Donnie Light - Genre-bending Dark Fiction Paranormal Stories

Donnie Light - Genre-bending Dark Fiction Paranormal Stories

Donnie Light is an American author of several novels and shorter works. He writes genre-bending dark fiction - paranormal stories that include elements of mystery and thriller. His stories have been featured in two anthologies focused on dark fiction - Softly Creeping and Lyrical Darkness. Donnie Light lives in rural Northern Illinois and is currently working on his next novel. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, The Lighting Ghost.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Lighting Ghost is about.

Having been raised by her maternal grandparents, young Jenny McLane discovers an ability to travel to the past, as a ghost. She longs to know about her parents, whom she knows only from stories she's been told. She uses her new ability to observe her parents in the past, and of course, discovers there was far more going on than she could have imagined. While in the past, Jenny is in a world called The Fray, where there are dangerous beings, other ghosts, and foul creatures to avoid. Jenny risks everything to know her parents, and discovers that the dangers of The Fray now threaten our world.

What inspired you to write about someone who can travel to the past as a ghost?

An old photograph that my mother sent me. The photo was of me and my cousin at about three years old. I had the thought that I'd love to "drop into" that scene just to see what was going on when the photo was taken. I wrote about the story origin on my website.

I love time travel stories, and if a person could travel there as a ghost — well, that seemed to solve a lot of time travel paradoxes. While in the past, Jenny is in spirit form, so nobody in the past can see her or hear her. She can observe the past, and that helps her to unravel various mysteries, but she cannot change the past, at least from a physical perspective. But even as a ghost, there may be some things that Jenny can do in the spirit realm to alter the past and thus, change the future.

Tell us more about Jenny McLane. What makes her tick?

Having never known her parents creates an immense, mysterious void in Jenny's life. Our parents create us, and we all carry traits we inherit from them. She wonders how much she is like her mother and her father, and which of her traits she gets from each one. Once she discovers her new ability, a door opens to at least know something about her parents. While Jenny is no warrior, she finds that she will have to face great danger to know more about her parents. Jenny never gives up, and grows to meet the challenge.

What makes The Fray so interesting to Jenny?

The Fray is both threatening and revealing, and Jenny cannot get answers without facing the dangers. Throughout her journeys in The Fray, Jenny realizes that The Fray has an immense impact on our physical world, even though most of us do not realize it. She is amazed to discover that our world and The Fray are intricately interwoven in fascinating ways.

What fascinates you about the paranormal?

How could one not be fascinated? Haha. I think that many people don't give a lot of thought to the paranormal, so it's no big deal to them. But there are so many things about our world that cannot be explained — and that's what fascinates me. While I've never had any kind of paranormal encounter myself, I think the subject makes for incredible story potential, and that's the part I truly love. I think the word paranormal covers a lot of ground, from the X-Files to Fairy Tales.

Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.

The cover image is a scene from the story, where Jenny faces a creature she calls the Gaunt Lord. The illustration was done by Jethro Lentle who I became aware of through a publisher I worked with some time ago. He read the scene and created the artwork. I have to admit, I went back and changed some of the text to better match his artwork, because he imagined the Gaunt Lord even better than I did.

What did you have the most fun with when writing this story?

This is the first book where I have created an alternate world. While it's a daunting task, it was also great fun. Having to imagine an alternate reality, and what rules preside there was a challenge (and I'm still working things out for future books). While developing the story, I imagined that The Fray might actually be the source for many unexplained things in our world. For instance — strange creatures are sighted all over the world. What if those creature came from The Fray? What if the creatures from myths and legends originate in The Fray, and sometimes find their way into our world? That was a fun theme to work with in The Lightning Ghost, and will play a bigger role in future books.

Readers say there were many surprises in the book. Did you plan it all out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?

Definitely a little of both. While I had the basic plot laid out in my head, the story often went in a different direction based on what was happening in the story that I didn't anticipate. As an example: I had a cast of characters that the original story line called for that never got to play their part in the book. I'm saving them for a future story, because I still love the original plan I had for them. Stories will often change to some degree as they develop, and that keeps the author guessing about how much control they really have. Haha.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

Review my notes. When I literally sit down to start a book, I will already have pages of notes that I have jotted down... ideas for scenes, certain character profiles, dialog that I want to show up in the book. I may have an idea for a book years before I start writing it, so some books have LOTS of notes. The idea for The Lightning Ghost was conceived about three years before I started writing it. During that time, I had lots of ideas. That has been typical for me.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I truly have very few "average" writing days. I still work a day job (that I truly love) so I find time to write whenever it's available and get as much done as I can. Sometimes, I will write during my lunchtime at work. Other times, I'll take days off just to write. I'm more productive during the winter when the nights are so long and the weather is dreadful. Once I get well into the story, I seem to find more time... partly because I want to know what happens next! One thing I love about my routine is that I can write from anywhere. I have written scenes on my phone. Wherever I can access my document, I can write from.


What are you working on right now?

As soon as I conclude this interview, I'll be working on Book Two of The Lightning Ghost series, tentatively titled The Lightning Ghost: Missing Persons. I have the basic story down, and I'm making progress. I hope to have it out early next year.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

My website is probably the best place to learn more. All of my books are there, along with a blog where I occasionally throw out thoughts and ideas. There are free short stories there as well. I have a Facebook author page where I post things I find interesting and may become part of a story at some point. I also post there about promos and upcoming publications. I'm diligently trying to be more active at other sites where I have profiles, like Goodreads, Instagram, and several others. I love to hear from readers, and all my contact info is on my website.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my book with your readers!

The Lightning Ghost: Enter the Fray
Donnie Light

Jenny McLane travels to the past... as a ghost. While staring at a photo, she falls into a trance and awakens in the past, at the moment the photo was taken. Nobody can see her, but some sense her presence. While in the past, ghosts and other creatures try to feed on her life energy. She risks it all to discover the fate of her missing parents.