“Congratulations, new kid. Welcome to the afterlife.”
What if death is only the beginning?
When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, even the ability to possess the living.
Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome her into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy.
The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker will be published in the UK and Australia by Walker Books on 3rd September 2020. The cover was designed by Chloé Tartinville.
This is my first ever fantasy novel, about a girl who gets in above her head when she tries to become the most powerful ghost in a building of ancient spirits.
The other ghosts happen to be freshers who all died in their halls of residence during their first year of uni, decades earlier. They’ve spent years bickering, flirting, play-fighting and developing in-jokes with each other in the decrepit and abandoned building where they all died. When Harriet becomes a ghost, she finds them as baffling as they find her modern. She has a lot to learn about life, even after she’s died.
I’ve always loved the idea of ghosts, but I’ve always felt like there was something missing from paranormal stories. Where do ghosts get their energy from? What happens when ghosts live together in the same building? Do they share ‘haunting’ duties, or do they have to compete for space? And, most importantly, can a ghost die? What happens to them when things go wrong? I wanted to answer those questions in this novel.
I’m so excited for you to meet my nineties ghost gang – Rima, Felix, Kasper and Leah, as well as Leah’s young baby Claudia, and Rima’s pet fox Cody. If you liked Being Human, Misfits or Crashing by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, then I hope you’ll like this book. It’s a horrom-com (AKA a genre I just invented, the horror romantic comedy). It’s grisly and gory, with an epic romance and quite a few plot twists along the way (would it be a Lauren James book without them?).
For more information, check out the writing journey blog posts I’ve been posting about this project since 2016 – parts one , two, three and four. There’s also lots of additional content in the Tumblr tag. There are some fun extras below!
Moodboard (on Tumblr)
Fancasting the characters (on Tumblr)
Harriet is Daisy Ridley
Rima is Mandip Gill
Leah is Sofia Boutella
Felix is Keiynan Lonsdale
Kasper is Froy Gutierrez
Rufus is Rami Malek
Vini is Dylan O’Brien
Oscar is Idris Elba
Norma is Emma Thompson
[spoiler] is Michael Sheen
Qi is Sandra Oh
Greg is Dominic West
Writing playlist (on Spotify)
- Reckless Serenade//Arctic Monkeys
- House Party//Sam Hunt
- 400 Lux//Lorde
- Me//The 1975
- Ghosts//The Head and the Heart
- Fantasy//MS MR
- Golden Years//David Bowie
- Ghosts that we knew//Mumford & Sons
- Everything about you//Ugly Kid Joe
- This is why we can’t have nice things//Taylor Swift
- The Whip//Locksley
- Half Moon Rising//Yonder Mountain String Band
Writing inspirations (on Goodreads)
- Stoker (2013)
- The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
- Monsters by Emerald Fennell
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
- Pure by Andrew Miller
- What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
- Beetlejuice (1988)
- Crashing (Channel 4, 2016)
- Being Human (BBC, 2008)
- Misfits (Channel 4, 2009)