Tara Hudson has never seen a ghost. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a ghost story to tell.
this one, for instance: “When I was a kid, my grandparents took me to
this incredibly creepy place,” Hudson said. “It was in a clearing in the
middle of this forest (in southeastern Oklahoma). It was this overgrown
field surrounded by a wrought-iron gate. When we got inside, it was
full of these brokendown headstones, and I had no idea why we were
there, except it was creepy-cool.”
cemetery, which she learned as an adult is her family cemetery, plays a
major role in her debut novel, “Hereafter,” which follows a ghost,
Amelia, as she tries to solve the mystery of her life and death, and
figure out what to do next.
such an odd place,” said Hudson, who will sign copies of her debut on
Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore. “I couldn’t get out of my head, ‘I
wonder how lonely this place is at night?’ It’s in the middle of
nowhere, surrounded by graves, almost completely forgotten about. Can
you imagine waking up there? That image has always stuck with me, and
it’s what influenced my original story in college and influenced me to
definitely go back to that with ‘Hereafter.’”
That original short story
was written while she studied studying English literature at the
University of Oklahoma. But life after college for Hudson, much like
life after death for her main character, took its own course.
and raised in Oklahoma, Hudson applied for graduate school after
completing her undergrad at OU, but, she said, “I didn’t want to read
any more classic literature.”
Instead, she went to law school. She now works for Chesapeake Energy as a landman, but she missed writing.
“I hadn’t really written
anything other than legal memos and briefs for five years,” she said.
“One day on my lunch break, I was talking to a girlfriend about how much
I missed it, and she said, ‘Well, write something.’ So I just wrote a
scene out and based it loosely around a short story I’d written in
college. I sent it to my two best friends at the end of my lunch break
for them to read and they loved it; they wanted more.”
she wrote actually became the first chapter of “Hereafter,” and, oddly
enough, is one of the chapters that received the smallest amount of
While the college short story was not young-adult, “Hereafter” is.
“It’s funny, I didn’t really think of it as YA, but it’s about teens,” she said.
finished the book in six months — writing, she said, on “a lot of lunch
breaks, weekends, nights” — while also being a new mom. After landing
an agent, she sold the novel in just eight days.
resulting debut novel is a ghost story that’s more cerebral and spooky
than frightening. And, this being a YA paranormal romance, the swoon
factor is most definitely there, written in an intriguing style at which
It’s also set firmly in Wilburton and Robbers Cave State Park, giving it a very real sense of place.
Oklahoma is an eerie place. It’s really hilly, there’s lots of caves,
it’s very wooded,” Hudson said. “It’s just sort of a spooky place, and
you always get a feeling there’s someone watching you. In my head, that
someone happens to be Amelia.”
“Hereafter,” an idea that sprouted from those early memories of an
overgrown cemetery, setting the story in southeastern Oklahoma was a
given, but she said she’d love to set future books in the state.
“I definitely want to continue writing Oklahoma as a setting,” she said. “I want to explore other places.
I think Oklahoma has a lot to offer in terms of spooky settings — just cool places you can put people.”
now, however, it’s off to other settings. “Hereafter” is the first in a
trilogy, and the second novel, which she just finished, will be set in
the French Quarter of New Orleans.