Wednesday, March 30, 2011

L.M. Brown and Benji Richards talk about Ghostly Stuff

Welcome L.M. Brown, author of TOUCH OF A GHOST and Benji Richards (a real ghost)

Here's a bit of his story to whet your appetite:

Andy Jessop wants a life without ghosts. He doesn’t want to see, hear, or talk to them. Ignoring them should be relatively simple.

But Andy soon finds that Benji Richards, an eternally gorgeous ghost from the fifties, is not so easy to ignore.

Halloween night is approaching and both Andy and Benji know what it could mean for them. From sunset to sunrise, it is the one night of the year when a mortal can feel the touch of a ghost.

Available from Silver Publishing

Now meet Benjamin “Benji” Richards from Touch of a Ghost

L.M. Brown: This interview takes place part way through Touch of a Ghost and will contain some small spoilers for that story.

You might wonder at how I came to be interviewing a ghost, they being somewhat elusive by nature. Well, let me first explain how this came about.

I work as a trainee reporter for a local newspaper, which is where I first met Andy Jessop. He’s a photographer for the same paper and the source of a great deal of gossip around the water cooler.

Naturally, and much to the disappointment of the females in the office, he turned out to be gay. There’s a painting of his boyfriend on his desk, which was my first clue that there might be a story here. A photographer who doesn’t have a photograph of his boyfriend?

Being the curious type I decided to do a little investigating and find out who the young man in the painting was. My prying didn’t go unnoticed and resulted in a personal visit from the ghost in question.

“I hear you’ve been asking about me?”

I jumped, startled by the presence when I’d thought myself alone. I recognised the man sitting across from me immediately. His face was the one in the painting Andy had on his desk.

“Yes, I was curious to know why Andy had a painting of you on his desk instead of a photograph.”

If I thought I’d been surprised at the appearance of him in front of me, it was nothing compared to his reaction at my response.

“Well, I’ll be damned.”


“So, you can see and hear me.”

“Of course I can. Is there any reason why I wouldn’t? How did you get in here anyway? I thought Andy left over an hour ago.”

“He did. He’s photographing babies over at the community centre.”

I didn’t fail to notice how the two more important questions had been left unanswered. Questions about how he got in without a pass were put to one side. The other question I was far more curious about. “Why did you think I wouldn’t be able to see or hear you?”

He shot me an amused look. “Not many people can, darling. I’m something like the invisible man. Andy and his family can see me, but there aren’t many others around who do. Do you have any psychics in your family?”

What an odd question. I shook my head. Every family had the odd relative who was a little strange, but I was fairly sure that no one in mine had actually claimed to be psychic.

“Must be just you then. Aren’t you the lucky one?”

“How so?”

“Well, if you weren’t psychic you wouldn’t be able to see or hear me.”

Goosebumps broke out over my arms and a chill went down my spine. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be alone with this man. “Why not?” My question came out as a whisper.

“Can’t you guess? Come on, you’re a reporter, aren’t you? What do your reporter instincts tell you?”

It sounded ridiculous in my head, but I couldn’t think of any other explanation. “You’re a ghost?” Out loud it sounded even worse, but the man grinned and slowly clapped his hands together in applause.

“Got it in one. Are you sure there’re no psychics in your family?”

“Pretty sure. Maybe I’m just more open minded than everyone else?”

“That or so nosy nothing will stop you from getting your story.” The grin took the edge off the words and I had to admit he had a point.

“I didn’t really think of tracking you down for a story.”


He had me on that one. “So, what’s your name?”

“Benjamin Richards. Or at least it was. Most people call me Benji, and don’t you dare suggest I was named after that bloody dog. It was my name first.”

“You’ve been around a while then?”

“Yeah. I’d be an old man now if I hadn’t died young.”

Died young was right. No way was this ghost older than twenty. He looked like a teenager who had stepped right out of the fifties. Live fast, die young. Probably a motorbike crash whilst racing someone else. Or maybe drugs.

Curiosity won out and I had to ask. “How did you die?”

“You want the truth or something more exciting and dramatic?”

“The truth of course.”

“Got myself run over.”


