I’ve been asked a few times recently where the idea to write a White House ghost story based on true events came from. So I figured I’d share the origins of the novel here in case you were curious.
I’d never heard of President Franklin Pierce. Why would I have? A one-term administration. A leader whose inaction set the course toward civil war. A slice of American history that even historians haven’t bothered with much.
What drew me to write The Residence wasn’t the history, nor was it setting a ghost story in the most famous house in the world. It was the mystery of a marriage.
I came to Franklin by way of Jane, whom I found by accident at the bottom of an internet rabbit hole. On the surface, her profile was the opposite of more celebrated or charming First Ladies. Jane Pierce wanted only to be a wife and mother in small town New Hampshire, yet fate kept pulling her and her husband to seats of greater power. Along the way, she lost all three of her children, the last of whom, Bennie, was the sole fatality in a bizarre train accident that occurred just weeks prior to Franklin’s inauguration. Forced to reside in a palace of grief, she hid on the second floor of the White House and wrote letters to Bennie, pleading for the boy’s return. According to her, he did.
The lore around Jane (dubbed “the phantom of the White House” by the press) includes seances, eccentric behavior, a life of unimaginably cursed luck. So why did the handsome Franklin Pierce choose her in the first place? How did they endure such tragic loss and yet remained devoted to each other both during their years in Washington and after? Why did Franklin refuse to swear his oath on a bible?
Ghost stories are as much about those who witness the supernatural as the spectres themselves. How do spirits – and demons – choose the ones they possess? The Residence is the story of a couple struggling with enormous loss while not being permitted to grieve. It’s also about a secret. A resistance to an ancient darkness that followed them inside the only haunted house whose inhabitants are forbidden to leave.
Okay, so it’s already on the internets which means there’s not much of a ta-da! factor here, but nevertheless wanted to share the cover design of my new novel, The Residence.
Coming September 1 with Simon & Schuster Canada and Gallery Books/Skybound in the US.
Much more news of all types to come.
I GOT SOME NEWS!
My forthcoming novel, The Residence, a ghost story based on true events set in the White House, is being developed as a hybrid documentary-fiction series for TV with Robert Kirkman’s (The Walking Dead) company Skybound Entertainment and RadicalMedia.
Story in The Hollywood Reporter here:
The Residence – The Hollywood Reporter
I have a new novel coming in September. It’s called The Residence.
The Residence is a ghost story set in the Pierce Administration’s White House of the 1850s and is based on true events and correspondence. It’s a supernatural thriller that explores the extraordinary marriage between President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane Pierce and the personal/spiritual failings in the lead-up to the Civil War – all in the only haunted house its residents are not permitted to leave.
The Residence will be published by Simon & Schuster (Skybound/Gallery) in the US, Simon & Schuster Canada, and Simon & Schuster UK in the English-speaking world.
More news soon!
Delighted that PopMatters picked The Homecoming as one of the Best Books of 2019!!
I’m doubly delighted because the review was written by Scott Poole, an amazing writer in his own right (Wasteland) and the leading American scholar on horror.
“Pyper has a gift for creating infinitely complex characters. We really do end up caring about these people and caught up in the mystery of what is happening to them. I think its important that any book that deals with dark themes like this, fiction or otherwise, make the death of its subjects matter and few do this as well as Pyper. I recommend this book to fans of both psychological thrillers and horror.”
— Scott Poole on The Homecoming
The Homecoming – Best Book of 2019
So excited to announce that A Criatura, the Portuguese translation in Brazil, will be published in January.
My Brazilian publisher, DarkSide Books has brought my novels to a new and enthusiastic audience and I’m very grateful to them for their passion and artistry they bring to their gorgeous, always interesting designs. A Criatura is no exception.
A Criatura – DarkSide Books
“The Homecoming is best read in one or two sittings to maintain the feeling of increasing claustrophobia, the growing fear there’s no escape, and the dizzying realization that most of what the narrative says is true, isn’t.”
While things have gotten rather exciting around here on the books and work front, none of it is stuff I’m permitted to announce yet. But I wanted to provide an update on my summer in any case, which has basically involved me doing everything in my power to maximize my time looking at this.
It’s that time of year when you lurch from your job to whatever summer holidays you’ve carved out and find yourself plagued by a single question: What do I read?
Well, the CBC has a list for that. And The Homecoming is on it. Check it out here:
CBC Summer Reads