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The Little Interview

The Ghost of Us by James L. Sutter

Banner of James L. Sutter's book The Ghost of Us


Cara is obsessed with hunting for ghosts. When she makes contact with Aiden, the spirit of a popular student who died a year ago, she's sure her life is about to change forever. Aiden can't pass on to the afterlife because his sister, Meredith, is deeply depressed. Aiden makes a deal with Cara: romance his sister out of her grief, and he'll help Cara show the world that there's life after death. But when fake dating leads to real feelings, Cara will have to choose which matters more: proving ghosts exist… or love?


Besides writing books (novels, short fiction, comics), James L. Sutter is a co-creator of the Pathfinder and Starfinder Tabletop Roleplaying Games. Besides "The Ghost of Us" (2024), some of his books are "Darkhearts" (2023), "The Redemption Engine" (2014), and "Death's Heretic" (2011).


1. Where did you find the inspiration for "The Ghost of Us"?

I had just finished Darkhearts, which was based in part on my own experience of being a teenage musician and realizing I was queer, and thus had been shockingly easy to write. But now I wanted to do something less autobiographical, and I honestly wasn't sure what to do, so I was just thinking about tropes I found interesting—fake dating, ghost-hunting, etc. One day I sat down and wrote a monologue from the perspective of a teenage ghost about how much it sucks being dead. It was funny, but I wasn't really sure how to build a story around it, until I started thinking that maybe it wasn't so much his story as the story of the ghost hunter who finds him, and the depressed sister he's left behind... and what if the two of them fell for each other... Add in the idea of him acting as a ghostly wingman, whispering advice in the ghost-hunter's ear about how to woo his sister, and everything started to fall into place.

2. Did you think beforehand to put a reference to "Darkhearts" in this novel or did it just come up while writing? 

I didn't plan on it, but I love when authors have little Easter eggs tying their books together, so as soon as my ghost-hunter and ghost characters, Cara and Aiden, started talking about music, I knew he had to be a Darkhearts fan! (I also like the idea that Aiden and his sister Meredith were at the same benefit concert we experience in that book, somewhere in the crowd...)

3. While reading, there was one sentence that just stood out to me. I found it poetic, beautiful, and very fitting at the end of this chapter.

"No one would call us talented. But no one was calling us anything. We belonged to the beat, and we were beautiful."

So I am wondering… what was your favorite part to write? 

Thank you so much! It's funny—even though Darkhearts was more my "music book," I think it's impossible for me to write YA without talking about music, simply because it was such a formative part of my own teenage years and identity. So I definitely loved writing the concert scenes, but I think my favorite (that I can mention without spoilers) is probably the rock-climbing scene, as Cara's terror directly echoes my own. (Or maybe anything with Cara's parents—they're so goofy and good-natured, and just crack me up every time!)

4. Which song would be the soundtrack to "The Ghost of Us"?

Honestly, I've already sketched out several songs in my head for the neo-soul band the girls go see partway through the book, and I also got to compose the intro music for the official audiobook, so in some ways I've already written the soundtrack myself! That said, Lake Street Dive's "Good Kisser" was running through my head constantly as an example of the kind of music Meredith loves.

5. Can you already give us a hint about your next book?

Nothing's been announced yet, but I'm working on another queer young adult romance, this one postapocalyptic... I'm currently referring to it in my head as "my gay Terminator novel." :)

Bonus question: what are you reading at the moment?

I just finished Abigail Johnson's "Every Time You Go Away", and I really loved it—a beautiful contemporary YA romance between two teens with rough pasts, including some excellent wheelchair representation. I'm also partway through Fonda Lee's "Untethered Sky", a fantasy about hunting with giant rocs.


"The Ghost of Us" is a queer romance, more specifically, a supernatural fake dating story. To be honest, I didn't know if the supernatural part would suit me but the book handles this ghostly subject really nicely with lots of humor and a smoothness in the story. I know this sounds weird but hear me out: it feels completely normal to investigate ghosts (well, still some people in the book didn't think it was normal but as a reader you think it is). Even though this story is about death & grief, the novel is lighthearted. Cara’s parents are awesome and I loved the banter between ghost Aiden and ghost hunter Cara! And, of course, the book (with a gorgeous cover) is available in our shop.

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, James!

James L. Sutter - Photo by Giao Nguyen
Photo by Giao Nguyen
Cover of the book The Ghost of Us

Author: James L. Sutter

Book: The Ghost of Us Publishing date in Europe: 06.06.2024 Website: James L. Sutter Instagram: James L. Sutter


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2 comentários

06 de jul.

Very nice interview!

The Little Bookshop
07 de jul.
Respondendo a

Thank you :) Happy you like our first interview! - Liz

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