1.29.2011 | Saturday

Featuring J.L. Bryan & Giveaway

category: Guest Posts

Today I am honored to have J.L. Bryan, the author of one of my favorite books of 2010, Jenny Pox, and of the just released The Haunted E-book (linked to my reviews), as a guest blogger!  As part of the book tour, I am lucky to be able to host a giveaway for two of his books, details below my guest’s posts.

The Ghost of Ghosts Past

The oldest known story in the world is part ghost story.

The Epic of Gilgamesh was written on clay tablets about 6,000 years ago.  It includes stories about a flood that destroys the world, except for one man, who was notified in advance by the gods and built a boat to prepare (sound familiar?).  The story also has forbidden fruit.  The hero, Gilgamesh, seeks in vain after a certain blossom that will grant eternal life.

Like Adam and Eve in a later story, Gilgamesh is unable to eat the fruit that will make him live forever.  Resigned to his own death, Gilgamesh instead summons the ghost of his friend Enkidu to find out what’s in store for him.  It’s not an easy process, and Gilgamesh must appeal to several gods before he is able to make contact.

Enkidu—once a beastly, violent wild man whom Gilgamesh tamed by setting him up with some prostitutes, in a very early precursor to Beauty and the Beast—tells Gilgamesh what to expect after death.  It’s not pretty.  The dead generally wander hopeless and hungry through eternity, feeding on trash in the streets.

This story is often compared to that of another famous ancient hero, Odysseus.  For guidance and previews about his journey home, Odysseus visits the underworld to consult with the ghost of Teiresius, once a famous prophet.  Again, it’s not easy to speak with the dead.  Odysseus fills a trench with wine, milk and the blood of freshly sacrificed sheep.  All the ghosts come out for a drink, but he holds them off until he speaks with the dead prophet.

Teiresius tells him there’s trouble ahead.  Poseidon is still furious about the whole Odysseus blinding the cyclops thing, the cyclops being a son of Poseidon. The prophet tells Odysseus he will see the cattle of Apollo, but must leave them alone or be cursed by the gods (Odysseus’ men later ignore this, eat the cattle and suffer punishment—spoiler alert, Odysseus arrives home alone.)  Teiresius foretells most of the remaining plot points to come for the rest of The Odyssey. In a very sad scene, Odysseus then encounters the ghost of his dead mother and tries in vain to embrace her, but as a ghost she longer has a huggable substance.

Another famous ancient ghost is that of the prophet Samuel.  Saul, the king, has driven out the sorcerers and witches from his kingdom, as a religious act.  Now, with his grip in power slipping and a huge battle ahead, he visits the Witch of Endor and begs her to summon up the prophet’s ghost to help him.  The witch summons Samuel, who takes this opportunity to rebuke Saul for consorting with witches and spirits.  Samuel has no helpful advice, but instead says that, because Saul has done this, he will be defeated in battle and die.  The prophet’s prediction comes true.  It’s an early version of the Heisenberg effect—Saul changed the future by trying to get information about it.

We can see certain patterns in these earliest ghost stories.  First, it’s not easy to get in touch with dead—there may be strange, elaborate, morally questionable rituals involved.  Second, people generally contact the dead in order to gain information.  However, the information may be useless or disappointing.  Finally, we can see that ancient people didn’t hold much hope for a great afterlife.  They expected to wander in pain and discomfort for eternity, or else slowly fade into the dim shades of Tartarus, lost in the mists of the underworld with little to do but reflect on the time when they were alive.

We can see how little myths about ghosts have changed in thousands of years.  People still try to contact the dead for information, either about events in life or afterlife conditions.  It’s still not easy—one must find a medium who claims to have the special gift of talking with the dead, and if Crossing Over with John Edward was any indication, the dead are still stingy when it comes to news you can use.  Finally, our conception of the afterlife has changed.  Modern religions promise paradise, while modern atheists expect their consciousness to be completely extinguished. When dealing with ghosts, though, it’s common to think of them as wandering lost or trapped between worlds.

Ghosts of today aren’t that far from ghosts of the ancient world, after all.

J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period.  He also studied screenwriting at UCLA.  He is the author of five novels and one short-story collection.  His new novel is The Haunted E-book.  The sequel to his novel Jenny Pox will be available by summer 2011.

Note: For more of J.L Bryan,…

The Haunted E-book Giveaway


One commenter will win digital copies of two of J.L. Bryan’s books, The Haunted E-bookand Dark Tomorrows.  All commenters will be entered for a chance to win the grand prize of The Haunted Library, the Kindle WiFi and possibly a Kindle DX!  To see what is included, visit the author’s website here!

The rules: Leave a comment in the in this post within the next seven days!  Commenting will close at midnight EST on Saturday night, February 5th.  Good luck and don’t forget to run, don’t walk, to your favorite bookstore and get a copy of The Haunted E-book!  I absolutely LOVED it!

NOTE: Be sure to leave your email so I can contact the winner.  The winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to reply.  If I don’t hear from you by then, I will choose another.

::spread the love::

17 responses to “Featuring J.L. Bryan & Giveaway

  1. Donovan Adams

    I’ve always found haunted stories fascinating; the mythology of ghost stories is always fun to read. I am definitely interested to read this book. Connecting the story to popular ghost myths makes me excited to read The Haunted e-Book, especially if there is a modern twist to it!

  2. Great post as always Jeff! It’s funny, I spoke to my mom yesterday morning and she announced that she had a slumber party Friday night since my dad was out of town. My response? “Oh, because of the ghost.” Yea, my mom thinks there is a ghost in the house and she definitely doesn’t want to talk to him.

  3. Kate H

    I already bought the haunted e-book so feel free to skip me for the e-books part of the contest but please enter me in the grand prize part! I loved the haunted e-book so you guys should all go check it out :)

  4. The Haunted E-book shounds like a fun book. I love ghost stories they are alway interesting. Thanks for a chance to win.

    bkwolf(dot)whitaker@gmail(dot)com just in case I win.

  5. Melanie Wiggins

    I have become a fan of the BBC America show “Being Human.” Its premise seems kind of silly-a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost living together-but I quite like it. Considering that perhaps the only popular American show dealing with ghosts (that comes to mind anyway) is “Ghost Whisperer,” “Being Human”‘s ghost is all the more intriguing. Viewers get to follow her through each episode, instead of getting a glimpse of a ghost whose story gets a tidy resolution within an hour.

  6. Another fantastic post from JL. I am totally sold on his book and will be buying it as soon as I can. I love the concept and from all the posts I have read I am positive that the book will be a great read. Thanks for being part of this tour!

  7. Claudia – The Haunted E-book might not be a great read for your mom… :)

    Kate – Thanks for buying the book!

    Joemomma, Donna, Lauralynn, Belinda and Sandy – Thanks so much for following the blog tour!

    Melanie – That sounds like a great show!

    Jan – Nice to see you again, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog posts :)

  8. It sounds great, the reviews are very positive, and it’s right up my alley so I’m getting this book either way, but I’d love to win it!