“You were expecting something more interesting?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Most people’s deaths aren’t interesting at all. I was upset about something and wasn’t looking where I was going. It was my own fault and I have to live with that… or die with that if you like.”

“Are you cold?” I blurted out the random question without thinking.

“Why does everyone always ask that question?” Benji rolled his eyes. “Yes, though I don’t know how you all know to ask this. I feel cold all the time, but apparently I’m not cool to the touch.”

“Can I touch you?”

“Not today.”

“Why not?”

“I’m a ghost and we’re about four months gone past Halloween, which is the only night I can be touched.”

“Oh. Is that the same for all ghosts?”

“Yeah. It’s a real pain in the arse, not to mention other areas, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Benji shifted in his seat and I couldn’t help but glance down at his lap. Uncomfortable was right. Perhaps a change of subject was in order.

“What was it like to die?”

“To be honest, I don’t remember much about it. Ma told me it was pretty quick and I guess it must have been.”

“Your mum’s psychic?”

“No, she’s dead now too. I stuck around to make sure she was okay and missed my chance to move on. Then when she died, she was so busy berating me for not passing over she missed her own chance. So we just haunt our old block of flats and wait for another chance.”

“You think you’ll get another opportunity to move on?”

“I think so. I saw someone else do it once about twenty years ago. She was a ghost waiting for her lover to die, and when he did she moved on with him. I’ll do the same when Andy passes.”

Suddenly I realised something I should have known before. Even though I was sure I already knew the answer I had to ask. “Are you and Andy an item?”

“Why else do you think he has a painting of me on his desk?”

I shrugged, unable to come up with an answer, only more questions. “Why a painting anyway?”

“Because I can’t be photographed and he wanted a picture of me. He’s pretty talented, isn’t he?”

“Andy did the painting himself?”

Benji nodded and grinned. “His father’s an artist as well, but Andy wanted to paint me himself. He’s done some others too, but they’re not really suitable for hanging in the office, or any other room where visitors can see for that matter.”

I was blushing again and didn’t need Benji to elaborate further as to what sort of paintings he was talking about. I had sudden visions of Andy and Benji in the roles of Jack and Rose from Titanic. Even clothed I could tell that Benji would make a stunning subject and I wondered how I might persuade Andy to let me see the other paintings.

“He won’t let anyone else see them,” Benji warned me, causing me to speculate if perhaps the ability to read minds materialised when you were dead.

“Go on, ask the question,” Benji prompted me.

“Can you read minds?”

“Oh. I thought you were going to ask something else. No, I can’t read minds, though it would be a handy thing if I could.”

“What did you think I was going to ask?”

“I thought you were going to ask something impertinent about our sex life.”

I couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled up in my chest. Whilst I was a little curious I wasn’t quite prepared to ask something so personal. “I wasn’t going to ask about ghost sex,” I finally managed to choke out.

“It’s not so different from mortal sex anyway. Just limited to one night a year.”

“You’re kidding? Only once a year?”

“No body, remember? We manage to make it work though.”

“How? You can find a way to touch at other times?”

“We wish. No, but there are ways we can get off. Think of it like a long distance relationship and you’ll probably be close.”

“Phone sex?”

“But without the actual phones. And let’s just say that a certain sex shop just off the high street has had a new regular customer the last few months.”

Benji was joking about the difficulties, but somehow it seemed a little forced. He was finding the relationship hard, I could tell. “I think I’d be going crazy if it were me. I’d want to touch you all the time.”

“So does Andy, but we take what we can get.”

“Why not let Andy find himself a boyfriend who’s still alive?”

Benji scowled and turned to look out the window. “Now you sound like his parents. They seem to think he’s giving up his life by being with me.”

“Do you think that?”

“Sometimes I wonder if he’d be happier with a mortal. But I love him too much to give him up. I wish I’d met him when I was still alive.”

“You said something about Andy’s parents. I thought it was just him and his dad?”

“He has a sister as well. And his mum decided to stay around instead of moving on as well.”

“Andy’s mum’s a ghost?”

“Didn’t I just say that? Yeah. She visits sometimes with his dad. Neither of them are too happy about our relationship, but Andy is as stubborn as a mule.”

