Publish Date: Jan. 6, 2015 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | Pages: 336 | Buy it on: Amazon ~ IndieBound
A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.
Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick’s gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession
Read an excerpt of THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN
And now for Sedgwick’s guest post about the books that have changed him.
As a writer you often get asked what your favorite book is; a question that I think many book lovers struggle to answer happily, because there are simply too many great books one comes across in a lifetime to choose just a single title. There are perhaps fewer books that one can really say have influenced you in a profound way as a reader or as a writer, but even then, for most people, it’s probably a very long list. But this is a slightly different question – not just books that you have loved, but the ones that have truly changed who you are as a reader and writer. So, off the top of my head, here’s one book for each of the five (well four and a bit decades) that I’ve been around.
0-10: I don’t have to stop and think about this one; Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence was the first thing to really shout to me – it was all about the atmosphere, the hints at old legends, its deep Englishness, the simultaneous brightness and darkness of the writing. It’s probably the main reason I fell in love with writing.
11-20: The Titus Books, by Mervyn Peake. More usually known as the Gormenghast Trilogy, Peake actually envisaged a whole sequence of books to cover the entire life of his hero, Titus Groan, heir to a crumbling kingdom of broken stones, mystifying ritual and peculiar denizens. I loved it as a teenager, mostly because I had never read anything so weird in all my life. And weird is good.
21-30: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I have always had a great fondness for short books – Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea being a prime example, or Utz by Bruce Chatwin, but the short book above all the others for me is another one of Hemingway’s: his loose autobiographical account of a time in Paris in the twenties, where among his friends were the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein. I got even more out of the book when I re-read it in my early forties (having lived a little) but I’m including it in my third decade because it stands out for me as the book I read then which began to influence my views on writing – on its style but even more now, I think, its purpose. This is a book about loving and living, and that’s what writing is for.
31-40: Another American writer, but from a different era. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is one of those classics that I suspect is under-read these days. I think the influence of weak film adaptations of classics like this one, or Treasure Island (which I might also have included somewhere in this list) is that people think they know them, and maybe therefore never get round to reading the original. In the case of some classics, there’s not too much to cry about over that, but Moby Dick is an extraordinary book. What can never come across in a film, of course, is the true nature of the prose itself, and it’s the prose that makes this book so very good. The plot of Moby Dick can be summarized in one dumb sentence; crazed whaling captain seeks revenge on the whale that took his leg. What you get in the 100+ chapters of the book is some of the most entertaining, gripping, stylish, perceptive, elegant, meaningful writing that man has ever committed to paper.
41-50: I have a few years left to find a better book for my fifth decade, but I’ll be very (pleasantly) surprised if anything comes close to The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. “If I had to choose one book…” as the challenge has it, it would be this one, and for many of the same reasons that I chose Moby Dick above. Not only is the writing superb (surviving the translation from the German well enough, I’m told) what Mann achieved in the seven hundred odd pages of this book is almost beyond belief. The ‘story’ again is simple enough; in the first decade of the twentieth century, a young German goes to visit his cousin in a tuberculosis sanatorium, high in the Swiss Alps, for a holiday of three weeks. He ends up staying for seven years. Like the ‘magic’ of the mountain that captivates him, Mann achieves the same effect with his book on the reader; deeply clever but always staying just the right side of knowing, this book is a meditation on life, love, illness, death, time, war, not to mention thermometers, food, photography, mathematics and religion. It is funny, shocking, beautiful, wise, tragic and true, and since that’s pretty much how life is, if I do read a better book before the next decade comes around, I’ll be very happy indeed.
–MS December 14, 2014
GIVEAWAY TIME: Win a Hardcover of THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN
Thanks to our friends at Macmillan, one of our readers will win a shiny new hardcover!
All you need to do is to leave a comment below by Jan. 19 telling us why you’d like to read the book, and if you want an extra entry, tweet about the giveaway and come back to add a link to your tweet. Open to readers 18 and older (or 13 and older with parental permission) with mailing addresses in US/Canada only.I'd love to win @marcussedgwick newest book Ghosts of Heaven from @teenlitrocks. Click To Tweet
For more about THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN, check out the entire blog tour:
Monday January 5: The Midnight Garden
Tuesday January 6: ExLibris
Wednesday January 7: Teen Lit Rocks
Thursday January 8: Fat Girl Reading
Friday January 9: Step Into Fiction
Monday January 12: The Book Wars
Tuesday January 13: Miss Print
Thursday January 15: Ticket to Anywhere
Friday January 16: Alice Marvels