Like I mentioned earlier this week I love reading middle grade books and there are some amazing releases this year. One of them being Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko. Ghost Girl is pitched as a book perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks and I loved both! I had the opportunity to interview Ally Malinenko, so today I want to tell you about Ghost Girl and the author of course. Keep on reading to find out more!
Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps!
Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.
It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.
When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl.
But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways.
To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.
What inspired you to start writing?
I always tell people that I have always been writing. I wrote my first short story when I was 8 and wrote poems through middle and high school. But if I really think about it, if there was one specific inspiration, it would have to be A Wrinkle in Time. I read that in middle school and it was the first time I really considered the author. Prior to, it was just a book to entertain me. But the character of Meg hit me so hard that I started to think about the fact that someone created this. And if someone created it then that means that one day there was a chance that I could also be someone who creates something. So, while it didn’t inspire me to write – all kids write and tell stories honestly – it inspired me to become a writer.
What books did you enjoy growing up?
This probably won’t really come as a shock but I loved scary stories. In fact, Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was my absolute favorite. Again, Wrinkle in Time was magic to me. I loved how real Meg felt. And that line, “Stay angry, little Meg. You will need all your anger now” just wowed me. The idea that anger was useful, that it had a purpose. Adults are constantly telling kids to let go of their anger, even when they themselves know that anger can be useful. It just struck me so hard. Everything about Meg felt so real – her anger, her insecurity. It really spoke to 12-year-old Ally.
Besides writing, what other interests and hobbies do you have?
I love comics – not so much superhero ones but ones like Paper Girls and Saga and my current obsession Something Is Killing the Children. I journal and have kept one since I was a kid. I have a pretty terrible memory so it’s probably for the best that I write things down. I’m thinking one day I’ll go through it and read about my whole life. I run, thought I don’t know if that is a hobby so much as something that helps keep my anxiety at bay.
Describe your book in five words or less.
What is your favorite quote from Ghost Girl?
Gosh, that’s a good question. I think it would be this one:
“That’s the thing about fear: you either conquer it or succumb to it. It offers no middle ground.”
And I think it’s my favorite because that is the thing I love best about horror. It’s the challenge it offers readers. Can you make it through the night? Will you make it through the night?
When you wrote Ghost Girl did you have it all mapped out or Zee take the lead?
Zee definitely took the lead. She’s been living in my head for about a decade and I tried slotting her into different stories but it wasn’t working. When I write I see the beginning and I see the end. Everything in the middle is the chance for my characters to explore. Some roads are good, and they stay. Some are bad and that’s what revision is for. But it’s a process to learn what the story is really about at the heart of it. So yeah, Zee was in the driver’s seat.
If you were a character in your book, what kind of character would you be?
I would love to say I’m Elijah cause he’s a little cinnamon roll but I would definitely be Zee. From the stubbornness to the putting my foot in my mouth, I’m Zee all the way.
What can we expect from you next? If you can tell us about it!
My next book, which is about summer of 2022 is called This Appearing House. It’s a stand-alone Haunted House book in which two friends find themselves trapped in a house that is much more than they expected. It’s a story about illness and navigating trauma that was comped to A Monster Calls. It’s very much the book of my heart.
Okay, reading Ally’s answers definitely make me even more excited about Ghost Girl. Keep an eye on the blog, because my review will be posted soon! I definitely love spooky stories, so this will be a treat.