“You noticed that too?” Andy’s stubbornness had been noticed around the office within a few weeks of his starting work there.

“You have no idea. It was a challenge just to get him to talk to me. But I don’t mind him digging his heels in when he’s fighting for the two of us to stay together. Not that his parents could stop us anyway.”

“What if Andy decided he wanted something more with someone still alive?”

“He won’t.”

“You can’t be sure of that.”

“He loves me.”

“Sometimes love isn’t enough.”

“Love is always enough when it’s real love.”

“You’re quite the romantic, aren’t you?”

“So’s Andy, which makes us perfect for each other.”

“For now, but what about when Andy gets older?”

Benji’s face clouded over and he looked away again.

“What is it?”

“Getting older is something that bothers Andy sometimes. He thinks I don’t know, but I can tell it gets to him. He’s not much older than I was when I died, just a few years, but I’ve caught him looking in the mirror, checking for wrinkles would you believe? He’s still young and gorgeous, but he’s already worrying about getting older.”

“Maybe he thinks you’re going to leave him for a younger man?”

“Never gonna happen. He’s it for me.”

“Does he know that?”

“I tell him often enough, but he still doubts me. Nothing except time can ever really prove that his aging won’t make a difference to my feelings for him.”

“It sounds to me like there might be some tough times ahead for you both.”

“Isn’t there for everyone?”

“I suppose so. Are there many ghosts walking amongst us?”

“A fair few. Most hang out in the cemeteries, though I’m sure I don’t know why. Bloody depressing places. Andy insisted on dragging me to the one where I’m buried last month. He’s got some daft idea about putting flowers on my grave on special occasions.”

“That sounds like Andy.”

“Yeah. But if he wants me to have flowers, I’d rather he just bring some home one day. There’s no need to go traipsing up to the cemetery where they’ll just wither and die.”

“If leaving flowers on your graves makes him happy, I don’t see any harm in it.”

“You’re right. That’s why I let him do it instead of pointing out the pointlessness.”

“It’s not pointless if it makes him happy.”

Benji chuckled and leaned back in his seat. “Andy should be finishing at the community centre soon. I think I’ll go meet him for lunch.”

“You can eat?”

“No. But I don’t like to think of him sitting on his own eating when everyone else has someone.”

“Considering the number of admirers he has, I doubt he’ll be eating on his own.”

“Which is the other reason I like to meet him for lunch. You could join us if you like, but I think you’d do better writing up this interview while it’s still fresh in your mind.”

I grinned and pointed to the tape recorder I had set playing not long after Benji had appeared. “The wonders of modern technology mean I can pick this up and transcribe it any time I like.”

Benji grinned right back at me. “And the wonders of being a ghost mean you’ll hear only your own voice on the playback.”

“What?” I reached for the recorder and a moment later I discovered he was absolutely right.


Benji continued to grin for a few seconds. Then he vanished right before my eyes. Any doubts I might have harboured about his claims to be a ghost vanished with him.

I guess I’m skipping lunch today, because this interview is one I want to write down before I forget it, or start to wonder if I imagined it all. Somehow though, I doubt my editor will let it go to press.

Touch of a Ghost by L.M. Brown
A Silver Halloween Treat
Available from Silver Publishing

Find out more at L.M. Brown's Website:


Lindsay K. said...

An excellent interview!

Calisa Rhose said...

I interview my characters, but this is just awesome! Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us. Thank you Gale for bringing this fun read for us!

JP said...

What a great interview, Benji sounds like a pretty cool guy, ghost or not.
Thanks for posting.

L.M. Brown said...

Hi Lindsay - Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked the interview.

Hi Calisa - I'm glad you enjoyed it, though I have to admit my real life ghostly experiences aren't anywhere near as exciting.

Hi JP - Benji is very cool. He looks and dresses like a young James Dean, and he doesn't let being dead get in the way of his happy ever after. I'm glad you liked the interview.

@ Gale - Thank you for having me over here today and taking a chance on my first character interview.

Pender Mackie said...

Interviewing the ghost instead of the mortal is a cool idea. Now I definitely plan on reading this book.

L.M. Brown said...

Thanks Pender. If you do read it I hope you enjoy it.