stylish and mirthful like the Kerbys.

Soon after, I encountered “A Christmas Carol,” the regularly televised 1951 version of the Dickens classic starring Alastair Sim. There, finally, were at least two unhappy ghosts, quite capable of evoking fear and dread. The first was Jacob Marley. The name still can trigger a frisson. The miserable ghost of Scrooge’s former partner, over-acted by Michael Hordern (sorry, Michael!), definitely left a youngster with the impression that there was a lasting penalty for a life not well lived. Much later in the film, we see Dickens’s version of the Grim Reaper: a specter in a black, hooded robe who points a boney finger at – Scrooge’s own headstone (triggering Sim’s chance to over-act).

Someone once said, “If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.” I hope some of you will take a look at Ghost Hampton and forgive a couple of thefts that start things off – a former partner (he’s alive, but his role is part George Kerby, part Jacob Marley) and a headstone bearing a disturbingly premature inscription.

As for me, I’m aiming for George Kerby in the afterlife. Well-groomed and styled and really enjoying death to the fullest. After all, I have a wife and two sons to haunt.

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Ken McGorry has been writing since third grade. (He learned in first grade, but waited two years.) He started a school newspaper with friends in seventh grade, but he’s better known for his 23 years as an editor of Post Magazine, a monthly covering television and film production. This century, he took up novel-writing and Ghost Hampton and Smashed are examples. More are in the works, like the promised Ghost Hampton sequel, but he’s kinda slow.

Ken lives on Long Island with his wife and they have two strapping sons. There are dogs. Ken is also a chef (grilled cheese, and only for his sons) and he enjoys boating (if it’s someone else’s boat). He has a band, The Achievements, that plays his songs (try Back at Manhattan College (English major!), he was a founding member of the venerable Meade Bros. Band. Ken really was an employee of Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons one college summer, and really did mow Dan’s lawn.


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